Ralph Goodale: The Great Obfuscator.

One of the secrets of individual longevity in politics in Saskatchewan is that nobody in the province can tell a Conservative from a Liberal. This came to mind last weekend watching Global Television’s program The West Block. The new program host, Vassy Kapelos, asked Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale a couple questions and virtually turned the program over to him.

With more than 40 years in both federal and provincial politics, veteran Ralph Goodale is never at a loss for something to say. In fact, he is about the most boring politician in Canada.

What Vassy got was vintage Goodale. A question to him is an opportunity to take off on a flight of fancy. The only appreciation you can attain from the experience of listening is that you are thankful when he finishes. At one point Vassy looked like she was falling asleep. And he never really answered one of her questions.

When Prime Minister Trudeau first appointed Goodale, John McCallum and Stéphane Dion as the greybeard triumvirate of his cabinet, you could assume that the newbies in the cabinet would gain from the experience but have few chances to speak.

John McCallum will be forever known as the Canadian Minister of National Defence who was not aware of the role of Canada in the Dieppe Raid during the Second World War. To be fair though, he earned approbation for the fine job he did as Immigration Minister in the early Justin Trudeau cabinet on the Syrian refugee file. He might have crossed swords with Trudeau though when he urged restraint on higher numbers of refugees in the following year.

But for whatever reason, Minister McCallum has gone on to his reward as Ambassador to China.

It was not as easy to dump Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion. A cerebral friend of the environment, Dion might not have been the most willing of the cabinet to go along with Trudeau’s decision to approve the Kinder-Morgan pipeline expansion in B.C. Dion might have seen the various environmental trade-offs by Trudeau as betrayal.

Dion created an interesting problem for Trudeau when he at first turned up his nose at taking the ambassadorial role offered in Europe. Yet, who could resist the challenge of being ambassador to both Germany and the European Union simultaneously? Mind you, the German elections coming up later this year could end the German dominance of the EU and that would make the job more difficult.

And this is why Ralph Goodale’s role in cabinet has become more important. As the last guru and greybeard, right-wing influence and obfuscator, we will likely be seeing more of Goodale than we really want to.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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