Inside the Current IssueInroads 38 looks back at the federal election campaign and forward to the issues facing the new Trudeau government. Gareth Morley analyzes the economics and politics of deficit spending, John Richards looks at climate change, Henry Milner and Wilf Day examine the prospects for electoral reform and Bob Chodos teases out the effects of the niqab court decision, while Dominic Cardy and Harvey Schachter offer insights into how the campaign played out. Other articles explore the multiple realities of Haitians in the Dominican Republic, the “political earthquake” that brought Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of Britain’s Labour Party, trends in standard of living in central Canada and the United States and the integration of Canada’s Muslim minorities.
The Liberals succeeded, the NDP failed and the Conservatives scored an own goal
by Dominic Cardy
When I wrote in Inroads six months ago laying out the themes of the campaign to come, I suggested that the Tories should focus on the economy and security, the Liberals on their leader and the NDP on a concrete plan that demonstrated their ability to govern.1 The NDP failed completely. The Liberals succeeded completely. The Tories failed to score on the economy and, unexpectedly, scored an own goal on security, wounding the NDP and allowing Justin Trudeau to soar to a majority.
The longest election campaign in modern history was too long. Unless we want politics dominated by candidates who are retired, independently wealthy or backed by Read more
by Bob Chodos
The fuse on the niqab time bomb that exploded during the election campaign was first lit in December 2011. Jason Kenney, then Immigration Minister (and now the subject of much speculation as the likely successor to Harper), issued a ministerial directive requiring citiizenship judges to insist that people uncover their faces while taking the oath of Canadian citizenship. The directive would apply notably to Islamic face coverings such as the niqab.
An immigrant from Pakistan who wears the niqab, Zunera Ishaq, challenged Kenney’s directive in court. Judge Keith Boswell ruled in favour of Ishaq’s challenge in February 2015. While Ishaq’s challenge made an argument in terms of the Charter right to religious freedom, Boswell’s decision was based solely on a technical matter: inconsistency between the ministerial directive and Read more
by John Richards
Among the “real change now” promises of the Liberals is to make a substantial contribution to reduction of Canadian greenhouse gases, to break with the Harper tradition of climate change scepticism and the Chrétien-Martin era of climate change symbolism without substance. Given that the UN is convening the next major conference on climate change at the end of November, Trudeau’s government cannot ignore this file.
To date (writing in late October), Trudeau is relying on the fragile interprovincial dynamic that emerged over the last year. The provinces have agreed to let a hundred flowers bloom: some will undertake explicit carbon taxing; some will join interstate/interprovincial markets in emissions trading; some will enact tougher sectoral regulations; some will subsidize green innovations. Trudeau has invited most of the Canadian political Read more
The economic logic and political perils of Justin Trudeau’s promise
by Gareth Morley
In addition to the force of Justin Trudeau’s optimistic personality, an obvious explanation for the Liberals’ election victory is that they promised to spend more than they taxed. Focusing just on the amounts promised, there is no reason to fear any serious negative consequences as a result. But the lurking issue is how this victory changes political incentives in the future. The “deficit taboo” is gone – but with it, have we lost the force that keeps democratic politics from leading to a debt crisis?
The Liberal platform announced planned deficits of approximately $9.9 billion, $9.5 billion and $5.7 billion in the first three full fiscal years of the government’s mandate. In contrast, the NDP anticipated surpluses of between Read more
by Henry Milner
The big news in this election was strategic voting gone awry. “Anybody but Harper” voters deserted the NDP in larger numbers than expected, resulting in a Liberal majority rather than the Liberal minority supported by the NDP that almost everyone expected. What was also unexpected was that in francophone Quebec a fair number of these deserters went to Justin Trudeau, giving 36 per cent of Quebec’s vote and 55 per cent of its seats to the Liberals. As the NDP’s Anne McGrath put it, the niqab issue “shook the party’s Quebec supporters loose.”
From various discussions I had, one part of the answer to why so many went to the Liberals is simple bread-and-butter politics: lower taxes for the “middle class,” retirement at 65 rather than 67 and Read more
by Harvey Schachter
Elections are usually unpredictable. Sometimes it’s just the margin of victory that’s a surprise. But often there is an unexpected winner. Or during the campaign an avalanche of support mobilizes out of nowhere for a party or candidate that reaches unforeseen levels, even if short of victory.
