On Wednesday, Conservative Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer intoned gravely that he was calling on Finance Minister Bill Morneau to resign. If Mr. Scheer was trying to invoke a more noble era, when a finance minister who had lost the confidence of the Opposition Leader would immediately resign, he failed badly at it. Mr. Morneau should stay where he is.
Mr. Scheer's reasoning is half-baked. He is accusing Mr. Morneau of insider trading based on the fact that the Minister sold a portion of his shares in his family company, Morneau Shepell, a week before he announced a tax hike on high-income earners. The tax announcement caused the market to fall sharply, taking Morneau Shepell stock with it.
This is not insider trading. The tax announcement on Dec. 7, 2015, had been long anticipated and was being much discussed in the news. Everyone knew it was coming – the Liberals had made it the centrepiece of their campaign and promised to implement it as one of their first acts after Parliament resumed on Dec. 3.
It is simply false to argue that Mr. Morneau took advantage of inside knowledge to game the market. Anyone could have made the same move based on the same timing; some probably did.
There is no question that Mr. Morneau's tenure has been problematic. He was wrong not to sell all of his Morneau Shepell stock in November 2015 after being named Finance Minister, in order to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. He only did so belatedly under political pressure.
He also badly explained his reforms of small-business corporation rules, causing an unneeded headache for his government.
But while his judgment has not always been sound, and the scandals around him have been self-inflicted, nothing he has done demands his resignation.
This is not a person who entered political life for personal gain. As long as Mr. Morneau has the confidence of the Prime Minister, he should continue as Finance Minister.