An interesting thing happened on the way to the Leadership Forum. People stopped expecting leaders to hold true to things they’ve said and done in the past. Here are two case studies, one of significant importance.
Kellie Leitch, the Conservative MP for Simcoe- Grey, has ambitions to be the next leader of the Conservatives. She’ll have to explain her plan for making Canadians forget that time she stood as the face of the race-baiting-as-election-strategy “barbaric practices tipline.” She’s trying to justify that action now, but the entire premise was insulting to too many Canadians. It’s hard to imagine a reasonable Canadian who cares for both the country and the party would endorse Ms. Leitch as leadership material following that episode.
But let’s not lose site of the stunt our new Prime Minister is trying to pull right now. In seeking the leadership of the nation, he also played to a small group of self-interested people hellbent for leather on their own ideals instead of the greater good. On September 10th, in the throes of the campaign, Trudeau pledged a “moratorium on tanker traffic” along the northern coast of BC. How convenient it is for Trudeau, now that he knows the vital role the resource sector plays in the Canadian economy, that he chose the words “moratorium” and “tanker.”
Looking back, the beauty – nay, MAJESTY – of the entire Liberal election strategy seems to be that they knew they could get away with saying popular things because nobody looking to stuff ballot boxes for them would ask questions like “what do you mean, exactly” and “how are you going to do that” and “won’t that have negative unintended consequences?” We saw the 25,000 Syrian refugee pledge by 2016 get revised. We heard about the dismal accounting on the tax hike on the wealthiest earners. In many instances, Canadians voted for rhetoric that promised a different result.
Now comes the matter of tankers on the pristine BC North coast. All Trudeau promised was a moratorium. By definition, a moratorium is temporary. Beyond this, there’s hardly a need to dispute the meaning of “tanker” or what would go into said vessels as it wouldn’t be a terribly acrobatic feat to redefine diluted bitumen as “not crude oil.”
Here’s a quick lesson for Canada’s future political leaders; eventually reality stares you in the face. Prime Minister Trudeau, after all the puffery and theatre that was the last election, now has to recognize the reality that Canada is a resource rich nation that has to capitalize on this blessing while we can to maximize its value for current Canadians. This is true even more so in his case because of the amount of money his government believes it should spend to support the economy.
Now the man who wanted Canada to be known for its resourcefulness will have to demonstrate his own to cope with the difficulty of convincing his voters that lifting his moratorium on tanker traffic was what he had in mind all along.