Trudeau's transparency ploy can't lose -

Trudeau’s transparency ploy can’t lose

The big news: The Liberal leader challenges his opponents to post expenses online.

How Trudeau can avoid getting stuck in the middle

Mike Cassese/Reuters

Justin Trudeau’s clarion call for transparency on Parliament Hill, recited to reporters yesterday in Ottawa, was a masterful exercise in orchestrated naïveté. The Liberal leader so innocently called on his colleagues across party lines to follow him into the valhalla of open minds and open books. He urged fellow MPs to report detailed expenses online, as his Liberal team plans to do. Trudeau made it sound like a three-legged race at a family barbecue. To wit:

“This is the first step of what I hope will be a cascade of transparency and openness as the other parties try to outdo each other. I would love to see a competition in this, to try and see which party can truly be most transparent to Canadians because right now, the bar is set so low that I’m happy to raise the bar to this level.”

Cynics might call those words arrogant, hollow or a cheap ploy. The other parties declined to join the fun. Government House Leader Peter Van Loan said the board of internal economy, the committee tasked with monitoring MP spending, is looking at improving how it reports that spending—an “important initiative,” said Van Loan, but one that takes time. The NDP’s Nathan Cullen, who sits on the board, said the Liberals’ self-reporting style won’t work and that proper oversight requires outside eyeballs.

Probably, this is a story that sends most readers into a coma. Expenses are the most boring thing in the world until someone starts claiming things improperly, as several senators have learned the hard way. But the way this particular conversation among political leaders played out says a lot about how Trudeau hopes to outmaneuver his political opponents. Pick a harmless issue, pick a direction, challenge opponents to follow, and smile all the while. Posting expenses online, without being told to do so by some higher power, is not something voters will ever punish. Meanwhile, the other parties kick the can down the road.

Once Trudeau starts treating serious policy the same way he treats caucus transparency, and he picks a direction and challenges his opponents to follow, we could have a debate on our hands. We just might have to wait a while.


What’s above the fold

The Globe and Mail  The head of Canadian Pacific wants tougher safety regulations on railways.
National Post  The cruise liner Costa Concordia has fully emerged off Italy’s coast.
Toronto Star  Toronto Community Housing faces a pair of potentially harmful probes.
Ottawa Citizen  A small-town mayor and two councillors will be charged with breach of trust.
CBC News  Children are injured on playground equipment at increasing rates.
CTV News  A woman who killed two sons in Alberta was found dead in Australia.
National Newswatch  Sen. Mike Duffy visited the Prime Minister’s Office after a troubling audit.

What you might have missed

THE NATIONAL Arctic crash. The three victims of a mysterious helicopter crash in Canada’s arctic waters died of hypothermia, according to an autopsy, not from the incident itself. The three men, members of the Coast Guard aboard the icebreaker HMCS Amundsen, had set off to find a route for the ship. They sent out no distress call before the crash.
THE GLOBAL French murder. A French jeweller, Stephan Turk, was charged with voluntary homicide after he shot—and killed—a 19-year-old robber who’d escaped his store. Protesters in Nice are defending Turk’s action as self-defence, while the robber’s defenders decry vigilante justice as irresponsible. Armed robberies have apparently increased in recent years.
THE QUIRKY Rats. Parks Canada is hoping to eradicate rat populations on two islands off B.C.’s coast. The agency will drop poison pellets from helicopters on Murchison and Faraday islands, where rats—who have no natural predators—have decimated bird populations. The assault is part of a five-year, $2.5-million campaign to restore the islands’ natural habitat.


Trudeau’s transparency ploy can’t lose

  1. I dunno. Bev Oda seemed to get into more trouble for overspending on juice than she did for actually falsifying documents.

    • That’s the missing side of the debate isn’t it? Will there ever be actual consequences for being really bad, as opposed to being naughty? Certainly Harper’s buried that bar in the perma frost. Hopefully JT would bring back that old tradition of ministers walking the plank on occasion. Just a return to the notion of personal political responsibility would be a huge step up.

      • “Bad as apposed to naughty?” What does that even mean? Is stealing $100 dollars naughty but $100K bad? Is smoking 1 joint while in office naughty but a lot of joints bad? So, when a politician is going to be ‘transparent’ then, does said politician tell the whole ‘bad’ story or just the ‘naughty’ version? Do we all give the politician kudos for trying to be honest when actually they might just being a bit manipulative?

        • In this context it’s pretty obvious. I consider charging $16 glasses of oj to the tp to be in the realm of naughty – not a firing offense – while falsifying documents and lying to parliament about who put the NOT in is most definitely bad, and a firing offense. BO walked the plank for being naughty, for damaging the Harper ethical brand. She should have gone over lying to Parliament – but that’s an obvious minor slip to this govt.

