Justin Trudeau, man of substance - Macleans.ca

Justin Trudeau, man of substance

You can dislike what the Liberal leader is proposing, but he sure is proposing stuff. Paul Wells on Justin Trudeau’s carbon proposal

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau holds a copy of his environmental platform after announcing details of it at Jericho Beach Park in Vancouver, B.C., on Monday June 29, 2015. (DARRYL DYCK/CP)

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau holds a copy of his environmental platform after announcing details of it at Jericho Beach Park in Vancouver on June 29, 2015 (DARRYL DYCK/CP)

“Make no mistake,” Justin Trudeau said today at Jericho Beach, west of Kitsilano, B.C., with the usual brochette of Liberal MPs and candidates behind him. (I assume that, by now, they are inflatable and can be moved into position in less than three minutes.) “The Liberal party will be putting a price on carbon.”

It took the Conservative party all of 15 minutes to design a Twitter card incorporating the quote, and we’re pretty sure that’s the line from Trudeau’s speech that you’ll be hearing most between now and election day. Actually, there weren’t a lot more lines than that; here’s the text of the speech, perhaps the shortest since Trudeau kicked off his “Real Change” series of announcements in early May. (Previous announcements focused on family taxation, democratic reform and relations with the United States.) But, as before, today’s speech came with a background document that corresponds roughly to a chapter of the Liberals’ fall election platform.  

Trudeau’s environment-and-economy chapter is thinner and contains fewer specific pledges than his democratic-reform chapter. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; the democratic-reform package was hard to digest, will be hard for any government to implement, and presents a lot of targets for criticism or simple curiosity. Trudeau’s green package is more streamlined—although, as the Conservative war room was characteristically quick to notice, not devoid of KICK ME signs facing Trudeau’s opponents.

I have earlier asked questions about the notion of a federal fund to encourage provincial action toward meeting carbon-emissions targets. I think they’re pretty good questions. Today’s Liberal backgrounder seems to address these questions without actually answering them. To wit:

We will ensure that the provinces and territories have adequate tools to design their own policies to meet these commitments, including their own carbon pricing policies. As part of the comprehensive emissions reduction agreement with provinces and territories, we will provide targeted federal funding to help them achieve these goals.

A portfolio of actions appropriate for the diverse economies of each jurisdiction is the only way to significantly reduce Canada’s emissions; there is no one-size-fits-all solution. But the cost of inaction is too high, and the federal government has a responsibility to lead, create the conditions and provide the support required for Canada to meet its climate targets.

Okie-dokers then. The family tax package also included a page devoted to costs and revenue sources for Trudeau’s proposed reforms; there’s no such thing here. On the “more details” vs. “fewer details” spectrum, he clearly opted for “fewer details” today.

I will not quibble further, especially because the environment is a classic case of an issue for which the goal is not so much to find optimal policy as it is to signal to your tribe. More generally, though, there’s evidence to suggest that, while Trudeau has been energetically shoving policy out the window, his party’s slide in the polls has stopped, or even begun to reverse. Éric Grenier at threehundredeight.com is back from two weeks’ vacation; his new aggregate of publicly available horse-race polls released during his absence suggests that the Liberals are ending June a little higher than they began. The NDP—impressive, given Gilles Duceppe’s return to the Bloc Québécois leadership—continue to hold their support; the Conservatives, ominously, continue to lose support slowly.

What’s increasingly clear is that, while it’s possible and, indeed, intermittently entertaining to criticize Trudeau for the substance of his proposals, it’s getting harder to claim he has made none. And it’s starting to seem that, as a consequence (or at least a coincidence), some voters are starting to give the Liberals a second look.

Will these trends continue? I’ll tell you some time after Oct. 19.


Justin Trudeau, man of substance

  1. I still think the reason most polls were showing Trudeau going down was because people were not seeing policy, especially when the dippers started to show their cards, it gave the dippers an opportunity to stand out against the grits, but the grits had no choice but to wait until after the budget, they needed to try and up their game when it came to comparing their tax policies with the cons, and Trudeau did outplay Harper at what he(harper)felt was his Hill, and no one else had the ability to climb it. Trudeau’s now being more like Trudeau, what he excels at, meeting Canadians across the country and by listening and talking with them, not talking to them. The other big difference between Trudeau, and the other two, Trudeau has authenticity, charisma, and character, these are instruments of integrity, and he knows how to play it very well.

