Justin Trudeau can't catch a bad break

The big news: Conservatives struggle with ethics as the Liberal leader beats a troll

Adrian Wyld/CP Images

“I’ve been listening to you. You need to listen to what I’m saying.”—Justin Trudeau
“I entirely reject these allegations.”—Dean Del Mastro

The last thing the prime minister needs is someone on his team arguing about ethics. Yesterday, Dean Del Mastro started arguing about ethics. The Conservative MP was, until a few weeks ago, Stephen Harper’s parliamentary secretary. That doesn’t suggest he was any kind of insider,  but Del Mastro’s name was attached to the prime minister. Surely, that demonstrated some level of trust between Harper and his man in Peterborough.

Now, Elections Canada is accusing Del Mastro of violating elections laws in 2008. He faces four charges, including exceeding spending limits and filing a false report. Nothing has been proven in court and Del Mastro denies any wrongdoing. Nevertheless, the NDP called for his removal from the Conservative caucus and, shortly after, that became so. For now, Del Mastro is an independent MP.

Whatever the outcome of this protracted squabble, which has seen Del Mastro lay low in the House of Commons as allegations have swirled for months, Harper’s team must be growing weary of playing defence on ethics. Whether or not anyone outside of the nation’s capital pays attention to these mini-scandals, the government can’t help but be distracted by them.

Justin Trudeau, on the other hand, couldn’t have asked for better press yesterday. The Liberal leader visited Steinbach, Man., earlier this week. The city of 13,000 lies in Provencher, the riding recently vacated by former public safety minister Vic Toews. At some point, Trudeau met Candice Cancade, the operations manager at a local food bank. She asked him what he thought about legalizing marijuana. He said the current approach to drug policy isn’t working. She disagreed. He rebutted. She pivoted. He retorted. The exchange was caught on video.

Steinbach Mayor Chris Goertzen, who was accompanying Trudeau through town, eventually shed some light on Cancade’s biography. As it turns out, she’s married to a man who used to be Toews’ executive assistant. Outed, she looked sheepish. Trudeau looked confident. He’d taken on a troll and won. Just ask the YouTube commenters. Stunningly, they unanimously support the Liberal.

Del Mastro’s dragging his party deeper into an annoying, disturbing ethical morass. Trudeau’s winning on the internet. While his opponents struggle to shed scandal on their way back to Parliament, the Liberal can’t catch a bad break.


What’s above the fold

The Globe and Mail Prime Minister Stephen Harper is determined to see Keystone XL approved.
National Post The Harper government may reduce tariffs on many consumer goods.
Toronto Star Ontario’s youth unemployment is worse than struggling American states.
Ottawa Citizen MP Dean del Mastro was charged with election-related offences.
CBC News BlackBerry lost $965 million in the second quarter of 2013.
CTV News BlackBerry’s revenue dropped 49 per cent in a year.
National Newswatch The Senate is examining Retired Liberal senator Rod Zimmer‘s expenses.

What you might have missed

THE NATIONAL Offshore oil. Statoil has found petroleum deposits in the Flemish Pass Basin, off Newfoundland’s coast, that it says could contain between 300 and 600 million barrels of oil. That could amount to the province’s third-largest oil deposit. The rest of the province’s offshore project are in the shallower waters of the Jeanne d’Arc Basin.
THE GLOBAL Iraq. Twenty-three people died in a spate of market attacks in the southern Baghdad neighbourhood of Dora and Sabaa al-Bour, a Shiite village about 30 kilometres north of the capital. Nobody claimed responsibility for the series of bombings, which are just the latest in a months-long surge in violence in the country that’s seen thousands of deaths.
THE QUIRKY Card shark. Stefano Ampollini, a 56-year-old Italian card player, was sentenced to two years in prison after he was convicted of using Chinese-made infrared contact lenses to spot cards marked with invisible ink at a Cannes casino. Ampollini and an accomplice racked up thousands of Euros in winnings before their suspicious behaviour tipped off authorities.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.