PM Trudeau could use show of support
If you care about Canada, there’s something unusual you can do to show it. Write a supportive note to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (email@example.com).
He’s open to criticism on any number of internal fronts. There are legions of people who would find it almost impossible to send him a positive message.
But this country is under direct economic attack by a U.S. president, and hanging together would go a long way toward surviving it. One way to show solidarity is to back our elected leader. Even the most ardent opponents of the federal Liberals in some of the fierce national arguments now underway should recognize their disputes pale in comparison to what the prime minister — and Canada — are up against.
President Donald Trump is setting out to inflict severe damage on Canada. Like it or not, Trudeau is our starting centre, going up against a vastly more powerful opponent. He could use some support.
Former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall departed from the agenda at a forum on housing problems this week to deliver exactly that message. It was startling to hear, coming from him. He had some serious disputes with Trudeau and was one of the most pointed critics of federal energy policy.
When Trudeau brought in the national carbon tax, Wall said it was the last thing the country needed. He called a paper outlining the policy a “ransom note.”
In 2016, he said Trudeau showing a “stunning level of disrespect” by imposing it unilaterally.
His established reputation as an opponent made his suggestion all the more striking.
Wall asked people to demonstrate “emphatic support” for the current federal government over the trade issues with the U.S.
“He [Trudeau] deserves the support of every single Canadian and it’s something we should be keeping top of mind in the days ahead.”
Wall congratulated B.C. for its strong economy, but warned how quickly things can change. What if the U.S. lashes out at the B.C. film industry, or the tech sector next? Or doubles down on softwood lumber?
He also referred to how much it means to any leader to hear encouragement. As premier, he sometimes worried if he had miscalculated the public mood on some issues, and was heartened to get support on specific stands.
Canadian interests have mostly hung together for decades through all the variations in the lumber trade battles with the U.S. It contributed to a winning record, and mitigated some of the losses. That unanimity is more important now, because the situation is so unprecedented.
Trump’s case against Canada is so bizarre that none of the normal analytics apply. This is more than an economic or political problem. It’s a psychiatric one. The president’s mental health is firmly established now as fair game for public scrutiny. And privately, it’s likely one of the issues on the table as Trudeau and other G7 leaders ponder what to do next.
The Canada-U.S. relationship was dependable to the point of boredom for most of the past 160 years. Now it’s a source of astonishment, and could be a smoking ruin by the time Trump is either done or stumbles off in another direction.
It’s become the dominant economic issue in the country. The potential impacts on B.C. are just as bad as elsewhere. The NDP government’s own budget acknowledges “the major risks to the fiscal plan stem from changes in factors that government does not directly control.”
The bewildering lurches in U.S. trade policy are a shining example of just that. Canada is now targeted for punitive steel and aluminum duties over bogus “national security” concerns. When Trudeau responded with corresponding duties, Trump heaped extraordinary personal insults on the leader of the best ally his country has ever had.
B.C. was a safe place from which to watch the Trump horror show at the outset. But the consequences are getting closer to home. So Wall’s idea applies to Premier John Horgan, as much as anyone.
He has criticized U.S. duties on metal, softwood and paper. He should go a step further, even in the midst of the pipeline argument, and message some support to the man most responsible for dealing with them. So should anyone else who cares.