Who quits for no reason?

Being principal secretary to the prime minister is no flunky appointment. It is a position of high trust and higher pay. I have known various people in the role, both liberal and conservative, over the years. From the time that Marc LaLonde kidded some of us insiders that all he wanted to be was an ‘éminence gris’ and his friend Pierre Trudeau asked him to be his principal secretary, to the surprise resignation of Justin Trudeau’s friend Gerald Butts the other day, nobody has made a lasting career of the job.

The difference was that Marc’s experience with the Privy Council Office was invaluable to Pierre Trudeau in penetrating the layers of the government power structure in 1968. It took time, but they wrested the power from the bureaucrats and gave it to the cabinet members.

In selecting Butts as principal secretary, Justin Trudeau had a friend at his back but not much help. Their talents were similar instead of complementary. You are better to have someone in that job who is yin to your yang.

As obvious as it was in the 2015 election, that the troika of Butts, Telford and Trudeau running the liberal campaign were novices, the outcome was easily forecast. It was theirs for the taking. It was a time for change. There were some foolish promises and failed promises.

But the honeymoon is over. The realities of office are more than selfies and fun in the sun. It is time when there were some adult hands at the helm. You cannot be a conservationist and a pipeline owner. You cannot be a feminist and demote a competent woman. You cannot pretend to offer olive branches and try to destroy minor opposition. You cannot just brush off promises made, promises broken.

You cannot turn the liberal party into your personal fund pool and expect them to also man the barricades when you need a ground game. You cannot promise democracy and act as an autocrat.

At a time when we need competent leadership, there is so little from which to choose.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

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