Town hall shows Trudeau’s one true passion
We didn’t learn much from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s town hall at the University of Regina on Thursday night, although we did learn at least one important thing: We are in for one hell of a fight over the carbon tax.What else we might have learned from Thursday night about Trudeau — and perhaps us as a province — we likely already knew. In both cases, it was something less than flattering.We already knew Trudeau favours platitude and theatrics over thoughtful analysis and straightforward answers. What may surprise some is that he’s not especially good at either.In fairness, Trudeau deserves credit for even holding town halls because of their unpredictability. It is a pleasant contrast from former prime minister Stephen Harper who (unlike someone like Trudeau or Brad Wall or even Grant Devine) seemed to resent conversing with anyone challenging his view.Trudeau willingly took on a wide variety of questions from Saskatchewan people ... although this might not have been great for the province’s often-suffering national image. Our motto is “from many peoples, strength”, but Thursday revealed that includes some who don’t bring much to the potluck.Trudeau fielded a question from a farmer who demanded he “remove your dad’s microphones and cameras from our electronics ... in our homes, offices, and bedrooms” and another from a guy who noted we stood shoulder to shoulder with the Germans “when tyranny was coming down on us” and must again do so again because Islam and Christianity are two cultures that won’t mix.The topper, however, was the woman who found it“so hard to be patient here with all these lies” and then went on to rattle off accusations about Trudeau being a traitor, taking money from “globalists” and supporting Sharia law. Trudeau rightly pointed out the problem of having only Youtube and Facebook as your news sources.With the yellow-vested protesters circling outside, it’s easy to congratulate Trudeau for simply showing up in hostile territory ... even if his political goal was just to to say he did and look good by contrast.But this doesn’t necessarily mean Trudeau’s responses were good or productive ... or an adequate replacement for meaningful dialogue with provincial leaders on key issues like the carbon tax.It should have been easy for Trudeau to look intelligent answering stupid questions, but he didn’t even handle those especially well. His answers were long-winded and weren’t even delivered with that entertaining theatrical flourish of which he is accused.As for answering questions in a part of the country where he is unpopular, let us not forget this was at a university and that Trudeau got to pick the questioners. This is likely why we didn’t get a pipeline question until the 45-minute mark of the event, or a carbon tax one until more than 80 minutes in.And Trudeau isn’t especially deft at handling what tougher questions he did get, as revealed by the female oilfield worker who took great umbrage at his past suggestion in Argentina that there are “gender impacts when you bring construction workers” into rural areas. It was a golden opportunity for Trudeau to clarify but he didn’t even give her an answer.However, at least one answer was void of Trudeau’s “ums” and “ahs” and circuitous platitudes. When finally asked about the carbon tax, his answer was crisp and pristine: “By putting a price on pollution, we are incentivizing people not to pollute,” he said, nimbly leaping to “affordability” and rattling off carbon tax rebate numbers suggesting Saskatchewan people will get a net $200 in the first year and as much as $1,300 in later years.The choice people have in the next election is whether you want to accept pollution pricing or “do you want hide your head in the sand?” Trudeau declared.What Trudeau is most wellversed in is the issue that will be the battle line in the fall election.His trip to Regina was a declaration of his readiness for that fight.
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