Even diehard Liberals should be able to admit Andrew Coyne has a couple of points in his retrospective of Trudeau's septum horribilis.
...the middle ground in politics can be as treacherous as it is inviting; the two extremes can as easily combine to devour any moderate interlopers as they can be separately marginalized. To hold that particularly dangerous piece of turf it is not sufficient to remind folks of your sunny benevolence, or repeat endless variations on “the economy and the environment go hand in hand.” You have to be both tactically smart and strategically wise. You have to think it through.
This last is not, needless to say, the current generation of Liberals’ strong point. They are very good at the symbolic gesture, the leap of faith, the exuberant tossing of one’s hat over the wall. They are not so good at figuring out how to retrieve it. And so, on issues ranging from pipelines to carbon taxes to trade negotiations, the Liberals’ once-soaring pride has given way to a gathering awareness of the earth below. It turns out governing isn’t as simple as it appears, even for those seemingly born to it.
The mishandling of each is by now familiar. On pipelines, the Liberals first allowed the options to dwindle to one; then signalled such desperation that the last option, the Trans Mountain extension, be built that they were obliged to pay its private-sector sponsor several billion dollars to take it off its hands; only to discover, thanks to this week’s Federal Court of Appeal ruling, that they had no lawful authority to build it, having failed to engage in the same meaningful consultation with Aboriginal groups they had demanded of the previous government, and had made such a show of promising themselves.
On carbon taxes, the Liberals had seemed, in the heady first months of office, to lure the provinces into the trap they had set for them, wherein the latter would impose the tax on their behalf, keeping the revenues in return. Alas, they failed to secure the acquiescence of the public, who would after all be the source of those revenues, mistaking popular support for the bromide that “something must be done” about the environment with the lesser-known “and I should be the one to pay for it.”
...Still, the Liberal balancing act is in serious jeopardy. With no pipeline, a carbon tax will be an even harder sell, and with no meaningful progress on climate change critics of the pipeline will be emboldened anew.
Instead of doing both, the Liberals may be left with neither, alone and under fire on the no-man’s-land that was once the middle ground.Coyne's rebuke is going to be a hard swallow for the more ardent fans of our boy band prime minister but he's not making this up. You can't pretend to fight climate change with gestural carbon taxes when you're committed to flooding world markets with the most toxic, highest-carbon petroleum sludge, bitumen. That's just illogical, counter-intuitive, hypocritical - okay, dishonest.
It has indeed been a horrible septum for Justin Trudeau. Let's hope he learns the lessons of his self-inflicted calamities.