Dutton's nuclear vapourware

Everyone knows how it goes, as things get a bit older, they…

Ukraine, Continued Aid, and the Prevailing Logic of…

War always commands its own appeal. It has its own frazzled laurels,…

Illawarra offshore wind zone declaration good news for…

Friends of the Earth Australia Media Release Today the federal government officially declared…

Why bet on a loser? Australia’s dangerous gamble…

By Michael Williss A fresh warning that the US will lose a war…

The Potential Labor Landslide...

I once wrote that the Liberals would be releasing their policies closer…

"Hungary is our Israel”: Tony Abbott and Orbán’s…

It was announced in late in 2023 that Tony Abbott was to…

Mongrels

By Bert Hetebry We are the mongrels Underneath the table, Fighting for the leavings Tearing us…

Diamonds and Cold Dust: Slaughter at Nuseirat

The ashes had barely settled on a Rafah tent camp incinerated by…

«
»
Facebook

Tag Archives: CestNotreVote

Election 2019 in Canada: A Change Agenda Protected by Minority Government?

By Denis Bright

Canadians voted to continue a reformist agenda with a minority Liberal Government that can still draw upon future negotiated support from both the Bloc Quebecois (BQ) and the New Democratic Party (NPD). The Liberal vote held up well in Ontario and Eastern Atlantic provinces outside Quebec itself.

The urban population centres of Ontario delivered almost half of Liberal Party members (79) in the House of Commons where the Conservatives had a net gain of just three seats. Adjacent Quebec still delivered another 35 electoral districts to the Liberals despite a net gain of 22 seats by BQ. The Atlantic Provinces of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick continued their strong mandate for Liberal members.

The net loss of 29 electoral districts across Canada deprived the Liberals of their majority in the House of Commons from the landslide results of 2015. The Conservatives ended ahead of the overall national vote (34.4 per cent) compared with 33.1 per cent for the Liberals.

The Liberal Party’s primary vote was down by 6.4 per cent with a net loss of 29 seats. The more detailed break-down of voting patterns is readily available from the web sites of Canada Votes (CBC) and The Star (Toronto):

Justin Trudeau’s popular appeal was tarnished throughout 2019 by several administrative irregularities. The first was from the SNC-Lavalin Affair in February 2019 (BBC News 28 February 2019):

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has denied wrongdoing after he tried to shield one of the country’s biggest firms from a corruption trial.

Mr Trudeau said any lobbying by him or his inner circle for engineering giant SNC-Lavalin was done to protect jobs.

In explosive testimony, ex-Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said she faced “sustained” pressure to abandon prosecution of the Quebec-based firm.

Another outrage for environmentalists was the purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline (France 24 20 October 2019):

The Liberal government bought the Trans Mountain pipeline, which links Alberta to British Columbia, from the American energy giant Kinder Morgan for Can$4.5 billion ($2.7 billion, 2.4 billion euros).

The goal was to speed up the export of oil from Alberta to new foreign markets. In exchange, the Canadian government promised to invest the profits in green technology.

Many Canadian environmentalists viewed Trudeau’s move as a betrayal. For activists, Trudeau, who was a symbol of hope when he took office in 2015, is no longer a change agent but the man who didn’t do enough for the environment.

Faced with the demands of delivering military commitments to NATO, urban infrastructure and the services demands by large urban populations in the Great Lakes Lowlands, Canada is rarely able to deliver a balanced budget as a percentage of GDP. Only the energy rich and grain producing prairie provinces warmed to the campaign from Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer for an end to Canada’s version of a carbon tax in a more pro-business society.

Canada’s Tolerance of Budget Deficits as a Percentage of GDP

Canada’s government debt to GDP level is running at about twice the Australian level. Higher Canadian levels of government intervention in service delivery have kept the unemployment rate in the 5.4-5.8 range over the past twelve months. Voters east of the prairie provinces did not want to risk a return to the economic austerity of the previous conservative governments in the post-GFC era.

