Don Martin: Rona Ambrose's vacation neutralizes attack on PM Trudeau
The rules are clear. Rona Ambrose did nothing technically wrong in yachting around the Caribbean last month with a billionaire buddy.
So why does the Official Opposition leader act like she's been caught playing golf in Florida with Donald Trump between Nordstrom shopping expeditions for Ivanka fashion wear?
The normally cool, calculating yet charismatic interim party leader has engaged in a daily rush of guilt-enhancing behavior since the news broke about her January frolic on the football-field-sized yacht of an Alberta-based investment titan.
That frothing scandal of the Prime Minister's helicopter lift and Aga Khan island getaway immediately became a toxic topic avoided in a question period, where her questions are some of the only ones Justin Trudeau will address.
All week long, the always-accessible Ambrose has declined routine interview requests, ducking out of caucus without comment and exiting the Commons through off-limits doors reserved for gun-shy MPs before dashing for the airport mid-week.
Of course, attacking Trudeau's luxury vacation in the Commons would risk enduring some carefully crafted comeback about her own glamourous getaway, a deadly quip no doubt gleefully highlighted in the prime minister’s talking-points binder.
But Trudeau at least faced the controversy quickly, albeit with a pat answer deflecting further comment to a future ruling by the ethics commissioner.
Ambrose has gone silent and run deep by way of damage control when, after almost a week of the issue in circulation, she must have a quotable quote ready by now to defuse the lousy optics.
What's particularly perplexing about both leaders and their high-falutin' hobnobbing is that nobody spotted trouble when those vacation plans were being circulated internally.
Journalists pouring into the public service from the media industry decimation are trained to be sharks, sensing blood in the political waters at great distances. Now they’re paid to block the scent before it is picked up by the profession they left behind.
Yet while a high school newspaper reporter could've spotted the discomfort of a middle-class-values prime minister under paid-access attack pushing the ethical boundaries to visit a family friend with an 11-digit net worth, no red flag was hoisted in the PMO.
And despite some bright people in her inner circle, Ambrose was never alerted about her own hypocritical optics until it was too late and she had to request a get-out-of-trouble card from the ethics commissioner between island pitstops.
All this has left two leaders with their reputations bleeding.
The sharks are having a field day.
And that's the Last Word.