Who’s in Trudeau’s cabinet? It doesn’t matter, political power lies elsewhere
All eyes will be on the Liberal leader’s cabinet shuffle at Rideau Hall on Wednesday afternoon. But, to many observers, the confederacy arraigned around the cabinet table is as inconsequential as the deliberations in the House of Commons. Both cabinet and Parliament have been relegated to the role of rubber-stamping decisions taken elsewhere. The prime minister has surrounded himself with advisors of like mind and experience who act like a political praetorian guard.
As Donald Savoie, the country’s most eminent public administration academic, noted in his recent book Democracy in Canada, political power is no longer located in cabinet or in Parliament, but is now held by the prime minister and his immediate coterie of unelected advisors. In Trudeau’s case, virtually the same team that helped get him elected in 2015 will be re-confirmed as his closest political confidantes. Given the national unity issues this minority government is already facing, the preponderance of Ontario voices in that circle should be a concern to all Canadians.
Savoie pointed out that neither the Senate nor cabinet provide regional voices or perspectives any more, with the latter having become little more than a “focus group” for the prime minister. He noted that two key decisions on deployment to Afghanistan – one by a Liberal government, one by a Conservative government – were made in the PMO, without input from the ministers of National Defence or Foreign Affairs.
The current prime minister promised to reverse the shift of governing from the centre when he took power but in Savoie’s opinion, “Trudeau fils has strengthened the centre of government rather than rolled it back.”
Power is run and retained by promoting the almost presidential brand of the prime minister. “Competing brands from ministers only dilute the prime minister’s brand and it is not tolerated,” Savoie said.
In that light, it doesn’t really matter all that much who gets what in the great cabinet sweepstakes. The Liberals lost two ministers in the election – Amarjeet Sohi and Ralph Goodale. Another – Jim Carr – is ill and may opt to be left out on health grounds this time. But that means 31 former ministers are returning to the House of Commons and it seems inconceivable that any will be dropped from cabinet. – Post Media
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And they wonder why nobody votes?