Don Martin: Mini shuffle was a transparent hit job on one key cabinet minister
Published Thursday, January 17, 2019 5:52PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 17, 2019 5:56PM EST
Rarely do you glimpse the mindset of a prime minister's inner circle when they punish a cabinet minister who is no longer to their liking.
But this week's mini shuffle was a transparent hit job on one key cabinet minister who appears to have forgotten her place as an obedient team player merely assigned to carry out orders from above.
The dark look on Jody Wilson-Raybould's face, her tense body language, that testy media availability and the unprecedented parting screed defending her legal legacy screamed fury at being demoted from top tier Justice to secondary Veterans Affairs on Monday.
The reasons at first seemed hard to fathom.
While Wilson-Raybould could be prickly in personality and demanding of her staff, most of the difficult-to-deliver demands in her mandate letter were checked off. Even if she had been slow to deliver results, she shares a front bench overflowing with modestly talented ministers who should've been replaced by brighter lights long before her.
But as whispers circulated, it became obvious this was indeed more personality clash than performance-failing.
Her unique sin appears to be venturing off the obligatory hail-Trudeau script when criticizing the pace of Indigenous reconciliation efforts – behavior she'd been cautioned against continuing by top PMO officials.
As Wilson-Raybould observed in her record-polishing rant, she fearlessly spoke truth to power and considers accelerating indigenous reconciliation her primary motivation for being in politics. For being less than fawning on the file, she paid the price.
This underlines the reality of cabinet ministers, a reality that is not unique to the Trudeau government. The "honorable" title doesn't mean they are free to freelance. The only measure of their performance is enacting orders and stuffing a sock in any personal disagreement.
The sheer transparency of this demotion underlines how egregious her off-script behavior was viewed from on high. They must've calculated sending the message of blind obedience to lower levels was worth the nasty optics of knocking down a woman who was the most senior Indigenous minister in Canadian history.
In the end, Jody Wilson-Raybould forgot the golden commandment of ministerial life: What the prime minister giveth in government cars, drivers, pay premiums and sycophantic support staff, he can taketh away without explanation or justification.
That's the last word.