Braid: Trudeau has blown his term with focus on obsessions, even losing moderates

One of many effects is to drive moderate progressives into the arms of Pierre Poilievre’s Conservatives

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In Montreal, the Trudeau Liberals found a few hours to talk about inflation and economic troubles.

About bloody time, although much too late.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet have frittered away nearly a term with their obsessions — firing out unrealistic emissions targets while rents and prices soar, nodding sagely at social extremism, registering barely a tic of discomfort while pro-Hamas demonstrators call for Canadians to be killed.

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Somehow, the economy was assumed to be fixing itself, quite in line with Trudeau’s view that deficits will self-heal if left in peace.

One of many effects is to drive moderate progressives into the arms of Pierre Poilievre’s Conservatives.

These are the people who helped Trudeau win a majority in 2015. They are tolerant, support Indigenous reconciliation and believe progress comes with sensible social measures.

In normal times they’re suspicious of the Conservatives and usually align with federal Liberals.

I’ve talked to several such people in recent weeks and the consensus is almost unanimous — they will vote Conservative despite qualms about Poilievre himself.

They feel their proud progressivism has been twisted into something unrecognizable. They want leadership that stands up to the “so-called Canada” crowd who insist this isn’t a country at all.

Pierre Poilievre
Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre. Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press/File

“The mainstream is being vilified,” says one professional connected to a university, whom I won’t name because of the consequences this person could face.

“As tolerant, pluralistic Canadians, we find ourselves accused of being oppressors. That doesn’t feel right. Trudeau is embracing that and causing us to look like the enemy. We are not the enemy. He’s gone too far.”

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Another professional who has worked in five provinces says, “we travel a lot and see that our peer countries are surpassing us with their economic achievement.

“We’ve forgotten that our wealth comes from resources and we’re damned good at it. These are the things we used to celebrate, but now we’re demeaning them. We’re supposed to be embarrassed by the things that used to make us great.”

The defection of these people is only one sign of Liberal trouble. Many other gaps are widening, as shown in the latest poll from the Angus Reid Institute.

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Economic fears and worries are rampant. Sixty-one per cent of Canadians say they can’t keep up with the rising cost of living.

The lower the income, the worse the fear. Seventy-three per cent with income under $25,000 feel they are falling further behind.

More striking, though, is the finding that 49 per cent of those earning more than $150,000 also say they can’t keep up.

Liberals who have already abandoned the party are more likely to say they have money trouble. Those who stick with Trudeau’s outfit are slightly less concerned, although by no means worry-free.

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The Reid survey noted another dangerous trend for the Liberals. Extremely high housing and rent costs were a problem only in Toronto and Vancouver a few years ago. Now they’re spreading across the country.

Homes in Calgary
Homes on the northern edge of Calgary were photographed on Tuesday, December 19, 2023. Gavin Young/Postmedia

It’s obvious from the Reid numbers that personal fears about finances are driving people from the Liberals toward the Conservatives.

Meanwhile, neglect and incompetence have pushed the Liberals’ own key issue deep into the background.

In December of 2019, before COVID hit, environment and climate change was the top concern for 42 per cent of Canadians.

That reading dropped like a stone with the pandemic, then rose again, and now is back down to about 20 per cent as the issue considered most important.

Most Canadians still want climate action. But the Liberals handed them a much more immediate crisis — the serious possibility of going broke.

Throw in Trudeau’s latest vacation uproar over the insensitive hosting gift worth about $84,000, and it’s plain the Liberals have lost the thread.

Maybe this doesn’t matter to politicians who believe Canada is now “post national.” But sooner or later, the voters will cast their ballots in a genuine country.

Don Braid’s column appears regularly in the Herald

X: @DonBraid

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