The Education of A Prime Minister

eBook - 2019
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"Canadians are very divided about their chameleon prime minister. Is Justin Trudeau a transformative prime minister, or does he just play one on television? When he entered politics, he came across as a frivolous person with no fixed principles. Now, he presents himself as a conviction politician. Is he real or phony? What motivated his metamorphosis--belief or opportunism? More prosaically, he appears a man of good intentions but in 2019, he will be judged on results. And those results have been disappointing for many, even in his own party. The ballooning deficit, the Trans Mountain Pipeline, his disastrous trip to India, the carbon tax, and many other miscalculations have done him and his party no favours. And while the Liberals concluded a new trade deal with the United States and Mexico, there are still many Canadians dissatisfied with the terms. As political columnist for the National Post since 2003 and Ottawa bureau chief for Postmedia for the past three years, John Ivison has watched Trudeau evolve as a politician and leader at home and abroad.... Ivison concludes that he has always been manipulative--good at understanding the feelings of others and playing on them. It has made him a formidable politician but one who may yet be undone by raising the bar too high; by promising to transform a country that was designed to withstand change."--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: [Toronto] : Signal, McClelland & Stewart, 2019.
ISBN: 9780771048975
Characteristics: 1 online resource (359 pages)
Additional Contributors: cloudLibrary
Alternative Title: Education of a prime minister


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Mar 26, 2020

Pretty quick read, and really absolutely nothing new in it--it's basically a well-researched review of Trudeau's political career--concluding (unfortunately) just before the 2019 election win. Not sure why a publisher would want this terrible timing for a book about the PM.
But one of the reasons I felt it would be interesting to read, is because Ivison is a National Post columnist and Ottawa bureau chief (definitely not on the Liberal Party payroll), so I wanted to see how he would handle his subject in book form.
Mostly fair, it turns out, but the underlying disdain is always bubbling near the surface, and comes out in his "conclusions" over the last few pages. None of which I really disagreed with, btw.
Of course, Ivison has a lot of Trudeau missteps to chose from, and he explains them all. And I mean ALL. But, to his credit, Ivison also balances that with explaining how Trudeau took over a 3rd place party, and took them to a majority win in one election cycle.
Harper (2015 version) and Scheer also come in for criticism for their missteps to open up the path for Trudeau's climb.

Oct 26, 2019

Ivison's material seems limited to what has been reported in the news (since he reports it, that's and advantage), and his analysis restricted to whether actions are politically advantageous or not. Wherry's "Promise and Peril" seems better.

Oct 10, 2019

Regrettably, Ivison shows not the slightest interest in monetary policy in this tome. He makes no mention of the 2016 renewal of the inflation control agreement that Trudeau’s Finance Minister signed with Governor Poloz, absolutely the worst such agreement since they started in 1993. It was the first such agreement ever to raise the target “true” inflation rate, pushing it up to 1.7% from 1.5% by the Bank of Canada’s estimate. Trudeau didn’t campaign in 2015 on a policy of higher inflation, but his government negotiated a higher "true" inflation target. The same agreement also plutoed the Bank of Canada’s operational guide, CPIX, which excludes the mortgage interest cost index, replacing it by a trio of core measures, none of which explicitly excludes mortgage interest, and one of which, CPI-common, is quite heavily weighted towards it. The Bank of Canada is now the only central bank in the world whose preferred measure of core inflation is sensitive to mortgage rate changes.
Ivison also makes no mention that when Trudeau caved to virtually all of Trump's demands in the final days of negotiations on USMCA, he agreed to a Chapter 33 on Macroeconomic Policies and Exchange Rate Matters, establishing a Macroeconomic Committee to prevent currency wars. This clause, unprecedented in previous US trade agreements, potentially amounts to a serious loss of Canadian sovereignty over its own monetary policy. (On the positive side, with the Bank of Canada signalling it may want to move to a much higher target rate of inflation in 2021, this may not be a bad thing, as the Americans would not take a positive view of this.
Ivison doesn’t ignore fiscal policy as he does monetary policy, but there are problems with his narrative. He writes: “As the transition team discovered when they came to power, the books were $12 billion worse than anticipated in the spring budget, so none of the parties would have managed to balance the books in 2015-16 without cutting costs to the bone.” Sure, now pull the other leg. This is ascribed to a confidential source, which seems to have been a problem with the entire book. Ivison spoke to his Liberal confidential sources and wrote down what they said as if it were Holy Writ, never even bothering to check what they said against government releases. The Conservative 2015 budget had forecast a $1.0B surplus for 2015-16. The PBO forecast a $0.7B surplus as late as April 2016, after the fiscal year had ended, and the actual estimate turned out to be a $1.0B deficit. The PBO attributed this to $3.9B in new tax and spending measures by the Liberals, without which there would have been a $2.9B surplus.
Trudeau’s Finance Minister Bill Morneau was projecting a much higher deficit for 2015-16 than finally emerged, even as the Fiscal Monitor was showing large part-year surpluses and the PBO was forecasting a surplus. Ivison makes no mention of a truly shameful episode in Question Period where Trudeau was asked repeatedly to justify his Finance Minister’s deficit forecast against the healthy surplus for the year 2015-16 in the Fiscal Monitor. All he had to do was read bullet points at the top of the Fiscal Monitor release to provide some justification for the improbable Finance Department forecast but he was too dim-witted even to do that. Instead he simply repeated economic bullets points from his 2015 election campaign, taking a victory lap as it were.
The book was published before the blackface photos and videos emerged of Trudeau. Since one of the photos of Trudeau as Aladdin in blackface actually was published twice by the West Point Grey Academy in Vancouver where Trudeau was teaching one wonders why Ivison never saw it and reported on it.

Sep 08, 2019

This accounting of Trudeau's first term as Prime Minister is not flattering and it's not even balanced, particularly in the closing observations.

What is it, however, if fair.

The author does give credit for success, holds the opposition to account when appropriate and holds Trudeau and team to account when they fail to live up to their own self imposed standards.

The author is to be commended for his work. Not sure that it is an extreme enough defense or condemnation to appeal to the tribalism creeping into Canadian discourse, but it is an above average attempt to document events rather than to merely justify pre existing bias.

Aug 24, 2019

Well written exposition on the ups and downs of the Trudeau administration. Sympathetic and balanced : highlighting Trudeau's brilliance as a retail politician, but questions the value of some of their programs. Child poverty had actually gone down in the previous years rather than needing a debt based cash infusion; creating a long term entitlement. General income had gone up. Economists tell us that per capita GNP has been flat during the Trudeau years. Total GNP has gone up stimulated by the US boom while capital investment has fled the country. If you take away immigration effects GNP would be flat (has given us more people in the divisor of per capita GNP). Trudeau has promised sunny ways but has created more divisions. Pushing "progressive" ideology on China, Trump and others was certainly silly. I was struck by an early statement in the book that Trudeau didn't want to go into politics because it required "dissembling". He seems to have overcome that reticence and learned the skill well.

As we approach a recession and Trudeau has robbed the cookie jar I wonder how our debt ridden economy will fare. Thank God he wasn't in charge in 2008.

debwalker Jul 26, 2019

Complex guy from a complex family. So who's perfect? It's all relative.

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