Trudeau’s non-answer answers are not transparency

By now, most Canadians tuned in to federal politics have come to realize they were conned by all the promises of heightened transparency and accountability that were dished out when Justin Trudeau was making his run to be prime minister.

His Liberal government is anything but transparent.

If Trudeau has mastered anything since assuming the mantle of prime minister, it is the art of giving non-answers during Question Period where he appears to have little or no respect for traditional democratic principles or anyone who is not a Liberal.

This was never more evident than on Monday when, after a two-week break, the opposition finally got a chance to grill the Liberals on their proposed changes to House of Commons rules.

What the Liberals want, for example, is for questions to the prime minister to be limited to one day a week, a situation which would obviously allow Trudeau to dodge attending Question Period on all days but one — if he deems to show up at all.

They also want electronic voting, thereby alleviating MPs from the arduous task of having to actually stand up to be counted.

These two changes alone represent walking away from increased accountability, not walking towards it.

While Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s “stolen valour” controversy garnered most of the headlines, Question Period watchers — yes, there are few — got to witness the prime minister figuratively looking down his nose and ridiculing NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, arguably one of the more adept interrogators in the House.

More than ridicule, it was closer to mockery.

When Government House Leader Bardish Chagger was standing to answer a question Mulcair had directed at the PM, Trudeau’s voice could be heard on Commons video mutedly heckling Mulcair.

“It’s amazing the NDP rejected him,” Trudeau said, condescendingly. And then, a few seconds later, he added, “The outgoing leader? The interim leader?”

When contacted by the CBC, the Prime Minister’s Office did not deny these remarks were made, but refused to comment on whether Trudeau was being serious or sarcastic.

Mulcair, however, had had enough of Trudeau’s non-answers on Monday, as should most Canadians — citing the fact that Stephen Harper, even at the height of the Senate scandal, at least had the cojones to show up at Question Period to face the music.

“The prime minister wants to change the fundamental rules of Parliament in order to help himself. And why all of this?” asked Mulcair.

“Well, because he says he values Question Period and accountability. That’s why he wants to scrap it.

“If that’s true,” said Mulcair, “(then) why doesn’t he stand and ask Canadians to listen to answers to some of our questions instead of (responding with) his usual platitudes and non-answers?”

When asked following Question Period what he thought of Trudeau’s sideshow comments, Mulcair went straight to the crux.

“What you saw today was essentially that Justin Trudeau believes in transparency only when it suits his purpose,” said Mulcair.

The NDP leader is not wrong — not that Justin Trudeau appears to give a damn.

markbonokoski@gmail.com

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