There’s no longer any other rational or compelling explanation for Heritage Minister Melanie Joly being a minister. She is, hands down, the worst cabinet minister in the Trudeau government. She’s a disaster. She’s incompetent. She’s inept. She makes Bev Oda look like a public relations whiz and Vic Toews look like a model of self-restraint.
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s just a short sampling of what others are saying about Minister Cassette (so named by Quebec pundit Paul Arcand, due to Joly’s insistence on robotic repetition of talking points):
- Globe and Mail: “Her fall from grace in her home province has been swift and merciless, sped by her maladroit attempts to sell a deal with Netflix. …”
- National Post: “She has been savaged in Quebec media, artistic and political circles.”
- Globe: “The minister has been roasted and ridiculed to her face on live radio and TV, and dismissed by commentators of all stripes as naive and – worst of all – unable even to understand what the fuss is about.”
- Québec’s culture minister: Joly makes him “speechless and angry … [she] legitimizes a fiscal inequity which grants preferential treatment to a foreign company over Canadian companies.”
- Michael Harris, iPolitics: “Joly’s medicine worse is than the disease. … [Joly’s policy] is absurdity in hot pursuit of farce.”
- Richard Martineau, Journal de Montreal: Joly sounds “like a living answering machine having a nervous breakdown.”
We could go on (and on), but printing all of Joly’s negative reviews might destabilize the Internet. Besides, you get the point. As one wag on the influential Quebec show Tout le monde en parle put it: “She makes us —-ing angry.”
Folks in the rest of Canada may think Joly’s cultural calamity isn’t front-page news, but they’d be wrong. As former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper discovered the hard way, ‘culture’ has an entirely different meaning in Quebec than in the rest of Canada. Woe unto the politician who is seen to be indifferent to the importance Quebec attaches to its truly distinct culture.
But Joly, a wrecking ball, wasn’t done yet. Non, monsieur! A few days after she pulled a pin on her Netflix hand grenade, then held onto it, Joly decided to insult every Jew in Canada.
Her department came up with a plaque for the National Holocaust Monument in Ottawa that didn’t mention Jews. Or the six million killed in the Holocaust. Or anti-Semitism.
Joly then thrust the prime minister into the middle of the controversy – which attracted negative media around the world – by inviting him to the unveiling of the monument.
Sen. Linda Frum noticed Joly’s error, tweeted about it and Joly speedily executed a whiplash-inducing volte-face. But the damage was done. The Jewish community won’t forget Joly’s insensitivity anytime soon.
And by keeping her in cabinet, Trudeau suggests to Canadian Jews that he doesn’t think it’s such a big deal.
How, then, does Joly survive?
This, after all, is the minister who turned Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations – and you only get one of those – into an unmitigated farce. The Ottawa Citizen recently got its hands on letters average Canadians wrote to Joly and her department about that day. They’re worth saving:
- “Shame on you Ottawa. Shame on you Heritage Canada and the organizers. You failed us!”
- “I have never seen such a poor, chaotic display. Shame on you Ottawa. You actually ruined Canada Day for many thousands of people visiting Ottawa.”
- A “shameful fiasco on many levels. … It was an explosive situation. … Wasn’t there any brain at the top? … I would like to hear a formal apology from your organization.”
- “The organizers of Canada Day 2017 should be ashamed of themselves for the shoddy work that went into this year’s event.”
- “I would respectfully suggest to Justin that he should consider sending you [Joly] for some intensive ‘major event planning’ training because you certainly flopped badly for the July 1 event on Parliament Hill this year.”
One anonymous citizen had the pithiest review and deserves the last word: “What a mess your department made! Time for you to resign!”
Will she? Not a chance.
Joly seems to have some serious leverage over the prime minister and isn’t afraid to use it.
Warren Kinsella is a Canadian journalist, political adviser and commentator.