Attempted Power Grab: The true face of Justin Trudeau

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Attempted Power Grab: The true face of Justin Trudeau


In the view of this Alberta criminal lawyer, the coronavirus pandemic should not be used as a tool for the opportunistic.  It appears that the Trudeau Government tried to use the distraction caused by COVID-19  to grant itself a majority government for the purpose of managing Canada's economy.

How did this happen?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada – who I must praise for presenting a strong face of leadership during this COVID-19 crisis – recently stealthily attempted to include expansive Government powers within collectively bargained emergency legislation.   As written by Columnist Licia Corbella:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his minority government tried to sneak a power grab never before seen in our history into its emergency spending bill that would have, in essence, ripped up the Canadian Constitution, trampled the Magna Carta, damaged the very raison d’etre of Parliament and the role of the opposition and spit on the war graves of those who have fought and died for Canada’s democratic way of life.

Though the Liberal power grab was unsuccessful, the attempt nevertheless revealed the true face of Canada’s governing party.  

In addition to emergency measures to help Canadians in this time of crisis, “[t]he bill, tabled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, would [have allowed] cabinet to create, remove or modify any tax through regulations, and therefore without the approval of Parliament”.

minority government

It is important to keep in mind that the Liberal Party governs with a parliamentary minority; meaning that they need to work closely with other parties to successfully create legislation.  

In response to COVID-19, Parliament – to include all political parties – negotiated a coronavirus economic relief package.  When the bill was sent for reading before a reduced House of Commons, opposition parties learned that the Liberals added clauses that would give them “…the authority to “purchase or hold a company’s shares,” offer new lines of credit, and guarantee pools of debt without the need for new legislation…”.  

The added measures were designed to give Liberal Finance Minister, Bill Morneau - who is personally connected with Morneau Shepell, Canada’s Largest Human Resources firm (and a publicly-traded company) -- virtually unchecked economic power.  

By attempting this dirty trick, the Federal Liberals broke faith with Canada’s opposition parties, who worked hard, in a non-partisan fashion, to quickly pass legislation to help Canadians.  While communicating with Canadians that his Government is working hard to help them, it appears that Justin Trudeau and his friends were really trying to help themselves.

In my opinion, it was both unethically opportunistic and undemocratic in the extreme for Mr. Trudeau and his Liberal Government to attempt such a shady power grab.  It is further noteworthy that the Federal Liberals tried to run-through legislation in circumstances where only about 10% of the House of Commons was sitting; meaning that there was a greater possibility that their added measures would have gone undetected. Thankfully they did not.

According to Yves Giroux, “[t]hey’re trying to go from a system where Parliament grants taxation power to the executive, to the executive deciding without the will of Parliament whether or not tax legislation will be amended. They could do whatever they want.”

To my mind, this was effectively a dirty trick attempt by a minority government to seize the power of a majority. 


Justin Trudeau is arguably the master of the false face.  Caught-in-the-act, he responded:

“…I want to make it very clear: I believe in our democratic institutions. All of us in parliament must work together, and Canadians need to see us doing just that. So, you have my unwavering commitment. We will protect and uphold democratic values. We will protect and uphold democratic institutions as we deliver support to Canadians as quickly as possible”.

The question is, how can Canada’s opposition parties now work in good faith with a Government that just tried to pull a fast-one? Frankly, I am not sure it’s any longer possible.  

Trudeau's  actions of apparently trying to sneak a power grab by Parliament is not consistent with his words that “all of Parliament must work together”.  It cannot be said that the Liberals were "working together" with anybody when they secreted-in clauses to cloak themselves with more power.

What was arguably an attempted Liberal coup of Parliament was, to my mind, not aligned with upholding our democratic institutions. When Mr. Trudeau says that he values our democratic institutions, I don’t think he acted in a way that allows us to believe him.  If Justin Trudeau really believed in democratic institutions, it would be his actions, not his words that count. In the opinion of this Calgary defence lawyer, what Mr. Trudeau says does not necessarily reflect what he does or what he believes.  

Think about it this way: if Mr. Trudeau really believed in our democratic institutions, why would he, as a Prime Minister leading an apparently democratic country, need to convince us with words that he believes in the value of a democracy if he wasn't doing things to undermine our democracy?  

A necessary illusion is a process of thought control used by the political establishment to prevent effective democracy. In his book, Necessary Illusions, Noam Chomsky wrote:

"Within the reigning social order, the general public must remain an object of manipulation, not a participant in thought, debate and decision".

Canada's Liberal Government opportunistically attempted to seize power on the distraction caused by a global crisis.

In the view of this Calgary criminal lawyer, Justin Trudeau has mastered the art of the false face. As Canadians, can we believe a Prime Minister who has mastered this art?

One thing is certain: once this pandemic has washed through and lives return to whatever the new normal will be, there must be a reckoning.  This power grab may be the most significant non-virus issue that occurred for Canadians during the coronavirus pandemic.


David Chow

Charged with a criminal offence? Scanning the Internet for Calgary criminal lawyers?  Call David Chow for a free telephone consultation.