          • Yes but if you are willing to do something naughty, you are probably are also doing something bad. As I mentioned in another post, it is all about public opinion. You are interested in politics so you see the document issue as very bad. The average taxpayer sees the theft and wastage of their hard earned money as unforgivable. Those interested in politics are in the minority. The average taxpayers are in the majority. Those who steal and waste the taxpayer’s money pay with their careers.

          • Sorry, i don’t buy that. The public may well place more value on issues that are easily grasped, like stealing or misusing public money, but if people did have the time and the energy to figure out just what the NOT issue actually was about they wouldn’t give that a pass either.

          • You are right IF the public was politically literate or if the “NOT” issue had any effect on their day to day lives but frankly, it did not and they are not. What I am really saying here is that the money wasted and stolen was actually stolen from these people…the taxpayers…that is why they are outraged. They can’t afford a $16.00 glass of orange juice so they sure as hell don’t want to pay for a politician to have one.

          • Both are wrong; in both cases remedies should be pursued. That’s why we have elected representatives, to ferret out this stuff on our behalf. Their findings or attempts to hold the Gotd to account should not be dismissed merely because the public is too tired, too ignorant, too apathetic…too whatever.
            The voting public have the final say, but it doesn’t automatically follow they are always right.

    • Yes because taxpayers care the most about their hard-earned money. They resent it when people are wasting and worse, when they are outright stealing it. The falsifying of the document was a complex issue that many citizens had no understanding of and let’s face it, little interest in. It didn’t effect their lives. The $16.00 glass of orange juice, they could all understand and it outraged every one of them.

  2. It’s pretty easy to see through Juniors ” call for transparency” ploy. When you don’t have much of a real policy platform to debate then you resort to bits of fluff like this. He’d better be careful, however, that he doesn’t suffer from a severe case of unintended circumstances and have the whole thing end up backfiring on him.

    • The others are already stealing his ideas so far. He is smart to wait until there are voters ready to judge him at the ballot box

      • Terry, it won’t matter when he reveals his ideas because there are no copyrights on the ideas. The Conservatives and NDP can turn on a dime and change their platforms if they think the Liberals are onto something and the Liberals and can do the same thing with their ideas. Just like Harper deciding the police chiefs are right about writing tickets for cannabis possession.
        In the meantime, Trudeau has to present himself as intelligent and articulate inside and outside of the HOC. It is good that he is surrounding himself with smart people but he has to be seen to be smart himself. His father was charismatic but above all, the man was brilliant.

    • geez man – you have hit rock bottom when you describe transparency as a ploy.

      Perhaps your cynicism comes from Harper draping himself in a flag he labelled transparency.

      The idea was sound when Harper was trumpeting it – but Harper has let us down – perhaps it is time to give the new kid on the block a chance.

      • Some kinds of cynicism are pret’ near incurable.

        • And so is schizophrenia but that can be treated and the sufferer can lead a very rational productive life.

          • Nick thinks he is watching a checkers match rather than a chess game. It isn’t that transparency is a ploy, it is that it is the natural consequence of using “genuine-ness” as a strategy. Trudeau is exceptionally comfortable in his own skin, Harper wears his skin like a hair coat.

            Harper is a skilled politician and has benefited greatly by projecting the image of a nerdy, straight arrow. On many issues he has been unorthodox even reckless, yet the branding remains constant. Given the choice of who to trust between a group of strangers, nerdy straight arrows will win every time.

            There are other politicians who project “genuine-ness”. In the US, early Clinton & Reagan represent the two most recent examples. Both pulled support from the opposing ideology simply because people felt they knew them. { the Ford phenomena in TO is a weird perverse version of the same thing.}

            Trudeau grew up in the spot light and has no fear of it. Harper gets nervous if someone is watching him tie his shoes. Most of Trudeau’s “mistakes” make him more genuine. Coming to the defense of an NDP colleague and calling Peter Kent a POS for example. The haters will say he is a fake, but in reality he is just letting you see who he is, warts and all, knowing that it is a strategic advantage over Harper.

            In spite of his awkwardness in public, Harper is perhaps the purest politician Canada has ever had as PM. He long-term strategic sense is uncanny and his ability to surprise remarkable.

            He finally has a worthy opponent, this should be fun for the junkies.

    • Hey – it’s how Harper got into power – transparency and accountability. It’s just that he was just fooling us, so there is even more need for it now. He’s handed this to the opposition on a silver platter.

