Why Trudeau Could Lose

lunes, 30 de septiembre de 2019

The Wall Street Journal

Canadians learned last week that politically correct Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed as Aladdin and wore dark makeup at a 2001 costume party in Vancouver. Two more images have emerged since Wednesday that show the privileged liberal darkening his face for fun.

The firestorm of controversy is exactly what the struggling Liberal Party leader doesn’t need as he faces an election. But if Mr. Trudeau loses the Oct. 21 contest, it won’t be because Canadians think he’s a closet racist. This is only his latest misstep.

Consider that when Mr. Trudeau took office the premiers of the 10 Canadian provinces were largely aligned with his left-wing world view. Today six provinces have flipped to conservative or conservative-populist leadership. This dramatic shift occurred before the damning photos were publicized. It suggests that a backlash against Mr. Trudeau’s social-democratic politics has been under way for some time.

In addition, there is a general sense that the prime minister isn’t ready for prime time. The photos sharpen that concern, as Mr. Trudeau appears to understand.

In a press conference on Wednesday evening, he tried to explain why he wore the dark makeup on his face on more than one occasion. “I’ve always, and you’ll know this,” he said, “been more enthusiastic about costumes than is somehow, is sometimes appropriate.” That seemed a painful reference to a February 2018 trip to India, which turned into a public-relations fiasco in part because the Canadian and Indian media mocked him mercilessly for dressing in traditional Indian garb.

Mr. Trudeau led a Liberal takeover of the federal government in 2015 on a progressive promise to restore trust in government. The fresh-faced, 43-year-old son of the late Liberal Party icon Pierre Trudeau, who was prime minister for 15 years, seemed the perfect antidote to national fatigue with a decade of Conservative Party rule.

Four years later Mr. Trudeau’s popularity has plummeted and polls suggest the Liberals are at risk of losing the majority. The Trudeau ascendancy once suggested a powerful left-wing surge that would change the country in big ways. That hasn’t happened, perhaps in part because Canada isn’t as hard left as his victory implied.

Some of the rebellion in the provinces can be traced to Mr. Trudeau’s green-energy policies, including a federal carbon tax, which went into effect in January. In an economy that relies heavily on the oil-and-gas industry as an engine of growth, new taxes and regulation on energy were bound to meet resistance. But green zealots may have underestimated the pushback.

Conservatives used Liberal green-energy policies to defeat opponents in provincial elections in Ontario in 2018 and Alberta in 2019. A number of provinces, including those two, are going to court to challenge Ottawa’s jurisdiction to impose the carbon tax.

Over Mr. Trudeau’s tenure as prime minister, Canada’s attractiveness as a destination for capital has deteriorated. Canadian business is worried. At an April shareholder meeting in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Royal Bank of Canada CEO Dave McKay put it this way: “Our competitiveness is challenged. Our capacity to grow and advance our economy is stalling.”

Like most Western countries, Canada faces mounting fiscal challenges, which Mr. Trudeau appears unable or unwilling to confront. He promised to balance the federal budget but never has. In the 2019-20 budget Ottawa will rack up a deficit of nearly 20 billion Canadian dollars (about US$15 billion).

Add the infamous SNC-Lavalin scandal, in which the Montreal-based engineering firm stands accused of committing bribery in landing a government contract in Libya. The alleged crime took place before Mr. Trudeau was elected, but his first attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, has charged that his government tried to get her to back off the criminal prosecution.

In August Canada’s ethics commissioner released a 60-page report finding that “the authority of the prime minister and his office was used to circumvent, undermine and ultimately attempt to discredit the decision of the director of public prosecutions as well as the authority of Ms. Wilson Raybould as the Crown’s chief law officer.”

The latest national polls show Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and Mr. Trudeau in a dead heat. But Mr. Scheer is an underwhelming candidate. And in a parliamentary system what matters is the seat count that each party wins. Like the U.S. Electoral College, this is a check on simple majority rule.

Low turnout and a split of the left vote among smaller parties would help Conservatives. Yet for now seat projections suggest that the Liberals still could hold on. Even if they do it will be a far cry from the boisterous Liberal takeover of 2015.

By: Mary Anastasia O’Grady

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