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Don’t be surprised when decent politicians decide enough is enough

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Enough is enough.

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Ever wonder why politicians hesitate to tell the truth, or make an apology — or just generally get tired of public life?

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Consider the events of the past week. Consider the week had by Messrs. Trudeau, Ford and McNaughton.

Justin Trudeau first.

For many months, the Liberal Prime Minister has been battered by media revelations about China’s mauling of Canadian democracy — specifically, the Chinese regime’s attempts to manipulate the outcomes in the 2019 and 2021 federal general elections. There have been allegations of rigged nomination battles, illegal payoffs to candidates, and — most seriously — threats against members of the Chinese-Canadian community.

Throughout the crisis, Trudeau resolutely refused to say much, if anything. His entire strategy seemed to be deflect, deny and dissemble. Every opposition party wanted a public inquiry into Chinese malfeasance — and more than 70% of self-identifying Liberals, too.

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But, for months, Trudeau refused to budge. He wouldn’t tell the truth. He refused to say what he knew, and when he knew it. As a result, he was battered in the polls, and his credibility — never high to begin with — took a precipitous drop.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

With India, he apparently decided to do things differently.

This week, Trudeau abandoned the stonewalling that had characterized the Chinese interference story, and told the truth: India, he said, was credibly linked to the assassination of a Sikh activist in Surrey, B.C. in June.

“Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the Government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar,” Trudeau said Monday in the House of Commons.

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The reaction? Those who had criticized Trudeau for saying nothing about alleged Chinese wrongdoing were now criticizing Trudeau for saying too much about alleged Indian wrongdoing. For telling the truth.

Being attacked for being silent on one mess, then being attacked for not staying silent on another mess. It was as ridiculous as it was unfair.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s week was no better.

Ford — whose government my firm lobbies, full disclosure, and whose caucus has in the past used us for media training — this week said: “I broke that promise.”

Ford was referring to the disastrous decision to open up parts of the protected no-development “Greenbelt” around Toronto to development, after previously saying he never would. And, most significantly, he said something you never, ever hear a politician say anymore: “I broke a promise.”

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Politicians offer up carefully-crafted, focus-grouped apologies often — the aforementioned Trudeau has elevated apologies to an art form, almost always about the long-forgotten misdeeds of previous governments.

But to say, straight out, “I broke that promise”? To take personal responsibility, and to admit that you full-on broke a promise? No qualifiers, no equivocations, no conditional language? That’s something you don’t hear very often, these days.

And, for it, Ford continued to be excoriated. After doing what they had demanded — reversing the Greenbelt decision, and admitting the mistake — the lede in the Toronto Star’s story was unfair and untrue: it was “a desperate bid to salvage his sputtering Progressive Conservative government,” declared the Star.

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It was unfair because Ford had done what the Star had wanted. And it was untrue because Ford’s government is still far ahead of any of its political rivals in the polls.

Which brings us to Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton.

McNaughton had been credited with achieving what seemed impossible: bringing organized labour onside, and getting them to endorse a Progressive Conservative government — as they did in the 2022 Ontario election. McNaughton was beloved by many labour groups for being a true progressive.

Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton takes to the podium during a news conference in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021.
Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton takes to the podium during a news conference in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. Photo by Chris Young /The Canadian Press

But word of his decision to take a job in the private sector leaked mere hours after Ford’s Greenbelt reversal. And, as a result, nattering nabobs started falsely claiming that McNaughton’s departure had something to do with the Greenbelt. It didn’t, in any way, shape or form.

Which all leads us to this conclusion.

In politics, the same people who want you to say more will crucify you for not saying less. The same people who want you to change course and apologize don’t give you credit when you do.

And the same people are surprised when good, decent politicians decide enough is enough, and just pack it in.

It’s a tough business. And, it’s no wonder so many political folks finally just say:

Enough is enough. I quit.

