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When a liberal politician loses The Economist, that’s when they’ve got to start worrying.
“Justin Trudeau’s flying unicorn hits a storm,” reads a headline out of the establishment’s favourite magazine, one that has never before presented the PM so poorly. The accompanying cartoon shows him on a horse, dressed as royalty-turned-buffoon, sadly trudging through the rain. Yikes.
“Canada’s Liberal government is starting to make mistakes and suffer mishaps,” the sub-heading megaphones to a world that until now has been used to fawning assessments of Trudeau.
The piece singles in on the tax changes for businesses, but also lists off the Aga Khan vacation, the Omar Khadr pay-out, the failure to please both enviro activists and the energy industry, as well as the false start to the murdered and missing indigenous women inquiry.
To be fair, they’re just echoing a refrain that’s already done the rounds in Ottawa. “The collapse of the Liberals’ comms game”, is the headline of an iPolitics column by Susan Delacourt.
Then there’s Tim Harper in The Star: “For the Trudeau Liberals, a mid-term malaise”. And Evan Solomon in Maclean’s: “Trudeaumania Two is starting to fade”. All seasoned Hill watchers, agenda setters for those in the know. All closing the curtain if not on the Trudeau government in general, at least on its shiny lustre.
And you’d think those of us writers who’ve issued recurring criticisms of the PM over the years would feel vindicated that the bloom is so thoroughly coming off the rose. But to be honest I feel somewhat bad for the guy.
Justin Trudeau is being punished for doing more or less what he said he’d do and being what he’s always been all along. Why give him a rougher ride now? The only difference is that at this point the act has gone on for so long that everyone’s finally growing tired of it.
But the act was always crummy. Take, for instance, the promises made to Canada’s indigenous people.
Trudeau made it look so easy. As if having a big heart and a Haida tattoo was all it took. It was clear since it was announced though that the MMIW inquiry was going to be a problem.
It’s scheduled to last two years. Then, they’ll release a report. The report will have recommendations. But that’s all they’re going to be. They’re not proposed legislation or ministerial mandates with clear plans of action.
The quickest route to action, after the report is presented, is for policy advisors in the PMO to cobble together immediate legislation. More likely what will happen is a committee will sit down with the report. They’ll then take the recommendations and turn them into legislative ones.
What are the odds of fitting all this in before the next election? Slim when the promise was made, next to impossible now that the inquiry faces delays.
Trudeau will thus be heading into the next election having wasted a full majority term on an issue to which he’d promised immediate and meaningful action.
But it’s not so much the execution that’s to blame. It’s the original facts-be-damned idealism the Liberals ran headstrong with during the last election that guaranteed all of these emerging screw ups.
There never was broad interest in electoral reform. Trudeau never made a real argument for why we needed $10 billion deficits, let alone triple that. The business tax changes were tucked away in the platform with none of the details now causing them headaches. The middle-class shtick was always just that, shtick.
So don’t be too hard on Trudeau as he grapples with the new realities of governing. It’s not like we weren’t warned.