Editorial Comment

All Hail the New Messiah


Being a born and raised Albertan, I hold a number of beliefs formed as a result of birthplace and upbringing. I believe in free enterprise, that responsible resource development is not just good for our province but for the country as a whole and that a field of wheat against a big, wide clear Alberta sky is a beautiful sight. Oh yes, and as a natural born Albertan, I despised Pierre Elliot Trudeau. I still believe him to be the worst Prime Minister in my lifetime although Jean Chretien runs a very close second.  You can imagine my glee when I heard Pierre’s drama teacher-cum-politician offspring, Justin, will be seeking the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada. We’ve known for a decade it was only a matter of time.
I can hear people already, “Judge the man on his record, not on his lineage.” Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done.
There are a number of reasons it is difficult to separate the son from the father. To use a handy American example, George H. Bush was certainly a different man than “Dubya”, but they shared many attitudes, politically, and otherwise. Part of that was George the First’s infusing his son with certain beliefs both actively and passively as all fathers do. Then in adult life, George Sr.’s political machinery was the same as Junior’s which pretty much took over the presidency.  The direction of the country was virtually unchanged from a political point of view during both Bush presidencies.
Fathers and sons often share the same political convictions and attitudes about life in general. Families usually contain collective belief systems which include placement on the left/right continuum. Look at Elmer and Peter McKay, both staunch Progressive Conservatives, or the Ford brothers in Toronto, or the McGuinty’s. Politics is a family business quite often and family members routinely hold similar world views. This isn’t always true, of course, but to suggest Trudeau the Younger would rule much differently than dear old dad is not realistic. They both espouse similar far-left thinking that has been proven to saddle future generations with unfair debt burdens all over the world including Greece, Spain and, of course, Quebec. With the Liberal machinery unchanged there is no reason to think Alberta couldn’t be victimized again by another Prime Minister Trudeau.
It’s a little scary, actually. The man already has 150,000 Twitter followers to his credit. A recent National Post poll indicated in a random sample of 1707 Canadian adults, if an election were held today, Trudeau would win with an impressive 39% of the popular vote, which is higher than Harper’s tally. Of course, a lot will ride on how he handles the closer scrutiny he will be subjected to. I am sure the Harper election strategists are just salivating at the prospect of dismembering him.
And that’s the other half of the argument about judging Justin by his words, not those of his father. His words so far on policy are nonexistent and things he has said haven’t been exactly well thought out.  He certainly doesn’t have his father’s smarts. His comments about preferring a separate Quebec to a Harperist Canada is just one telling comment about how he would rule. Frankly, we can’t afford Quebec’s entitlements or their entitled attitude. It is demonstrably unsustainable, yet that is the familiar path that this Trudeau would have us travel again
For me, however, the most unsettling statement Trudeau has made that speaks volumes as to how he would treat Alberta when he came a few years ago. The details are hazy and google was uncharacteristically of no help, however, I think it was during a federal election and Trudeau was campaigning on behalf of a Calgary candidate. He was quoted as saying Albertans should forget the National Energy Program because it was a long time ago and we should just get over it. I was floored when I heard it. The Trudeau government increased each Albertan’s share of federal transfer payments 77% in a single year. The cost to Alberta’s economy was in the billions. It’s hard to forget a rape or forgive the rapist no matter how long ago it occurred. To suggest we, “get over it” reveals a startlingly clear picture of his disdain for our province; the same disdain his old man had. How long before he gives us the finger as PET so famously did?
I am quite confident Trudeau the Sequel will emerge victorious from the coronation, I mean, leadership contest the Liberals are staging. I am certain most of his would-be challengers are loathe to pony up the requisite $75,000 entry fee for a foregone conclusion. Many still haven’t paid off their last leadership bids in contravention of the Elections Act, despite being given two extensions. I will admit, though, that vying to lead a party that has had seven leaders in nine years and has been reduced to third party status shows a lot of spunk. I’m sure Justin’s dad would be very proud, given his predilection for being galling.
Personally, although it is not my usual party of choice, I believe it is in Canada’s best interest to have the Liberal Party become a force in Federal politics once again. It is healthy to have a choice somewhere between the left and right parties that are sometimes more driven by ideology than pragmatism. 
The Liberals had an opportunity to reinvent itself, to shed the past and start afresh with new ideas and new ways of doing things for the betterment of the country. They needed a new apparatus and new approach to governing in the new millennium, not a new messiah as Ignatief and Dion were supposed to have been.  
It’s a huge gamble for the Liberals but they love their polls.  They won’t ignore 39%. All hail the new messiah.

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