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Don Martin: The fall of Justin Trudeau has begun

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The Justin Trudeau brand is in trouble.

The 2015 fresh prince of politics with the celebrity hair and rock star aura is heading into a 2022 summer of inflation-driven Canadian discontent as a faded force of personality in need of an exit strategy.

You know there’s a reputation hit happening when Trudeau becomes the unnamed star of a children’s book “How the Prime Minister Stole Freedom,” a satire about his handling of the Freedom Convoy and vaccination mandates, which now sits atop the Amazon Canada bestseller list.

On a more serious vein, there’s an alarm sounding over his leadership style when former top bureaucrat Paul Tellier unleashes in Policy Options magazine, warning Trudeau’s control freakdom of an office is “in the process of destroying the public service … and the word ‘destroying’ is not too strong.”

‘TOO WOKE, TOO PRECIOUS’

And while this is hardly scientific, after a weeks-long survey of just about everyone I’ve met and many of them Liberals by voting inclination, the overall judgment on Trudeau is one of being a political write-off with their body language alternating between exasperation and eye rolls.

He’s too woke, too precious, preachy in tone, exceedingly smug, lacking in leadership, fading in celebrity, slow to act, short-sighted in vision and generally getting more irritating with every breathlessly whispered public pronouncement. And that’s just the one-sentence summary.

As one prominent and wealthy 40-year Liberal supporter told me: “I won’t send them another dime until he’s gone. He’s a wimp.”

Trudeau is, of course, undoubtedly oblivious to all this. He didn’t even break a sniffle during question period Tuesday, although he seemed to have great trouble answering questions without reading a script as he copes with a second COVID-19 infection.

It was a daunting run of questions that demanded all his artful dodging talent for reading non-answers to questions. He needed to protect his foreign affairs minister for allowing a bureaucrat to attend a Russian caviar party in Ottawa, his public safety minister for promoting a nose-stretcher that police requesting the Emergencies Act to cope with the Freedom Convoy (they didn’t) and shrugging off a Globe-obtained government analysis showing his 2030 emission targets will be extremely difficult to meet.

That’s theatrical business as usual for Trudeau, but he’s delivering performance hiccups far beyond the Commons.

Take the recently completed Summit of the Americas, where Trudeau’s meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden produced jargon and rhetoric a’plenty, but not a whisper of accomplishment to mend our so-far unproductive relationship.

While Trudeau is the so-called dean of the G7 in terms of political longevity, he didn’t even try to convince Biden to reconsider the axed Keystone pipeline or thwart the Michigan governor’s threat to kill the Line 5 pipeline, this in a time when the U.S. is playing footsie with dictator-run Venezuela to alleviate the energy price crisis.

Even when Trudeau does spring into action, his motivation appears suspect.

The Wall Street Journal recently derided Trudeau for acting in response to U.S. developments by toughening Canadian gun laws in the aftermath of the Texas school massacre and re-emphasizing a woman’s right to an abortion in Canada ahead of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling this month. “Apparently Canadian politics is too boring, or parochial, or something,” the editorial observed. “If he wants to influence U.S. politics, we recommend he emigrate and run for Congress.”

But mostly, Trudeau just doesn’t act. As Globe columnist Campbell Clark noted in taking aim at the prime minister’s hesitancy to end vaccine mandates, a “political inertia” orbits the sloth-speed Liberal government where “without a political impetus to do something, the default is to do nothing”. Well said.

WILL TRUDEAU RUN FOR RE-ELECTION?

Many of Trudeau’s talked-up commitments – be it targets for Afghan translator immigration, Ukrainian resettlement numbers, greenhouse gas emission targets, Indigenous reconciliation moves or even tree planting by the billions – are overpromises sent off for prolonged study to ultimately end up being underdelivered.

A cagey political operative recently insisted to me that, having been involved in the Trudeau negotiations for a power-influencing deal with the NDP, she’s convinced Trudeau is running for re-election to give the cement time to set on his legacy.

If so, his shaky display of true leadership should reward the Conservatives with a government mandate in the next election.

But Trudeau has enjoyed plenty of luck in politics, so unless coronation-bound Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre pivots somewhat into mainstream thinking, the hard-right Conservatives could fall short of what’s required to unseat Trudeau from a fourth mandate.

