Canadians sure seem angry these days. They are booting governments from office at a regular clip. They are electing leaders who make no bones about wanting to destroy the status quo and wage war with other governments in order to get their way.
Attitudes against immigration and multiculturalism are expanding and hardening. The far right seems to be getting a toehold in the country, albeit a very small one for now.
The traditional Canadian value of politeness appears to be giving way in increasingly large numbers to frustration and anger. You almost get the feeling not many people are even saying “sorry” anymore!
A scorecard is practically needed to keep track of everything.
Electorally, six of the seven provincial elections during the past two years have seen the incumbent governing party booted from power. Five of those “change” elections elected right-leaning parties to government.
Another provincial election – in Newfoundland – is just around the corner, and another “change” election could well be in the offing. A federal election looms this fall, and for now, the incumbent Liberals appear to have their backs against an increasingly large wall.
As well, that upcoming federal election campaign itself promises to be brutally negative. The Conservatives are already off the mark with the first political television ad – one that essentially calls Justin Trudeau the Donald Trump of Canada.
Expect the Liberals to tar Conservative leader Andrew Scheer with the brush of intolerance and extremism. The anger from all sides will likely be palpable.
One of the newly elected governments – in Alberta – is threatening all kinds of grief against any other government that gets in its way of delivering oil and gas for export. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has vowed to halt or limit the flow of refined gas to B.C. because of his inflated view of what B.C. is doing to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe supports Kenney’s actions and has said his province will not come to B.C.’s aid should the proverbial taps be turned off.
For his part, B.C. Premier John Horgan is trying to get a court ruling that says his government can control what Alberta can send through a pipeline or via rail car through B.C.
We have the strange and contradictory situation of B.C. arguing that Alberta cannot determine what “can” flow through that pipeline yet at the same time it is arguing that B.C. can actually determine what “can’t” go through that same pipeline.
And Horgan is likely feeling the increasing wrath of voters – if they happen to be motorists in Metro Vancouver – over steadily rising gas prices, with his government showing little ability to solve that particular affordability crisis, other than to try to pin it to Alberta’s tail.
Meanwhile Kenney – ignoring the old military strategic adage that it is risky to wage war on two fronts – is threatening to sue the federal Trudeau government over its plan to overhaul the environmental assessment process for natural resource projects.
Again, Kenney is arguing only Alberta has jurisdiction when it comes to regulating those projects (oh, and for added measure, he is demanding the federal government scrap its ban of oil tankers in northern waters). It is not clear whether he will win that fight.
Kenney is also picking a fight with another province: Quebec, for its refusal to allow the Energy East pipeline through its borders. How, exactly, Kenney intends to find a way to penalize that province as he intends to do to B.C. is far from clear, given three provinces separate the two.
Finally, Kenney, Moe and Ontario Premier Doug Ford – himself a populist right-wing “disruptor” who is cutting social services and other government programs – are vowing to take the Trudeau government all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada when it comes to the proposed carbon tax.
They don’t like the tax one bit. Of course, if Scheer forms government in October, that issue may become moot.
In short, there is a lot going on. A lot of screaming and yelling.
Fighting, suing and inward looking. These traits may be about to replace the time-honored Canadian slogan of “peace, order and good government.”
Keith Baldrey is chief political correspondent for Global BC.
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