I became a Liberal when Pierre Trudeau succeeded the thoroughly estimable Lester Pearson. That, coincidentally, was the era when the Liberal Party stood for something and in a big, big way.
Chretien was the Liberal tipping point. Sure he won significant majority governments but he was pushing on an open door thanks to a right fractured by the Progressive Conservative and Reform/Alliance rivalry. Chretien, with the able assistance of Paul Martin, did pull Canada back from the edge of financial troubles but that's like listening endlessly to the same Top 40 song for an entire summer.
Then came The Troubles, the succession of weak, hapless and incompetent leaders - Dion, Ignatieff and now Justin Trudeau. Yes, Justin did score an impressive majority but a lot of that is owed to an immensely unpopular Harper and a bucketful of glib promises that were never to be honoured.
Justin, basking in the glow of an upset electoral win, proclaimed "Canada's back." Maybe, just not back far enough. We're still forearm-deep in dishwater Liberalism.
Two telling columns, admittedly written by Conservative-leaning scribes, Paul Wells and Andrew Coyne, that illustrate just what a dud Justin Trudeau has been. Even the Liberal faithful, especially the Liberal Party faithful, need to read both articles and realize the hole that their party leader has dug for them.
Wells addresses the growing resistance to the federal carbon tax programme:
It’s hardly clear how the goal of pricing carbon coast-to-coast can be met by the end of this year. Saskatchewan’s new premier, Scott Moe, is as deeply opposed to a carbon tax as his predecessor was. Ontario Conservative Leader Doug Ford and his Alberta counterpart Jason Kenney both oppose carbon taxes. Both seem likely to win the next provincial elections, in June in Ontario and next spring in Alberta. Together, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Alberta have more than half the country’s population. That’s serious opposition to McKenna’s plans, and it’s hard to imagine an outcome to her dispute with some provincial politicians that won’t involve a lengthy court battle.
Coyne writes of how ineptly the Trudeau government has sold climate tax to the voting public. He suggests Trudeau's rivals might turn the 2019 election into a referendum on carbon taxes.
If so, there should be no presumption that the pro-tax side would win. Public opinion is more than usually confused on this one. Fully 40 per cent of Canadians think climate change is either not happening or is due to natural causes, according to a new poll by Abacus Data. Even among the 60 per cent who think it’s real and man-made, there is no consensus on what, if anything, should be done about it.
The picture grows even cloudier when it comes to the particular solution of carbon pricing. Only 42 per cent claimed to have any understanding of the concept; most could not even say whether their own province had such a plan. And while nearly half (46 per cent) thought it was a good idea, versus 22 per cent opposed, this was very much in the abstract, with carbon pricing yet to be implemented over much of the country, and barely begun to be phased in where it has.
How did we get into such a fix? It’s easy to blame the opposition, and indeed the Conservatives have been prominently mulish on the question. If we take them at their word that they believe climate change is real and requires government intervention, then the benchmark against which to measure the cost of carbon pricing is not, as their every line of rhetoric implies, doing nothing, but doing something else: those other programs I have just described, all of them implying higher costs, per tonne of emissions reduced, than carbon pricing — costs that are just as surely passed onto Canadians as any carbon tax would be.
But if carbon pricing has been misrepresented by its opponents, it has been almost universally mishandled by its sponsors.
Unwilling to charge a price sufficient to spur the needed changes in behaviour for fear of the expected political backlash, they are instead charging a price sufficient merely to annoy — $10 per tonne, rising to $50 by 2022, versus the $200 that has been calculated would be needed to hit our 2030 targets.This is where the Boy Wonder has boxed himself in. Raising public awareness about climate change as needed to secure public support for carbon taxes only shines a spotlight on the hypocrisy of Trudeau's pipeline policy. You can't have people thinking too much about climate change when you're trying to ramp up the extraction, transmission and export of dangerous, toxin-riddled, environmentally devastating, high-carbon, ersatz petroleum. You simply cannot square that circle.
Don't blame me if Andrew Scheer is our next prime minister. His path has been paved with Liberal bungling and broken promises.