It was a self-inflicted bad week for the Liberals

, , Comments Off on It was a self-inflicted bad week for the Liberals

The prime minister has repeatedly stated the top government priority is reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. That should have been more important than dealing with the challenges facing veterans.

Wilson-Raybould was right to be irked about the move.

As a good soldier, she said all the right things about her new portfolio but her body language made it very clear. This was neither a welcome, nor a lateral move.

This is the second time a Liberal Indigenous minister has been downgraded.

The last was when Hunter Tootoo left cabinet and caucus to deal with a substance abuse problem coupled with an inappropriate staff relationship.

That occurred almost two years ago. Since then, he has cleaned up his act, but repeated attempts to rejoin the Liberal caucus have been spurned.

Seamus O’Regan successfully underwent treatment for substance abuse and was rewarded with a cabinet position. Tootoo is still lingering in limbo.

Both have much in common. They have struggled with the demons of alcohol. But O’Regan has been rewarded for coping while Tootoo has been shunned.

Prime ministerial insiders were spinning that Raybould-Wilson was hard to get along within cabinet.

When her people have expectations that have been stoked by government, she had no choice but to fight harder for change.

The second problem was the Wechat posting by the Liberal candidate in Burnaby-South.

Everyone knows that politics can be clannish, and Wechat happens to be a site that is mostly used by Chinese speakers. So Wang probably thought she was speaking inside the beltway when she urged Chinese compatriots to vote on the basis of race.

It exhibited incredibly poor judgment on her part. The party moved quickly to replace her as a candidate but the racial undertones of the posting create long-term political problems for the Liberals.

The Chinese and Indo communities are both important in multiple ridings in the Greater Toronto Area and British Columbia.

For the Liberals to beat the Conservatives in the next election, they need to be able to count on victories in ethnically diverse ridings.

As a general rule, Indo-Canadians tend to be hugely politically active while members of the Chinese community prefer a more discreet role in the process.

If the New Democrats are successful in reinforcing the wedge that has been opened by the Liberal mistake, they could pick up support in ridings that heretofore have been grit bastions.

Trudeau and his team cannot afford to be complacent in this pre-election period.

A cabinet minister was quoted as saying they wanted Singh to win the by-election, so the loss of a Liberal candidate was no big deal.

That kind of arrogance rubs Canadians the wrong way. Even if strategic Liberal thinkers might prefer the current NDP leader, claiming his weakness will bring voters to the Liberals, they should keep that notion to themselves.

Trudeau’s cabinet shuffle was based on bad advice. Whoever recommended the demotion of Raybould-Wilson should bow out.

Sheila Copps is a former Jean Chrétien-era cabinet minister and a former deputy prime minister. Follow her on Twitter at @Sheila_Copps.