With three cabinet ministers currently “embattled” (to various degrees), Aaron Wherry wondered about the drop-off in actual ministerial resignations, and found the comparison to the days of Brian Mulroney, who was far quicker to accept resignations than is customary these days. Mulroney came to regret this, mind you, but it can’t be denied that the demands for resignations have never left us, and in fact are pretty rote performance by this point. That the Conservatives made their demand for Bill Morneau’s resignation without any real damning evidence as to why it’s necessary has made it seem as unserious as it actually is, making it harder for them in the future to make a legitimate demand.
But with that having been said, I’m going to say that there’s something that Wherry has left out in his analysis, which is the way in which Cabinets are constructed is a different calculation now than it was in Mulroney’s day, and that matters. Back then, the dominant concern was federal construction, so while you had to ensure that you had enough ministers from certain regions, and some token diversity in terms of religious or cultural background, with a woman or two in the mix, it was easier to swap out white men for one another when it came to accepting resignations and replacing them. That’s not really the case right now. Trudeau’s pledge for a gender-balanced cabinet that is also regionally representative as well as diverse in terms of race and ethnicity means that there are far fewer options for replacing ministers when it comes time to either accepting resignations, or swapping them out for fresh blood. What that ends up doing is creating an incentive for a prime minister to stick by an “embattled” minister (though I’m not sure just how serious any of the allegations against any of the current ministers really is – the attacks against Morneau are largely baseless, while Lebouthillier has done her due diligence with regard to the AG’s report and has technically been correct in what she’s said regarding the disability tax credit; Hehr, meanwhile, has been chagrinned but I’m not sure there is a cardinal sin here in the grand scheme of things). Sure, there will be a few tough days in the media, but eventually, when there turns out to be nothing to what is being said, the storm passes. It passed with Harjit Sajjan and Maryam Monsef (who was given a promotion for sticking with the flaming bag of dog excrement that was the electoral reform file), and I’m pretty sure it’ll pass for the current three. Until Parliament itself is more diverse than it is now, the demands for a representative Cabinet means that there are fewer options available for a Prime Minister to accept a resignation. What it does mean, however, is that they need to get a bit better around communications and managing the issues that do come up, but also seems to be a recurring theme with this government.
- Justin Trudeau has returned from China sans trade talks, but did impress upon the importance of free press and did raise consular cases.
- Speaking of consular cases, Irwin Cotler says that while the government is doing good work, they could still be doing more to help several high-profile cases.
- Bill Morneau isn’t interested in giving cities an equal share of marijuana excise tax revenues.
- The US International Trade Commission ruled that Canadian softwood lumber imports have harmed their industry. Canada vows to fight it.
- The rumour is that the official process to replace our fighter jets will be announced next week, along with the interim purchase of used Australian F-18s.
- With Kent Hehr having apologised once this week, he was at it again for a 2016 interaction when he was brusque with a constituent asking him a loaded question.
- The US Border pre-clearance bill has passed the Senate without amendment.
- At the AFN Special Assembly, a resolution was passed to call for the MMIW Inquiry to be extended, but also for the Chief Commissioner to step down.
- The Clerk of the Privy Council is going to tie deputy minister performance pay to the stabilization of the Phoenix pay system’s problems.
- A PBO report says that the government is only spending 70 percent of what is necessary to fix First Nations water systems.
- As part of upcoming equalization negotiations, the federal government is proposing to exclude non-residential property values. BC and Ontario are not amused.
- With all of the talk about Trump’s declaration about Jerusalem, the CBC found documents that showed why Joe Clark’s government avoided such a move in 1979.
- The modern day Conservatives, meanwhile, are saying nothing about the issue.
- A study has shown that veterans – particularly female ones – are at greater risk of suicide than civilians.
- Lobbying-Commissioner nominee Nancy Bélanger says that there’s room for the Lobbying and Ethics Commissioners to work more closely together.
- The Senate Ethics Office is looking into the sponsored travel by three senators to China, who didn’t disclose that it had been paid for.
- Stephen Maher lists the various missteps that Jagmeet Singh has been making in his first few weeks, which are causing some discontent in the party.
- Paul Wells takes on the “Bonjour-hi” controversy in Quebec, and the broader linguistic cold war that has been going on for decades.
- Robert Hiltz looks at the Conservative Supply Day motion on returning ISIS fighters, and why it was such a bogus exercise.
Odds and ends:
Here is the farewell to Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin of the Supreme Court after her final hearing.
The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin leaves the courtroom of the Supreme Court of Canada for the last time. She has heard more than 2000 cases during her
career at the Court. #SCCJudge #SCC pic.twitter.com/yxVtxIHxo3
— Supreme Court Canada (@SCC_eng) December 7, 2017
— Dale Smith (@journo_dale) November 30, 2017