Since Justin Trudeau's formal confirmation that his pledge of a reformed electoral system will not occur, he has been on the receiving end of a great deal of criticism, most of it characterizing him as a liar and a cynic. This is all fair game in politics, but it should be noted that his opponents are just as guilty of promoting their self interest.
“Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for?” ― Robert Browning
Mr. Trudeau, meet Mr. Browning.
One thing the Trudeau government cannot be accused of is lack of reach. Its ambitions have carried it into endeavours that the Harper government did not attempt to reach or had no interest in reaching.
On the face of it, the election of Donald Trump in the United States this month and last year’s election of Justin Trudeau in Canada had precious little in common.
The American election was a vile affair, filled with misrepresentation, outright lying, racism, hate and character assassination. The Canadian election was a relatively clean, though hard-fought, campaign that for the most part stayed within the bounds of acceptable political discourse and conduct.
Every successful political leader, when elected, comes to regret some of the promises he or she made while campaigning. Changes that seemed so compelling, so popular – and maybe so easy – while campaigning take on a different complexion once the election is over. Promised changes suddenly seem less compelling, not quite so popular – and even downright difficult to achieve.
The Trudeau Liberals are moving into the second phase of their mandate, investing some of the political capital they collected in the first phase (the honeymoon or “sunny ways” period) to assert the primacy of the federal government in three areas of national concern.
These are climate change, pipelines and the preservation of medicare. Taken together, the Liberals’ approaches in these areas signal a desire to reestablish a muscular federalism reminiscent of the Pierre Trudeau era.