Political cynicism is rampant these days. Not because of the annual jokes of politicians working hard attending barbecues, flipping pancakes or going to various community celebrations. Other than time behind a griddle, the perception of politicians is that there are particularly conspicuous with trying to being in the public eye when they can during the summer. 

Time to make hay as the legislatures and Parliament are out for summer. 

That is except if you are Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his long time pal Gerald Butts.

Butts who resigned as principal secretary …aka…chief advisor for Trudeau, quietly came back or did he actually ever really leave, to the federal Liberals as he is being reported in national media to be back helping the Liberals as time rolls on towards the scheduled Oct. 21 federal election date.

In mid-February of this year, Butts resigned over his involvement in the SNC-Lavalin controversy. It appeared that Butts was part of the Prime Minister’s Office which was trying to put pressure on Minister of Justice and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene by offering SNC-Lavalin a deferred prosecution agreement in a criminal case against the Quebec company. The political fallout was tremendous and Butts made a very public departure as he fell on the sword for the entire PMO.

Now he has quietly slipped back into the Liberal fold. He is back in the news as he made some disparaging comments about India’s Prime Minister Narendras Modi in an interview for a book written by a National Post columnist John Ivison called Trudeau: the Education of a Prime Minister.

In the interview which was made before his departure in February, Butts accused the Indian prime minister of sabotaging the now-infamous Trudeau visit to India in 2018. Trudeau had a disastrous trip public relations wise and now these comments don’t help an already tenuous relationship with India and can’t look good on the world stage at a time when Canada is having trouble with trading partners, especially in the agriculture field. 

Butts has had a busy career holding a principle secretary job with former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty; campaign advisor to the Ontario Liberals; president and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund amongst other jobs. He knows how the political game works. 

The trouble is, there are a lot of bureaucrats and  behind-the-scenes people of all political stripes who are just like Trudeau’s buddy. It is all about networking, who is friends with who and patronage appointments. 

Political parties and some members in the media complain Canadians need to get out and vote. I believe that is the case as well but it is understandable why they don’t. 

Cynicism.

If Butts and the prime minister’s office didn’t get into trouble or were investigated about these serious allegations and if Butts basically went on “a holiday” or just stayed out of public light for a while as what appears to be the case, how does a voter in the upcoming federal election trust anyone?

The Liberals… after all the selfies were over, there seemed to be controversy and confusion with the government. If you need reminding of what just listen to the campaign once it kicks into high gear in the fall. In a June Abacus Data poll, the Conservatives (32 per cent approval rating) have been disappointingly quiet with Andrew Scheer not grabbing hold of the opportunity presenting itself with all the criticism of the Liberals (33%). The NDP hovers between 16-18 per cent with only the federal Green’s making headway, especially in the East going up from 6 per cent in January 2018 to 12 per cent in June 2019.

No one is moving up, no one is moving down despite all the controversies. Why is that? Poorer reporting of issues? Other things for voters to worry about? The concept of controversies are overblown?

Voters have controversy fatigue. There are only so many “(BLANK)-Gates” voters can take and absorb. These people are paid relatively well and are supposed to be our leaders and representatives. They are spending the ever increasing taxpayers’ money, hard to put your support behind them when the voter has no faith in them or in the system to weed the wrong ones out. 

Potential voters feel they have better things to do than support someone or a party that  will inevitably disappoint.

Ryan Dahlman is the managing editor of Prairie Post East and Prairie Post West

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