John Oliver Gets His Way
The people have spoken. You can agree or disagree with the decision to hand power to Justin Trudeau, but for the foreseeable future (2019), he’s your man. (Leonard Cohen should use that for a song title.)
There are reasons aplenty for the Liberals coming from off the pace to win a majority. The NDP’s total collapse was a crucial one. The Eastern elites were able to seize power once again from the renegade westerners. But, as HBO’s John Oliver made plain, Stephen Harper was the only issue that mattered.
By Monday’s vote, it was clear the StarKist Tuna factor held sway. What’s the StarKist Tuna Factor? Some may remember the commercials featuring hipster Charlie the Tuna who was always trying to make it into a StarKist tin. The punchline comes when another tuna tells the beret-clad Charlie that StarKist “wants tunas that taste good, not tunas with good taste.”
As Americans did in 2008, Canada went for the fish called Hope with good taste, not the fish that tasted good. The Liberals ads dressed Trudeau in the best Obama “free from fear” and “oceans will stop rising” guise, and it worked in splendid contrast to the dour Harper visage that Oliver savaged. For those people who want a motivational speaker not an economist (in most elections that voting bloc includes vast swaths of eastern Canada and B.C.) the message was political crack.
So now we have M. Trudeau in his daddy’s old chair. What can we expect till the next election from the Boy Wonder? That depends, of course, on just how much he can resist all the rent seekers who invested in his election. Is he strong enough to control them? Having been the welcoming face of the future, can he close the door on the uglier elements of the Liberals’ Quebec past?
More importantly, does he have the administrative ability to micromanage the sprawl of Government the way Harper did? Because, like it or not, Canada’s government is massively concentrated in the PMO. Take your eye off the ball and your chief of staff is lending $90 k to a pork-barreling senator.
If nothing else, the election taught us not to underestimate Trudeau as a campaigner. Can he do the same as an administrator in office? What will be the features of Trudeau Part Deux?
- Identity politics: Having endorsed the notion of hopey-change, expect Trudeau to be besieged by identity groups looking for reimbursement for sins of the past — imagined or otherwise. Native issues were a Trudeau talking point, and leaders of the aboriginal community will be quick to hand him the bill. The more zealous wings of the LBGTQ, labour and feminist movements will also be lined up to demand payment for their support in the election.
If the U.S. experience with identity politics is any barometer, there will be less unity, not more, in the nation if it’s carved into myriad complaining constituencies.
- Quebec: That means the nationalist drone will likely ramp up in Quebec, too. Harper’s decade of domestic bliss is one of his greatest achievements, but Trudeau’s election is going to bring that to a stop. In part this will be because nationalists simply hated his father. But it will also be because, in his desire to please everyone on the Senate, provincial transfers to Ontario etc. Trudeau will be tempted to go fishing in the constitutional watering hole. Unless he is Disraeli in disguise, this will lead to calamity.
- Environmental Issues: Intellectually, Trudeau may be easy prey for those pushing the climate change carnival bandwagon. (Elizabeth May was licking her chops Monday night.) Because he seemingly has never met a hipster concept that he couldn’t embrace, there will be great pressure to adopt the range of remedies pressed upon him by the Robert Redford Regiment. Further, with an NDP government in Alberta, there will be no countervailing pressure to avoid indulging the most strident anti-fossil fuel organizations.
No doubt, he will also hope to burnish his credentials with the “citizens of the world” sect by making a splash at the UN’s climate conference in Paris. A dabbling with the Greens will exacerbate his worst instincts on rushing pell-mell to a disastrous financial commitment for Canada.
- Israel, Foreign Affairs: The moral relativists surrounding Trudeau (especially in Quebec) have somehow conflated the Mafia-like elements of the Palestinian community into Nelson Mandela liberationists, striving to be free. Harper was intransigent on never reducing support for Israel, the only functioning democracy in the Middle East. In keeping with his Obama crush, Trudeau will extend the crying towel to the Palestinian Authority thugs. Bonne chance with Iran, Bibi.
Final note — can’t wait to see the Boy Wonder tell off Putin. It could do boffo pay-per-view hits.
- The NDP, Greens: With Mulcair going, will he be able to enact a grand bargain, uniting the left parties in the manner that Harper merged the right constituencies? After all, isn’t the NDP — in the immortal phrase — just Liberals in a hurry? It would guarantee safe passage forever if he does. The NDP are proud, but the chance to get hands on power just once might be enough for Trudeau to woo them.
- Lecture Series: Finally, prepare for a values assault. It will not be a great time for drinkers, smokers, cursers or those disposed toward rodeo as the intolerance of a good example is shoved down Canada’s throat. Expect hate-speech encroachment to get traction again, resulting in further politically correct hysteria on free speech. That means you in the back row. Twitter will be watching you.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy @NPBroadcaster