Monday, April 23, 2018


The Liberal convention in Halifax left Michael Harris underwhelmed. That word also describes Harris evaluation of Justin Trudeau. He does give Trudeau credit for accomplishing a few important things:

There were definitely some things to boast about. Probably the most difficult piece of legislation passed by the government was its death with dignity provisions. Trudeau and the Liberals navigated this emotional minefield with grace and courage.
The Liberals have also clearly improved the Canada Pension Plan and the Child Tax Credit to the benefit of a lot of Canadians. And Justin did vanquish Stephen Harper, as millions of Canadians who cast a strategic vote for him, had hoped he would. All real accomplishments calling for a deep bow.

Justin admitted at the convention that he and his party weren't perfect. That admission set Harris off on a tirade:

Not being perfect doesn’t quite explain the sophomoric self-indulgence of holidaying on the private island of the billionaire Aga Khan while posing as the champion of the middle class.
Not being perfect is a long way from being perfidious. Where is the personally promised electoral reform offered during the 2015 election? Gone, but not forgotten.

But it's Trudeau's broken promises on the environment which particularly irk Harris:

Trudeau broke his promise that Harper-era environmental assessments for energy projects would be replaced by valid, scientific approvals, or there would be no federal permits.
Instead, he issued permits for B.C.’s ruinous Site C dam, which has just been plagued by another landslide, and the ill-starred Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
The prime minister has openly contradicted his passionate commitment to fighting the “politics of fear and division” by fomenting those very things over Kinder Morgan’s dubious pipeline expansion through British Columbia.
He has done that by teaming up with Alberta and the national business lobby to bludgeon B.C. into dropping its environmentally justified opposition to the transportation of noxious substances (diluted bitumen) across its land and waterways.

Perhaps it is that fate of all politicians not to live up to their hype. At the moment, the opposition parties are weak. But should they find their feet, Justin may have a hard time explaining the gap between promise and performance.

Image: The Chronicle Herald


bcwaterboy said...

I like Harris' writing, he usually hits the mark of my own views. Underwhelmed is an understatement. I really did like Justin Trudeau and found him to be a breath of fresh air after the odious Harper, but he is quickly eroding that and I find that he's thumbing his nose to the very people that put him in office. Job Churn? How about a real plan to deal with the tsunami of job losses coming down the pike re AI? I also feel he is somewhat oblivious to all of that- electoral reform, the environment file ( I do actually feel McKenna has deserved the "Climate Barbie" label sexist or not) not to mention the gross mishandling of the province of BC). Sadly, the result is Doug Ford in June and most likely, Andrew Sheer in 2019. The bright spot is that Kelowna got itself, finally, an amazing Liberal MP- Steven Fuhr.

Owen Gray said...

I voted for Trudeau, waterboy. But I was deeply disappointed when he failed to initiate the ranked ballot. More and more, he appears to be in the pocket of the "smart money." I remain disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Notice to whom these broken promises were made - these were all promises to attract voters on the left. They were broken to the benefit of those on the right. How many elections do we need before people get it through their heads that Libs run by stealing from the NDP, but govern as though they were Cons! Their priorities are those of big business: reduce taxes and enforcement of tax laws, enhance resource extraction at the expense of life on the planet, privatize as much as possible and eliminate the possibility of changing the system through the ballot box.


the salamander said...

.. government.. or rather politics.. reminds me of playoff hockey
and the referees put their whistles away..
Michael Harris digs into this stuff
like a badger going deep
or a red squirrel breaking into a cottage
no.. he is more the wolverine at the door
pray he does not tear it open..

He may just be our Hunter S Thompson..
but with dignity .. but with venom

I grew up near Rattlesnake Point
but age 20 I had Triple Maximun security Clearance
to roam the secluded property of the Guelph Reformatory
and Hillcrest Training school

The Mattewasaga rattlesnakes were easy to find
sunning on the rock ledges.. only predators birds from the sky
after all, no human was allowed on that vast acreage

During a curtesy visit to the head warden of the medium security reformatory
he said.. 'Of course you have my permission to go out there
but why.. or what do you think to see or find?'

I expect I will find rattlesnakes sir, or even copperheads..
as nobody has been out there in 100 years
its the forbidden lands.. off limits

He thought that over for a second or 30, musing
Maybe he was going back to the memory bank
when he was fascinated by preying mantis or butterflies

'I have a full schedule today
could I join you some day soon?
I would love to explore out there'

We laughed together..
It was a hammer meets nail square moment
and we both held a hammer
We did the hike later.. he saw the rattle snakes
and he turned to me..

'You have surprising backers Tom ..
I see why..'
Well, was I chuffed.. jaysus..
We could lean in
look upon sunning rattlesnakes
for a close up exam
Top that & I buy the beers

This where part of my belief in Environment springs from
My belief is not complicated
I don't swim with Orca
I am more rattlesnake

My appraisal of government re
legislation or protections is complicated
Do the right thing.. or suck air

Owen Gray said...

Unfortunately, Cap, that's a well worn strategy. We should know it well by now.

Owen Gray said...

When push comes to shove on the environment, Sal, it's really hard to get people to do the right thing.

The Mound of Sound said...

Earth Day was yesterday and I used it to mull over the first half record of Trudeau's premiership: the grand promises of his election campaign, his appearance at the Paris climate summit where, on Dec. 5, 2015, he told the assembly that "Canada is back" to warm applause.

