Bill Morneau’s complaints speak for the economic behaviorists that Justin Trudeau’s politics have left behind

Bill Morneau's complaints speak for the economic behaviorists that Justin Trudeau's politics have left behind

In a speech on June 1, writes Campbell Clark, Bill Morneau described a political world where partisan politics about economic matters got in the way of practical concerns or practical follow-up.Cole Burston/The Canadian Press

A nail is a simple machine that is inserted into a small crack to open a wide partition. When Justin Trudeau used one on Canadian politics in 2020, Bill Morneau fell at odds.

At the time, Trudeau decided he wanted that year’s big pandemic spending to go through 2021 and beyond, and he also decided that Mr Morneau – a supposedly Bay Street Liberal in cabinet – would not be the quarterback for him. Could be a new direction. Mr Trudeau wanted to turn left to emphasize political differences with the Conservatives, and there was no room for Mr Morneau.

Shed no tears for Mr Morneau, who had his own flaws as finance minister and whose political defense is one of those cold, calculative things that are part and parcel of professional politics.

But in a sense, he represents a constituency that, like him, has fallen into a widening gap that has been opened up to Canadian wedge politics.

On Wednesday night, Mr Morneau made a speech expressing regret that Mr Trudeau’s liberal government has made its attempt at redistributing wealth without doing much to make up for it – that it has taken the economy to grow. have done little or no effect.

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It’s a remarkable thing to hear from someone who served as finance minister for the first five years of that government. But it came with another underlying message: that there is so much partisan point-scoring and wedge politics that there is little interest or room for practical work on economic matters. It will harmonize with many people.

It is not only Bay Street Liberals represented in Mr. Trudeau’s cabinet by Mr. Morneau who will feel that way. Those who care about serious applied economics, who worry about what GDP per capita means for Canadians’ quality of life – these people can see that working through the details of those things is Mr. Trudeau’s first Don’t worry. Disappointed business leaders, but others too.

It’s not just blue—liberal blues. There are conservatives, and not just the Red Tories, who worry that their party chooses a culture war over competition. The party’s leadership debate has been more about truck drivers’ convoys and vaccine mandates than taking care of business, and the front-runner, Pierre Poiliver, falls back on the gold standard, suggesting that the crypto is more than the dollar. is safe and wants federal bureaucrats to review the cities. zoning decision.

In his speech, Mr. Morneau described a political world where partisan politics about economic matters got in the way of practical concerns or practical follow-up.

He counted moderate successes from his time in government on social policy, such as the introduction of Canada Child Benefits and reform of the Canada Pension Plan, as well as the re-negotiation of NAFTA under threat from former US President Donald Trump.

But moving the economy forward is not the key question.

“So much time and energy was spent finding ways to redistribute Canada’s wealth that little attention was paid to the importance of increasing our collective prosperity – let alone developing a disciplined way of thinking and acting on the problem ,” said Mr. Morneau.

This should be doubly surprising, because if you think all the way back to 2015, Mr Trudeau’s liberals were first elected with a campaign that promised to focus on economic growth. But it is the last part of Mr. Morneau’s remarks, a way of acting in a disciplined manner, that explains what happened.

He said the government announced plans like the Canada Infrastructure Bank, but practical implementation was lost in the politics of the day.

In the end, Trudeau liberals don’t care. This is not his political selling point, especially not now. Their brand is about social support, and they work with conservatives to emphasize those differences. Keel opened the gap in the middle. The economic-development policy they prefer to avoid is subsidized child care, because it is also a social policy.

Mr. Morneau did not say he was leaving the Liberal Party, of course. But it seems from his speech that the Liberal Party is abandoning people like him. In fact, Canadian politics is leaving people like him behind.

You may stop to note that Mr. Morneau, as finance minister for half a decade, should raise his hand to take responsibility for this. But the point is that he is not wrong.

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