With so many Canadians eagerly awaiting the end of the anti-democratic, unaccountable Harper regime, some seem to be inclined to support any alternative that may stand a chance for replacing the Cons in 2015, after the next federal election. But maybe we should take a pause to think this through just a little more. Canadian Idol Trudeau, though he hasn’t said that much so far, has already shown that he shares many of the policy positions of Harper. This is where things get scary.
With Duffy, Wallin, Wright and Harb making the news, it might seem that now is a good time to call attention to Trudeau not believing in a need for changing the Senate status quo. For Trudeau, it’s just a matter of choosing good Senators – that is to say, the Senate would be improved if Trudeau got to choose Liberal senators instead of Harper choosing Conservative ones. But these are merely small distractions from the frightening resemblances between Trudeau and Harper.
Indeed, there are extraordinary similarities between Harper and Trudeau on:
- Tax fairness
- Sustainable development and participation in the global migration to a green economy (or lack thereof)
- The Tar Sands
- The Kinder Morgan and Keystone XL pipelines
- Employment insurance
Consider the following:
The Middle Class, Corporate Taxes, Health Care and Trade with China
Justin Trudeau claims to be a champion of the middle class. Sound good so far?
Well, never before in the history of Canada have inequalities between Canadians been more pronounced. Thanks to the corporate tax cuts initiated by the Liberals and accelerated by the Conservatives, those with power and money – especially the petroleum industry and the banks – are sitting on $600 billion in liquidity. The Conservatives tell us we must tighten our belts, that young people have to accept low wages and precarious jobs. Meanwhile, our cities are clogged for lack of investment in sustainable transit alternatives, etc., because the Conservatives tell us the cupboard is bare.
Yet, Justin Trudeau, self-proclaimed champion of the middle class, has said he will not raise corporate taxes. When push comes to shove, Liberals like Conservatives, always seem to cede to money and power.
Justin Trudeau thinks there are no money problems associated with health care, just management challenges. This position is necessary because Trudeau would lead a government short of revenues, thanks to the lowest corporate taxes among G8 nations! Conservatives couldn’t agree more. The Cons plan on cutting health care funding within 3 years. So much for caring about the middle class!
But there is much more middle class stuff that makes the celebrity Prince Trudeau a scary prospect. A case in point is Justin Trudeau favoured the sale of Nexen to state-controlled Chinese interests because he said it would pave the way to free trade with China, which would in turn pave the way to more prosperity for the middle class. The Conservatives have said the same thing. Yet the North American Free Trade Agreement has been around for a long time and middle class revenues/wages are stagnating or going down. The middle class is being hollowed out. The required fixes are internal/domestic.
Regarding the aforementioned, proposed Canada-China trade agreement, in response to massive dumping on global markets by China’s clean tech industry, the US has imposed trade tariffs running from 31% to 250% on solar tech imports from China, along with tariffs of 45% to 71% on imports of Chinese wind turbine towers; 2) the European Commission is considering tariffs averaging 47% on solar tech imports for China; and 3) Canada is the only country dumb enough to accept, under the proposed China-Canada agreement, a guaranteed exemption for environmental technologies from commercial barriers.
Guns: an integral part of Canadian culture
Justin Trudeau thinks that guns are an integral part of Canadian culture and that the gun registry was ineffective. Stephen Harper has similar views. This, despite the fact that the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs supported the gun registry as: 1) an effective tool for police in the line of duty; 2) regarding the development of evidence related to judicial proceedings.
Environment, submission to the fossil fuel Lobby, Tar Sands, Kinder Morgan and Keystone
Then there’s the matter of the environment. Trudeau and Harper say they favour sustainable development but the legacies of both of their parties suggest otherwise. Prior to their defeat, the Liberals had several climate change action plans. They all failed to do the job, because when you got down to the details, their plans were concessions to money and power. Jean Chrétien promised the petroleum industry that, in the event of a price on carbon, there would be a very affordable ceiling on the price of carbon. Stéphane Dion came out with his billions for a Climate Fund just before the Martin government was defeated, a fund that would have the government pay the largest emitters to reduce their respective emissions or invest in carbon offsets. In other words, the more one emits, the more the government would subsidize – a pay-the-polluter principle rather than the polluter pays. No wonder Canada’s emission levels spiked upwards during the Liberal reign!
Thanks to Conservatives’ narrow focus on accommodating the fossil fuel lobby, Canada is one of the rare developed nations that is not a full participant in one of the greatest job creation areas of our time, the clean tech sectors. China had 1.6 million jobs, and Germany 372,000 jobs in clean tech sectors in 2011. Today, there are over 500 wind tech manufacturing facilities in the US; wind energy was the largest source of new electrical power generation in the US in 2012; the US solar sector employed 119,000 Americans in 2012; and 20% of US venture capital activity in 2011 and 2012 went towards the US clean tech sectors. Yet Canada is barely participating in green economy and, the few advancements that are being made, are thanks to provincial policies
What can we expect from Trudeau on environmental matters? Don’t get your hopes up. Justin Trudeau has already ceded to power and money by being very vague on environmental matters so as not to offend anyone. Following the Jean Chrétien model, Boy King Trudeau supports the Keystone pipeline and the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline to Vancouver (to export tar sands oil to Asia), while saying he is a champion of the environment – even though the emissions associated with tar sands-related production for these pipelines would negate any of the Trudeau’s nebulous motherhood notions of being on the side of the environment.
Poor Sense of Priorities: Pot Over the Lac-Mégantic Tragedy
More recently, Trudeau has shown his true colours on priorities, with the July 2013 refusal of both the Conservatives and Liberals to interrupt their summer break for the purpose of holding sessions of the Parliamentary committee on Transport to look into the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster that left an estimated 47 people dead. One doesn’t need to await the report of the Transportation Safety Board to figure out that the Transport Canada approval of the Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway request to have only one person operate a train with 72 wagons of dangerous cargo was a stupid decision.
Former Transport Canada employees have said that, under the Harper regime, safety has taken a back seat to corporate profits. The odds of the tragedy ever happening with 2 people in charge of the train would have been very minimal. But Trudeau thinks the top message for the lazy, hazy days of summer is about legalizing pot. Glad to see he has got his priorities right.
It was the Liberals who started gutting Employment Insurance and the Conservatives have merely followed through. Justin Trudeau must be counting on the short memory of Canadians.
Wrapping up, juggling complex issues such as taxation fairness, equal opportunity and participation in the global migration to a green economy, health care, day care etc., requires well-thought-out, synergistic policies with real depth. But both Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau prefer to operate in sound bites and clichés on such matters. Harper answers all tough questions with, “but it’s the economy.” As for Trudeau, he simply repeats his aforementioned mantra that he is for the middle class without any references as to what he would do now that income inequalities have reached an historic high and corporate tax revenues aren’t sufficient to do anything meaningful for the middle class.
Unfortunately, you won’t see much of the above-mentioned criticisms in the media. With very few exceptions, journalists are not interested in the policy details or comparative analyses. The majority of English newspapers in Canada are partisan and represent, first and foremost, corporate Canada, money and power. Canadians have been criticized by some journalists for falling for a superficial Justin Trudeau brand, but the reasons for this can, in part, be found in the lack of depth by the journalists making such criticisms.
Once again, the Liberals are presenting themselves as the best option to address their own poor legacy.
With Trudeau at the helm, Canada now has two Conservative parties.