Trudeau turns to division in attempting to rescue his political fortunes

Good leaders heal divisions; they should not stoke them in search of political gain. Pictured: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Photo Credit: Justin Trudeau/X. 

For a politician that likes to chide others for being divisive, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is certainly providing a master class in how to divide a population.

Who can forget his comments about the truckers’ protest convoy in Ottawa last year? Understandably, the weeks long blockage of Ottawa’s downtown provoked strong reactions across the political spectrum.  

But did our Prime Minister seek to calm the waters?  No, he deliberately stirred the pot by accusing anyone who agreed with the convoy’s concerns – and polls indicated that a majority of Canadians were sympathetic with the issues raised, if not the tactics used – of being part of the “tinfoil hat” gang, supporters of the Nazi party, racists or misogynists.  

Not exactly following the textbook on how to defuse a highly emotionally charged issue.

He was at it again as he tried to defend last month’s federal budget, a document that former Bank of Canada Governor, David Dodge – someone who usually tries to avoid political controversy – labelled it the worst budget since Liberal Finance Minister Alan MacEachen’s ill-fated document in the early 1980s.  

The Trudeau budget’s most controversial initiative is a proposal to increase the capital gains tax from 50 percent to 66 percent on earnings over $250,000 after June 25th. Trudeau has tried to sell the tax grab, unsuccessfully so far, as all about fairness, all about asking “the rich” to pay just a little bit more.

The only problem is, the majority of people who will get hit by this are not all “rich.”  Most are middle-class professionals, small business owners, family doctors or entrepreneurs who already pay a disproportionate amount of the country’s taxes.

The pushback is growing but the Prime Minister is, so far, doubling down on his version of class warfare.    

His latest attempt to divide the populace is over access to abortion.  Unlike the United States, which is currently mired in an abortion controversy due to a Supreme Court ruling which overturned the famous “Roe versus Wade” decision which allowed abortions, Canada has no legislation limiting access. Its Supreme Court threw out the existing restrictive legislation in the 1980s.       

And last time we checked, no serious Canadian political party is threatening to change that – and with good reason.  Polls show that while there is a minority who favour banning abortion and a minority who favour wide-open access, most Canadians are relatively content with the status quo and do not want to engage in what would be a highly emotional and divisive debate to change things.  

That has not stopped the Prime Minister.  In an obvious attempt to stop his declining support in the polls, he and his cabinet are attacking Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre by claiming that he would use the Canadian constitution’s notwithstanding clause to override the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to criminalize abortion.  

Their accusation stems from Poilievre’s willingness to use the override provision to deny parole to murderers.  But he has been very clear that neither he, nor his government, should he be elected, have any intention of wading into the abortion debate to change the legislation.   

The Liberals have tried this ploy before in previous election campaigns, trying to scare voters with threats of abortion bans and charging that a Conservative government would seek to take away women’s rights.  

Most commentators called it for what it was, a crass, cynical attempt to stir up divisive emotions for political gain as the Liberals desperately try to stop their slide in political support before the next election.  So far, nothing is working. 

All politicians seek to differentiate themselves from their opponents, to identify and attract groups within the voting population in search of victory.  But smart leaders know there is a difference between that and seeking to widen the political fault lines that already exist in our democracy.  Good leaders heal divisions; they should not stoke them in search of political gain.  


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