Trudeau pulls a Harper

I don’t often write about federal politics here. Mostly as there is ample coverage from other sources than me. However this weeks news about prorogation has made me want to chime in. There are a number of aspects of this that I’d look at so please bear with me.

The WE Scandal isn’t the hit some think it is

For the past few months any news coming out of Ottawa was about the controversy over WE and government spending. On the surface it has all the makings of a scandal. If it is one, it’s not registering with the Canadian public.

I have suspicious about why this is the case. First off, it’s too ambiguous a scandal. No monies actually changed hands. No bags of money were exchanged for favours under the table. A lot of the anger is over what might have happened. The anger from opposition parties is that Trudeau did not recuse himself from he decision making process. Something to which there is no excuse for. Most Canadians though do not seem to find this worthy enough to fire him.

The opposition parties though of course are trying to make gold with this hay. As they are supposed to do. Unfortunately for them the two politicians who were leading the charge, were Pierre Poilievre and outgoing leader Andrew Scheer. Both of whom I against suspect of getting on Canadian’s bad side by calling out CERB recipients as being lazy for choosing not to go back to work. It’s a bad look when an estimated 3 million Canadians were relying on the funds to put food on the table.

Never underestimate the power of money

This brings us to the other factor in favour of Trudeau. The massive funds handed out to keep the economy afloat during the pandemic. CERB and CEWS were massive programs that millions of Canadians bought into. As the economy teetered on the edge of collapse, the programs were a lifeline for Canadians. Examine social media and you’ll find average Canadians expousing the savings graces of CERB.

As people were losing their jobs due to the pandemic, Trudeau was the face that said we’ll take care of you. A cynic would argue that he simply bought off support. Though for the person floundering under the weight of debt and fear of uncertainty, Trudeau’s offer is a life preserver in stormy seas. You can’t fault Canadians for buying in to what the government was offering.

And millions did. Which is why it was a puzzling argument for opposition leaders to argue it made Canadians lazy for choosing not to return to their jobs. No one likes to be called lazy, directly or implied. Which is why in the grand scheme of public relations, Trudeau seems to be winning right now. The Conservatives wanted to frame an argument of an entitled grifter stealing from the government coffers. Canadians saw it as the people calling them lazy and entitled wanting to turn on the people who came to their aid in times of trouble. You don’t need to be a genius to understand how that would play out.

Trudeau’s Legacy

Which brings me to my final point. Trudeau has made this calculation and is deciding to build his legacy. I have no inside information to back this up. This is entirely my opinion based on what I’ve read in the media so far.

The decision to prorogue Parliament and come back with a throne speech is something taken directly from Stephen Harper’s playbook. If you recall sometime ago, when the Liberals had Stephane Dion as leader, Harper relished in making every inconsequential vote in the house a confidence vote. The idea of calling the Liberal’s bluff each time. If they were so bad, then here’s your chance to take us down. Which the Liberals sheepishly backed away from each and every time. It ruined their credibility with the Canadian public. And for good reason. If you’re going to walk the walk, then talk the talk. This is exactly what he’s doing with introducing a new Throne Speech. He’s putting it on the opposition parties to step up and put money where their mouths are. And he’s calculating that, like the Liberals of old, they will back down at the eleventh hour.

Which brings us to the purpose of all this posturing. I suspect with the introduction of a new finance minister, Trudeau has his eyes set on major social structure changes to government. Something that would be fundamentally changing to the structure of Canadian society. Similar to his father in 1980 with the repatriation of the constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. My bet is the introduction of a Universal Basic Income. His advisors are no doubt informing him of the second wave of COVID-19 that will hit us this fall. Provincial premiers across the country have not implemented serious changes to their education systems to handle this wave. Right now, it looks like if that wave hits us, we’ll be back into lockdown as we were in March.

The question then is, how do we handle another contraction of the economy. I suspect, Trudeau is eyeing a UBI as a permanent economic measure to deal with this. The result would be a restructuring of the economy unlike anything we’ve seen in recent history. Canadian’s relations between the provinces and the federal government would ultimately shift. Canadians would be more beholden to the federal government over their traditional attachment to the provinces.

Accompanied by a push into a more green and environmentally friendly economy, Justin Trudeau could leave an indelible mark on Canada for generations to come. Like it or not, that my friends is a legacy.

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