  2. I’ve never seen a bad word written about Mr. Trudeau from this writer, so this — in my opinion — is an entirely partisan and fawning article, neglecting to mention all the other Liberal platforms that are so unformed, they are barely viable.

    So let’s talk about the environment and what the Liberals did not do in the past. It’s said that anyone who controls this issue, can basically insert themselves in any part of your life, controlling taxes and increasing cost of living to the moon. A price on carbon benefits no one and in fact, seriously depresses economies, putting a price on every industry and every single commodity and it trickles down to the consumer in ways you can’t even imagine. And worse: it doesn’t affect pollution one whit; if it did, I sincerely would totally be all over the idea myself. But this issue as presented by the Liberals, is pie-in-the-sky thinking.

    • If you haven’t “seen a bad word written about Mr. Trudeau from this writer” then you haven’t been following him closely. Wells tends to be more Harper than Trudeau, though he clearly does not wear blinders and is usually pretty fair-minded.

      He even references one of his articles that was quite critical of Trudeau – follow the questions link in the fourth para above.

      As to your criticism of the Liberal green plan, what alternate suggestions do you have that you would “be all over” should someone propose them? Serious question.

      • Sorry but he’s definitely a Trudeau fan. I’ve read most of his stuff.
        Re your question: I feel there are no viable alternatives as we’d all have to make a choice about our economy vs greening the country.

        I don’t know anyone [seriously] with a lower environmental footprint than myself, but even I know that trading one for the other is not feasible – and it will cost thousands of jobs. When there are countries worldwide starting up 6-8 coal plants each week, we can stop driving every single car in this country and not turn on the heat once, and we’ll never cancel that out – the effects would be negligible at best.

        If you vote for this “price on carbon” no ifs ands or buts, you see taxes skyrocket.

        • Another new reader to Mr. Well’s blogs. Before you or anyone make claims that a certain author favors a certain politician, you should at least do some research on them or just stay away from commenting. If you really piss him(the author) off, I have to admit, he can go postal on you, no matter what party you are.

        • You are not providing factual information by stating following:
          That Paul Wells is Trudeau’s fan. Paul is very good balanced reporter and you should read all his recent articles, blogs and comments he made on panel discussions on the CTV and CBC.
          You said it will cost thousand of jobs. In the past 10 years we lost thousands of well paid manufacturing jobs because of multinational corporate greed to move businesses to Mexico, Southeast Asia or to the States in the USA with law that not allow Unions.
          At the same time we had the lowest Corporate taxes of any G-7 countries and no Federal Environmental Standards and Regulations for Oil and Gas Industry.
          And please, when you write comments next time, stick to the facts instead of using talking points written by PMO for Harpers trained seals.

        • I thought that for Canadians natural gas is cheaper than coal. If nothing natural gas represents an economic advantage for our economy if we use it ourselves. So it is in our interest to promote greenhouse gas reductions worldwide.

    • I would rather have a carbon tax than a income tax. Why should I have to pay more taxes because I worked harder? I would rather pay more taxes because I consumed more. Then I could control my ability to pay taxes.

  3. Now the question is: will Trudeau go with an efficient, transparent carbon tax; or with a bureaucratic, manipulable cap-and-trade? In other words, the proper approach or the expedient approach.

    Or, is to be left to the provinces to decide? It *sounds* like that is the case, but I don’t believe he clearly stated such.

  4. This is the same tired old rhetoric from the LPoC, nothing more than Stephane Dion’s Green Shift V 3.0.

    Turdeau 2 will never be PM.

    • Yeah; you’ll just have to get used to PM Mulcair. Don’t believe me? follow the threehundredeight.com link Wells provided.

