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Carson Jerema: It isn't just Trudeau, the whole Liberal government is rotten

June 27 2024

Re-printed without permission this needs to be saved.

Following the Liberals’ embarrassing defeat in Toronto—St. Paul’s, Canadian politics has been consumed with a single question: should the party dump the wildly unpopular prime minister in favour of a leader who has a hope in a Winnipeg winter of holding onto government?

For Liberals and their supporters, who imagine the Conservatives are barbarians at the gates ready to smash civilization to pieces, it’s easy to see why that option could be alluring. Whatever the fortunes of the Liberal party generally, Justin Trudeau is particularly reviled. So, it would seem some partisans believe, the public would snap out of its dalliances with Pierre Poilievre’s Tories and embrace a new Liberal leader if only it were presented with one.

Canadians, at least according to Liberals on social media, would suddenly come to realize that nationwide free contraception, which duplicates provincial plans and has only existed for eight seconds, is actually the glue holding this country together. To think, voters are considering ending this sacred pillar of Canadian identity just to toss out an insufferable divorcee who doesn’t understand why no one likes him anymore.

The same goes, apparently, for the national daycare program, never mind that it also duplicates what the provinces are doing, or that it’s creating massive wait lists. And certainly don’t forget dental care, but please disregard that it is a program that also barely exists, or that the narrow targeting of those eligible for it is an admission that most people don’t need it.

To listen to government ministers, backbenchers and boomers who are lifelong Liberal voters, the prospect of losing these programs is apparently unthinkable, and merely evidence of the Conservatives’ “cold and cruel and small” agenda, as Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland put it earlier this week.

Liberals have leaned into this increasingly hyperbolic messaging, seemingly unaware of how unserious they sound.

This has been particularly evident with the framing of free contraception, a policy they claim support for is somehow synonymous with support for “women’s rights,” and abortion rights in particular. If this were even remotely true, as opposed to hilariously ridiculous, why did the Liberals wait nearly a decade to introduce the plan?

The Liberals’ problem isn’t that the public is so vapid that it can’t see past Trudeau’s image to appreciate all the government has done for the country. Only a Liberal would think that. No, the party’s problem is that it has mismanaged the country to such an extent, it is foolish to think that a mere change at the top is all that’s needed to turn its fortunes around.

All governments debase themselves for partisan advantage, but it isn’t clear that this government is capable of doing anything else. Every policy, every action, every pronouncement is designed, not to achieve a particular goal, but to wedge the Conservatives, or appease the NDP.

From conversion therapy to gun control, to vaccine mandates to the capital gains tax hike, each is calculated for partisan advantage, without any measurable benefits for the public. Other pieces of legislation, like the online harms bill or the Online Streaming Act, are evidence of the government’s hostility toward civil liberties.

Even with a policy like the carbon tax — regardless of whether you agree with it or not — that seems genuinely designed to achieve a particular goal, the Liberals can’t help politicizing it for partisan advantage.

First, the choice to offer rebates, instead of lowering other taxes to cover the cost of the levy, was a transparent move to try and persuade Canadians they are being given something, rather than being taxed. Then, the government offered an exemption for home heating oil, a fuel that’s disproportionately used in Atlantic Canada, particularly in Liberal ridings.

All this might be forgivable, if it were evident that the Liberals even pretended to take the business of government seriously. Instead, they have openly mocked the notion that the federal government exists for any other purpose but to raise funds for the party.

Nowhere is this more clear than in their complete lack of concern for core federal responsibilities, namely national security and defence.

When presented with evidence of Chinese interference in federal elections, the government’s response was not a promise to investigate and ensure elections are secure, but to evade all responsibility and to falsely argue that the Opposition was only raising the issue because it lost the last election. As recently as this spring, during the public inquiry, the prime minister continued to ridicule the idea that election interference even mattered.

When it was revealed by a parliamentary committee that several MPs were witting or unwitting proxies for foreign governments, one Liberal MP responded: “Boo hoo, get over it.” On national defence, the military has been permitted to degrade so far that it’s now so short of equipment and personnel, it even lacks the ability to feed all its soldiers.

On immigration, Ottawa raised the flow of newcomers beyond the capacity of the country to house or otherwise absorb them. That is not a problem with immigration levels, so much as it is with Ottawa’s inability to manage one of its core responsibilities.

This is even before we get to the government’s obsessions with identity politics and its revisionist approach to history that sees Canada as little more than a genocidal state that doesn’t deserve to exist.

And yet, even all this would also be forgivable to most Canadians if they were getting ahead. Unfortunately, while the national deficit was $50 billion in 2023-24, roughly the same as our annual interest payments on the federal debt, wages have stagnated and the cost of housing has exploded.

At one time, the oil and gas industry was strong enough to mask Canada’s productivity problems, but now that the industry is hesitant to invest — thanks to regulatory uncertainty — almost all job growth in Canada is in the public sector.

Taxes are increasing, housing is unaffordable and good jobs are few and far between. Canada is simply no longer as wealthy as it should be, a state of affairs created by policy choices. It didn’t have to be this way, even under an activist progressive government.

It is laughable to think that simply swapping out leaders would save the Liberals. But it is equally laughable to suggest that Canadians would be throwing away abundance by even daring to think about electing a different government.

National Post


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