Justin Trudeau and Bill Morneau do the ethics shuffle

Could we see a shakeup in Ottawa?

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Justin Trudeau to hire Ethics Czar?

In the midst of the WE scandal, The Hill Times thought it would be fun to ask a handful of pollsters whether Justin Trudeau should hire a PMO head of ethics to double-check the Prime Minister’s decisions and prevent the PM from conflicts of interest and other dubious situations. Fourth time’s a charm?

The Prime Minister’s Office already lists a legal advisor on staff, though this PMO has relegated the role to a more junior position. Under Stephen Harper, the principal legal advisor to the Prime Minister was also the Prime Minsiter’s deputy chief of staff.

Justin Trudeau was already moonlighting as the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Youth until 2018 — a role he gave up and split between Chrystia Freeland and (presumably) Craig Kielburger — so he may have some extra capacity to act as his own guide on ethics?

Will Morneau be shuffled this week?

It would be quite a shaky vote of confidence in his own government if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were to dump his Finance Minister during a global pandemic and economic crisis, but here WE are.

The Toronto Star, perhaps drunk on rightwing equity, has been hammering Trudeau’s continued support of the beleaguered Bill Morneau. Heather Scoffield has called Morneau “painfully out of touch” while Susan Delacourt — who has some of the best sources in Liberal Ottawa — is now openly speculating about a shuffle that could have ‘punitive’ elements.

Will Justin Trudeau ban TikTok?

Hint: it really doesn’t matter. But it was either this clickbait headline or a viral dance video.

President Donald Trump announced to reporters on Air Force on Friday night that he would ban TikTok from the United States and block the sale of the Chinese app to Microsoft, potentially by executive order. According to New York Times reporting, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin called South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham to gather political alternatives for the President, while others speculated that Senior White House advisor, and noted China hawk, Peter Navarro was the one who convinced POTUS to scuttle a potential deal with Microsoft.

This reportedly led to a phone call between the President and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella which gave the company confidence to pursue the purchase while assuring the President of a full review of the national security and economic implications of US-based acquisition of the app.

Microsoft’s aquisition of the video sharing social networking app would calm US concerns of China using the app to spy on Americans. The app has 80 million monthly users in the United States. The purchase would cover TikTok operations in not only the United States, but Canada, Australia, and New Zealand as well, according to the Times.

So, Justin Trudeau’s opinions of the application are largely moot even though TikTok was recently looking to hire a lobbyist in Canada to make its case to the federal government. Yet it does serve to underscore the dimished standing of Canada in national security discussions among the Five Eyes — the intelligence alliance between Canada, the US, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Trudeau has rendered Canada mute on the world stage when it comes to China’s growing aggression. Canada remains a holdout on banning Huawei’s 5G network among its intelligence allies. Most observers attribute China’s holding of two Canadian hostages and the Prime Minister’s diminished resolve as the reason why Canada has had nothing to say.

Other matters of importance

Paul Waldie covers the Kielburger/WE fall from grace.

Steven Chase has the story of two former Hong Kong legislators who now are hamstrung from asking for international assistance under China’s new security law.

Roy Green has an exclusive interview with the Parliamentary Budget Officer on the massive $343 Billion deficit and the potential path to getting Canada’s fiscal house back in order.


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