Is the carbon tax a worse issue for the PM than ‘Lavscam?’

Neil Macdonald, writing on the CBC News site, reviews the series of blunders and prevarications and U-turns that have characterized the last 60ish days of what many call Lavscam, the issue surrounding a potential deferred prosecution agreement for SNC-Lavalin that has, thus far, cost Justin Trudeau two star ministers, his principal secretary (about as high as you go in the political staff word) and the Clerk of the Privy Council (absolutely as high as you go in the bureaucracy). Prime Minister Trudeau, Mr. Macdonald says, “isn’t impressing anyone anymore, he seems unable to counterpunch (or even give a straight answer), and even Liberal partisans, never mind the urban elite, are casting sidelong, doubtful glances at one another. As one of them put it to me with a grimace, can we please get back to the way politics used to be done?

Katie Telford

So, why, he wonders, is the prime minister’s chief of staff, Katie Telford “counselling steady on, please remain continent, everyone, no need for big drastic action, this too shall pass, onward“? Perhaps he says, “Katie Telford, though, might have a point … [because he suggests] … If she has made the calculation that Jody Wilson-Raybould and SNC-Lavalin is not a ballot box issue, she’s probably right … [given that] … Quebec, voters aren’t going to turn against Trudeau for trying to keep a pillar of Quebec Inc. out of the prisoner’s dock in a criminal court. Elsewhere, the affair has for sure deepened the hatred so many conservatives feel for Trudeau (and for journalists they believe are somehow in Trudeau’s thrall), but they weren’t going to vote for him anyway … [and, Neil Macdonald says] … In fact, a Liberal deeply involved in the re-election effort tells me the JWR/SNC affair, while painful, has helped smother another issue the party considers far scarier: the carbon tax.

Remember, a couple of months back, when I wrote about John Ibbitson’s prediction that ““Ontario voters … will decide the next election … [and the outcome] … could depend on whether gas prices are rising or falling on April 1, when the federally imposed carbon tax comes into effect … [because] … When it comes to federal elections, Ontario rules. In 18 of the 21 votes since the Second World War, the party that won the most seats in Ontario won the federal election. Today, most Ontario voters live in suburbs, own homes and drive cars“”? That was written before Lavscam. Now, I need to repeat that I am not opposed to a carbon tax if it is applied in the right way and for the right reasons, but I think that the Trudeau tax is being applied in the wrong way and, even worse, for the wrong reasons.

Last Monday, the federal government imposed a new tax in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick,” Mr. Macdonald reminds us, “the four provinces that had refused to implement a “carbon price” of their own. Immediately, it increased the price of gas by about four cents a litre … [but, he says] … the public shrugged. Four cents a litre is well within the overnight price fluctuation of gas. In Ottawa, as I write, the price of a litre of regular fuel ranges from a low of 1.12 to a high of 1.26. Meaning some people are willing to pay much more than four cents a litre for the convenience of a shorter drive.” But, there’s a bigger BUT, he says, echoing John Ibbitson, “Summer is coming … [and] … The switch from winter to summer gasoline is expected to push up prices by another five cents a litre. And summer means heavier demand, which pushes prices even higher. Some analysts say 2019 will be a record year for gas prices. This week you can pay as much as $1.65 for a litre of regular in Vancouver … [and, further] … The Liberal election strategists expect their conservative opponents to blame every price hike on the carbon tax, and know they will find a receptive audience in, say, Toronto’s densely populated 905 belt, where people are stretched tight and everyone drives.

Neil Macdonald writes that “The election planner I spoke to said Liberal voters are concerned about climate change, and that they want action, and that Scheer’s Conservatives have no plan. But something in his voice sounded less than persuaded. It’s impossible to argue the carbon tax, where it’s set at the moment, is changing habits. So for now, it’s just another tax … [which is what I meant, above, about how the tax seems to be applied the wrong way for the wrong reasons] … The planner acknowledges he’s requested up-to-date data on gas prices every day from now on … [but Mr. Macdonald suggests] … Climate change is just not a [political] winner. A lot of Conservatives think it’s all bunk, and most other voters tend to regard it with fatalism — if America doesn’t impose the same standards, if the rest of the world doesn’t join in, the damage is probably already done, it’s impossible to reduce emissions enough to matter, etc … [and even] … The government’s new climate change report, which states that temperatures are rising twice as fast in Canada as the rest of the world, and up to three times faster in the North, made moderate news for about a day last week, and immediately disappeared from news agendas.

Neil Macdonald concludes, and I agree, that “The fact is, Justin Trudeau himself remains the best hope of Liberals for re-election. He’ll need to run an aggressive campaign, though – to develop a more direct, more commanding presence, and abandon the platitudes and moral dictation. He may not have that in him.

20190401I think Justin Trudeau has been exposed as the “The Imposter” that he is. He is a fake feminist; he’s a fake climate change champion, too, because the goals he’s set for Canada are the same one’s Stephen Harper set and even his climate minister, Catherine McKenna admits that the only way we can reach the Paris targets is to all buy electric cars and/or use public transit. He has broken his promises to veterans and he and his celebrity foreign minister, the very underwhelming Chrystia Freeland, have managed to 20171014_AMD001_0alienate America, Australia, China, India, Japan, and other allies and trading partners, and the list goes on … he may be the Liberals’ “best hope” but he is a tarnished and bedraggled hope, and I think, almost a liability with many voters. It must be clear to all but the most unthinking Liberals that Justin Trudeau was, indeed, “just not ready,” and he is, now, likely to cost the party more votes than he brings in.

I remain convinced that:

  • There is more about Lavscam that is still being hidden … possibly proof that Prime Minister Trudeau actually attempted to obstruct justice; something that is, I think, a crime. That’s why the coverup is so important to the PMO ~ so important that Gerald Butts had to fall on his sword;
  • Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are vulnerable on a whole host of policy issues … but those vulnerabilities can only be exploited if the Conservatives, the only other party with a real hope of forming a government, offer alternatives: real policies that resonate with voters, young and old, females and male, in the urban centres and, above all, in the suburbs around our major cities;
  • MACLEANS_COV_DECEMBERThe best course of action on the carbon tax, for Andrew Scheer is to let the rest of “The Resistance,” Doug Ford (ON), Blain Higgs (NB), Jason Kenney (AB), Scott Moe (SK) and Brian Pallister (MB) carry the fight, for now, and either offer a different way to do something useful about climate change or offer a tax regime that includes a carbon tax that might actually change behaviours while, at the same time, getting a few tens of thousands of low income Canadian off the federal tax rolls entirely; and
  • Keep offering himself as the leader of a diverse and, more importantly, a talented team that has better choices for more Canadians. “Quick:” Neil Macdonald said, “name four cabinet ministers. Yes, yes, fine, Chrystia Freeland. But the rest of them, never mind the backbenchers, are subsumed in the Liberal gestalt of glassy smiles and gauzy virtue-signaling of which Justin Trudeau remains the avatar.” Canadians know that the team matters and they can see that Justin Trudeau has lost some of his biggest, brightest stars because he’s “just not ready” to be a national leader. Andrew Scheer has an impressive front bench …

… that he needs to tell Canadians is ready to offer new, innovative, better solutions to the problems that face us all. He needs to push them forward, too; and

  • He and his team need to keep hammering away at Justin Trudeau’s many and varied ethical and intellectual failures and at the general, second or third rate performance of so many of Trudeau’s ministers and members serving on committees.

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