Jan 7, 2023
Chronic weaknesses in the Liberal government weren’t fixed, the former finance minister says in a new book, and Canada’s prosperity suffered
Justin Trudeau’s “management and interpersonal communication abilities were sorely lacking,” former finance minister Bill Morneau writes in a new book. Lingering challenges were “not managed on a daily basis at the highest level.” The federal cabinet was “chosen not necessarily for what they brought to the business of governing but to the needs of promotion.” Morneau says the Prime Minister’s Office often told him to “give” quarrelsome colleagues “something to keep them happy,” so that “money became a means for the PMO to manage egos and relationships between cabinet ministers.”
The blunt and extended critique of the government in which he served from 2015 to 2020 is far from the only theme in Where To From Here: A Path to Canadian Prosperity, to be published Jan. 17 by ECW Press. Especially in its second half, the book presents Morneau’s case for government that would build better relationships within Ottawa and with the provinces, in pursuit of long-term prosperity that Morneau views as threatened.
His years in government “convinced me that productivity improvement is the most important issue on our agenda,” he writes, “and we are not focused on it.”
Morneau reveals early on what many suspected: when he resigned from the government at the height of the first COVID-19 lockdown in August 2020, it wasn’t primarily to seek the top job at the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, a global NGO dedicated to proposing growth policies for Canada and a bunch of peer countries. He did plan to try for the post, but he knew it was a long shot. Mostly he was furious at a campaign of embarrassing media leaks against him, orchestrated, he believed, from Trudeau’s office.
“I began by explaining to the prime minister that the leaks from his office about me and my ministry had become intolerable,” he writes. “They had grown in both number and degree of malice…”
Trudeau “replied that he was not aware of the leaks, and he had no idea where they were coming from.” Morneau doesn’t buy it. “Really?”