Canada: Trudeau changes style, not substance

October 23, 2015
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (pictured)said: 'Canadians wanted an end to the anti-social and anti-democratic government of Harp

Canadians elected a new national government on October 19, with new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party winning 184 seats out of 338.

The hated Conservative Party of Prime Minister Stephen Harper came in second place with 99 seats. The historically left-wing New Democratic Party won 44 seats.

Canadian socialist activist and journalist Roger Annis wrote: “It was a remarkable performance for the Liberals, who finished in third place in the 2011 election with only 18.9% of the vote. There were three main reasons for the Liberal victory:

“1. Canadians wanted an end to the anti-social and anti-democratic government of Harper. Nearly three million more people voted in 2015 (68.5% of registered voters, or about 61% of the adult-age population) compared to 2011. The Liberal vote total more than doubled compared to 2011, to 6.9 million votes. The Conservative vote dropped by 235,000, to 5.6 million. (Canada's population is 35 million.)

“2. The Liberal Party successfully projected a youthful and progressive image of 'change'. It said it would increase taxes on the wealthiest people in Canada to better fund government services and it would run budget deficits, as needed, to finance capitalist infrastructure programs and restore some of the cuts to government services made by the Conservatives since 2011.

“3.The progressive posturing by the Liberal Party was facilitated by the staid, conservative campaign of the social-democratic New Democratic Party. NDP leader Tom Mulcair campaigned as a fiscal conservative who would not radically change the economic policies of the Conservatives.

“The NDP vote dropped from 4.5 million in 2011 to 3.5 million in this election. The party lost all its seats in Toronto, Canada's largest city. Its seat total in the province of Quebec dropped from 59 in 2011 to 16.

“There were, however, no significant differences in foreign policy between these three leading parties in the election.”

An October 20 opinion piece by Luke Savage at Ricochet Media said: “The Liberal campaign embraced a lexicon of positivity, unity, and tolerance. But the Liberal parliamentary caucus voted for Stephen Harper's absurd Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act only a few short months ago.

“They also voted for Bill C-51, which risks the criminalisation of people who protest oil pipelines and threatens artistic expression, and they don't plan to repeal it.

“It's quite possible the minister of justice in Prime Minister Trudeau's cabinet will be a former police chief who defends the racist practice of carding and presided over the largest set of peacetime arrests in Canada's history during the G20 meeting in Toronto.

“The co-chair of Trudeau's campaign was recently outed as a lobbyist who, before the election was even finished, was already trying to help his friends at TransCanada get a pipeline built.

“Behind the selfies and the theatrics, behind the vague but flourishing invocations of 'hope' and 'change,' behind the crowds of grinning patricians, behind the formless nostalgia for '60s Trudeaumania, many of us see a politics as calculating and ultimately uninterested in social justice as that which today's liberalism sets itself against …

“The new government is going to temporarily invest billions in new (though largely unspecified) infrastructure, after which it will make billions in (also unspecified) cuts.

“It will not create any significant new social programs, and has instead promised to adopt a means-tested approach to social policy that simply helps some low-income earners navigate unjust market structures with slightly bigger cheques than they were getting before.

“The Liberals will not set targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions despite one of the most important UN climate summits in history being barely more than a month away.

“The government will no doubt accept a massive new trade deal that Harper negotiated, the Trans Pacific Partnership, which threatens to decimate what remains of manufacturing in Ontario, undermine Canadians' privacy online, make life-saving drugs unaffordable by creating a global cartel for pharmaceutical giants, and erode the democratic sovereignty of the country by enabling multinationals to sue our elected governments when they dislike our laws and regulations.”

Savage concluded: “Achieving social progress requires more than just a perpetual return to the traditional, professionalised politics that leaves one in seven of us in poverty, tolerates people having to sleep on the streets, and allows thousands of children to wake up hungry and badly housed every single day in one of the richest societies in the world.”

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