The Trudeau government wants you to know it’s mad as hell and it’s not going to take it any more.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s, to put the term politely, “PO’d” with Bell Media for its “garbage decision” to lay off journalists.
Immigration Minister Marc Miller is “PO’d” that people with relatives in Canada can’t get out of war-torn Gaza.
Justice Minister Arif Virani, notwithstanding a perfunctory apology in the House of Commons, says Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre is a “f***ing tool” for, in Virani’s view, not supporting Liberal government efforts to combat organized crime.
And that was just last week!
It would appear the Liberals are trying to surf the wave of public frustration, disappointment and, in some parts of the country, visceral anger with them, according to the polls, by taking ownership of it and aiming it at other targets.
That’s certainly consistent for a prime minister and a Liberal government that routinely attacks its political opponents as motivated by Trump-like, evil, racist, tyrannical, misogynistic, child-abusing and planet-killing intentions.
But whether it’s working is another issue.
To be clear, there’s no reason to clutch one’s pearls about Liberal tactics, given that Poilievre’s unrelenting assault on Trudeau and company – a government he says has “broken” Canada and one that can’t do anything right – has been highly effective, according to months of opinion polls.
The Liberals are perfectly entitled to fight fire with fire.
It’s just that normally, this isn’t how a government that’s been in power for almost nine years sounds, particularly given how the Liberals are always complaining about the lack of civility in the House of Commons, for which they blame the Conservatives.
Indeed, a skeptic might say they’re already, albeit unconsciously, trying out lines of attack for when they’re in opposition.
Trudeau’s root problem is evidenced in a Abacus Data/Toronto Star poll released Saturday that found a staggering 19-point lead for the Conservatives over the Liberals – 43% to 24% – with 59% of respondents saying they disapprove of the job Trudeau’s government is doing.
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As Abacus Data CEO David Coletto told the Star, many Canadians have simply tuned out the PM and the government he represents, no matter what they say.
“They can’t cut through because most people aren’t listening anymore to Trudeau and until they start spending money on direct-to-voter advertising, that will be the case,” Coletto said.
That raises the one potential saving grace for the Liberals – if the Liberal/NDP accord holds, there won’t be an election until 2025, and in the last two they were able to define the Conservative leader, first Andrew Scheer and then Erin O’Toole, before either could define themselves.
Combined with the fact Trudeau is a formidable election campaigner with a multi-talented Liberal war room, the Liberals have won three elections in a row – albeit reduced to a minority government in 2019 and 2021, having failed to recapture the majority they won in 2015 when they defeated the Harper conservatives.
In that election they started out in third place, so when it comes to Trudeau and the Liberals you can never say never.
The difference this time is that Poilievre has, so far, been able to define Trudeau before the Liberals could define Poilievre and a plurality of Canadians – enough to form a huge majority government if an election was held today – no longer like what they see.