Corbella: Trudeau’s spin about Morneau’s departure is insulting

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The last federal election was on Oct. 21, 2019. Morneau says he never intended to run more than two terms but nobody runs in an election with the intention of staying in office for less than 10 months — nine months and 28 days to be exact.

He says it’s the “right time for a new finance minister.” Having a finance minister resign in the middle of a global pandemic that has clobbered the economy is the wrong time for a new inexperienced finance minister. Were it not for the WE Charity controversy Morneau would still be finance minister, not Chrystia Freeland, who was sworn in Tuesday as Canada’s first female finance minister.

“I still intend to continue to serve and have decided to put my name forward to become the next secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development,” added Morneau. “The prime minister has given me his full support in this quest. I’ll be spending the next few weeks preparing for this bid.”

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau arrives for a news conference, where he is expected to announce his resignation, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

So, he’s giving up his job as the finance minister of a G7 country during a pandemic to try to win the top job of the OECD? If he manages to get that job — and there’s no certainty of that — it’s not a lateral move — it’s a precipitous plunge.

“Morneau’s reasons for leaving are not credible at all,” says Duane Bratt, a political science professor at Mount Royal University. “The fact that no one is even mentioning the OECD the very next day tells you that there’s no credibility there to this ruse.”

What’s more, challenging times are exactly the kind of scenarios strong finance ministers have to be torn away from. Jim Flaherty’s strongest legacy was deftly steering Canada’s economy through the rough waters caused by the 2008-2009 economic crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic is precisely the kind of thing Morneau likely wanted to help the country weather, adds Bratt.

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