Speaking of pivoting to a current sign of the prime minister’s ailing status, his media party at 24 Sussex Dr. returns Wednesday with Trudeau away in COVID isolation. I asked a colleague if the missing celebrity host would hinder press gallery attendance. “Actually, I think it’ll be much better without him.”

There’s little doubt a lot of Liberals are thinking the same way about their party under Justin Trudeau.

That’s the bottom line.

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Opinion: The vacuum at the centre of Canadian politics: an incompetent, unethical government faces an intemperate, unhinged opposition – The Globe and Mail

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Over the last few weeks and months it has become impossible to escape the feeling that Canadian politics has come loose from its moorings. There is a manic edge to it, as if the inmates had suddenly and collectively declared themselves absolved of any remaining obligations to common sense, or the ordinary routines of democratic politics, or the rule of law.

On the one hand, you have a Liberal government that is now embroiled in half a dozen crises of its own making, the fruit of a peculiar mix of cynicism, moral vanity, incompetence, doctrinaire ideology and apparently habitual abuse of power – a culture that originates with the leader, to be sure, but which appears to have spread throughout the party.

Thus you have, simultaneously, the airport mess, the passport mess, and the Russian embassy party mess; the abject retreat on vaccine mandates, in the face of a panicky Liberal backbench; the revelations that its centrepiece climate plan is in disarray, its 2030 carbon emissions reductions targets acknowledged, within government, to be a distant fantasy; all while it is engaged in the utter madness of attempting to regulate the internet, through no fewer than three separate bills.

That’s four or five ministers in trouble, and we haven’t even got to the matter of the Public Safety Minister, Marco Mendicino – and, let us not forget, the Prime Minister – apparently lying to Parliament about why they invoked the Emergencies Act, and on whose advice.

Or, worst yet, the jaw-dropping allegation that the Prime Minister’s Office, and the then Public Safety Minister, Bill Blair, prevailed upon the commissioner of the RCMP, Brenda Lucki, to interfere in the investigation of the murder of 22 people by a gunman in Nova Scotia two years ago, for the purpose of selling gun control legislation the government had planned.

The allegation, that Ms. Lucki demanded local RCMP officers reveal to the public, contrary to procedure and at the risk of compromising the investigation, the precise make and model of the guns the killer used, has been officially denied. Nevertheless it is hard to shake: the allegation is precise, detailed, and contained in a contemporaneous note by the officer involved.

More to the point, whether or not the allegation is true, it is easy to believe this government, and this Prime Minister, would be capable of it. Seize on a horrible crime to unveil showboating legislation, cooked up on the fly, to no apparent public benefit? Checks out. Lean on a law enforcement official to meddle in what is supposed to be an independent legal process, wholly off limits to politicians? What was SNC-Lavalin about?

So much for the government: tired, directionless, massively overcentralized, coasting on self-satisfaction and increasingly overwhelmed by the actual business of governing, including the tiresome necessity of respecting the rights of Parliament and the principle of the rule of law.

But what lurks across the aisle? What of the government-in-waiting, Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, the Conservative Party of Canada? How are they shaping up as an alternative?

Funny you should ask. The party is just now in the throes of a leadership race – the traditional opportunity for a party in opposition to define itself, and its core beliefs. What, by the lights of the current campaign, are the core beliefs of the Conservative Party? On matters of ordinary policy, things like deficits and taxes and foreign policy, we are not much further ahead than when we started.

But if it’s lunatic conspiracy theories you would like to know about, on these the Conservatives have plenty to say, ranging from unfounded fears about the health effects of vaccines, to paranoia about the baleful influence of the World Economic Forum, to the dystopian possibilities of central bank digital currencies, as a means of surveilling and controlling the population – or if you really want to know the “truth,” how all of these are bound up together.

On the day after the allegation surfaced, earlier this week, that the government had interfered in a murder investigation for political ends – a day that ought to have been reserved for asking the most searching questions of those involved – several Conservative MPs were feting the organizers of a new anti-vaccine, anti-government, anti-everything rally planned for Ottawa this summer, some of whom were involved in the one that paralyzed the capital for three weeks earlier this year. Just in case anyone had forgotten the party’s disgraceful cheerleading for that particular outbreak of lawlessness.