      • Yes but there can also be an illusion of transparency…a telling of partial truths that lulls one into believing they are getting the full story.

        • Like Harper’s accountability legislation. It sounded great until we need it and then the truck sized loopholes show up. You’re right, we need to be more suspect this time around.

          • Absolutely.

    • Was a call for transparency in government “fluff” when relative new-comer Stephen Harper made it a key policy in his attempt to oust the Liberals all those wasted years ago?
      The only reason it has backfired on Harper and makes Trudeau look good is because when Harper uttered those words, he was lieing; as his subsequent actions illustrate only too well.
      I will wait and see if Trudeau performs a Harper and does the opposite of what he promised, but right now he is looking much more honest than any of the Conservative Party trained seals; and while that may be faint praise it’s something that distinguishes him from the criminal enterprise that runs our government.

    • Even if this is just a ploy, the fact that this is holding all the political parties feet to the fire and keeping transparency in the public eye is a good thing.

      Of course, you must recognize transparency as a “ploy” because we’ve got over 7 years of Stephen Harper using transparency as a ploy. The only difference is that Trudeau is appearing to walk the walk while Harper only ever talked the talk.

  3. Good direction….simple honesty works….and Justin is the only one credible enough to carry it off.

  4. you just had to watch PnP last night on C B C. it was hilarious, how the cons and dippers tried to ridicule Trudeau. the dips and cons looked like idiots.

    • I saw that too — that Jason Litaer, whoever he is, comes across as so angry and scornful. Should be good tonight too — since General Andrew Leslie has just announced he’s going to be JT’s military advisor. I think Leslie trumps Alexander (and Alexander’s performance has been far less than anticipated). I don’t know how Mulcair will compete, but he needs to step up pretty soon.

      • Pat might be their go to guy – get to throw all the bad language at them he wants eh.

      • Litaer is the Con equivalent of Warren Kinsella I think – war room type. I always think they should stay in the background. Chris Alexander has outdone himself as a yesman – General Leslie – just the opposite.

  5. And who is going to insure all expenses are posted? What stops any MP from not posting all expenses? Another “great” idea not thought out fully. But makes for great press.

    • I think that’s part of the point, the Liberals are doing something that is not legally required or expected of them, they can point to their expenses posted online and say “see? We’re transparent, open, honest, disciplined, and we hold ourselves accountable and to a higher standard.” This is also known as “walking the walk” instead of just “talking the talk.”

      It doesn’t matter that there is no oversight from any higher power, no one to actually confirm that the expenses posted are legit, no way for the public to know unless Liberal MPs get audited.

      In fact, this could be a way for the Liberal MPs to teach themselves self-restraint while looking good in the eyes of the public. The public will see a sanitized expense report posted online, but in the back rooms they’ll be saying “we left this $16 glass of orange juice off your expense report Bob, but you’ll have to stop buying those,” and they’ll be totally prepared to look clean and disciplined if and when all MPs are required to publicly post their expense reports by law.

  6. And then there’s our tax dollars going to assist “Canadian” mining
    corps who are causing no end of uproar in South and Central America,
    Africa, Central Asia and Europe (Romania).
    I know, let’s ask Bay St. Brison. Just ignore John McKay behind the curtain.

    • Surely the two issues are unrelated. Good things often beget other good things…well, sometime they do. Hopefully transparency can become the norm, it certainly helps to try.
      Edit: I see where you’re going, didn’t Brison have something to do with the free trade deal in Columbia? I still see no reason to think he’d be onside with mining corps getting tax dollars in this way. And he isn’t the whole liberal caucus. First thing first. Get the Harper goons out the door. We can deal with Brison if we have to.

  7. This “policy” could very well backfire on Trudeau the moment a single MP doesn’t post all of his expenses, or fudges them to make them appear more acceptable. The entire problem with this “transparency” policy is that there’s absolutely no oversight to ensure that what MPs post is actually accurate or true.

    • it is at that moment that we will step back and see what he does. It could bite him in the @ss or, he could come across even stronger – all depends on how he handles it.

    • I think the potential backfire is the built-in accountability. Imagine if Ralph Goodale left a bunch of questionable expenses off his publicly-declared list. It would be on the news within a day and he would take a very public beating.

    • I am sure the Con dominated Board of Internal Economy will be spending a lot of time auditing Libs postings.

  8. “Cynics might call those words arrogant, hollow or a cheap ploy.”

    Is it okay if I call it “all three”?

    • I would say it was a cheaper ploy to make transparency and accountability the cornerstone of the Conservative campaign in 2006 and to then deliver the most heavily opaque government in Canadian history.

