Thursday, December 15, 2016

Andrew Coyne on Justin Trudeau and discussing Uganda

The political uproar in Canada over the questionable methods used by the newish Trudeau Liberal government to raise funds though what seems to many to be a Cash for Access method, has not died down.

Now Andre Coyne, one of Canada’s most astute journalists, has put this mess in a context that the Liberal Party surely will not like:

I believe the immortal words were first uttered by a guest at a London house party in the 1970s. Observed disappearing upstairs with another of the guests, she returned some time later, smoothing her dress, with the explanation that “the minister and I were just discussing Uganda.”

The phrase, “discussing Uganda,” has ever since been the British press’s preferred euphemism for sordid sexual encounters. Well now a new phrase may have entered the language, this time to describe a sordid encounter of another kind…

I am all for giving people the benefit of the doubt. But in the present instance it does require us to believe some very odd things. If the people who attend these parties were only interested in meeting the prime minister, they could do that, as he says, for free. Conversely, if all they were interested in was contributing to the Liberal Party of Canada, they could just mail it a cheque. Somehow, it seems important to them to do both at the same time: meet the prime minister while contributing to the party. Yet, having plunked down their $1,500 in the expectation of an intimate and revealing tête-à-tête, they find themselves on the receiving end, by the prime minister’s own account, of nothing but a torrent of Liberal boilerplate about the middle class.

All I’m saying is, you’d think word would get around. “Yeah, about those ‘exclusive opportunities’ to party with Justin Trudeau? Save your money. Guy’s a crashing bore. It’s like he wasn’t even listening to us.” And yet, there seems no letup in the demand. The prime minister is as hot a ticket with the billionaire set as ever. Maybe they’ve been led to believe “discussing the middle class” is code for something saucier.

This issue is just not going to go away.

Parliament has ended, MPs had drifted back home, and no doubt the Liberal government hopes that the issue of fundraising  will just disappear.

Fat chance.

This issue is one of those corrosive ones: you never seem to be able to wipe it off you, no matter what you try. The Liberal Party was virtually destroyed not that long ago over two issues – questionable scandals involving money, and choices of leaders whom most Canadians rejected, when given a chance.

Justin Trudeau was elected PM by millions of Canadians who thought that he would live up to his promises of more accountable, transparent and honest governance, and serious electoral reform.

Now, on both issues, Trudeau is displaying distressing signs of both a tin ear and hubris.

It is time for dramatic changes for the good on both issues, before the Liberal Party really does get associated with discussing Uganda.

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