It isn’t only at the federal level that Conservatives seem to have abandoned their traditional belief in law and order. The Alberta Conservative leadership race has barely begun, yet has already featured proposals either to ignore the Constitution altogether – that is, to refuse to enforce federal laws the provincial government dislikes – or to dictate constitutional changes to the rest of the country that have no actual hope of passing.

There is precedent for this, of course, notably in the revolutionary fantasies of certain Quebec separatist leaders. But given how signally these have failed, and how much worse it would have been for the province if they had succeeded, it’s hard to imagine anyone citing them as an example to follow, rather than avoid. Yet that is where we have arrived, in both Quebec and Alberta – with political leaders pretending they can rewrite the Constitution unilaterally.

At the federal level we would seem to be left with something of a vacuum, with neither main party displaying much interest in governing responsibly. This is sometimes described as “polarization,” as if the problem could be solved by everyone agreeing to meet in the centre. Not so: this country has big, challenging issues confronting it, some of which may require radical changes in policy. Radicalism is not the same as extremism.

What’s needed is not centrism, if that is interpreted to mean blindly hugging the middle on every issue. Neither is pragmatism the answer, if that means governing without an ideological compass, but merely blowing this way and that according to the latest poll or interest group lobby.

What’s needed – what is sorely lacking – is judgment: political, moral, intellectual. Judgment is the foundation of leadership, and leadership is the only way we’re going to get back to something resembling functional politics.

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Are Politics A Problem For The Markets? – Forbes

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As an economist and market analyst, I try to shy away from politics and focus on the facts. Nonetheless, I often receive politically charged questions that are usually some variation of the following: “With X party in office, the country is doomed. How can you say otherwise?” I have heard this in every presidential election from George W. Bush to Joe Biden. But the truth of the matter is this: both the economy and the markets grew during all of those administrations. Of course, each one had its own challenges and problems, but as a country we continued to move forward. Companies found ways to grow and make money. Given this, are politics really a problem for the markets?

A Limited Effect

No matter which side, the administration actually has a very limited effect on the national economy and on the financial markets. In fact, if you look at a chart of the economy or of the markets, and cover up the dates, you really can’t pick out when your party was in charge. Similarly, when you look at economic and market performance under various permutations of which party is in charge, there are differences, but they are not consistent over time. For all of the headlines and the fearmongering, politics and governance don’t make a significant difference.

Who’s In Control?

How can that be? Simple. Every president and Congress would like to have control—but they don’t. States push back. The Supreme Court pushes back. Municipalities push back. It is rare that something significant actually gets through. And even when it does? The genius of the American system is that companies then set their collective minds on how to avoid it, if they don’t like it, and/or how to make money off it. For example, look at literally any tax bill ever passed.

Fundamentally, that is the strength of the American system. When you say that Washington will derail the economy or the markets, you are saying that it really controls all of the shoppers and the companies, which simply isn’t true. It is certainly in the interest of politicians to exaggerate their power (to motivate their supporters) and to exaggerate their opponents’ powers (again, to motivate their supporters). But the fact of the matter is that the U.S. economy is driven by millions of profit-motivated companies that will find ways to work around or profit from pretty much anything the politicians can do. Thank goodness for that.

Which doesn’t answer those who maintain that this time is different. That somehow today’s problems are worse than they have ever been before. There is always a constituency for panic. But if you really believe that, if you really believe that Washington—of one party or the other—can derail the country, then what you are saying is that Washington already has full control. That is not what I see when I look around.

This Too Will Pass

What I see is the same vivid debate on policy we have always had and the same back-and-forth that ultimately results in a reasonable solution. Perhaps it is louder now, but it is still the same process.

One of my favorite quotes, from Winston Churchill, notes that you can always count on Americans to do the right thing once they have tried all the alternatives. I would argue that is what is happening now and that despite the short-term damage, which can be real, ultimately we will move ahead again.

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'We need a fresh approach': Harvey wants to do politics differently if she heads NDP – News Talk 980 CJME

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Sitting on the patio of a Regina coffee shop, Kaitlyn Harvey was animated and passionate, talking about what she feels are the problems in Saskatchewan politics and how they should be fixed.

Harvey answered questions in a wide-ranging way, cramming in a TedTalk’s worth of information in a way that only people excited by their topic do.

When asked what she was reading or watching these days, Harvey didn’t name a book but instead began talking about research and reports she has been going through both as part of her political aspirations and her day job as a lawyer.

