Justin Trudeau's decision to put a price on carbon -- over the objections of some of the provinces and territories -- is a signal that the hard part has begun. Robin Sears writes:
Justin Trudeau’s decision to devote a large chunk of his accumulated political capital imposing a clear, mandatory path on pricing carbon is the first of several big choices he faces, each of which will help determine his survival and his legacy.He is about to discover the first of many ironies about choice in political life. Many enemies, and even some friends, will always be angry with your choice, especially big decisions on risky projects. They’re hedging their risks, betting on your failure.Your internal opponents and your political opposition will attack every choice as dangerous, irresponsible, too late, too expensive — fill in the blank. It’s insurance for them, if you stumble. And curiously, it’s a guaranteed media hit.
There are more difficult decisions to come, like re-engaging in United Nations forces around the world and renegotiating a healthcare agreement with the provinces. There are lessons in each of these tasks; and we'll see how well the Liberals have learned them.
But there are also lessons for the opposition parties:
Justin Trudeau’s opponents need to understand their certain failure in challenging a big political choice with scary fairy tales and niggling, whining attack. To succeed in persuading Canadians to come to their vision of a national future — they need to offer one!Listening to Conservatives whinge about adding a quarter a litre to gas prices and then claiming “billions and billions” of revenue harm — as a strategy on climate change — will make even their own mothers sigh in quiet frustration. New Democrats who want to move votes, cannot simply say no to this pipeline and no to that pipeline, then claim there are not opposed to pipelines per se. Or that they have a plan for the safe, efficient transport of oil and gas — unless they outline what theirs is and why it is better.
As a nation, we now must face an array of tough choices about which we have hesitated and prevaricated overlong. A majority of voters endorsed that message last October. To consider other political choices Canadians will first expect New Democrats and Conservatives to offer an alternative vision on how to integrate First Nations into decisions on resource development, not to simply sneer “too little, too late!”
Both opposition parties could offer dramatically different visions than Trudeau's. But being the parties of no will lead nowhere. The Republicans have been The Party of No for twenty-five years. Look at where -- and who -- that has got them.