In the last federal election, the Liberal Party had the support of less than a third of the electorate. No federal political party has formed a government with a weak mandate.
And yet the Liberals delivered a throne speech this week full of ambitious and costly commitments. Those commitments come on the heels of rising inflation and warnings from the Bank of Canada that interest rates are about to rise.
It is very hard to avoid the conclusion that, like his father, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is determined to set a legacy – and hang on to the consequences.
Tuesday’s throne speech emphasized reconciliation with indigenous peoples, combating climate change, new housing support and a national child care program.
child-care programs, once fully implemented, add $8.3 billion annually for federal spending. a royal bank report good The findings, released last month, concluded that reducing carbon emissions by 75 percent would cost governments, businesses and communities $60 billion annually, four times more than what we’re spending now.
Does the public support these costly new measures? As recently as a month ago, the answer was yes. one october abacus vote Health care, immunization, climate change and housing affordability are top priorities for the majority of Canadians. The Throne speech echoed those priorities.
“He ticked all the boxes,” Abacus CEO David Coletto told me. (The poll appointed a representative panel of 2,200 adults, which was surveyed from October 15–20, found an equal margin of error within 1.9 percentage points 19 out of 20.)
But cost of living was also an important issue for voters in the abacus poll. and an ipsos vote 1 issue this week was “Affordability and Cost of Living”. (In an online survey of 1,001 adults from November 12-15, there was a similar margin of error within 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.)
The cost of living has become top of mind due to ongoing and rising inflation. Ian Lee of the Sprout School of Business at Carleton University says he believes “public opinion is ahead of political leadership” when it comes to concerns about rising prices. Meanwhile, Bank of Canada Deputy Governor Paul Beaudry warning In a speech on Tuesday that many families have taken on too much debt, it is as if interest rates are set to rise.
And none of this accounts for the large increase in expenses that will be needed to care for the boomer generation, all of whom will soon be senior citizens.
The federal government may commit to very expensive new programs at a time when the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio has seriously deteriorated due to the pandemic. Higher interest rates would put pressure on federal finances, just as they would on domestic finance. Does Mr Trudeau believe he has the mandate to continue his ambitious agenda despite the deteriorating financial situation? Apparently he does just like his father.
When Pierre Trudeau unexpectedly returned to power in 1980, he repatriated the constitution from Britain with a bill of rights, which included his overriding priority. There were months of negotiations, court references, distress and condemnation by the Quebec government, but was successful.
Meanwhile, interest rates soared to 20 per cent, inflation at 14 per cent and unemployment at 13 per cent. The Liberals lost the next election and were out of power for almost a decade.
Win or lose, the Liberals under Pierre Trudeau never received less than 38 percent of the popular vote. Today’s Liberal Party is very weak. It has lost the popular vote in five of the last seven elections. To rule, Mr. Trudeau needs the continued support of the NDP and/or Block Québécoise. Conservatives are almost as unpopular as liberals and are internally divided, all of which speaks to the declining legitimacy of political institutions in this country.
But that is a topic for another day. What matters now is that the Liberal government appears determined to move forward with an ambitious agenda, despite a weak electoral mandate and warnings from the central bank that interest rates are about to climb.
That doesn’t make the demands for fighting climate change, improving health care, or reconciliation with indigenous peoples less urgent. But it can expose liberals politically.
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