“I’ve got a lot of research that I’m doing, so I don’t really read a whole lot of fiction. Lots of non-fiction, lots of news but then also looking at reports — that’s what I read for fun,” she said, then started laughing. “I’m a bit of a nerd.”

Getting down to the brass tacks of her run to lead the Saskatchewan NDP, Harvey got more serious.

“What I’m offering is a different approach than what the NDP has offered in the past,” she said. “It still recognizes those values of community, those values of taking care of our most vulnerable … and so that’s why I am running for the NDP because of those values. But the way that I am proposing to do politics is different.”

Harvey said the old approach of politics as performance, of talking but not getting anything done, isn’t working.

“When I say we need to do things different, I mean we need to do things differently,” said Harvey.

Right now, Harvey believes that when young people watch the proceedings in the legislature — if they do — all they’re seeing is people shouting.

“(It’s) a bunch of people just standing there, yelling back and forth at each other and spitting things and not actually addressing these very real issues. And then people wonder why our youth don’t go out and vote,” said Harvey.

Harvey believes people are sick of the status quo and that things will look a lot different in the legislature come the next election in 2024.

“I don’t know what it’ll look like but I’m pretty confident that if I’m successful in this NDP race, there’ll be a lot more NDP seats,” said Harvey.

Harvey doesn’t like the idea of left or right in politics. What she wants is for people to come together to seriously tackle the issues.

The biggest issue for Harvey is climate change; it’s what spurred her into politics in the first place.

The reality hit home for Harvey 10 years ago when she was in a co-op program at Environment Canada and was working on a mapping project with climate data.

“The numbers that I was seeing (and) that I was coming across … (it) was just terrifying to see what our future is going to look like, and the range of possibilities ranging from scary to catastrophic,” said Harvey.

Harvey went into law to study policy and is now making the push into politics because she doesn’t see the action needed to deal with climate change.

“We are two decades, easily, behind other countries (and) other places in the world in terms of our acceptance of the very real risks to our people (and) to our society from climate change. We aren’t taking advantage of the opportunities that we have to be leaders. We’re wasting opportunities and potential,” said Harvey.

Harvey said climate change is a fact and shouldn’t be politicized, but it is in Saskatchewan and it’s tearing apart the province.

“When they tell us that we have no choice, that we have to settle for this conflict, that we are divided, that we are an oil and gas-only type of place, like, are you kidding me?” said Harvey.

However, Harvey said she’s not anti-oil and she’s not looking to kill industry and put people out on the street.

“When people use the term ‘just transition,’ that actually means something. It means that the people who are going to be asked to transition to local renewable, sustainable, good-paying jobs are given the supports that they need to make that transition,” said Harvey.

“It’s not a negative attack on anybody’s personal identity or I’m trying to blame them for climate change or something like that. It’s nothing personal, it’s just a fact that we need to start doing things differently.”

Harvey said there are a lot of other ways Saskatchewan could bring in money and other industries to expand into that won’t contribute to climate change, and she knows that’s something youth of this province want.

“We need a fresh approach and I think that will resonate with people and get more people to come out and support the party when they see that we’ve actually got some really good ideas and they’re backed up by science. They’re backed up with the numbers,” said Harvey.

Unlike her competitor, Carla Beck, Harvey hasn’t held provincial office before — she ran as an NDP candidate in the 2020 election but lost. However, she doesn’t see that as a problem.

Harvey points to her work as a lawyer, putting herself through law school as a single mother and the volunteer and community work she’s done, saying she’s good at handling a lot of things and learns quickly.

“When I see what our politicians are doing I think, ‘Oh boy, I could do that.’ It’s not that hard, it’s not rocket science … it’ll be new but I’m a pretty quick study,” said Harvey.

Harvey said she does have respect for everyone in the NDP caucus and the work they’re doing.

A win for Harvey in the leadership race would be historic on two fronts: She would be the first woman elected to the NDP leadership in Saskatchewan and the first Metis leader of a major party in the province.

“It would be just the greatest opportunity of my life to be able to serve and provide my skills, my energy, my experience, to the people of Saskatchewan,” said Harvey.

If she doesn’t win, the province won’t have heard the last of Harvey. She has announced her intention to seek the NDP nomination to run in the Saskatoon Meewasin byelection which will be held at some point soon.

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