      • From what I can gather, Mulcair has not yet attempted to cost out the NDP platform. It could be a very different story once that happens.

        • If the MSM are capable of doing their job, it could get ugly for the dippers, remember when back in 2011, the MSM allowed a dead man walking to be elected as the opposition leader, I think his name was Jack Layton, but the MSM like the cons thinks it’s more important to go after a third party leader.

          • Don’t discount the Bloc, the Lieberals under Turdeau 2 could be bumped from being “da turd pardi” and end up fourth.

        • It’s a long way to go until Oct 19 but right now the trend is definitely orange. I really don’t expect much of a resurgence from Harper – he has his core supporters but I think the swing voters have decided he has to go. What happens is where they park their vote.

          Trudeau has been making some interesting announcements – some I like, some I don’t. But for me it’s a moot point – he & his party voted in favour of C-51, and I consider that an error from which he cannot recover – for my vote, anyway. And for nearly every other center/left voter I know. Anecdotal evidence, to be sure, but the polls seem to back that up.

          • Actually, to be fair, Wells is correct that Trudeau is seeing a bounce in the polls. In any event, there is no real evidence C51 is solely responsible for the NDP surge, particularly since it coincided with the NDP victory in Alberta.

            Finally, for what it is worth, MY anecdotal evidence is that Trudeau is winning people backwith his most recent policy. Also, while C51 is important, not everyone is going to make it the sole factor in determining who they vote for.

          • Yeah, Gayle, I don’t doubt Trudeau’s policy announcements will win back some. Not me (he’s lost my trust, and it takes a lot to win me back once that happens), but some. There have been some pretty interesting policy announcements of late.

            I think the race to see who becomes PM will likely be between Mulcair and Trudeau. There will likely be some up & down in their numbers. I think (I certainly hope!) that the downward trend for the CPC will continue right up until election day.

  5. I will never vote Trudeau period. The words I would like to use would cause a permanent ban from this weekly. Suffice to say CARBON TAX from the mouth of a Trudeau is simply stupid

    • I’m with RG. Trudeau 1 was the most socialistic, leftist leader in Canada’s history with notions like a made in Canada energy price which turned into a fool’s game and then amassing a collection of has been companies which he paid double their value for to form Petro Canada to be a “window on the industry” when he already had some very bright bureaucrats who fully understood the industry and how truly competitive it was. All Petro Canada did trying to compete in that environment was loose 100’s of millions of $ because they were so cost inefficient .But at least that socialist Trudeau did have some charisma and intellect. Trudeau 2 has none.

  6. Turdeau 2 is just rehashing previous Liberal “red books” and spewing Stephane Dion’s Green Shift V 3.0

  7. Heh. I love that the LPC opponents are now simply basing their arguments on the actions of what previous LPC PM’s did. It is almost like they cannot fault the policy, so now they have to simply attack the party…

    • But it’s Trudeau II just wants to be like Daddy Trudeau I. For years I voted liberal but Trudeau I put an end to that. When comes to Inkless Wells, I am told that he was a long time the fly on the Liberal wall (an insider fly) but when that party went into deep disgrace he looked for other walls – now it looks like a return to to the liberal wall; by the looks of the headline – but of course that is from a Maclean’s editor, not Paul himself!

  8. Justin Trudeau’s primary claim to be Canada’s next Prime Minister is that he carries the genes of his father, former PM Pierre Trudeau. Yes, he has a famous and noteworthy paternal pedigree.
    But we should also bear in mind that he also received a genetic endowment from his mother, Margaret Trudeau Kemper who, unfortunately, has a long history of mental illness, (bipolar disorder, and major depression), mental breakdown(s), and institutionalization(s).
    So let’s not forget that Justin Trudeau’s background and suitability for Canada’s highest Office, as far as genetics is concerned, is certainly a two-sided coin.

    • What an appalling person you are.

      • Gayle1 : Not infrequently, Gayle, facts are based on unpleasant realities. Nevertheless, they remain incontrovertible facts. Don’t let your emotions cloud your rational consideration of the truth.

        • Oh, they haven’t. You are quite clearly an appalling person.