Tuesday, 2 October 2012


Justin Trudeau, after beating CON Senator
Patrick Brazeau in a  charity boxing match.

Will he be as successful in his fight for
leadership of the Liberal Party?

Image Source: REUTERS/Chris Wattie posted in
 the National Post 
Son of the ever-so-popular (to many Canadians) former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Justin Trudeau, is in the 2013 Federal Liberal Leadership race. Trudeau is running on a centre-left populist platform - promising shared prosperity, a strong middle class, more equality of opportunity and a unified Canada. A Liberal Party under his leadership would certainly compete intensely with the NDP for the centre-left section of ideological turf, especially given that building the Liberal Party in the West and Quebec seems to be a major objective of Trudeau - two key regions the NDP's seeking to establish a strong base of centre-left support in.

Trudeau has shots aimed squarely at Stephen Harper, claiming that his policies "privilege one sector over the other", but also blames the NDP for "sowing regional resentment and blaming the successful".

Apparently, Tom Mulcair's concerns over the oil boom increasing the Canadian dollar and hence hurting Canadian manufacturing is just "regional resentment" politics. I wonder if Justin has similar words for Liberal MP Scot Brison, who delivered the evil, resentful, nation-busting Dutch Disease analysis a year before the corporate press decided it was faux pas to talk about Dutch Disease.

One of the biggest reasons we have had better recovery numbers than some other economies has been our natural resource wealth, oil and gas and mineral wealth. We are blessed with natural resource wealth in Canada. As countries like China, India and other emerging economies have an insatiable appetite and need for natural resources and energy, Canada is in a great position to provide it, not because the Conservatives put the oil and gas under the ground off the Atlantic coast, everyone knows that was Danny Williams, but because we are fortunate.

The reality is the benefit we have from all of the natural resource wealth is a bit of a double-edged sword because it is creating two economies in Canada: a have economy for the provinces and people in the oil and gas and mineral sectors and a have not for the provinces, families and sectors that are not part of the oil and gas and mineral boom. It is creating a balkanized Canadian economy and further dividing the haves and have nots in Canada.

As gas prices rise, so does our dollar. As commodity prices go up, our dollar goes up and value-added manufacturing jobs vanish. They are crowded out. In my part of Nova Scotia, Hants County, Kings County and Annapolis County, since the fall of 2008, 10,700 full-time jobs have been lost, mainly in manufacturing.


The reality we face as a country now is that Canada has what some refer to as the Dutch disease [my emphasis added], because Holland went through a similar challenge: a rising dollar fuelled by growth in the demand for our natural resources, but crowding out manufacturing jobs and driving up the cost of living. There is nothing in the budget that addresses this massive challenge, this bifurcation of the Canadian economy, this gap between rich and poor, this gap between have and have not regions that is a reality for our country and Canadian families.

("Scott Brison's response to the Budget". Posted June 18, 2011 on Liberal.ca)
He probably doesn't.

All in all, though, his candidacy will be interesting. He's a young, new-ish face yet also has deep family roots in the "glory days" of the Liberal Party. This may enable him to project both the image as a renewing and innovative force in the party in the leadership race while simultaneously harking back to nostalgia and a desire to "restore" the Liberal Party as Canada's natural governing party.

But if he wins the Liberal leadership will he also succeed in rebuilding the party in Quebec and the West? And will this process result in a deep struggle with Tom Mulcair and the NDP that results in another Conservative majority as CONs come up the middle?

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