Prime Minister Trudeau Needs Help To Make The Right Decision
Posted November 3, 2023
It is hard to imagine what it would take for Prime Minister Trudeau to realize that he is well past his best-before date. Polls two years before a scheduled election should be taken with a grain of salt, but the recent findings are undeniably dreadful for the Liberals.
The website 338canada.com aggregates polling results from across the country. Its October 29th report shows the Conservatives having a 14% lead across the country. That would translate to a shocking 207 seats for them, up from 119 in 2021. The Liberals dropped from 157 to 81.
The Liberals are behind in every province except Quebec. The usually stalwart support in Atlantic Canada has melted away. They would lose 14 of their 24 seats to the Conservatives and another 2 to the NDP.
Party discipline is weakening. The Atlantic MPs made no secret of their dislike of the carbon tax on home heating oil, which is much more common as a heat source there than in the rest of Canada.
Caving in on that and doubling the inadequate offsetting cheques for rural households opened a can of worms. It prompted grumbling from western provinces that the same consideration should be given to those heating with natural gas, to which Trudeau has given a firm no.
It is seen as a purely political move to protect Liberal seats in Atlantic Canada, reinforced by Rural Economic Development Minister Gudie Hutchings’ disgraceful response to western complaints: “Perhaps they need to elect more Liberals in the Prairies.”
Meanwhile climate researchers and activists are furious.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s recent federal budget included a generous tax credit to spur clean energy development, including Small Modular Reactors. Liberal MP Jenica Atwin has expressed opposition publicly. Ministers such as Stephen Guilbeault (Environment and Climate Change) let their negative views be known in cabinet.
Polster Angus Reid finds more than half of Canadians (57%) holding the view that Trudeau should step down, twice as many as those who say that he should stay. Almost half of those who voted Liberal in 2021 think he should step aside before the next election.
The strong Conservative lead is not fueled by enthusiasm for leader Pierre Poilievre. Angus Reid finds that fewer than two-in-five (37%) view Poilievre favourably. Nearly the same number hold a strongly unfavourable view of him (35%), while about half view him unfavourably overall (49%).
While Trudeau is the Prime Minister, Poilievre’s main job is to be bland. He must avoid talking about crypto currencies or firing the Governor of the Bank of Canada. Really he should just stay away from any aspect of monetary policy.
Fighting the carbon tax (“Axe the Tax”) is working well for him. So will commitments to respect provincial jurisdictions. Some leftist pundits like to suggest that Poilievre is in some way similar to Trump, which is nonsense.
Poilievre has softened his edges in recent months. If Trudeau refuses to go, the Conservatives will win a majority.
It seems odd that the NDP is not benefitting from this situation. Their current 18% share of the vote is 2% higher than in 2021, but would result in them losing 5 of their 25 seats because of the collapse of the Liberal vote going so heavily to the Conservatives. Perhaps voters worry that supporting the NDP would prop up another Liberal minority.
Trudeau’s election platforms included many promises, such as balancing budgets, that he never intended to keep. Some “promises” have been statements of aspiration without much substance on how to achieve them.
Leaders of other countries view Trudeau as a lightweight. His initial charisma is worn out, in part because his decisions and behaviour often belied the carefully cultivated image.
The Liberals have some excellent candidates waiting in the wings. After serving in many ministries, including Foreign Affairs, multilingual Chrystia Freeland has been a safe pair of hands at Finance as well as Deputy Prime Minister.
Anita Anand was effective at Defence but was sidelined to the Treasury Board in July, perhaps because she argued that Canada should meet its responsibilities to NATO. Mélanie Joly (Foreign Affairs) and François-Philippe Champagne (Innovation, Science and Industry) are also mentioned by some pundits.
The most interesting possibility is Mark Carney, the former Governor of the Bank of Canada, and of the Bank of England. Prior to that he had senior roles in investment banking and the Department of Finance. He is keeping himself in the public eye with speeches at organizations like the C.D. Howe Institute. On Wednesday he told The Globe and Mail that he has not ruled out running for the Liberal leadership.
Any of these would be a substantial improvement on Trudeau. It will be a great service to his party and the country if he chooses to step aside. If he doesn’t, the caucus will be justifiably worried about their own prospects. They may need to help him make the right decision. It needs to happen before next summer. That will probably be what it will take.
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