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Comments

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Join the Conversation

Advertisement 1


Article content

Enough is enough.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Ever wonder why politicians hesitate to tell the truth, or make an apology — or just generally get tired of public life?

Article content

Consider the events of the past week. Consider the week had by Messrs. Trudeau, Ford and McNaughton.

Justin Trudeau first.

For many months, the Liberal Prime Minister has been battered by media revelations about China’s mauling of Canadian democracy — specifically, the Chinese regime’s attempts to manipulate the outcomes in the 2019 and 2021 federal general elections. There have been allegations of rigged nomination battles, illegal payoffs to candidates, and — most seriously — threats against members of the Chinese-Canadian community.

Throughout the crisis, Trudeau resolutely refused to say much, if anything. His entire strategy seemed to be deflect, deny and dissemble. Every opposition party wanted a public inquiry into Chinese malfeasance — and more than 70% of self-identifying Liberals, too.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

But, for months, Trudeau refused to budge. He wouldn’t tell the truth. He refused to say what he knew, and when he knew it. As a result, he was battered in the polls, and his credibility — never high to begin with — took a precipitous drop.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

With India, he apparently decided to do things differently.

This week, Trudeau abandoned the stonewalling that had characterized the Chinese interference story, and told the truth: India, he said, was credibly linked to the assassination of a Sikh activist in Surrey, B.C. in June.

“Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the Government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar,” Trudeau said Monday in the House of Commons.

Advertisement 4

Article content

The reaction? Those who had criticized Trudeau for saying nothing about alleged Chinese wrongdoing were now criticizing Trudeau for saying too much about alleged Indian wrongdoing. For telling the truth.

Being attacked for being silent on one mess, then being attacked for not staying silent on another mess. It was as ridiculous as it was unfair.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s week was no better.

Ford — whose government my firm lobbies, full disclosure, and whose caucus has in the past used us for media training — this week said: “I broke that promise.”

Ford was referring to the disastrous decision to open up parts of the protected no-development “Greenbelt” around Toronto to development, after previously saying he never would. And, most significantly, he said something you never, ever hear a politician say anymore: “I broke a promise.”

Advertisement 5

Article content

Politicians offer up carefully-crafted, focus-grouped apologies often — the aforementioned Trudeau has elevated apologies to an art form, almost always about the long-forgotten misdeeds of previous governments.

But to say, straight out, “I broke that promise”? To take personal responsibility, and to admit that you full-on broke a promise? No qualifiers, no equivocations, no conditional language? That’s something you don’t hear very often, these days.

And, for it, Ford continued to be excoriated. After doing what they had demanded — reversing the Greenbelt decision, and admitting the mistake — the lede in the Toronto Star’s story was unfair and untrue: it was “a desperate bid to salvage his sputtering Progressive Conservative government,” declared the Star.

Advertisement 6

Article content

It was unfair because Ford had done what the Star had wanted. And it was untrue because Ford’s government is still far ahead of any of its political rivals in the polls.

Which brings us to Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton.

McNaughton had been credited with achieving what seemed impossible: bringing organized labour onside, and getting them to endorse a Progressive Conservative government — as they did in the 2022 Ontario election. McNaughton was beloved by many labour groups for being a true progressive.

Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton takes to the podium during a news conference in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021.
Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton takes to the podium during a news conference in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. Photo by Chris Young /The Canadian Press

But word of his decision to take a job in the private sector leaked mere hours after Ford’s Greenbelt reversal. And, as a result, nattering nabobs started falsely claiming that McNaughton’s departure had something to do with the Greenbelt. It didn’t, in any way, shape or form.

Which all leads us to this conclusion.

In politics, the same people who want you to say more will crucify you for not saying less. The same people who want you to change course and apologize don’t give you credit when you do.

And the same people are surprised when good, decent politicians decide enough is enough, and just pack it in.

It’s a tough business. And, it’s no wonder so many political folks finally just say:

Enough is enough. I quit.

Article content

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Join the Conversation

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