Cabinet ministers don't resign nowadays, they just linger and then get shuffled

Cabinet ministers don't resign nowadays, they just linger and then get shuffled
From CBC - December 7, 2017

Five ministers resigned from Brian Mulroney's cabinet in the first two years of his term, and several more would depart as a result of unflattering situations in the years hence.

But, with typical elan, Brian Mulroney remembered his willingness to accept the resignations of his ministers as a mark of naive idealism.

"In 1985 I believed that ministers should be held to the highest standards of professional and personal behaviour ... Practically, however, I realize now that I handed the opposition and media yet another weapon to use against us later," the former prime minister wrote in his memoirs published in 2007.

"I failed to understand that I was going to be pilloried for accepting ministerial resignations and not respected for demanding them."

Be that as it may, Mulroney's cabinet ministers still had a special flair for finding trouble. His defence minister was bid adieuafter visiting a strip club in West Germany. The fisheries minister was dispatched after approving the sale of sub-standard tuna.

By comparison, the misadventures of Justin Trudeau's ministers seem rather unadventurousperhaps not even Mulroney would have asked for their resignations just yet.

But hunting ministers remainsone of Ottawa's favourite pastimes. And while the federal government has been busy doing the various things a federal government doesadministering programs, appointing judges, implementing policythere has lately been a convergence of trouble for Justin Trudeau's cabinet.

Indeed, at least three ministers are now competing for ownership of the adjective "embattled."

The troubles of Lebouthillierand Hehr

Trudeau, like the other prime ministers who followed Mulroney, has likely understood that dispatching a minister does not so much resolve a problem as it confirms the existence of serious wrongdoing.

Still, for at least a moment or two on Tuesday, it seemed Kent Hehr, the minister for persons with disabilities, was going to be in an untenable position aftera group ofthalidomide survivors accused him of making a series of insensitive remarks during a recent meeting.

But then he categorically deniedthe most unflattering of the comments attributed to him. And after asking two questions about the allegations on Tuesday afternoon, the Conservatives dropped it entirely on Wednesday.

For the Liberal government's sake, Hehr'sembarrassment might haveat least distracted attention away from the plight of National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier.

On Monday, Lebouthillier was asked to account for new concerns about the Canada Revenue Agency's handling of the disability tax credit, reviving an issue that first emerged in October.

Before that, there was a tempest over the CRA's apparent plan to tax employee discounts.

And then, for good measure,there was the auditor general's finding that the CRA was difficult to reach by phone and providing taxpayers with incorrect information.

Making it harder for the disabled to claim a government benefit they are entitled to as the CRA is alleged to be doing is not a good look, nor is not seeming to be in firm control of one's own department.

The fate of Bill Morneau

Wait for the next shuffle


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