Marc Garneau is retiring from Parliament after almost 15 years. The Liberal MP marked his controlled descent onto terra firma in the House of Commons in 2008, elected as a Member of Parliament for the riding of Westmount–Ville-Marie (now Notre-Dame-de-Grace–Westmount) in Montreal. The former astronaut then slogged it out in opposition during Stephen Harper’s rise to a majority government in 2011 – until 2015 when the Liberals formed government under the leadership of Justin Trudeau.
The first Canadian in space launched his bid for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada against the low payload son of a former Prime Minister in 2012, but aborted when it became clear that Trudeau’s selection by Liberal members was following a single-stage-to-orbit trajectory.
In government, Garneau would go on to serve as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Transport, but eventually found himself on the backbench in a push by the PM to renew the faces in cabinet and for superficial gender balance.
Garneau is a cautionary tale for anyone seeking office while relying on their resume to cement their success as a legislator. Though he had some success in cabinet, the navy captain had perhaps the most impressive credentials of any Parliamentarian, but was eventually jettisoned, with the Prime Minister favouring flash over sustained burn.
The Trudeau government’s style has been heavily focused on image in place of the substantive; it is a government concerned more about how their look will play on social media, rather than how their policy will find its foundation.
The former NASA shuttle mission specialist departs at a time when speculation is growing about the successor to Justin Trudeau.
The former private school teacher turned G7 leader is facing a new scandal in Parliament over the alleged interference of the Chinese Communist government during the 2019 and 2021 Canadian federal elections. Beijing is alleged to have agitated and put resources toward the election of a Canadian government led by Justin Trudeau.
During what may be an election year, it is also during this part of the Parliamentary calendar when those who have options outside of elected life start to seriously consider their escape trajectory. This is especially true for ageing governments whose re-election isn’t as likely today as it was yesterday.
Trudeau is more likely than Garneau to be smarting over the loss of his Tik Tok account – now banned from the devices of Parliamentarians as a security risk posed by China. Indeed, Garneau is certainly a man out of time. As the Prime Minister’s image wanes, we may all yearn for an era of renewed substance.