The Hamilton Spectator
February is no friend to Liberals
The recurring Canadian drama about who should pay for what in health care may be on a low simmer after last week, but there is no shortage of problems, issues and polls to keep the Trudeau Liberals both busy and worried.
Aside from the 13 premiers deciding they would take the takeit-or-leave-it proposal from the federal government, February hasn’t been a month that has been filled with success after success for the Liberals. Quite the opposite, actually.
February and not March has been, for the Trudeau government, the cruelest month.
The federal Liberals started the month by walking back two of their highest profile pieces of legislation — gun control and expanding medically assisted death.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who needs Quebec voters to hold onto power, may have scored an own goal with his choice for a newly created position to fight Islamophobia. Amira Elghawaby’s comments about Quebec in the past have riled politicians who are demanding that she be fired, and who show no signs of backing down.
There are even rumblings in the Liberal caucus.
Some Quebec MPs are pushing back on proposed official language legislation.
They even tried in committee to change their own government’s legislation — much to the surprise of NDP and Conservative MPs.
And then there’s the inside baseball issues that tie up ministers and departments. One example: spending millions of dollars on outside consultants; its relationship with super consultants McKinsey; and the relationship between Trudeau and McKinsey’s man Dominic Barton.
The February blunders and surprises come on the heels of health-care horror stories; endlessly long lineups for passports; and chaos at Canadian airports.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre seized on the holiday misery for one of his catchphrases that Canada “feels broken” under the Trudeau regime.
He may have hit a chord with voters if recent polls are an indication.
A late January poll by Nanos put the Conservatives seven points ahead of the Liberals. A slim silver lining for the Liberals is that Trudeau is at least tied with Poilievre.
The latest survey — from Abacus Data — puts the Conservatives ahead of the Liberals by eight percentage points.
In the same poll, 55 per cent of Canadians think the country is headed in the wrong direction.
Seventy per cent of voters told the pollster that the Liberals aren’t paying enough attention to inflation and housing issues. And — perhaps even worse for the Trudeau government — half of voters who identify as Liberal supporters agreed that the government isn’t doing enough on those two issues.
And there’s a message in those numbers for Trudeau. Canadians are worried, anxious and increasingly frustrated.
They are worried and anxious every time they go into a grocery store and see that butter is $8 a pound.
They’re frustrated by the higher profits of the big food store chains.
They are worried and anxious about how their children are going to afford houses. They are frustrated by the fact they can’t find a place to call home.
And they are frustrated — and even angry at — a government that offers them empty phrases and clichés instead of solutions for the problems they are facing.
The prime minister’s oft repeated phrases that the Liberals have your back, or “we are there for Canadians” don’t cut it anymore.
And if those bromides are all that a government has to offer after eight years in power, then it’s going to face a lot more months that will look like this February.