Friday, January 08, 2016

Excuses Won't Do


Undoing the damage Stephen Harper did will be neither easy nor quick. But make no mistake: Canadians expect Justin Trudeau to get to work and clear out the crud. Michael Harris writes:

While people voted for Justin Trudeau in large numbers because of the ‘positive’ things he promised to do, they also have a long list of things they expect him to undo. In the Westerns, it’s called ‘cleaning up Tombstone’. Trudeau is Wyatt Earp.

One of the true measures of success or failure for the new prime minister in his first year (not his first two months) will be how faithful he remains to the commitment to systematically reverse the worst of the Harper legacy. Steve was a bird who soiled the nest knee-deep. Justin must put on his rubber gloves and get scrubbing.

There's work to be done on all fronts. Consider Harper's foreign policy legacy:

His bomb-and-bombast policy in the Middle East has been an unmitigated disaster. It did nothing to bring peace to that part of the world, or to make this country safer. In fact, it put Canada on the map as a terror target.

And the arms deal he negotiated with the Saudis leaves Trudeau in a bind:

The young Trudeau government has declared that it will not cancel this dubious contract. Given Saudi Arabia’s abysmal human rights record — which includes that country’s use of Canadian military hardware in Bahrain to quell public protests against the government in 2011 — Ottawa’s stance is flatly contradictory. It’s turning Canada into a Dictator’s Little Helper in the Kingdom.

Worse still, closing Canada's embassy in Iran gives Canada no leverage in the current dispute between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Things are looking better for veterans and for government scientists who Harper gagged. But Trudeau's real test will be reversing Harper's legislative legacy:

But far more important than any contract cancellation or program restoration is the question of what Trudeau will do with bad Harper laws — from the surveillance state overreach of Bill C-51 to punitive labour laws like Bill C-377, designed to make running a union more difficult and expensive.
As for the Fair Elections Act, it’s about as democratic as a frozen boot in the ass.

Trudeau's repair job will require perseverence and patience. But excuses won't do.

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