TORONTO - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Man who would be different, has unceremoniously dumped two former Cabinet Ministers from the Liberal Caucus. No Party can survive in Civil War mode, he said.
That signals that he has finally sought out advisors and communicators who read Shakespeare for inspiration rather than pour through Machiavelli’s Prince for advice. (I don’t think he has hired them yet) Like Julius Caesar of Ancient Rome, in 44 B.C., Justin looked around and saw enemies where he should have espied friends and grateful supporters.
Shakespeare scripted Julius turning to his lieutenant and chief of sta., extreme loyalist, Marc Anthony, as they passed by some malcontents and utter a caution, “Yon Cassius has lean and hungry look” (translation = he wants what I got). Cassius, soon after, led a cluster of like-minded conspirators to poke holes in Caesar’s armour-less body as he made his way to the Senate Chamber. Their knives were sharpened for the occasion.
We did it to save the Republic from Julius’ aggressive, dictatorial and manipulative leadership style, they said. Even Brutus, an esteemed patriot and Republican friend of Julius, bought in. A Civil War ensued. “Intrigue” has always been very much a part of the political systems we conjure up to bring order, purpose and civility to our interactions as collectives of men and women. Political success seems to be “the breeding ground” for self-serving conspiratorial types.
Today, more than 2,000 years later, Trudeau must have recognized the re-incarnation of Cassius loom a little too close and a little too often. This being 2019 A.D., Cassius looks different: Leona Alleslev, Celina Caesar-Chavannes, Jody Wilson- Raybould and Jane Philpott. Their weapons of choice? Social media and carefully crafted Press Releases. No party is immune to the phenomenon of internecine – fratricidal - warfare.
Thomas Mulcair, the nearly-Prime Minister NDP leader, was summarily dispatched by discontented and disappointed party faithful (stay alert Jagmeet). “Nice Guy” Conservative leader, Andrew Scheer, already has Maxime Bernier as his nemesis. The Conservatives are never in short supply of those who lust for the leader’s back. Stephen Harper was perhaps the most notorious. He turned against his employer Minister Jim Hawkes when the Reform Party tried to get off the ground in 1988.
Then, after getting elected in 1993, he chafed under Preston Manning for a while, until he left for a stint with the ultra-right Taxpayer’s Coalition. He came back to serve with Stockwell Day. That died too. But, hey, when he met up with another “altruistic, would-be leader”, Peter MacKay, things worked out for him (Stephen).
Brian Mulroney “did in” Joe Clark. In turn, thanks to the emergence of Preston Manning in Alberta and Lucien Bouchard, a Quebec friend of Mulroney, one of his protégé already, he "was done in" too. The country came to the brink of collapse. The party took a generation to recover.
It is not just a serpentine Conservative tradition. Jean Chretien couldn’t and wouldn’t work with John Turner. His “succession plans” didn’t include Paul Martin, whose acolytes couldn’t handle success; otherwise, Martin would still be Prime Minister today. After yesterday’s “pruning of caucus”, Justin Trudeau can get on with the purpose of government and an agenda for the country.
It’s been a harsh lesson but now he can continue to prune the desiccated, non essential branches of his Cabinet and PMO. Cosmetic surgery won’t help. Where does he want to take the country? What’s the Plan? Which lieutenants will execute the agenda? He should not waste time.