  9. Justin’s groupies to the rescue. While I’ve been a Liberal for a longer than many of you have been alive I don’t go kissing the ground Junior walks on. I’m not about to endorse the Grits new boy toy just because he’s trotting out a bit of policy fluff for the media. That sort of pathetic political pandering is lame, devoid of critical thought, and patently stupid. It always attracts the desperate element of the party faithful. Something that I try to avoid like the plague.

    • You’re not above firing from the hip at times as your invitation for me to visit Syria in another forum illustrates. We all do it and we all justify it, at the very least to ourselves.
      But I will take this statement of intent and couple it with his personal actions in terms of accountability and give it credence beyond pure posturing. He was subjected to a huge amount of attacks when he publicly declared his earnings and extra-political activities and he must have known this was coming but did it anyway.
      He’s kind of walked the walk so far, which is more than “As you know I don’t drink alcohol” Harper has done. I noticed that he has not been held accountable for that blatant lie yet, but that is probably the least of his crimes that we should worry about.

      • Good post: I agree JT has “walked the walk” of openess and transparency more than the other leaders so far. As for Harper — to me, a liar is a liar. I never understand why someone tells a lie about something so small and easily disproven as saying one doesn’t drink alcohol when there are images all over the internet that prove otherwise. And so that’s why I say: a liar is a liar, and I can’t be bothered to try to figure out when they are lying and when not — I just know that person lies and is therefore not to be believed on issues big or small.

    • “That sort of pathetic political pandering is lame, devoid of critical thought, and patently stupid.”

      You saying this does not make it so. I’ll have to ask you to prove your remarks instead of just making baseless inferences.

      • Red. Are you the unofficial spokesman for Justin Trudeau’s fan club? Waiting in line to kiss the Exalted One’s ring finger? Then prepare to pucker up buttercup. He likes his subjects to bow, grovel, and do a little sincere genuflecting. Oh, and if you have a spare $20,000 to pay for one of his motivational speeches, you just might be able to have a coffee with the wunderkind. Now wouldn’t that just make your day.

        • It would make mine, and much more than having to sit with an absolute crank like yourself

          • Thanks for the compliment TQ. I really appreciate it. I get so few of them these days given the fact that i refuse to kiss up to Junior’s socialist/liberal/marxist philosophy of politically obscure pronouncements.

        • Yes, more baseless inferences and personal attacks.

  10. Transparency and openness, Justin: then how about your Toronto Centre “star” from New York responding to Linda Mcquaig’s challenge to a public debate on inequality?
    Or will your” star’s” solutions to that major problem be kept hidden for two more years as you figure out how to glue your disparate economic slogans together?

    • His father alienated the west with his Energy Transfer Policy, plunged the country into debt that it took taxpayers years to pay off, sucked up to Richard Nixon when it was revealed what the Republican Party had done at Watergate, and declared the War Measures Act. I can’t wait to see what Junior comes up with. Maybe he’ll start off by launching a chain of medical marijuana stores run by the feds.

      • 1. Was Canada’s debt worse than other western Countries at the time? had Diefenbaker kept up the proper spending to grow our infrastructure. Stop trying to relive two generations back
        2. Was Nixon actually found guilty and impeached when they spoke?
        3. War measures act under the circumstances was possibly correct but essentially wrong. He made a mistake but an insurgency by the separatists was in planning.
        4.Are you backing harper and his overt cheating in elections? It appears so

        • TQ
          The best thing that Pierre Elliot Trudeau did for the country was to get out of federal politics.
          Unfortunately, however, we now have Justin to contend with. What have Canadians done that was so wrong that we deserve a fate worse than death itself?

          • Maybe its you who needs the trip to syria you apparently offered to another poster. its a shame people with your IQ are allowed to vote

    • Has the election in Toronto centre been called yet? Maybe that’s the time for a public debate. McQuaig is so far behind already she is doing anything she can to try and catch up. Her big mouth so far has done nothing to get her any votes and she is pushing against the party’s platform by sticking to her socialist roots. That election will not go well for her or her party who area flash in the pan in any event.

      • TQ. Just in case you haven’t noticed. But Linda’s actually from the riding. You know, as having lived there. Boots on the ground, door to door politics, versus your limousine Liberal, Freeland, who recently parachuted in from prime time USA. It seems, however, that’s just in keeping with another expat, Micheal Ignatieff’s credentials. What could possibly go wrong?

        • So its a sin for a Canadian to work overseas and then come back to be part of our fabric. Freeland may have lived in that very riding before she went to NY. Your ignorance and prejudice is astounding