I wrote of how Trudeau rode to power on a legendary name that he then failed to grow into. It all turned to be words, not deeds. Instead of being the overdue generational transition of power, Trudeau instead proved to be of the older generation, too hesitant, timid and feeble for the heavy lifting required of the challenging times in which we find ourselves. As layer by layer peeled off we began to see someone who resembled Harper in too many ways.

Harris is wrong in commending Trudeau for the assisted dying bill. The constitutional right to this humanitarian relief was not of his doing. The Supreme Court of Canada, in a rare 9 to 0, per curiam decision, established that this is a right of all Canadians under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Trudeau had no choice in the matter, took no risk. What was he going to do, place his government outside the law? What he and Wilson-Raybould actually did was to whittle down the decision of the SCC as a sop to Trudeau's religious ideology. That was shameful.

Lorne said...

Just as in Ontario, where the sale of Hydro One meant I could no longer support Kathleen Wynne, Trudeau's betrayal of his electoral reform promise and his abysmal performance on the environment mean his party will not be getting my support in 2019, Owen.

Owen Gray said...

I too am disappointed in Justin, Mound. He is a consumate politician. But he lacks his father's bold vision. The death and dying decision was prickly. No matter what he did, he was bound to offend someone. Personally, I was not offended by the limits in the law. I worry about others pushing someone to die. If I knew there would be no interference from other self interested parties, I would support a broader mandate.

The pipeline business is another such decision. He can't have it both ways.The consequences of Trudeau's stance will be long lasting.

the salamander said...

Norm.. the lesson that blew past a 20 year old
way back in the when before
is 'you need to take them there'

The Guelph Reformatory boss
went there with me..
We both marvelled..
at being a foot away
from a Massassauga rattlesnake
dozy in the afternoon sun

But he went with me.. he got there
saw a beast he had never seen..
You think he forgot that?
A foot away from a sleepy rattlesnake ?

I suspect it was he who seconded me
on to work with drug addicted juveniles
at Stonehenge..
Seemed I maintained my access somehow
to the grounds of The Guelph Reformatory ..

To this day I get stopped by cops for breathalizers
and their heads snap around.. give me the funny look
'You have airport aircraft & runway access,
TTC track level subway clearance
and railway passage to any area ?

Me - 'I dunno.. is that so?'
I just pay th freight n board a subway
My son think I'm Batman..
Digs into my background...

I know lots of Batman or Batwomens
and I aint on the list
I strive to be a super duper parent
anything else just gravy

There a women I adore
and two dogs too
woof woof.. my woof

Owen Gray said...

If that woman returns your adoration, Sal, and the dogs wag their tails when you come home, you have a lot to woof about.

Owen Gray said...

I understand why you have reached that conclusion, Lorne. The problem, as I see it, is also where you live. The late Al Purdy -- who grew up around here -- knew his neighbours well. He wrote a poem, the first line of which describes this place pretty accurately -- "Conservative since the Stone Age."

Occasionally, we will vote Liberal in a federal election. Jean Chretien's Minister of Agriculture was a local boy. In the last election, we sent a Liberal to Ottawa. But George Hees represented this riding for years. On the provincial level, this is solid Conservative territory.

The Liberal candidate is the mayor. He may have some traction. The NDP doesn't stand a chance.

The Mound of Sound said...

Over the course of a few days, Owen, I explored the biographies (resumes, I suppose) of great leaders past, especially Mike Pearson and Pierre Trudeau. They entered politics with rich backgrounds of considerable achievement. It was easy to see the confident character that formed the foundation of their vision.

The best we seem to attract today are pretty thin gruel contrasted to these great leaders of the past. They've got a degree or two to be sure. Perhaps they've written a book or three, taught at some university yet their lives are shallow enough they could be accurately summed up in three or four lines.

This current crop, well they're at best middle-management grade who somehow get seated at the head of the boardroom conference table. We expect great things of them but they don't come to the job "great things" capable.

Owen Gray said...

That's a telling observation, Mound. Trudeau Sr. spent a good deal of his mature life -- before he entered politics -- thinking about government and how it should work. His collection of essays in "Federalism and the French Canadians" provided ample evidence of that.

Before Pearson became Prime Minister, he spent decades working as an international statesman and winning a Nobel Prize. Today's leaders can't hold a candle to those two men.

The Mound of Sound said...

In mulling this over I concluded that a critical distinction between great leaders and the also-rans is the depth of experience that allowed them to formulate vision. A good, healthy country is a work in progress in constant need of building and improvement. Lesser leaders of the sort we've endured post-Pierre Trudeau turn out to be administrators incapable of building and improving our nationhood. I think that may contribute to the breakdown of social cohesion and political parties that shoot for a magical 39-40% share of the electorate that will give them a majority. Mike Pearson's vision was long term, reaching beyond the horizon. Pierre Trudeau's vision was long term, the just society and the Charter creating the foundation for a stable liberal democracy. Since then it's all been short-term leadership focused on the next electoral cycle. We see in these inadequate leaders a tendency to place party fortunes ahead of the public interest. Their policies reflect what they perceive they must do to gain or retain power with scant regard to the needs of the country, much less future generations. That, in my view, accurately sums up the governance of both Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau. No significant good befalls the country from that.

Owen Gray said...

Short term objectives -- whether in government or on Bay Street -- seems to be the default position of those who are now in positions of responsibility, Mound. That kind of myopia rots a nation's social fabric.