The conventional and highly polarising campaign in Canada largely by-passed the problems associated with a shortage of private sector capital investment.

Canada’s pension funds at national and provincial levels have been a success story.

Having survived into a second term Justin Trudeau can look to support from BQ and NPD for such alternative investment agendas in a middle-sized social market economy with almost half the economic output of France or Britain.

The strains of delivering economic growth and employment show up in middle-sized economies like Canada and Australia in quarterly economic indicators during 2019 without a more diversified financial sector. Trading Economics offers the quarterly GDP percentages for 2019 in context:

Canada

Australia

From the minority government mix just delivered in Canada, there is a slight possibility that policy initiatives might address these investment shortfalls without drifting further towards the more corporatised society that would be welcomed by US Republicans south of the 49th parallel where tariffs of 25 per cent were imposed on Canadian steel exports to the US and 10 per cent on aluminium ingots by the Trump Administration in 2018 in protest against Canada’s more interventionist economic model.

Tough negotiations in defence of Canadian jobs of these tariff issues in heavy industrial areas of Southern Ontario minimised the appeal of Andrew Scheer’s appeals to blue-collar voters to vote against a continuation of the carbon tax.

Canada’s change agenda was saved on 21 October 2019 even at the expense of continued majority government.

Denis Bright (pictured) is a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to citizens’ journalism from a critical structuralist perspective. Comments from Insiders with a specialist knowledge of the topics covered are particularly welcome.

 

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button

Brand Trudeau Wins a Second Term

“Brand Trudeau is: ‘Welcome to the new politics, just like the old politics.’” (Shachi Kurl, Angus Reid Institute, The Guardian, Aug 22, 2019).

Few politicians come across more as products of hashtag committee management than Justin Trudeau. His image has been doctored, massaged and spruced, and even then, the Instagram-Twitter committee did not quite see those corrupt influences that are bound to tarnish someone who believes in endless, indestructible parliamentary majorities. The image can do much, but not that much.

After being elected in October, 2015, Trudeaumania became something of a syndrome, helped along by a persistent dedication to being in the permanent social media cycle. The photo-op became a staple, as is a certain shallowness that lends itself to it. In picking Canada’s first gender-balanced federal cabinet, he was mindful of the optical moment. Change was coming, and his revolution would be tweeted.

In a fast spinning, whirling age of disseminated images, lacking substance helps and acts as a powerful propulsion. The Internet, observed Eric Andrew-Gee in 2016, “has given still photos a pride of place in our media culture that they haven’t enjoyed since the rise of television. Mr Trudeau has used that power, and that technology, to the hilt. He is the first prime minister of the Instagram age.”

In July 2016, it was noted that Trudeau “has had about one official photo-op for every weekday he has been in the business of governing.” Marie-Danielle Smith of the National Post considered him “the most visible Canadian leader since his father, Pierre” having “participated in at least 168 public events since swearing in his cabinet last November.”

Trudeau the Brand has been in business for some time. It came to the fore in the now famed charity boxing match in March 2012 against Patrick “Brass Knuckles” Brazeau, a second-degree black belt in karate and former navy reservist. The Liberal MP for Papineau seemingly did not stand a chance. Nor did the Liberal Party, having been wiped by the Conservatives. Trudeau, after absorbing the initial barrage of punches, won.

In a film on the encounter by Eric Ruel and Guylaine Maroist, Trudeau suggested that “the power of symbols in today’s world” should never be underestimated. The Liberals were weak in parliament. “We’ve never had so few MPs. The Conservatives have all the money and the support. So… wouldn’t it be fun to see Justin Trudeau win? A triumph over the all-powerful Conservatives?”

In 2017, Trudeau would tell Rolling Stone that the choice of opponent in the boxing bout was entirely conscious, giving the impression that the whole affair, from start to finish, had been an exercise of eager manipulation. “I wanted someone who would be a good foil, and we stumbled across the scrappy, tough-guy senator from an Indigenous community…I saw it as the right kind of narrative, the right story to tell.” Very British New Labour; very Old Third Way.