Pauline Marois is expected to triumph, but trips up on Pierre Karl Péladeau, and a new Quebec premier emerges. Jim Prentice is skilfully handling the transition from train-wreck Alison Redford, yet when an election is called Rachel Notley – heading a party that could never possibly win in conservative Alberta – catapults to victory and the Conservatives are reduced to a sad third place after four decades at the helm. Federally, Jack Layton rides an Orange Crush wave in Quebec, while Read more
by Wilf Day
With its Liberal bandwagon and organized strategic voting, this was an election like few others. Among other things it gave the Liberals the first-past the-post winner’s bonus, which brought them a majority of seats, even in Quebec. Some newly elected Liberal MPs who had been encouraging NDP supporters to help elect a minority Liberal government were apologetic: “I was expecting a minority government.” A vast number of voters were left frustrated at having to vote against something on October 19, saying, “Never again – next time I want to vote for my first choice.”A voter’s anguished letter to Justin Trudeau went viral: “I did not vote for you. I voted against the alternative … Change the electoral system.”
Fair Vote Canada welcomed Justin Trudeau’s promise to make every Read more
A parliamentary reform agenda for Prime Minister Trudeau
by Ian Peach
In light of the Mike Duffy trial, the investigation of 30 senators after the Auditor General’s report into Senate expenses and doubts about the constitutionality of both Duffy’s and Pamela Wallin’s appointments, the public is increasingly asking key questions about the tarnished second chamber. An April poll by Angus Reid showed that 45 per cent of Canadians surveyed wanted the Senate reformed while 41 per cent wanted it abolished outright; only 14 per cent wanted it left as it is.1
Why are we spending taxpayer dollars on this place and these people? What’s the point of the Senate? A second chamber in the central parliament of a federation can serve a valuable purpose, but Canada’s Senate, regrettably, does not. So, what Read more
British Labour’s leadership campaign turned into a revolt against the political establishment
by Eric Shaw
The party is walking eyes shut, arms outstretched, over the cliff’s edge to the jagged rocks below.
— Tony Blair, The Guardian, August 13, 2015
Blairism is dead and unmourned.
— Len McCluskey, leader of Unite union, The Observer, September 13, 2015
A gigantic political earthquake has hit the British Labour Party, one that absolutely nobody anticipated. Jeremy Corbyn, impelled forward by a wave of enthusiasm (“Corbynmania”) that has dumbfounded everyone at Westminster, won the race to become leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition with a bigger landslide than even Tony Blair secured in 1994. How could a 66-year-old serial rebel, who had spent more than three decades on the backbench fringes and Read more
Jeremy Corbyn’s prescriptions have neither popularity nor merit
by Patrick Webber
With Canada’s New Democratic Party looking for answers following the disastrous October 19 election result, there will be many who will look to the UK and the British Labour Party’s new leader, Jeremy Corbyn, for ideas on how to revive the party. They should not.
Thirty years ago, then–Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock evicted the sectarian militants of the hard left who had tried to rip the party apart. At his party’s annual meeting in 1985 he said,
Implausible promises don’t win victories. I’ll tell you what happens with impossible promises. You start with far-fetched resolutions. They are then pickled into a rigid dogma, a code, and you go through the years sticking to that, outdated, misplaced, irrelevant to the real needs Read more
Trends in the standard of living in central Canada and the United States
by Pierre Fortin
It’s a good idea to get away from daily press reports on the economy from time to time. They focus almost exclusively on what happened yesterday and may happen tomorrow. They rarely pay attention to longer-term trends showing where we come from, where we are going, and what we can do to mend our ways and improve our future.
In this article, I focus on trends in standards of living of Ontario and Quebec, the two provinces that form central Canada, and compare them to the trend in the United States over the last 15 years (1999–2014). This period of half a generation covers a full business cycle. It Read more
There is a disconnect between public perception and empirical evidence
by Jeffrey G. Reitz
A backlash against Muslim minority communities has been very evident throughout the Western world since the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. It has been reinforced by subsequent actual or threatened acts of violence where the perpetrators claim a global Islamic agenda – a fairly long list that includes bombings in Madrid and London, and most recently the attack on the offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2015.
Canada has not been exempt, and in 2006 a group of 18 people plotting various attacks against targets in Canada were arrested in Toronto. More recently, in October 2014, two events grabbed headlines: one in which a car rammed Canadian Read more
Despite the international outcry, racism and xenophobia are not the driving forces
by Henry Milner, Rafael Belliard and Jeffrey Oberman
Canada has long had positive relations with the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the two countries that share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, and millions of Canadians visit Hispaniola each year. While seldom in the news until recently, the DR has found its way into many news reports and political statements about the plight of Dominicans of Haitian origin. In what follows, the authors of this article, who have lived for different periods in the DR, try to re-establish the facts and assess prospects for the future.
It all began in 2013 with the verdict in the DR’s highest court against Juliana Dequis Pierre.
Juliana Dequis Read more