By: Surjit Flora
Many years back, the Toronto Star published a front-page story about now ex-Minister Navdeep Bains, with the headline “The Future Prime Minister of Canada.” It was intended to show a possible future of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party.
As Bains suddenly stepped aside from his position as Innovation and Science Minister Tuesday, that future is now unclear, citing that he would retire from politics after the next federal election.
After reaching for the stars, Bains was seen as a guardian, not only of Liberal candidates in Peel but also of Trudeau. He was a lifeline during the current pandemic, playing a key role in securing PPE, doses of the Pfizer vaccine and more contributions. Now, post-politics, he has made enough business contacts to secure a very lucrative financial future?
A significant focus of Bains’ mandate was to spur innovation and economic development in Canada. Following public consultations across Canada in 2016, he launched the Inclusive Innovation Agenda, identifying three priority areas for the country: finding better ways for more Canadians to get the skills the global economy demands, harnessing emerging tech to create jobs, and revamp technology to make the Canadian economy more competitive.
In 2016, he also launched Connect to Innovate, a program that invested $500 million to bring high-speed Internet to be rural and remote communities across Canada. In 2018, Bains announced $950 million for various national superclusters of innovation across the country. In total, the projects Bains has supported have brought in nearly $4.1 billion in total investments in the automotive sector. He also locked in the manufacturing of the C-Series in Montréal, protecting 6,000 direct jobs in Ontario and Québec in the aerospace industry. He also launched Canada’s first-ever Intellectual Property Strategy.
Bains has represented the riding of Mississauga—Malton since 2015. He previously described the Mississauga—Brampton South riding from 2004 to 2011 while Paul Martin was Prime Minister. On Nov. 4, 2015, he was appointed the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.
Also, in 2006, Bains co-chaired the Liberal Party of Canada (Ontario) ‘s annual general meeting in Toronto. Because of his position in the Party and the roles he has been given, Bains was seen as a rising star, and he was selected three years in a row by a Hill Times survey as the best up and comer.
It’s shocking that after all the achievements and years of hard work, he would just end it after spending nine months of pandemic lockdown at home with his family. It’s hard for me to chew on and might be very tough for Canadians to swallow it.
Bains has been coasting off Trudeau’s utterly submissive flattery, sitting in the background enjoying an easy, free ride. He wouldn’t have quit without good reason, not just because his daughter spoke to him.
Did he witness some corruption and is leaving before he gets entangled in some criminal activities? Maybe he’s become a victim of a company he’s been supporting? The online rumour mills also suggest that there is movement on an RCMP investigation into alleged illegal real estate dealings Bains was involved in, as well as an alleged gambling debt scandal.
Did the controversial land deal have anything to do with this? Is this another corrupt Liberal who used his insider cabinet information to profit? If so, Trudeau probably told him he needed to step down and avoid another controversy. That’s how this Party plays.
Of course, in a time of pandemic with massive debt, no accountability, ethic and moral problems and weak leadership, anything to deflect from the true state of affairs for this government.
His sudden decision to leave politics ahead of the next election was unexpected, as Bains was a close insider of Trudeau’s who had been given increasing responsibility within the Liberal Party, including key roles in shaping recent campaign strategies.
Bains helmed the vaccine deals with several major drug developers — it’s concerning that he’s stepping back amid a pandemic. Regardless of his motives, his departure will be a tough pill to swallow for the Liberals.