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Adam Kingsmith


Trudeau Has More of a Platform Than We Think

Posted: 04/19/2013 12:01 pm

So Trudeau the Younger is now officially the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. If you didn't see that coming, well, then you're an idiot -- it was basically preordained.

And now that the most anticlimactic leadership race in recent memory is finally in the books -- we can all turn our attention towards the unpleasant trudge to 2015. I say unpleasant because for all the rhetoric that each side will undoubtedly spew, not much is going to change in Canada regardless of which party takes Parliament Hill.

Running their playbook to the letter, Harper and the Tories will initiate hostilities with a fierce barrage of Justin Trudeau attack ads. Never being big on originality, the ads will likely poke fun at the new Liberal leader for his inexperience, lack of policy, dynastic namesake, and apparent charity fundraiser striptease capabilities.

During the leadership race Trudeau was rather ambiguous when it came to tangible policy proposals -- instead insisting it's not the leader's role to hand down decrees from on high to grassroots Liberals, and if elected, he would consult both partisan Liberals and other Canadians so to develop his party's platform from the bottom up.

Fair point in theory, but let's wring out what little Trudeau has said so far.

In an interview with the National Post he ruled out pushing Quebec to sign the constitution, and threw his support behind the Clarity Act -- which stipulates a clear majority of Quebecers must vote "Yes" to a referendum question on independence before the federal government would agree to negotiate the terms of a divorce.

Moreover, Trudeau has also signified his intentions to: increase access to post-secondary education, focus on "better appointed" as opposed to elected Senators, support the development of the Keystone XL Pipeline, foster the foreign ownership of state-owned enterprise, and has ruled out any changes to corporate tax rates.

Interestingly enough, Trudeau has also unveiled a unique 5-point plan regarding democratic reform that promises to lighten up backbench muzzling, modify first-past-the-post so that seats in the House of Commons better represent the popular vote, and institute more third-party oversight on federal advertising and elections.

Granted it's still very early, but from what we do know -- this "I'll believe it when I see it" democratic reform notwithstanding, Trudeau's policies do not exactly provide that "clear, strong alternative" which the Liberal Party is trying to convey.

Under Trudeau, richer Canadians will not pay more tax -- neither will corporations, the Senate will stay the same -- appointed not elected, post-secondary education enrolment may increase -- no word on unemployment though, Quebec will keep its status quo -- Canadian only by geography, and as is tradition, the environment will be on the backburner -- fossil fuels are just fine, so long as they are the "green" ones.

Yet in Justin's defense, it's not like the New Democratic Party is any better.

Under the leadership of ex-Liberal Thomas Mulcair, the party is doing everything it can to wash away its foundations, voting overwhelming to strip most references to socialism from the preamble of the party constitution -- opting for business-friendly language that emphasizes buzzwords such as sustainable economic development.

According to Mulcair, this rebranding is "a better way for us to reach out beyond our traditional base," which is short for, "we got many of the Liberal voters last time around, so we're going to go ahead and become the Liberals in order to keep them."

As NDP Socialist Caucus Chair Barry Weisleder points out -- the party now "refers to socialism as being basically in the rear-view mirror... something in the tradition of some of the members, but it is not 'active' in terms of how we grapple with the environmental crisis, the ever-present and deepening world economic crisis, the wars of intervention, the threat of nuclear war... We're at risk of becoming another Liberal party -- opportunism run mad."

Of course the race is still very young -- why not give Trudeau and Mulcair the benefit of the doubt and assume that they will eventually get around to providing tangible policy alternatives that will erode that deep-rooted conservative status quo?

Because they won't -- since Canadians aren't forcing them to do so.

If the overlap between our major political parties is any indication of what it is we're asking for, then the vast majority of Canadians still seem to value inequitable free markets over a strong social safety net, endless cash from exploiting the tar sands over preserving the environment for future generations, and safety from omnipresent "terrorism" over an outspoken, transparent, and tolerant society.

For as it stands, whichever party actually gets elected in 2015 is of little consequence -- these conservative views are going to define the winning party's platform regardless, that is, unless Canadians start insisting on policy prescriptions which are much more drastic and foundationally-challenging from our political opposition.

And before all of you partisan Liberals and NDPers come back with a few nitpicky details that essentially boil down to nothing more than a narcissism of small differences, ask yourselves this -- do you really believe that a few petty policy shuffles are going to solve the chronic structural inequality problems in the country? What about unemployment? The environment? The xenophobic culture of fear?

