The Liberal government’s latest move to abandon the longstanding constitutional convention of regional representation in the Supreme Court alarmed me.

With this move, the federal Liberals and their provincial associates, in their muted opposition, demonstrated their tone-deafness to modern currents of populism in a way that could bode poorly for Canada’s political future.

The new process established by Trudeau’s government places the power for appointments, not for the first time, in the hands of a “panel of experts” and a “transparent process.” Also continuing a trend, it purports to abandon archaic architecture of our constitutional past, such as regional representation, in favour of new standards of inclusiveness -- namely, diversity.

There is nothing wrong with these ideas on their surface. I am a fan of transparency. Unlike the rest of the Anglophone world at the moment, Canadians generally trust in experts. And we can all support diversity and inclusiveness as concepts that go beyond our regional distribution.

However, in pursuit of making our institutions more transparent and diverse, Trudeau is inadvertently alienating many Canadians from one of their most vital institutions.

His decision to announce the reform in The Globe & Mail -- the paper of record for Canada’s urban, eastern elitists, not even distributed in parts of Atlantic Canada -- is indicative of his tone-deafness. His ill-thought abandonment of regional representation is no more considered.

Valuing visible diversity, while laudable, will likely grant greater representation to our urban centres and drain it further from depopulated peripheries like Atlantic Canada, which already struggle with demographic diversity.

Trudeau’s advisory panel, with its members drawn from Canada’s elite legal institutions, is unlikely to feel any serious concern. Not one of them hails from Atlantic Canada.

Indeed, Trudeau's approach to appointments purports to put them above politics by relying on experts like these. But we should not assume they are immune from capture by those chambers for which they are supposed to be accountable.

In Washington, D.C., a recent New York Times investigation found that experts themselves have become political agents whose academic status confers oft-unchallenged legitimacy, even when they retain unscrupulous financial interests in the outcomes of their research.

It stands to reason that granting experts greater authority is not in itself a solution to the issues of politicized appointments.

Far worse, however, is the possibility that relying on experts for appointments may politicize the very idea of expertise, as it has in the U.S. and Britain. There, members of parties both in and out of power have come to view experts as props for elites who share their Ivy League education and independent wealth.

Canada is often said to be a decade behind the times. Trudeau’s well-intentioned initiatives have the effect of wearing down the public trust enjoyed by experts and further empowering our urbane elites. When the public no longer trusts experts or elites, the stage is truly set for a populist rebellion.

It may take ten years, but in the shadow of Trudeau’s “Obama moment,” it would not be impossible to see a Trump or Farage on Canada’s Atlantic shores.

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