I have been out and about for the past few weeks. In fact, as I write this article I am still in England.
During our travels, I have had many people ask me about Canada. Most speak highly of our country. Some, however, many more than I remember from previous travels, have questions about Canada and wonder if we are in decline, especially in terms of international respect.
Some of the questions I have been asked are:
Is Justin Trudeau really a dictator?
Does Canada now have a coalition government?
Is Canada now a socialist country?
The answer to these three questions is clearly: no. Nevertheless, it is understandable, given current circumstances, that the questions are being asked. Let’s deal with them one at a time.
I was surprised at how viral charges by Lethbridge, Alberta Conservative MP Rachel Thomas to the effect that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a dictionary-defined dictator have become, aided and abetted by a mainstream media intent on exposing the flaws of the Conservative Party. All the same, it was a stupid comment, harmful in its intent and totally inaccurate in its messaging.
As many will know, I am no fan of our current prime minister. But under our electoral system, he and his party won the latest federal election. He did not seize power. Power was granted to him. As much as, at times, we may not like the outcome, that is what democracy is all about and that is worth preserving at all costs.
I am saddened but not surprised at the handful of Conservatives—Rachel Thomas, Andrew Scheer and Pierre Poilievre being three of them—who will say almost anything, accurate or otherwise, to get attention and to promote the extreme right of the political spectrum, which leaves many people with middle-of-the-road conservative leanings—people like me—out in the cold.
Pierre Poilievre, a candidate for the federal Conservative leadership is already morphing his campaign into a ‘movement’ scaringly reminiscent of the so-called freedom movement that so recently disrupted many parts of Canada. Ultimately, the outcome of the leadership race will determine if this is the true voice of the federal Conservative Party. If it is, it could be a cold day in hell before they ever govern again.
As to the question of whether Canada currently has a coalition government, technically the answer is no. That would require the New Democratic Party to be part of the Trudeau Government with representatives in cabinet.
However, there is definitely an accord between the NDP and the Liberals, similar to the accord between David Peterson and Bob Rae in Ontario in 1985, which will allow the Trudeau Government to survive for at least three more years. In exchange for legislation to implement some of their priorities, the NDP, the third party in the House of Commons, has promised to support the government in any motion of non-confidence—effectively giving the Trudeau Liberals a majority government, something the Canadian electorate opted not to grant to Justin Trudeau.
By definition, then, this Liberal government, already further to the left than most previous Liberal governments, will now be forced by their alliance with the NDP to move even further in that direction. I believe that is something to be concerned about.
That brings us to the question of whether Canada is a socialist country. In the strict sense of that word, we are not. We still encourage free enterprise and pay a little more than lip service to capitalism and the importance of individuals being able to succeed on their own merits. But the pendulum is swinging in the wrong direction as government in Canada is taking over more and more of our lives.
It is easy to argue that government should be all things to all people, but it simply cannot be. As one pundit put it, ‘If too many people enjoy the free ride and not enough people help to pull, the wagon isn’t going anywhere.’
Left-of-centre governments tend to be less concerned about deficits and debt than those in the middle or to the right of centre. Right now, that is a big problem as Canada’s annual deficit soars and its debt load is close to being out of control.
Not all Liberals are happy about the leap to the left the Trudeau Government has taken in its dance with the New Democratic Party. The Globe and Mail reports that John Manley, both finance minister and deputy prime minister when Jean Chrétien was prime minister, said recently that he is worried the Liberal-NDP alliance is “all about spending” and lacks metrics for ensuring that expenditures will be managed responsibly.
The more programs, that government offers to people for “free”, the higher both our debt and deficit rises. The more this particular government caters to the NDP, the less they have to be accountable to a minority Parliament and the deeper that problem becomes.
Taxing the so-called rich, a mantra of the NDP, doesn’t solve the problem either. Eventually, that money will run out as well. With rising inflation, enormous deficits and uncontrolled debt, every parent and every grandparent have reason to be concerned about the future of their children and grandchildren.
The key to a reasonable future for all Canadians is less spending, not more spending, with money we don’t have. Can we expect a government controlled by a Liberal/NDP alliance to get that message and, more importantly, abide by it?
I seriously doubt it.
That may not be socialism, but it is one giant step to the left and deeply disturbing.
Hugh Mackenzie has held elected office as a trustee on the Muskoka Board of Education, a Huntsville councillor, a District councillor, and mayor of Huntsville. He has also served as chairman of the District Muskoka and as chief of staff to former premier of Ontario, Frank Miller.
Hugh has served on a number of provincial, federal and local boards, including chair of the Ontario Health Disciplines Board, vice-chair of the Ontario Family Health Network, vice-chair of the Ontario Election Finance Commission, and board member of Roy Thomson Hall, the National Theatre School of Canada, and the Anglican Church of Canada. Locally, he has served as president of the Huntsville Rotary Club, chair of Huntsville District Memorial Hospital, chair of the Huntsville Hospital Foundation, president of Huntsville Festival of the Arts, and board member of Community Living Huntsville.
In business, Hugh Mackenzie has a background in radio and newspaper publishing. He was also a founding partner and CEO of Enterprise Canada, a national public affairs and strategic communications firm established in 1986.
Currently, Hugh is president of C3 Digital Media Inc., the parent company of Doppler Online, and he enjoys writing commentary for Huntsville Doppler.
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