Political junkies in Canada are watching an unusual story unfolding in Parliament today. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is to appear before a parliamentary committee to answer questions about his latest ethics scandal.
The general rule of thumb is that Prime Ministers don’t appear before committees, especially not ones investigating them. That Trudeau is ignoring this seems to me to be a risky move at best, one that I would have though his advisors would veto.
Then again, maybe he figures he has nothing to lose. In two previous investigations the Ethics Commissioner has found Trudeau to have broken the law. This time he has already admitted to wrongdoing.
My guess is he thinks his charm can convince Canadians his transgressions aren’t serious, just technical breaches of the rules. He has said he is sorry, so why don’t we all just forget it?
It is an extremely risky strategy. He will get to make an opening statement to the committee, but then he has to answer questions about his actions and is ethics. I don’t see how that can possibly go well for him.
No matter how much time he has spent preparing for his hour in the spotlight, He can’t be certain of all the questions he will face.
Which is where he may run into problems. There will probably be a few questions that he won’t want to answer, along he lines of “do you still beat your wife?” No matter how he answers it won’t look good.
My guess is that perhaps internal polling has shown that the Trudeau brand has taken a huge hit in this latest scandal. His popularity may have dropped to the point where his government might not survive a confidence vote.
Maybe some of his own MPs are questioning whether he should stay on. He’s rolling the dice, gambling that somehow he can come through this without any more political damage.
After all, he’s survived ethics scandals and behavioral scandals in the past. He probably thinks this is no different.
He may be right. The electorate may not care about his questionable ethics. It isn’t like he murdered someone.
Have we as a society reached that point? Do we care whether our leaders have any sort of personal integrity?
I’m hoping the answer to that question is yes. However I’m a little worried it may be no.
Which is a sobering thought for those who care about the direction of the country. We’ve seen from our neighbor to the south what can happen when the leader has only a passing acquaintance with right and wrong.
Do we really want to be like them?