Two Years In: The Tale of Two Trudeaus

By: Laura Steiner

October 19, 2017 marked the two year anniversary of Prime Minster Justin Trudeau’s government.  Year one was Sunny ways; a young, fresh face full of optimism.  Kept promises on the Assisted Death legislation, and the legalization of marijuana helped.  So did the gender-neutral cabinet, which looked like the Canadians they represented.  The unveiling of new defense, and foreign policy directions started setting the course of this government.  With both opposition parties in renewal mode, the ways were sunny, and the electorate happy.

Year two begins with two new opposition leaders younger than him.  The young, optimistic Prime Minister is the grizzled veteran.  In a world hungry for a stable figure to lead it, Trudeau is a star. Smiling, taking selfies, and playing up the image of Canada as a harmonious ideal the rest of the world aspires to.

But his domestic problems are piling up.  The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)’s could collapse; a possibility which would not be entirely his fault.   But he’d have to wear the Boeing-Bombardier trade dispute, which has seen the Canadian company assessed trade 220% duties on their CS100 jets to Delta Airlines.  Bombardier has also sold a controlling share in the jets to European manufacturer Airbus, less than a year after taking a $372 million loan from the federal government.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau has become another front to himself.  He has badly mangled the proposed changes affecting small businesses making it seem like the majority are tax cheats.  He and the Prime Minister have put the lie to the party’s middle-class mantra.  When asked by reporters how his own holdings would be affected by those changes, he announced that he no longer has dealings with the way his “family fortune is managed.”  Morneau hasn’t fared much better himself, with his own corporate holdings including a unreported villa in France he allegedly”forgot” to claim.  You can’t refer to family fortunes, and villas in France and call yourself middle class.

There’s a challenge on the horizon from Quebec.  The National Assembly has passed a law banning face-coverings while using public services.  By all rights this should result in a charter challenge as it could be viewed as violating the freedoms of expression, and religion.    Trudeau is looking at his legal options

On the positive side, was a move to split the Aboriginal Affairs in half.  Carolyn Bennett is Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, and Northern Affairs, responsible for land-treaty negotiations.  Jane Philpott is the Minister of Indigenous Services, responsible for education, water, and emergency management.  It’s a practical split, suggested by a Royal Commission in the ’90’s.  However it remains to be seen, whether this will be good, or simply more beauraucracy.

One Trudeau has led us for two years of Sunny ways.  The second has to lead us through the coming storm clouds.