Liberals are fumbling children
Immediately after Premier Doug Ford of Ontario shuffled his cabinet last week, several professional political pundits were opining that the provincial government’s main issue was a lack of communication, blended with the leader’s incompetence.
That same consensus of opinion could very well be applied to Ottawa, where watching the vicissitudes of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his most prominent ministers often remind me of a line from the 1960s movie Cool Hand Luke. Luke was recaptured after a prison escape, and the Chain Gang Captain thumped him across the neck with his truncheon for being impertinent; as Luke rolled in the dust, the captain uttered the iconic line: “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate”.
The PM has no communication problem when speech writers prepare his script, even if it’s often delivered in that irritating holier-than-thou preacherman tone that he’s developed as leader.
However, once the prepared speech is over, and he’s asked a few questions, is when we see his true mettle. There’s usually repeated childish fumbling, bumbling, stumbling and mumbling, and more than often than not we are left wishing for an adult as the Prime Minister of Canada.
Ottawa’s coveted position of Finance Minister is filled by Bill Morneau, appointed as a rookie in 2015. He has been subject of a few scandals, and accused of a conflict of interest a couple of times; even when he’s been deep in the doo-doo, he’s not impressed anyone with his communication skills, and doubt if any Canadian can remember any line from any speech he’s ever given.
The senior cabinet position of Foreign Affairs minister has belonged to Chrystia Freeland for the last two years, and as a former journalist Canadians would expect her to easily deliver the government’s policy messages. Sadly, she has disappointed with the “School-Marm” tone and manner she adopts, that annoying way of lecturing lesser mortals rather than listening to questions.
Her colleague Catherine McKenna has been minister Environment and Climate Change since 2015, and one of the most frequently interviewed cabinet members. Her dismal record of getting the government’s message across is due to her inability to listen to anybody outside of the Prime Minister’s Office; always far too ready to launch forth with a prepared script, repeated ad nauseam.
With the federal election looming, there are the reasons why the four most prominent cabinet members all fit so neatly into Cool Hand Luke’s final words in the aforementioned movie. Just before getting shot and killed, he mocked the Chain Gang Captain by saying: “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate”.