French politics don’t often have an impact here in Canada, but the country’s most recent election might offer a sneak preview of what our next federal contest could look like. While far-right populist Marine Le Pen didn’t take the presidency from Emmanuel Macron, her National Front — now called the “National Rally” — party soared from just eight seats in 2017 to 89.
That historic result was largely a product of growing dissatisfaction with economic conditions in France, and it offers a warning to Canada’s Liberals that they would be wise to heed.
To put it bluntly: it’s still the economy, stupid. Perhaps more than at any other point since U.S. Democratic strategist James Carville made those words famous back in 1992, the economy is driving and defining our politics. That’s bad news for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals since it’s the area where they’re most obviously vulnerable.
While the Liberals are fluent (and often eloquent) in the dialects of social justice, equity and the environment, they’re much less comfortable when it comes to speaking the language of Bay Street. If they don’t find a way to improve on that front, they could hand the country over to someone nearly as dangerous as Le Pen.
For all of his bluster and bravado, Conservative leadership front-runner Pierre Poilievre’s economic message is resonating with a lot of people. His ongoing attempt to pin Canada’s inflation on the Trudeau government, one that’s been defined by his relentless use of the term “Justinflation,” is starting to get traction.
Never mind that most of the inflationary pressure is well beyond the government’s control, whether it’s from the war in Ukraine or ongoing supply chain issues in China. Right now, people want someone to blame, and Poilievre is doing a good job of serving up a clear target.
In a recent speech to the Empire Club in Toronto, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland tried to speak to these concerns and what the government is doing about them. She reannounced $8.9 billion worth of pro-affordability measures from the budget that included a 10 per cent bump to Old Age Security, a one-time Housing Affordability Payment of $500 to low-income Canadians, and the money being sent to provinces to fund the new child-care agreements.
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She also reiterated her government’s support for the Bank of Canada and described Poilievre’s ongoing campaign to undermine its credibility as “highly irresponsible, not to mention economically illiterate.”
She’s right, of course. But so were the American economists who described Donald Trump’s empty promises to revitalize the manufacturing Rust Belt or “make coal great again.” And just as thousands of former Democratic supporters chose Trump’s bogus optimism over Hillary Clinton’s sobering truth, so, too, could Canadians decide they prefer Poilievre’s simple medicine to the complicated economic diagnosis being offered up by the Trudeau Liberals.
In the absence of some way to end the conflict in Ukraine or magically clear up global supply chain issues, the government is left to manage a crisis it can’t really control. Sending more money to Canadians, whether that’s in the form of targeted tax cuts or direct subsidies and spending, would only make inflation worse. Raising taxes, meanwhile, would probably be political suicide in this environment. That leaves them with only one realistic option: empathy.
The problem is that for all of their strengths as politicians, Trudeau and Freeland might be the two worst possible people to sell that message. Trudeau, by virtue of both his status as prime minister and his legacy as the son (and heir) of another, isn’t going to be able to relate to the financial pressure millions of Canadians are now under. And while Freeland’s academic background and professional credentials are both hugely impressive (and help explain why she’s on everyone’s short list for the next Liberal leader), they don’t make her the most relatable person in the world.
Barring yet another external shock, it seems likely that inflation is close to peaking, if it hasn’t already. If the Liberal-NDP deal holds firm and Canadians go to the polls in 2025, voters may have forgotten some of the economic pain they’re experiencing right now.
But it’s the job of a politician like Poilievre to keep those memories fresh, and it’s one he’ll relish doing.
If the Trudeau Liberals want to keep him at bay, they’ll need to show far more interest in things like economic growth and productivity than they have to date. If they don’t, they’ll be replaced by someone who has.
It certainly doesn't help
It certainly doesn't help that the Mainstream media keeps amplifying the same message that grifters like Pierre Poilievre are trying to sell. Notice that the MSM has been going on about wait times at airports, and only wait until after the Ontario election to talk about Hospital wait times (where we could have done something about it). What is truly frightening for me is that although I don't think PMJT walks on water, his government does seem to try and do what's right for Canadians. That is more than I can say for the Conservatives who embraced an invasion of my city and the torment of its citizens. What can we expect if their likes get into power? The scary thing is that I think the owners of MSM want to find out.
Unfortunately, most of the
Unfortunately, most of the Canadian media outlets are conservative propaganda voices. Just recently, The Star (which tended more towards centre-left in reporting) was purchased by a very new company, where the owners are definitely Conservative leaning having already given money to Bernier & Ford before the ink was dry. Post Media, Sun News Media, Ford Nation, The Globe and many more online and radio shows tend to lean right which is disproportionate info for the electorate. The populist style of political leaders presenting their platform to the public, promising action instead of just words, seems to grab people's attention. However, few populist leaders follow through on their promises and yet they are voted in year after year via their media unless or until their 'truth' is revealed. And even then, there is no guarantee of a change in the minds of the electorate. The other element rarely mentioned these days is rural dislike of 'big city' Toronto and it's so-called Bay Street influences. Toronto now has a big enough population, they could make a claim to become the 11th province. However, the so-called 'non-partisan' mayor of Toronto would never allow for that.