The Canadian elections have returned Trudeau to Ottawa, but with a reduced vote. The sheen has come off, and the coat seems somewhat tattered. Trudeau was found by Canada’s ethics watchdog to have violated conflict of interest laws in pressuring his attorney general to avoid a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin for bribes made to Libyan officials between 2001 and 2011. As the ethics commissioner, Mario Dion, found, Trudeau “contravened section 9 of the Conflict of Interest Act”, being the only public official “able to exert influence over the attorney-general in her decision whether to intervene in a matter relating to a criminal prosecution”.

Then came the other side of branding and e-marketing political candidates. What goes around in image terms will come around. If you pontificate about the evils of toxic masculinity, be wary of what skeletal remains the historical cupboard is stocked with. And so it transpired that a younger Trudeau was prone to don “blackface” and “brownface” pose, less in terms of toxicity than being intoxicated by moment and situation (Those few mishaps included singing Harry Belafonte’s Day-O at a high school revue, and sporting an Afro wig, blackface and body paint in the company of fellow white water rafters.) A public apology followed: “It was something that I didn’t think was racist at the time, but now I recognise it was something racist to do, and I am deeply sorry.”

As it wore on, the nodding suggestion of Trudeau’s time in office was a return to what had been dubbed in Canadian political circles the Laurentian Consensus, the elite self-absorbed view of those in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and cities along the St. Lawrence River. As John Ibbitson of The Globe and Mail described it in 2011, “On all the great issues of the day, this Laurentian elite debated among themselves, reached a consensus and implemented that consensus. In short, they governed the country.”

Nor could Trudeau claim to be vastly different from his 2015 conservative opponent, Stephen Harper, certainly on the subjects of Canada-US ties, free trade and the Keystone XL pipeline. Trudeau might have excited millennials on the subject of legalising cannabis, or opening doors to Syrian refugees, but he caused suitable irritation, even fury, over breaking a campaign promise to end “first-past-the-post” federal voting. The Afghan Canadian Liberal MP, Maryam Monsef, was saddled with the task of gradually strangling electoral reform in the crib.

Trudeau also revealed, in his government’s purchase of the Trans Mountain Pipeline for some $3.4 billion from Kinder Morgan, that he was more than willing to back fossil-fuel infrastructure while proclaiming green credentials. As Martin Lukacs noted with devastating precision, despite Trudeau signing the Paris Climate Accords in 2016, “the gap between Canada’s official carbon reduction targets and its spiralling emissions has grown wider.”

The record, then, is not only patchy, but abysmal for this particular cardboard progressive. Oil companies have been guaranteed continuing subsidies, organised labour has been confronted with attempts to outlaw strike action, notably in the postal sector, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been assured arms sales even as Trudeau celebrates Womankind.

Fighting an Instagram prime minister might have required some marrow, but the Conservatives’ Andrew Scheer was not going to provide it. He did win more votes than the Liberals and dominated in Alberta and Saskatchewan, but this merely served to eliminate Trudeau’s majority and highlight a chronic sense of Western alienation. Nor did Jagmeet Singh’s NDP, whose caucus was reduced by half, roar with any success. The Bloc Québécois buzzed, the Greens were a preserving stutter and the People’s Party barely registered.

Scheer decided to play the card of ordinariness, and stayed, for the most part, ordinary. When supporters chanted the old Donald Trump expression of locking up the opponent – in this case, Trudeau – he doused the flames, favouring the chant of “Vote him out.” A judicial inquiry would be preferable. The politics of blandness.

Canadian political strategists were even noting a certain similarity between Scheer’s views and those of the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, whose tactics he is said to have embraced. But Canadians were left with the spectre of considerable vacuity. As Jonathan Kay argued this month in Foreign Policy, the big issues had been settled if not avoided altogether, leaving the ground on hashtag wars to be fought with mind-numbing emptiness.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button