Conservative Finance Critic Pierre Poilievre explaining that, no, there’s no need to bring the government down just now, thank you very much (Photo: Screenshot of news video).

It was faintly amusing yesterday to watch the haste with which the Conservative Opposition backed away from the idea of trying to bring down the Liberal government in Ottawa over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s now rescinded plan to have a charity with ties to his family administer a $900-million summer student grant program.

The Conservatives were almost right for once. The way the deal was done didn’t pass the sniff test, and Mr. Trudeau’s justification that the WE Charity was the only one big enough to do the job was unpersuasive, as the protests from other charities established as soon as the idea was floated in late June.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Photo: Justin Trudeau/Flickr).

But after Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion agreeably launched an investigation Friday of the PM’s ties to WE, in response to letters of complaint from MPs Michael Barrett, a Conservative, and Charlie Angus, a New Democrat, someone in the Conservative strategic brain trust must have realized the implications of success.

As they say, be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.

Voters are actually looking pretty warmly right now on the minority Liberal government that Mr. Trudeau leads, thanks to its response to the COVID-19 crisis and the economic fallout from the countrywide lockout it made necessary. Indeed, Finance Minister Bill Morneau is scheduled to give us a little update on that Wednesday.

Notwithstanding Conservative Finance Critic Pierre Poilievre’s bold assertion this little whiff of a scandal could be enough to bring the government down, it seems unlikely it would worry voters very much.

Voters, after all, usually seem to have a high tolerance of such matters as long as they’re confident the place is being run reasonably competently, which the polls would suggest they do just now.

But Mr. Trudeau can hardly go to the Governor General and demand an election less than a year after the one that left his Liberals in a minority, can he? How convenient, then, if he could get the still-leaderless Opposition to set up a chance for him to recover a majority.

A year from now, after all, it’s unlikely his government will look quite as good as the full economic impact of the pandemic becomes more apparent, the various emergency payments run out, and voters start to compare our medical response to COVID-19 to that of other countries. By then as well, the new Conservative leader will have had a chance to get his ducks in a row.

Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion (Photo: Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner).

While it’s unlikely the New Democrats would risk getting caught in the crossfire by co-operating in letting the Liberals mop the floor with the Conservatives right now, especially since they enjoy a little influence with the government due to its current precariousness, stranger things have happened.

A New Democrat, Mr. Angus, was one of the letter writers, after all, so you never know what might get into their caucus.

So when he was asked yesterday if Opposition might actually act on its threats to seek a motion of non-confidence, Mr. Poilievre practically shouted “No!”

We don’t have to,” he went on hastily. “We already got what we asked for … “

Which was? And here his answer grew more hilarious, given what we have come to except from Canadian Conservatives these past few decades — … “which was for the government to cancel the program and redirect the funds through the professional public service and make it open and transparent for all organizations.” (Emphasis added.)

Well, indeed. There’s nothing more accountable and competent than a professional and disinterested public service, regardless of what Conservatives normally have to say about the topic of civil servants.

“What I said,” Mr. Poilievre hurried on, “was had they not done that, they could have engulfed themselves in such a serious scandal that it might have defeated their government.”

Whew! Crisis averted.

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  1. Oh, that’s funny. Go ahead Skippy make my day.

    If I was Trudeau I’d call an election and bury the CPC for the next 4 years.

  2. I remember when Gordie Howe was in his forties, and still playing professional hockey, I heard a hockey player being interviewed about why he didn’t fight Gordie after Mr. Hockey gave him a nasty elbow. The fellow’s response was that there was no upside. If he beats Gordie in a fight he has beaten up a 40 year old man, and what does it say if he looses?

    Likewise the NDP would really need to think about an upside if they are tempted to bring down the government. Given that they probably cannot win an election, there is no upside to forcing an election, and like David says, they could lose the influence they presently enjoy.