My brother in law was over
My brother in law was over for a birthday and was complaining about not being able to purchase a shower stall of an odd size, plus the price of gasoline.
"THEY" should do something he says! I ask what do you suggest? No answer.
Conservatives have been deregulating our economy for 40 years. They believe and have implemented free markets, sold off every public asset they could, privatized every public service. Eliminated our world renown pandemic warning system. And allowed companies to be sold to foreign owners and move their production off shore.
And Pierre tells us he is the God that can fix everything! Flim Flam and Snake oil sales is his mantra. Oil of course is a market commodity and Canada has no or minus no influence on price. Look to 2014 for confirmation of that. Then a fire in a computer chip factory in China cuts supply. Oh, throw in a pandemic where China, as the world supplier of most everything because we demand affordable stuff, has a zero tolerance for COVID-19. What does mean? Well take Shanghai, population 27 million has been locked down for months. Confined to your home. Period. That's 3/4 of Canada's population in just one city ! As our drive , consumers and politically, for cheap consumer goods and supply chains, private companies moved manufacturing to China and East Asia..
Combine that with worldwide food shortage. Canada's economy is apparently operating near full employment. Lack of workforce is the main problem. Pierre's solution? Who knows. Wage and price control? Unlikely. Increase supply of food and shower stalls? Impossible. Fire the Bank of Canada head? Wonderful! Where will that get us. This period of inflation is worldwide. Hopefully it won't last too long. And Max doesn't suggest any solutions. So public and CNO readers, what do u suggest? Me, I just drive less and watch the food sales. And feel sorry for Alberta and its privatized electricity system which based on fossil fuels is now providing me the most expensive electricity in Canada,
I'd like to point out that
I'd like to point out that the left in France has risen faster of late than the far right. Melenchon's coalition of left parties is what really wrested the parliamentary majority from Macron, with 131 seats to Le Pen's 89. But the media very rarely mentions that. And of course I wouldn't expect Fawcett to say anything about it.
Similarly, Fawcett, the Liberals and I all agree that Poilievre's critique of the central bank is nonsense. He claims the central bank is somehow abetting or causing inflation, when it is instead trying hard to stop inflation, by jacking up interest rates in an attempt to cause a recession that will force down wages. BUT that does not mean the central bank shouldn't be criticized. The cause of current inflation has nothing to do with wages, but is instead a combination of supply problems, supply chain problems, and corporate profiteering. In this situation, it's going to take a lot of demand destruction, which is to say making people poor so they can't afford anything, to put much of a bite in inflation. The inflation is in any case not some kind of long term structural malaise--other than the corporate profiteering, it will go away when effective supply of goods increases or gets around current constraints. Given which, it's not worth crashing the economy just to fight the temporary inflation.
Finally, Fawcett, a Liberal through and through, starts from "Poilievre's simplistic ideas are nonsense" which is true enough, and concludes that since those things won't work, nothing will--that government is helpless to intervene in the economy. That's nonsense. There are plenty of things that could be done, they would just take a lot more willingness to intervene than Liberals have shown in a long time. There is also, contra Fawcett, plenty of room to increase taxes . . . on the rich and the corporations, who have been seeing their incomes and profits balloon through all of this. Not surprising that Fawcett has a blind spot there.
Perhaps it was ill-advised to
Perhaps it was ill-advised to drop interest rates to next to nothing - even into a mind boggling negative territory, then to leave them there far too long, and now to raise them so precipitously.
Re: "Sending more money to
Re: "Sending more money to Canadians, whether that’s in the form of targeted tax cuts or direct subsidies and spending, would only make inflation worse."
Since Japan had the highest debt-to-GDP ratio in the world for decades, mainstream economists predicted that country's immense deficits would lead to runaway interest rates, hyperinflation and government bankruptcy, but these never happened.
Japan's inflation rate has now increased to 2%, co-incident with Covid-19 induced supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine which has affected prices of grain, fertilizers, and fossil fuels.
The fact that not all price categories in Canada are rising at the same rate would indicate that problems here have specific causes too, and are unlikely to be resolved by trying to regulate aggregate demand which is not the culprit.
Consider that the purpose of sending government cheques is not to halt inflation but to help the vulnerable most harmed by rising prices. It is not only the compassionate thing to do, but even the recommendation of the International Monetary Fund: "Governments need to subsidise the cost of food and energy for the poorest members of society."
Governments should subsidise food and energy, says IMF boss