It should be said right up front that if someone had told me a couple years ago I’d be referring to a Prime Minister Trudeau in the present tense I’d be questioning their sanity. But, here he is and here we are. So sure, that plus the fact the liberals went from third to first in the span of an election is impressive. Sadly for Canada, though, the Trudeau fandom won’t last longer than about 6 months–and for many of the reasons, I suspect, that it was apparently extremely necessary to give Harper the boot in equally impressive fashion. Politics just doesn’t know how to do anything else, and neither do most politicians–including, as we’re about to find out, Trudeau.
Let’s start with the most obvious, because why not. Bill C-51 is, if you ask some people, the culmination of everything that was wrong with the conservative government. Shoved through with little debate, probably unconstitutional, treats dual-citizens as second class, yada yada we’ve heard it all a million times now. The vote for Trudeau–or, to put it in rather more appropriate context, the vote against Harper–was supposed to be a rejection of C-51. And it probably would be, if Trudeau hadn’t already decided he supported it. So, awesome. We ditch the bill’s authors, but we’re keeping the bill–at least until the eventual supreme court challenge, at which point we’ll see. Majority rules, and all that.
Slightly less obvious, unless you’ve had your ear to the political ground for a while, was another something Trudeau–and Mulcair, for what that was worth–used to beat Harper over the head with. Openness/accountability in government. To contrast himself with how Harper ran things, Trudeau flat out said he’d let each riding handle their own nomination process and his people would stay out of it. And then, his people got involved and there went the open nomination promise. He could have explained himself. He should have explained himself. He blamed the other guy. And there just went accountability.
Less into the politically obscure and more into the mainstream conversation, ask anyone who voted against the conservatives why they voted against the conservatives. I’d put money on one of the reasons for it being the conservatives are in bed with big oil–if I had money, anyway. Whatever the expansion, it was always assumed the conservatives would shove through any legislation that was required to approve the thing and damn the consequences. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if folks in some corners accused the conservatives of taking their legislation straight from the mouthes of the oil execs. They might even be right for all I know–I’ve never had the influence or a reason to know one way or the other. But one thing I can about guarantee is if one of Harper’s advisors had been found giving advice to the oil companies, there’d be screaming from all corners demanding to know what Harper knew, when he knew it, and why the advisor wasn’t outright fired on the spot. And somebody would probably be calling up the RCMP this morning. Not so much for Trudeau.
I’m no fan of Stephen Harper, by any means. Well, if I’m being completely honest I’m no fan of the whole damn mess, but let’s put that out there up front. But I’ve been around long enough to know how this usually ends up going. The liberals held office for 13 years, until people got tired of them and then they didn’t. Harper got himself elected on a platform of openness, accountability, transparency, and generally not sucking–and then proceeded to forget about 90% of that platform. He’s just an MP from Alberta, now. Trudeau promised to be, escentially, not Harper–and then proceeded to borrow some of Harper’s tactics before he even won the election. Aside from that, this election in particular, the platforms weren’t entirely all that radically different from each other. They both treat the supposed middle class as something delicate and special without actually defining what the middle class actually is–I still don’t know, for instance, if I’d fall into that category (though probably not, for myriad reasons). both are all about tax breaks for the middle class. Both are all about fiddling with tax rates for other people–the conservatives, supposedly, lowering corporate tax rates and the liberals increasing taxes on people who make enough money to actually get ahead in a crap economy. Neither is willing to go into a whole lot of detail on what they plan to do with that extra money, beyond vague sort of halfway nods towards helping out the middle class. In other words, there’s no real reason to vote for one party platform over the other–and with the liberals having borrowed ideas from NDP platforms past, there’s no real reason to vote for the NDP over the liberals or vise versa either. All that leaves us is reasons to vote against the other guy–and in this case, that means Harper. So out come all the things $voter hates about Harper, the current government, its current policies etc, and they latch on to the most likely party to replace them not paying much mind to the similarities. So the less than open, unaccountable conservative authors of bill C-51 are handed the boot in favour of the slightly less than open, unaccountable supporters of bill C-51 and not much ends up actually changing. And once the anti-harper feelings go away and people actually look up to see what they’ve done, I get the sneaking suspicion they’ll latch on to that fact in fairly short order–the average voter isn’t stupid, though they tend to be easily seduced by the mob mentality. And when that happens, I don’t think I’ll be the only one drawing similarities between this government and the one it replaced. I figure that should take about 6 months–or, failing that, the minute Trudeau doesn’t bring parliament back in session right when someone thinks he should. And in a term or two, provided the conservatives get their feet under them in time, we’ll be right back where we are now–only voting against the liberals instead. And then, just like Trudeau won by virtue of not being Harper, the next one will win by virtue of not being Trudeau. Unless, of course, someone surprises me and actually gives us something to vote for rather than against, but let’s not hold our breath. We might hurt ourselves.