BARRETT: New year, same old antics from Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS

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Leaving scandals and overspending in 2018 clearly weren’t New Year’s resolutions of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – at least, not ones he managed to follow through on for very long.

On Dec. 28, Trudeau posted a fundraising video visibly shot in Centre Block in the prime minister’s office on Parliament Hill, asking viewers to “join tens of thousands of Canadians who have already donated this month by chipping in before our Dec. 31st deadline, so we can start 2019 strong.”

If by strong he actually meant wrong, mission accomplished.

Just a few days into 2019, the NDP caught wind and began rightly slamming the video for being in violation of rules that prevent MPs from using parliamentary resources to fundraise.

Those rules are pretty clear and pretty simple to follow. Parliamentary locations, such as the House of Commons and Centre Block aren’t allowed to be used for partisan reasons, including – as explicitly stated in a members bylaw – activities related to a member of parliament’s re-election, or solicitation for contributions or solicitation for membership to a political party.

NDP MP Charlie Angus called the act a “bush league” move from the prime minister, who should know better.

“He seems to believe that because he’s Justin Trudeau, prime minister, rules don’t apply.”

How did the Liberals respond? In an email, as reported by the National Post, party spokesperson Braeden Caley justified filming in Centre Block due to Trudeau’s time constraints and other important work as prime minister. He then said the party will look into making an “appropriate reimbursement” and then, of course, invoked Stephen Harper’s name and said that he did the same thing in a 2015 pre-election ad (except he didn’t – it was at 24 Sussex Dr.).

We flipped the script on 2018, didn’t we? Why is this sounding a lot like last year’s Aga Khan scandal? Trudeau knowingly violates rules, doesn’t care, his party justifies it, then tries to deflect by blaming Harper, who’s no longer in power, nor in Parliament.

Rinse, repeat.

Then, Postmedia’s Brian Lilley learned the federal Liberal government wanted to create a private helipad at the prime ministers’ Harrington Lake cottage. While the Prime Minister’s Office said Trudeau didn’t request the helipad, according to Lilley, it unfortunately sounds like another case of taxpayers getting hit with the bill for something that only the prime minister could benefit from, a la renovations to 24 Sussex.

Oh yeah, and the personal sauna, and swing set at the cottage, a golf cart worth $5,000 and snow removal costs totalling $17,000, The $1.5-million India trip and, once again, $215,000 for his Aga Khan trip.

None of these things are necessarily bad if Canada wasn’t in a difficult financial situation, racking up a massive deficit that is not pegged to be balanced for decades, depending on how future governments deal with spending. However, they do look bad given the current state of the economy.

Once again, Trudeau and his Liberal government are proving they are completely out of touch with the very middle-class they continually insist they’ve helped more than previous governments.

At this point, it’s pretty clear he’s not going to change his tune unless Canadians send him a very clear message in the October election later this year. Regardless of how it turns out, we can hope enough change happens to get him to stop taking more and more from taxpayers to cover perks for himself.

Then, perhaps, we can truly turn the page on the previous year and begin the next one anew.

-abarrett@postmedia.com

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