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A Liberal One-Term Government?

Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has just limped past the halfway point of its mandate.

After an extended honeymoon things have gone bad quickly for Trudeau. A recently released Forum poll shows the Conservatives with a slight lead in public opinion. The poll of 1,281 Canadians shows the Conservatives hold a two-point advantage, 38% to 36%.

Due to the high levels of support for the Conservatives in the Western provinces, the Liberals would cling to a minority government. Trudeau’s Liberals are projected to win 164 of the 338 seats in parliament. The Conservatives would 148 seats, the NDP 15, the BQ 11 and the Greens would win two seats. Forum’s projections add slightly more than 338 seats due to rounding.

Commentator Charles Adler recently asked the following question:

“How could a smug, arrogant Liberal who sees himself as the champion of real folks not get re-elected after only one term?”

Adler was comparing Denis Coderre’s surprise loss in Montreal’s mayoral election to Trudeau’s diminishing chances for re-election. Trudeau’s problems stem from a lack of professionalism and many self-inflicted wounds. The biggest problem for Trudeau has been his finance minister, Bill Morneau.

Morneau Problem

Bill Morneau has faced a myriad of problems. The problems with Morneau range from his utter lack of interest in meeting his constituents to his ill-fated small business tax changes and most importantly his questionable ethics. Trudeau should have fired Morneau long before now. Trudeau’s mishandling of Bill Morneau will likely be seen as a significant contributing factor in Trudeau failing to win a second consecutive majority mandate should that happen.

Time is running out on Trudeau to right the ship before the October 2019 election. As The Globe and Mail’s Campbell Clark recently pointed out:

“If the Liberals really want to bite off a few meaty, substantial accomplishments for the next two years, they’re going to have to be in Mr. Morneau’s third budget (assuming he’s still the Finance Minister) in the spring. The fourth budget will be about campaigning.”

Clark’s comment point to the heart of the problems with Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. As stated above, the biggest problem for the Liberals is Bill Morneau’s continued service as finance minister.

The Liberals have had very little in the way of accomplishments at the midway point of their mandate. The Liberals have ignored more campaign promises than they have fulfilled. 

Justin Trudeau campaigned on a promise of sunny ways in 2015. He was a stark contrast to Stephen Harper’s dour, but competent, decade as prime minister. Thomas Mulcair was a socialist alter-ego to Harper. Both men rightly questioned Justin’s preparedness to serve as prime minister.

Harper and Mulcair Woes 

As time goes on in it increasingly appears that Mulcair and Harper were right with their questions. Trudeau has behaved flippantly on a number of occasions. Trudeau has become the object of derision internationally. A piece in Rolling Stone compared the Trudeau administration to a Netflix program on an eager, progressive, young Prime Minister of Canada. The Rolling Stone story, perhaps unintentionally, highlighted how much Trudeau’s government lacks in seriousness. Trudeau embarrassed Canada with his unprofessional approach to a meeting aimed at reviving the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The arrogance of those born to wealth is also contributing to Trudeau’s plummet in the polls. The cover of the 2017 budget cost over $210,000 to produce. That is the artwork for just the cover of the document. The outrageous expense tells us two things about the way in which Trudeau governs. He really doesn’t get the value of a dollar when he spends such vast sums on such a minor expense. The Liberals actions in this regard show how little concern they have for managing public finances prudently.

When a party takes power in Canada with a majority government they are almost inevitably re-elected. 1930 was the last time a party won power with a majority only to be one and done. R.B. Bennett’s Conservative’s understandably lost power in the depths of the Great Depression in 1935.

Justin Trudeau looks well on his way to matching Bennett’s inglorious accomplishment in 2019. Should he lose Trudeau will be unable to blame his defeat on a massive economic meltdown. If the Trudeau government loses power in a little less than two years it will likely be a result of an accumulation of self-inflicted wounds.

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