If you answered "yes" to these questions than you've already had way too much of the partisan Kool-Aid -- for as it currently stands, our opposition leaders are offering up nothing but Band-Aids for the treatment of bullet wounds -- and that's not going to stop the bleeding.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Coming For MacKay

    Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay (left) is chased by Liberal MP Justin Trudeau in a motorized wheelchair during a wheelchair race relay on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 12, 2010. Twenty-five MPs and senators used a wheelchair for the day in support of the Canadian Paraplegic Association's Spinal Cord Injury and CPA awareness month.

  • Come At Me, Bro

    Justin Trudeau trains at Pan Am Boxing Club in Winnipeg on Friday Feb. 1, 2013.

  • Peekaboo!

    Justin Trudeau & co. making faces.

  • Riiiiip!

    Justin Trudeau splits his pants while pushing the "scrum machine" in support of Prostate Cancer Canada in Toronto Thursday, July 21, 2011.

  • Don't Shoot!

    Justin Trudeau gets his geek on at Montreal Comiccon in September 2012.

  • So Long 'Stache

    Justin Trudeau has his moustache shaved off to raise money for the Judy LaMarsh Fund, that supports female candidates, at the Liberal Party convention in Ottawa on Saturday, January 14, 2012.

  • All For One, One For All

    Justin Trudeau all dressed up for the Montreal Movember Gala in 2010.

  • Get Him!

    Pierre Trudeau's sons, Sacha, left, and Justin, tackle their mother's paperboy in Ottawa in this undated photo.

  • 'Family... And A Cow.'

    'Nuff said.

  • He Can Certainly Take A Punch

    Alexandre (Sacha) Trudeau delivers a right hook to his older brother Justin during a play fight in 1980 at Ottawa airport as the boys await a flight with the return of their father, then-prime minister, Pierre Trudeau.

  • Be Honest With Me, Who's Cuter?

    Justin Trudeau strikes a pose with an adorable baby.

  • A Very Furry Christmas

    Justin Trudeau poses with his family on his 2010 Christmas card.

  • Game On!

    Former Liberal MP Ken Dryden, left, and Justin Trudeau play table hockey as they visit Sun Youth, a community organization, Monday, Jan. 14, 2008 in Montreal.

  • Yanking Their Chain

    Then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau, left, watches as his 11-year-old son Justin swings on a chain during a tour of an old fort in the Omani town of Nizwa Dec. 2, 1983. Trudeau and Justin spent the day visiting the towns of Jebel and Nizwa 165 kilometres south of Muscat.

  • Rocking Out

    Justin Trudeau in Muskoka, Ont.

  • YeeHaw!

    Liberal MP Justin Trudeau, centre, has his cowbay taken by his son Xavier, 4 years-old, while his wife Sophie Gregoire, second from left, holds daughet Ella-Grace, 3 years-old, while they attend the party's annual Stampede breakfast in Calgary, Saturday, July 7, 2012. This is the 100th anniversary of the Stampede.

  • Like Mother, Like Son

    Eleven-month-old Justin Trudeau, urged on by his mother Margaret Trudeau, crawls up the steps of an aircraft in Ottawa on Dec. 5, 1972 to meet his father, then-prime minister, Pierre Trudeau on his return from Britain.

  • Cutting A Rug

    Justin Trudeau dances with wife Sophie Grégoire before his speech at the Liberal showcase on April 6, 2013.

  • Next: What Is Pierre Trudeau Doing?

  • Magician?

    Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, wearing what someone called his "Mandrake the Magician outfit," walks down the grandstand steps to present the Grey Cup trophy to the victorious Montreal Alouettes in this Nov. 28, 1970 photo.

  • Hey, It Was The '70s

    Pierre Trudeau leans over to kiss an unidentified young lady to the seeming surprise of his recent bride Margaret. Trudeau and Margaret spent Saturday March 27, 1971 at maple tree farm here near Montreal at a sugaring out party.

  • Fur Wasn't Always Controversial

    Pierre Trudeau accompanies Margaret Sinclair, at the annual Governor General's skating party for members of Parliament in Ottawa Jan. 14, 1970.

  • Ditto For Seal Hunting

    Pierre Trudeau looks through the scope of his rifle while on a seal hunting trip in Baffin Island's Clear Water Fjord, July 29, 1968.

  • A Leg Up

    Pierre Trudeau shoes off his frisbee catching style while waiting to board his plane in Vancouver May 16, 1979.