    1. I think it’s important to pay close attention to the language used in discussion related to Covidmania. The panic and lockout was the crisis. There was never anything remotely resembling a major health crisis. There are so many parallels between Covidmania and the Vietnam War, from the fake threat, the cleaving of society, the abandonment of reason, and the incessant lying. Hinshaw’s briefs remind me of the body count announcements, albeit slightly less reflective of reality.
      The hole blown in the economy, and by that I mean the capacity of the people to engage in transactions necessary to live lives worth living, is beyond the scope of anything witnessed in the developed nations since WW2.
      The great irony is that the justification for the lockdown was “protecting the vulnerable”, and yet the infirm elderly were killed by the absurd, unscientific measures taken, and the kids have been turned into twitchy Gollums. Save that village by burning it down!

      I find it absolutely hilarious when the government relationship to charities arises. Meyer Lansky and Charles Luciano couldn’t have come up with a system as crooked as elected governments passing barges of cash to private organizations to do the jobs that government should be doing. Great success!

      1. Murphy: There was never anything remotely resembling a major health crisis.

        The Casandra effect is clearly the problem here. Covid19 is a major health threat. It is more contageous than the FLU and the mortality is on a par with the 1918 pandemic. Given no response it would have grown exponentially to infect 60%-80% of the global population (based on reproduction rates) and deaths would be crippling due to overwhelmed health care.

        But public health measures have controlled the spread and so the problem is not so drastic. Does this mean there was no problem? That is the flaw that is driving the young to party and swim at the beaches with no precautions. Not completely ‘covid fatigue’ but the misperception that avoiding a problem means that there IS no problem.

  3. The CPC almost got caught up in their own bicycle spokes. Of course they don’t want an election. Not when they are polling so far back but also because they have little money to run in one right now.

    The value and objective of an opposition party seems to have diminished a great deal since the CPC were formed. I realize that the Liberals and NDP et al have acted somewhat similarly but the CPC use mud slinging as the only form of opposition imo.

    1. I call it just a bunch of manufactured huff! That’s about all they’ve got in their quiver these days. Leaderless, rudderless, and still have managed to even develop a sense of humour. Bah! Humbug! to them all no matter what they call themselves: UCP, CPC, Reform,, or Conservative, thee one important word they have deleted is “progressive”.

  4. Mr. Poilievre reminds me of a yappy little dog, who thinks by barking loudly he is scaring someone, but is regarded more as an annoyance or an amusement by everyone. You would think it might be a good idea for the Conservatives to finish off their leadership contest before they seriously threaten to try bring down the government. I suppose such empty threats are either annoying or amusing, or perhaps a bit of both. It also does make one wonder if the Conservative caucus is in touch with reality at all.

    Yes, Mr. Trudeau did create a bit of mess for himself here, but either he or someone else in the party realized it and they have quickly retreated. Fortunately, Canadians are preoccupied by other things and this mini scandal barely got off the ground. I suspect Mr. Trudeau would love an accidental election at this point, if the Conservatives and the other opposition parties are foolish enough to force it. He would first blame them all for an unnecessary and inconvenient election and then use the current popularity of the governments actions over the last several months to get a majority. The Conservatives would be scrambling to get a leader in place, making things even worse for them.

    I think Mr. Poilievre’s tactics and approach shows a larger problem with the Federal Conservatives. They have never really accepted or realized how the Liberals beat them in 2015 and 2019. In their minds, Mr. Trudeau is this gaffe prone political light weight and they are relishing an opportunity to defeat him. The only problem is every opportunity they have had against him so far, they have blown and they have lost. They seem to have learned nothing and forgotten nothing from all of this.

  5. Andrew Scheer. A leader his own party kicked to the curb.

    Peter MacKay. An presumptive leader than the son-con wing of the party doesn’t want.

    Forcing an election now — what could possibly go wrong?

    While the circumstances surrounding the contract with WE is suspect, it does not rise to the level of election rigging and subterfuge of the Harper’s gang.

    If an election were called, the CPC would hand the Liberals a monstrous majority.

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