Challenges

There is a very interesting article in Bloomberg by Josh Wingrove and Natalie Obiko Pearson that suggests that the pipeline issue “is about to test Justin Trudeau, the country’s telegenic 44-year-old prime minister, who swept to power a year ago vowing to be many things to many people—to tackle climate change, revive the economy, and reset Canada’s fraught relationship with its indigenous communities. Those pledges are set for collision in British Columbia—home to more First Nations communities than any other province and the crucible where a resource economy seeks to reinvent itself … [because] … Trudeau has promised to decide on the LNG project on Lelu Island by Oct. 2. He has big spending plans to spur growth in a commodities downturn, and B.C., the birthplace of Greenpeace, is where most energy projects able to support that growth are located. Indigenous groups, essential to public support, are divided, port-of-prince-rupert-wants-pnw-lng-protesters-off-lelu-islandwith some seeking to preserve their habitat and traditions, and others arguing that the projects offer a path out of poverty, addiction and suicide … [but] … Facing five major energy initiatives in B.C., Trudeau will choose which constituency to abandon. He’s allowed a hydroelectric dam to proceed; pending are decisions on Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway crude pipeline, Petroliam Nasional Bhd.’s LNG project on Lelu Island, a pipeline expansion by Kinder Morgan Inc., as well as a ban on crude oil tankers. He’s said to want at least one pipeline, and favor Kinder Morgan … [and] … Trudeau says regularly it’s a prime minister’s job to get the country’s resources to market, and a pipeline approval would demonstrate Canada can get major projects completed as warnings mount that the complex web of regulatory rules is spurring a flight of capital … [but] … Alberta’s oil sands, the world’s third-largest proven oil reserve, are landlocked. It leaves the country excluded from Asian markets and selling nearly all its crude to the U.S. at a discount. Environmental opposition has mired pipeline proposals in years-long delays … [and] … The closest path to the ocean from Alberta is west, through B.C. and its fractured indigenous communities. The port of Prince Rupert, B.C.—North America’s closest port to Asia capable of handling bulk commodities—sits at the epicenter of the contentious energy projects.

And that’s just one challenge.

I have, myself, discussed others that will divide Prime Minister Trudeau’s supporters:

  1. How to replace the CF-18s through a fair and open competition that is, before it starts, rigged to exclude the F-35;
  2. How to give seriously injured/disabled veterans a fair, better pension instead of just without going back to a prohibitively expensive system that pays too much for minor injuries, like partial hearing loss but fails to provide first class care and support for those with serious injuries. This could be tied, indirectly, to First Nations because one of the Trudeau regime’s actions that has infuriated veterans is reopening the lawsuit which aims to free the government of any “special (sacred) obligation to veterans … I have heard that some senior officials are very worried that if the government accepts the notion that it has a “sacred obligation” towards wounded vets then there will be an endless line at the door of other people, with their hand out, who believe that the government has an equally “sacred” obligation towards them ~ everyone with their hands out and some will be supported by the courts;
  3. Free(er) trade with China, which is opposed by many Canadians for many reasons, and this, too, might be tied to pipelines and, through that, to First Nations.

Of course there are many, many others ranging from postal services through ship building to climate change … all issues where it will be harder than many anticipate to match campaign promises with the realities of governing Canada.

Prime Minister Trudeau is till riding high, but politics is a fickle master and look what has happened to other Canadian political leaders who were elected, often with comfortable majorities:

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Only Brian Pallister and Brad Wall (both Conservatives) have the support of a majority of their electorates … and that can, and doubtless will change, too. Please note that this broad brush shows that premiers who, generally, support Justin Trudeau’s policies have much lower levels of popular support than those, like Premier Wall, who vehemently and vocally oppose them .

It’s not clear to me that Prime Minister Trudeau and his team can overcome all or even many of these challenges without seriously disappointing too many people. He came into office with too much “hope” for “change” ~ but it was never clear that he and the voters shared the same ideas about what changes were wanted.

Conservatives, therefore, have a challenge of our own: to be ready, in 2017, 2018 and 2019 to offer Canadians a clear set of fiscally sound, socially moderate, principled policy positions on the whole range of issues … some of which will be uncomfortable for some conservatives.

Edited: apologies for the sloppy typo.

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