Town hall shows Trudeau’s one true pas­sion

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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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