At the moment, the Liberals are euphoric. But they face three big challenges. Robin Sears warns that, if they fumble these challenges, their euphoria could be replaced by much weeping and gnashing of teeth. Those challenges are carbon rollback, democratic reform and resetting the relationship with Canada's First Nations:
The Paris summit has generated expectations tough to manage. A national carbon-pricing scheme eluded the Chrétien and Martin governments. The Harperites ducked it as too politically toxic. Real reductions in emission levels soon are now table stakes in climate change. Ottawa will attempt the “triangulation” triumph of the Notley team — welding big business, First Nations, and the green community as its carbon-cutting champions. Failure would be a boost to the NDP and give Conservatives new sneer ammunition. An NEP-style fiasco, still whispered about anxiously among some in the oilpatch, needs to be avoided at all costs.
Democratic reform is long overdue. Some pieces — House committee reform — should not be too hard, others are as hard as political change gets. Changing how the Senate is selected, governed and managed is challenging. Trudeau’s plan already looks shaky: secret selection by the PMO of the winners from a set of secret nominations, delivered in secret by an advisory panel he chooses.
But it is re-setting the relationship with Canada's native peoples which is Trudeau's greatest challenge:
Reforming the appalling educational system that enrages parents of First Nations children has frustrated half a dozen federal governments. Poisonous water, embarrassing health care, mouldy housing, and social decay all lead to prison or suicide for rising numbers of young aboriginal Canadians. And then there is the resolution of the nightmares revealed by the residential schools inquiry, and the horrors yet to come in the inquiry into why so many indigenous women go “missing” — that creepy euphemism for bodies yet to be found.
All three of these challenges are immense. They will require the kind of political skill which eludes most national leaders from most nations. Yet the Liberals are betting that they can pull off this trifecta. History will be the judge.