PM Trudeau had once gained a global status as a progressive political leader, but the SNC scandal has tarnished his golden image and his reputation as a competent Prime Minister. The scandal represents a complete breakdown of the PMO and a dysfunctional office under PM Trudeau. A Globe investigative story, by interviewing Trudeau’s inner circles, reveals how the scandal was brewing inside the Trudeau’s office and why his failed leadership set stages for the crisis.
特鲁多上任不久，就将大部分总理职责和日常政府工作下放给他的两个高级助理，首席执行官芭茨先生（Gerald Butts）和办公室主任Ms. Katie Telford女士。虽然特鲁多给人的开朗，善解人意的公开印象，但事实上他却缺乏作为总理所需的人际交往能力，并似乎难以胜任加国政府公众形象的职务角色。他很少给内阁部长们与他单独接触的机会，使得这些担任加国政府要职的内阁成员们在各种事宜只得“上报”总理的两位高级幕僚，并一切听从其管理和审批。长此以往麻烦也接踵而至。当芭茨和Katie Telford有要务缠身，全身心投入像购买跨山油管和进行美加墨三国贸易会谈等重头项目时，许多日常琐碎但重要事宜便无人打理。同时，两位高级幕僚也会提供意见相悖的建议，使两人之间产生隔阂和矛盾，有时甚至彼此拆台。
Trudeau delegated most of the PM responsibilities and day to day governance to his two aides, Mr. Gerald Butts, the principal secretary and Ms. Telford, the chief of staff soon after he took office. Contrary to the perceived image that PM is open and empathetic, he lacks expected interpersonal skills and isn’t comfortable for serving as a public face of his government. He appeared inaccessible to his cabinet ministers, leaving them to count on the management team formed by both of his aides. But signs of trouble started to appear. When Butts and Telford heavily engaged with more urgent issues – from managing the purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline or NAFTA negotiations, more prosaic matters slipped through the cracks. Butts and Telford had also provided conflicting advice that sparked tensions between them, turning them against each other and to undermine each other’s work.
These warning signs failed to sound an alarm to Trudeau, who continued his hands-off leadership approach. He was often away from Ottawa, traveling extensively across the world. He has made 41 international trips to 31 countries and stopped more than 200 locations in Canada since he took office in 2015.
Trudeau’s absence from his PM duties has caused inevitable damages. The excessive work-load had eventually led his top aides’ burnout, taking a toll on their work quality. The exhausted Butts failed to capture the evident troubling signs on SNC Lavalin criminal case, including W-B’s feeling of being pressured by the PMO. He didn’t recognize the potential risk that W-B may go public about her concerns if she were shuffled to a lesser important file. After the scandal was exposed, he was unable to focus on the big picture of the fallout but jumped from suggestions to suggestions about how to respond.
But the overtired Butts shouldn’t bear the entire blame for the system failure. The PM didn’t realize the potential danger before the scandal soared into a full-blown either. His lack of close cabinet relationship played a role in other ministerial departure after W-B resignation – including Ms. Philpott, who was privately expressing her discomfort about her role in the cabinet and Trudeau’s leadership.
Trudeau’s missteps continued as the scandal dragged on. He refused to deliver a heartfelt apology for the affair after Butts’ testimony before the parliamentary committee and rejected both R-B and Philpott from caucus. He made a desperate attempt to turn things around by resorting to the legal avenue, but it turned out to be the worst strategy for the PMO and the Liberals. By serving Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer with a libel notice about his comments about the scandal, it actively fuelled the story, allowing Scheer to go public with the legal threat a week later.
Compared with former PMs who served more than a single term, Trudeau seems to lack their firm handle on their political identity and dynamics of their government. As the cracks inside the PMO continues to fuel crisis and erode public confidence, the prospect of Trudeau to be re-elected gets increasingly gloomy.
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