Four major issues have arisen over the last week, so I will offer my thoughts on each of them. The issues concern all three Ontario Progressive Conservative candidates promising to abandon the carbon tax, the pipeline spat between BC and Alberta, Andrew Wilkinson as new BC Liberal leader, and Trudeau’s insistence on political correctness.
All three Progressive Conservative candidates in Ontario are on record as wanting to remove the carbon tax from the people’s guarantee, but I believe this is a bad idea for a number of reasons. Without the carbon tax, $4 billion in revenue is foregone, so the government must find other ways to make up for this. It could mean bigger spending cuts, but I get the impression that even if this move sounds desirable to some, it will be a tough political sell. The other option is to scale back the income tax cuts, but I believe if anything, tax cuts should be larger, not smaller; without the carbon tax, it will be tough to do. Also, as long as Trudeau is Prime Minister, every province is going to have to have a carbon tax or cap and trade program, so trying to fight this is a waste of time. It is far more sensible to just impose a carbon tax and use the revenue for tax cuts. Most people care deeply about climate change and want governments to take action on it, so even if the base thinks it is a hoax, a failure to take action won’t sell amongst the general public. The party needs to look beyond its nose and move away from the “all taxes are bad” ethos, since we need some taxes to provide the services we want. The real question is, what is the best mix. Not taking action on climate change is no longer an answer, and a failure to do so will make the party irrelevant, as almost everyone under 40 believes this is something we must do, regardless of their political stance.
BC and Alberta are currently in a spat over the Kinder Morgan Transmountain pipeline. Personally, I support the pipeline, provided it is heavily regulated, as it would create jobs and serve the national interest. For those claiming we need to end all fossil fuels, let’s be realistic here. We need to reduce our use, but it will take time to transition away from them, so in the meantime, we need to get our resources to market. It is demand (not supply) that drives fossil fuel use; if we don’t provide the oil, someone else will, which means not building it will have zero impact on GHGs. I believe Trudeau should do what is right for the country by declaring the pipeline a national interest and pushing it through. It may cost the Liberals a few seats in the Lower Mainland in 2019, but governing is about doing what is right, which is not always proper. As for BC, I think Horgan is making a mistake but I realize that supporting this would probably cause the government to fall. Nonetheless, the pipeline is not a supply or confidence measure, so there is no reason why the NDP couldn’t turn to the BC Liberals to support them on this. Because it is a minority parliament, any legislation that has the support of two of three parties can pass, and the idea everything has to be Greens and NDP on one side and BC Liberals on the other is counterproductive.
The BC Liberals have chosen Andrew Wilkinson as their next leader. As a strong BC Liberal supporter, I promised to support whomever they chose and I will stick to this. Whether Wilkinson was the right choice or the wrong one, it is too early to tell. His advantages are that he has the caucus united behind him, knows every file quite well, and is very good at finding the NDP’s weaknesses (If you believe in the old saying governments defeat themselves, he is the right person to help speed this process up). He’s also fairly moderate, but he has some disadvantages that he will need to overcome if he wants to win the next election. He comes across as quite aloof and doesn’t connect well with people; unfortunately, in this day and age, how well you connect with people matters a lot. No doubt, the NDP will portray him as an elite who doesn’t understand the struggles that average people face, so he must address this (and to be fair, did so in his platform). Unlike Watts or Lee, he is tied to the past administration, so even if people are unhappy with the NDP, the question of whether the past BC Liberal administration was better or worse than the current government remains to be seen. As such, I believe he should give Michael Lee and Diane Watts prominent roles. He should shuffle the front bench to ensure newer faces like Ellis Ross, Ian Paton, Doug Cloverchock, Jas Johal, and Michael Lee play more prominent roles, while giving those who were heavily tied to the past administration smaller ones. People wanted change, and the party must demonstrate the message was received.
Justin Trudeau is getting a lot of flak for his use of “peoplekind” after correcting a woman for saying mankind. While this is not a major issue, I do get the impression Trudeau cares very much about being politically correct. This is a double edged sword, as most people oppose bigotry in all its forms, but if one goes too far with political correctness, it could trigger a backlash and result in a real bigot being elected, which we don’t need. At the same time, the Tories would be best to ignore this, as I feel he is doing it to trip them up, knowing that if he manages to paint the Liberals as the tolerant party and Tories as the intolerant one, Liberals will probably win that battle. Ultimately, the Tories should not take the bait, and focus instead on bigger issues.