Don Martin: Is Trudeau as controlling as Harper?
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Nov 5, 2014. (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Friday, November 21, 2014 5:55PM EST
Last Updated Friday, November 21, 2014 5:58PM EST
Stephen Harper is widely viewed as the control freak among federal party leaders.
Any Conservative MPs jaywalking outside the scripted lines of a PMO-controlled intersection will quickly feel the tires of the prime minister’s bus running them down.
But there is another.
Behind the sunshine disposition of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, a freakish tilt toward ruthless control is developing.
It started with the ouster of 32 senators from his caucus without any consultation. There was the so-called bozo eruption behind his unilateral all-candidates pro-choice fiat. Now the fixing of Liberal nomination battles to protect Trudeau’s star recruits from the indignity of membership voting is becoming a trend.
But Trudeau’s control was on particularly harsh display with his de facto conviction of two suspended Liberal MPs for allegedly sexually harassing NDP MPs who refuse to identify themselves or their complaint.
It’s getting to the point now where you almost have to pity limbo-dangled MPs Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti as their leader seeks a way to justify his guilty verdict.
The flash in Trudeau’s eyes suggests there’s a better chance of Harper buying an NDP membership and sitting as an Independent Prime Minister than their red carpet return to the Liberal caucus.
Of course, anyone covering politics knows new leaders must exert strong discipline or the cat herd known as caucus will scatter into all sorts of trouble.
Prime Minister Harper did what he had to do early in his reign, although his MPs believe he’s been far too heavy-handed far longer than necessary.
Justin Trudeau likewise needs to assert himself as a leader capable of making ruthless decisions, despite his pledge to recast politics as sunshine, lollipops and rainbows.
But there’s danger in going beyond strong leadership to become Stephen Harper’s ideological twin in leashing demoralized MPs to his neck-gouging choke chain.
Justin Trudeau may well need to be a control freak, but he should do it without the mean streak.
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