Justin Trudeau – Stuck in the middle with Trudeau
When it comes to political parties in Canada, it is a bit like choosing bland, bland, or bland.
There is probably more that binds us together as a country than politically divides us. Both of the major parties (Liberals and Conservatives) support streamlining government services and are in favour of reducing taxes – personal, business, corporate. Both respect our multi-cultural society and having two official, equal languages as the right thing to do.
I am not saying the Liberals and Conservatives are exactly the same. There are differences, especially when discussing things such as an elected Senate or public pensions but, for the most part, they have very similar views.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, Canada is a peaceful, civilized society for the most part. We do believe in socialized medicine and public education. We value our differences while celebrating our unity. We are all good people or, at least, polite.
This makes it very difficult for politicians to distinguish themselves. It is hard to paint yourself as being tough on crime when you know the other party is just as tough. It is difficult to point out the flaws in a decision made by a prime minister when you know full well if you were in his shoes, you would have done exactly the same thing.
Right now, Erin O’Toole may be looking at an election this spring and is trying to find ways to distinguish himself from Justin Trudeau. He is trying to find some way to convince a majority of Canadians that he and his party could do a better job when, for the most part, he would be doing pretty much the same things as Justin Trudeau and the Liberals.
So, whenever he can, he jumps on an issue and proclaims “Canadians can count on Conservatives to do whatever it takes to get Canada working again.”
This is from his statement over the decision of the President of the United States to rescind the permits for the Keystone XL pipeline by executive order.
The statement starts by saying: “Today’s cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline extension is devastating. We need to get as many people back to work, in every part of Canada, in every sector, as quickly as possible. The loss of this important project only makes that harder.”
While I would agree we need to ensure people are working, because our economic system is predicated on everyone having a job, I am not sure I see how building a pipeline between Alberta and the U.S. will get people back to work “in every part of Canada, in every sector.”
But perhaps he viewed this project as only a minor portion of a bigger push back towards full employment. Except he says without the pipeline, it will be harder to do so.
I have a great deal of sympathy for workers who thought they had a few years of gainful employment building the pipeline to the United States and for the communities who were counting on those workers for revenue.
COVID-19 is devastating. Changing the decision regarding Keystone XL will impact the workers but there are other pipelines being built and other projects that will require their skills. Indeed, one of the complaints we hear a lot is the lack of skills tradespeople for all of the jobs that need to be done.
O’Toole really does try to lay the blame squarely on the prime minister: “Justin Trudeau should have done more to stand up for our world class energy sector.”
This was a decision President Joe Biden made over a year ago or, arguably, even further back when he was vice-president and Keystone XL was shelved the first time. What was our prime minister to do? Tell him not to make the decision? Work at trying to ensure he wasn’t elected? Sit in the corner and hold his breath until President Biden changed his mind?
It might be fair to criticize Trudeau if the decision had been made in Ottawa. But far from it. Indeed, despite trying to shift the Canadian economy towards a greener and cleaner energy future, his government has made sizeable investments in pipelines – at considerable political cost.
He has been standing up for our energy sector.
But O’Toole needs a wedge, something to distinguish his party from the Liberals. Something to which he can point and say “Well, we would have done it differently.” And he thinks the Keystone XL pipeline is one of those wedges.
He wants us to believe he is a middle of the political spectrum, working class guy from Toronto. But the middle ground is already occupied so he needs a way to make his party seem less bland while not alienating all of the voters.