  • Calisthenics Were Still Cool

    Pierre Trudeau had no trouble keeping himself occupied during a break from a boat trip down the Northwest Territories, Nahanni River, Monday Aug. 4, 1970.

  • The Outfit...

    Pierre Trudeau takes a wary look at an ice crevice, decides to chance it and makes the leap successfully during a midnight seal- hunting expedition at Clearwater Fjord in Canada's Arctic, July 29, 1968.

  • When in France...

    Pierre Trudeau receives a kiss from his wife Margaret during a tour of St. Pierre, France, Aug. 1971.

  • Running Man

    Pierre Trudeau in Guayana 1974.

  • Friendlier With Reporters Than You Know Who

    Pierre Trudeau sticks his tongue out to Canadian Press Photographer Peter Bregg during the 1972 election campaign. This photo was taken aboard the campaign plane where such antics were considered off the record. The photo was not made available until after the death of the prime minister

  • Disco Stu

    Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau dances in Montreal Oct. 21, 1979.

  • Acting like a Beatle

    Pierre Trudeau sprints away from a crowd of female admirers in Ottawa April 22, 1968. They surrounded him outside the Parliament Buildings on his third day in office.

  • Posing with a Beatle

    John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono, meet with Pierre Trudeau Dec. 24, 1969 in Ottawa.

  • 'I See Cigars And Rum In Our Future'

    Pierre Trudeau looks on as Cuban President Fidel Castro gestures during a visit to a Havana housing project in this Jan. 27, 1976 photo.

  • Acting Out A Tory Fantasy?

    Pierre Trudeau pretending to strangle himself with a tie given to him as he was presented with honorary membership in the National Press Club in Ottawa Sept. 17, 1968.

  • Unfortunate Hat

    Pierre Trudeau amuses a group of people in Fortune while on tour through Newfoundland, Aug. 3, 1971.

  • Oh Captain! My Captain!

    Pierre Trudeau takes a ride on the Bluenose, Aug. 1972.

  • Nice Form Pierre

    Pierre Trudeau works out at an Oshawa health club during a break in his 1968 election campaign.

  • Are The Flowers Too Much?

    Pierre Trudeau, with a garland around his neck and a Hindu greeting symbol in paste on his forhead, rides a camel Jan 12, 1971 in the village of Benares, India, where he dedicated a water well.

  • I Do Love Flowers

    Pierre Trudeau kids around with a carnation while waiting for voting results at the Liberal convention in this April 7, 1968 photo.

  • Indiana Jones Of The Great White North

    Pierre Trudeau tries cracking a dog sled whip while visiting Baker Lake in the Arctic, March 10, 1970.

  • Never Afraid To Dance

    Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Sheik Yamani, left, and Pierre Trudeau, right, dance a traditional Arabian dance while camping out in the desert in Madein Saleh, Saudi Arabia, Nov. 18, 1980.

  • Or Rock A Skirt

    Pierre Trudeau, seen here taking part in Maori ceremonial dance in Wellington, New Zealand May 13, 1970.

  • Got The Moves

    Pierre Trudeau does a dance after his campaign bus broke down in Montreal June 6, 1968.

  • Feather In The Cap

    Wearing a "feather in his cap," Pierre Trudeau attended the official opening May 20, 1983, of an archaeological excavation in Hull, Que.

  • Ballet: Act 1

    Pierre Trudeau, shown performing his famous pirouette during a May 7, 1977, picture session at Buckingham Palace in London, England.

  • Ballet: Act 2

    Pierre Trudeau, in a moment of joy over patriation of Canada's constitution, preformed his now famous pirouette at Uplands Airport on April 18, 1982 following the Queens's departure for London after the 4-day state visit which climaxed with the proclamation of the Constitution Act.

  • He Got It From His Father

    Pierre Trudeau is saluted by RCMP Officer as he carries son Justin to Rideau Hall in 1973.

  • Next: Justin Trudeau Through The Years

  • Prime Minister Trudeau and his then-wife Margaret leave the city's Notre Dame Basilica Sunday afternoon after the christening of their 22-day old infant Justin Pierre James, Jan. 16, 1972. Tasseled shawls kept the baby hidden from photographers and the 10-degree-below-zero weather.

  • March 1979 photo of the Trudeau children: Michel (front), Alexandre (Sacha) and Justin (rear).

  • It was a big day for Dad, but a long day for the three Trudeau children. Left to right, Justin, Michel and Alexandre (Sacha) Trudeau attended the swearing in ceremonies of their father Pierre Elliott Trudeau as Prime Minister March 3, 1980 at Government House.


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