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Most Canadians are not lucky enough to have an MP like Joël Lightbound. He is the opposite of a grandstanding opportunist. Unlike most of the trained seals in the House of Commons, the 34-year-old member of Parliament for the Quebec City riding of Louis-Hébert has spurned rabid partisanship. This undoubtedly has something to do with his basic temperament – poised, conscientious and diligent. But it also stems from his firsthand experience with the tragic fallout of the politics of division that has sadly become the norm in Canada and abroad.

Mr. Lightbound’s riding is home to the Centre culturel islamique de Québec, where six men were killed by a lone shooter five years ago. Mr. Lightbound was just 28 and had been an MP for barely a year when the tragedy forever changed his community, and his own life. Building bridges has been his political modus operandi ever since. Turning down the volume, too. His Quebec Liberal colleagues liked his extended-hand approach so much they elected him as caucus chair.

On Tuesday, Mr. Lightbound resigned from that position after delivering a stinging critique of his own government’s reaction to the siege of downtown Ottawa by a convoy calling for an end to public-health restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. While he did not single out Justin Trudeau, his comments were a clear repudiation of the Prime Minister’s approach.

“From a positive and unifying approach, a decision was made to wedge, to divide and to stigmatize,” Mr. Lightbound said, pointing to the federal government’s vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers. “I fear this politicization of the pandemic risks undermining the public’s trust in our public-health institutions. This is not a risk we ought to be taking lightly.”

You do not have to sympathize with protesters – indeed, you can be as “disgusted” by their behaviour as Mr. Trudeau claims to be – to recognize that the Prime Minister provoked truckers with a vaccine mandate on the industry based on non-existent epidemiological evidence of such a policy’s effectiveness amid a tidal wave of Omicron infections. Responsible leadership involves weighing the costs of any public-health measure, not just throwing curveballs at the Conservatives. The trucker vaccine mandate smacked a lot more of the latter than the former.

Mr. Lightbound – who would likely have been named to cabinet long ago had it not been for the adjacency of his riding to that of Jean-Yves Duclos, a senior Liberal who is now Health Minister – has now issued a scathing rebuke of Mr. Trudeau’s leadership style that cannot go unnoticed by either his colleagues in caucus or Canadians in general. He has initiated a public conversation, particularly in Quebec, about whether Mr. Trudeau’s skill set is a poor match for this crisis.

So has former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney, in arguably an even more direct and damaging way than Mr. Lightbound. Decrying a leadership vacuum in Ottawa, Mr. Carney called, in a Globe op-ed this week, for a police crackdown on protesters paralyzing the capital and their accomplices in what he labelled an act of sedition.

“Those who are still helping to extend this occupation must be identified and punished to the full extent of the law,” Mr. Carney wrote. Citing his own experience in crisis management as head of the Bank of Canada during the 2009 Great Recession and as governor of the Bank of England during the European debt and Brexit crises of the following decade, Mr. Carney insisted on the need for a clear strategy to end the occupation and the resolve to see it through.

“Your determination to do so can never be in doubt,” wrote the former central banker, whose previous flirtations with seeking the federal Liberal leadership are well-documented.

Whether he intended to or not, Mr. Carney’s op-ed presented Liberals with a stark contrast to the leadership approach Mr. Trudeau has taken since the outset of the trucker-convoy protests two weeks ago. The tough law-and-order stance taken by Mr. Carney may not necessarily work in his favour in a future leadership race given that Liberals historically prefer to project a softer, gentler image than mandatory-minimum-sentence-loving Tories. And no doubt about it, Mr. Carney has drawn a line in the sand that Liberals are not likely to forget any time soon.

Right now, however, it is Mr. Trudeau whose leadership is on the line. His crisis-management style is being challenged from within the Liberal family. It does not get more dangerous than this for a leader whose sunny ways are now a fading memory.

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