A cabinet shuffle offers us an opportunity to conduct our politics differently -- something, Michael Harris writes, that we desperately need to do. But Pierre Poilievre is having none of it:
When it came time for Pierre Poilievre to offer his reaction to the government’s facelift, the leader of the opposition proved once again that he will have to do a lot more than take off his glasses to improve his image with Canadians. Not even a ski mask could conceal the meanness of his response.
Politics is not Sunday school. No one—including yours truly—expected Poilievre to offer any bouquets to the ministers, old and new, of what will likely be Trudeau’s election cabinet, whenever voting day comes. But there wasn’t a pinch of civility, a drop of statesmanship, or a scintilla of decorum in his response, just a dreary litany of the government’s alleged failures. Poilievre claimed that after eight years of Trudeau, the sky is falling. It sounded so old.
Despite his age, Poilievre is an old man yelling at the neighbours' children:
Canadians, he claimed, have to choose between heating their homes and eating. The carbon tax, you see, is to blame. Immigrants can’t work. Housing is unaffordable. Mortgage payments and rents have doubled. Housing costs in Canada are the highest in the G7. There is disorder in the streets. Every town and metropolis has tent cities, and violent offenders roaming the streets who have been released from prison. And, of course, Chrystia Freeland is not the minister of finance, she is the minister of deficits. Bottom line? After eight years of JT, everything is broken. Only PP can make Canada great again.
It is one thing to cast the appropriate lights and shadows over your opponent’s record. Every politician does that to some degree. But it is quite another to paint a portrait in black of every single thing that any government, including the one to which Poilievre used to belong, does or did.
And it is something less than honest to offer such a blanket condemnation of your opponent without offering anything by way of explaining how firing Trudeau and hiring Poilievre would leave Canadians better off.
How would Poilievre make housing cheaper? How would he control food and energy prices, the main drivers of the kind of inflation that everyone feels? I take it he is still a free-market guy, so wage and price controls aren’t the answer. So what is? No real substance from Poilievre beyond “common sense” solutions.
Like ditching the carbon tax while the planet is alternately drowning or burning? Like not regulating the energy industry, as the Harper government chose to do when it was calling the shots? By firing the governor of the Bank of Canada? By using bitcoin as a hedge against inflation?
In blaming Trudeau for everything that is wrong in this upside-down world, Poilievre never comments on a remarkable thing. Trudeau is not the president of the United States, the prime minister of Britain, or the chancellor of Germany.
Yet all of these countries—and many more—are facing the same problems as Canada: inflation, high housing costs, large deficits, and worried citizens. In a global environment, Poilievre remains a parochial thinker.
The plain truth? A lot of the problems in Canada are not made in Canada. And it is intellectually dishonest to pretend otherwise.
And that's the point: Poilievre is intellectually dishonest.
Image: Quote Fancy