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Justin Trudeau: Voters "need to learn, so let's teach them a lesson"

Posted on February 10, 2016 at 10:30 AM

What are Canadians to make of Justin Trudeau meddling in an Ontario provincial by-election with his rally in Whitby last night?

 

It certainly doesn't auger well for us that he would do so. It's especially frightening that he would decide to butt into provincial politics all the while intending making changes to the very fabric of Canadian democracy by changing how Canadians vote via electoral reform - and without any referendum.

The by election in the riding of Whitby Oshawa is an inconsequential one. Kathleen Wynne's Liberals hold a majority government and that fact won't change after by-election ballots are counted.

 

While it seems odd that Wynne will go well beyond reasonable measures to win a meaningless by-election, what she's really doing is putting all the stops to ensure her failing record isn't noticed by voters. Recall her last by-election was in Sudbury - and that race resulted in criminal charges being laid against a high ranking Liberal Party of Ontario organizer. The premiere's own chief of staff, Patricia Sorbora, was also embroiled in controversy, although she escaped being formally charged.

 

So it should be no surprise that Wynne would call in a marker with Justin Trudeau to try and eke out a win on Thursday. After all, nobody campaigned harder for Trudeau during last year's federal election than Kathleen Wynne, resulting in an overwhelming loss for conservative seats in the GTA.

 

I'm certain that she feels Trudeau owes her for his own electoral success.

 

Was it a wise decision for the Prime Minister to heed her call for help? From the many veteran political observers I know, nobody can recall another incident of a sitting Prime Minister involving himself in a provincial by-election, let alone one as meaningless as Whitby-Oshawa's. What Justin Trudeau did last night was unprecedented in politics. And it wasn't just Trudeau as PM endorsing a provincial candidate, it was the Liberal Party of Canada. (Political insiders should note while conservative MP's traditionally lend a hand to their provincial cousins, it was Harper's policy for the Conservative Party of Canada not to get involved).

 

But the Prime Minister was unapologetic for his actions. He told last night's chicken-wing eating audience, "over the past few weeks we’ve seen that some folks out there still need to learn. So let’s teach them a lesson.”

 

But it's the "lesson" that he's conveying which should highlight a giant red flag to democracy loving Canadians. His "win at all costs" tactics is dangerous in the hands of the man with the power to rig future elections in his favour.

 

How can Canadians trust Prime Minister Trudeau to draft a replacement to first past the post democracy if he illustrates an obsession for winning even the most meaningless of elections? Will Trudeau's election reform be akin to when Napoleon took the crown from the Pope's hands and declared himself Emperor?

 

The audacity of Justin Trudeau and Kathleen Wynne in Whitby goes well beyond this Ontario by-election. It affects all of Canada. It should send shivers up the spines of all Canadians, regardless of party lines. The Prime Minister of Canada is signaling to us that he intends to win every election, and he will use whatever is at his disposal to achieve his goals.

 

Recent polls show that Kathleen Wynne's job approval rating sits at 21%. It's fair to suggest odds are very good that she will lose the next general election. The Prime Minister of Canada will have to work with whomever the next Premier of Ontario will be. As Canada's most populous province, Ontario's confederation doesn't work if the federal government feuds with Queen's Park. The last time that happened was when then premier Bob Rae feuded with Jean Chretien - and that was disastrous for the country.

 

A Prime Minister has to work with whomever is the Premier of Ontario.

 

Regardless of the result of Thursday's by-election, we already know who the biggest loser will be.

Canada's democracy.

 

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