It hasn't been a very good PR month for the Liberal brand.
In early May, Sophie
Trudeau – the prime minister’s wife – claimed “I need help”, suggesting she
needed more government-paid staffers to help her juggle family commitments with
her busy public life.
The comment prompted outrage from opposition party members and media, quick
to point out how she already has two nannies, a personal assistant, a
chauffeur, a personal chef and other amenities that few Canadians have.
No violins were playing for the woman who has more staff serving her than
any other prime minister’s wife, and the financial means to hire more help out
of her own pocket if she wished. (The wealthy Trudeaus, after all, gave their
$3,400 in federal
child subsidy to charity.)
About a week later, Prime
Minister Justin Trudeau had a little angry snit in the House of Commons,
manhandling a fellow MP and spewing coarse language. He subsequently
Still, in the same month, the Trudeaus took flak for extending their diplomatic
trip to Japan, to celebrate their anniversary there. Justified or not, it
was bad optics.
things up in the month of May, MP Bob Rae displayed child-like behaviour at the
recent Liberal convention.
During a speech there, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered a small dose of
praise for former prime minister Stephen Harper.
Rae, watching from the audience, was caught on video sticking two fingers
in his mouth, pretending to gag at the mention of Harper’s accomplishments.
His Twitter apology ("thoughtless gesture" and a "Joke in poor taste") likely would not have happened if a
journalist didn’t capture the gesture.
Stuff like this reminds me of what my grandmother Anne Novack once told me,
“there are mistakes that you make, and mistakes that you never should have
It’s one thing to be a newbie prime minister, lose your cool in an isolated
incident, and then humbly apologize for it as Justin Trudeau did in his
“manhandling”. It’s one thing to make an off-handed (and rather snooty) comment
about how tough family and work are to coordinate.
another thing to act like a child, and do something that most college-age
students wouldn’t dare do in a lecture hall, lest they be spotted by the
professor. It’s the same concept.
Rae ought to have the good sense enough to know to act dignified in public,
as a former party leader, MP, and a man of sixty-eight years of age.
Every experienced politician knows that the only real privacy they have is
what happens in their own home.
For a public figure, anything that occurs in public may, can, and will be
captured on film, and presented to the public. And that is something Bob Rae, a
politician of forty years, presumably knows well.
Given those facts, Rae, to be sure, has seen his fair share of colleagues’
“hot mic” incidents, such as much-criticized line from MP Mark Adler at the
Western Wall (“it’s the million
dollar shot!”). The cameras are always rolling when you’re a public figure.
Eyes are always watching; ears always listening.
Unfortunately, Bob Rae forgot that – or didn’t think he’d be caught, or
didn’t think anyone would care.
Perhaps this’ll be shrugged off soon enough.
Canadians seemed to have long-forgiven pre-PM Justin Trudeau for applauding
dictatorship, his joke
about the Ukrainian invasion, calling Peter Kent a “piece
of shit”, and a slew of other stupid gaffes.
The question is, now that the Liberals are in power, and the microscope is
focused mostly on them, will Canadians tolerate high concentrated doses of
If I were a Liberal public relations manager, I’d remind the party that the
public perception could go negative at any time, for any reason, for any length
And that it’s possible – because history has proof – that in the next
election the ruling government could, in theory, drop to three dozen seats,
because you weren’t liked as much as you though you were.