2017 was the year when the gloss began to fade from our celebrity prime minister.
(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
By: Candice Malcolm
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his inner circle will be breathing a sigh of relief that 2017 is coming to an end.
It hasn’t been a very good year for the Trudeau government,and three news stories reveal what went wrong for the Liberals.
First, in January, the Toronto Sun broke the news that the federal government’s long-term fiscal outlook manifestly busted Trudeau’s myth that the budget will balance itself.
Trudeau ran on a platform of “modest deficits” for three years before returning to balance.
Instead, his government is barreling full speed ahead towards a fiscal cliff – with no end in sight.
Trudeau’s current spending trajectory has the federal government on track to overspend by $80 billion over the next five years.
Far from balancing the books and using the surplus to pre-pay social programs for retiring baby boomers — Stephen Harper’s plan — Trudeau spends money we don’t have and finances day-to-day spending through debt.
Trudeau’s legacy to young Canadians will be $1.5 trillion in debt by 2045.
It’s a classic bait-and-switch by the Liberals, who believe they can spend your money better than you can.
Second, Trudeau’s finance minister, Bill Morneau, was revealed to be using complicated tax schemes and numbered companies to legally shelter his income from higher taxes.
Trudeau and Morneau — each with large trust funds and family wealth — introduced a plan to prevent small businesses from legally using similar methods to shield their income from taxes.
Classic do as we say, not as we do.
Worse, we learned Morneau still owned shares in his family business — in a numbered company — while he introduced legislation that benefited his old firm, and led to a rise in the value of its shares.
Morneau insisted he did nothing wrong and eventually agreed to donate his profits to charity.
Trudeau insisted Morneau followed the ethics commissioner’s advice and thus excused his finance minister from further repercussions.
Third, and perhaps most egregious, last week we learned from the federal ethics commissioner that Trudeau himself broke Canada’s conflict of interest rules designed to prevent politicians from taking bribes from lobbyists.
Trudeau took a gift — a lavish vacation to a private island— from a billionaire who lobbies the government and receives tens of millions of dollars in government handouts for his charitable foundation.
This is a serious issue.
Section 121(c) of Canada’s Criminal Code, for example, states everyone who is “an official or employee of the government” who accepts a “reward, advantage or benefit of any kind” from someone having a dealing with government is guilty of a crime punishable by up to five years in jail.
With rare exceptions, it is illegal for any government official to accept a gift from someone who has business dealings with the government.
Is Trudeau considered a “government official”?
Even if the Criminal Code doesn’t apply in this case, Trudeau has become the only prime minister in Canadian history to be found guilty of violating federal conflict of interest rules.
He appears to fit the classic definition of a politician who believes he is above the law.
All in all, 2017 was the year when the gloss began to fade from our celebrity prime minister.
After just two years in office, his government is already nose-deep in political corruption and ethical wrongdoing,and drowning in reckless fiscal mismanagement.