breaking news

Magazine Covers

Magazine Covers

Magazine Covers

Magazine Covers

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes an infrastructure announcement in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 15, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh JEFF MCINTOSH / THE CANADIAN PRESS

May 22nd, 2018 | by Richard Paul
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes an infrastructure announcement in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 15, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh JEFF MCINTOSH / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Uncategorized
0

f8bc5194-1803-11e8-b880-a3843e00524a

globalactivation-sandwich-board-snapshot2016-lores2

Kurl: Team Trudeau, skating through spring with a little less grace

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes an infrastructure announcement in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 15, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh JEFF MCINTOSH / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Screen-Shot-2016-03-06-at-6.17.43-PM

At the height of these hockey playoffs, let us pause for a moment and remember the way Team Liberal used to skate. Ballet on ice it was; Canadians oohed and aahed as Captain Trudeau carved his blades like Connor McDavid, shot the puck with hands soft as Blake Wheeler’s, with the precision of Mark Scheifele.

Today, the Liberal cabinet more resembles a team of third-line grinders, still dominant, but making ugly hits and taking unnecessary penalties.

Amid the genuinely tricky files this government is handling – think NAFTA, pipelines and marijuana – the squad once known for its grace and style seems to also be displaying a not-infrequent propensity to punch itself in the mouth.

Of the many brouhahas that put the Liberals on the defensive this spring, consider their needless play on those Canada Summer Jobs Program applications.

As it turns out, Canadians are deeply divided about the fairness of forcing organizations to confirm they respect reproductive rights in order to qualify for government grants funding student jobs, regardless of whether the new hires will have anything to do with the abortion file. In recent polling, 50 per cent say the rules are fair, the other 50 per cent – including a significant segment of past Liberal and NDP voters – say it is not.

dims

Respondents were asked to consider two scenarios. In the first, an organization morally opposed to abortion applies for a grant under the Canada Summer Jobs Program, but said hypothetical student won’t be involved on anti-abortion activities. In this situation, two-thirds of Canadians, including most Liberals, New Democrats and Conservatives all agree the organization should be eligible for funding.

Nor are one’s personal views about abortion a major driver. Regardless of whether Canadians advocate for the strictest or freest laws regarding access to abortion, the majority across the board say the organization should be eligible for program money.

In the second scenario, another organization morally opposed to abortion is seeking funds under the program to specifically employ students to help advocate for and promote stricter abortion laws. Here Canadians are much more divided. Naturally, the staunchest opponents of abortion access think such organizations should qualify for funding. But the rest don’t. Notably, just over half of past Conservative party voters also agree federal grants shouldn’t go to organizations in this case.

For many, the Liberal government’s requirements may be unnecessarily broad. Their own objections to these rules, based as much on freedom of belief and conscience, as they are on politics and their own stances on abortion. Case in point, last week the “resolutely pro-choice” British Columbia Civil Liberties Association joined pro-choice groups to fight the attestation requirement in court.MAC3047-369x170

Would casting a narrower, more specific net on eligibility have silenced all the government’s critics? Unlikely. But doing so would have no doubt blunted accusations it is using a sledgehammer to crush a peanut.

Why call the play they did? Perhaps because the Liberals know they can. Although a year is a long time in politics, there is an argument to be made that this is unlikely to be a ballot issue come 2019. After all, the 2014 decree that Liberal candidates also be pro-choice barely fluttered the eyelashes of the Canadian electorate, who went on to give the party its first majority in 15 years.images (46)

Further, despite the hue and cry in Commons, the anger on talk radio and the protests in the streets, more than half the country (56 per cent) is essentially checked out on the issue, professing not to have heard anything about it until they were asked.

In politics and hockey alike, the win matters more than the style of play. For now, Team Liberal appears content to abandon those soft hands and graceful style to bang the goals in any way they can. But rough play brings penalties.

And penalties bring power plays – yet more open ice upon which Andrew Scheer can rally his side, as his social conservative fans get more engaged in the game.

Shachi Kurl is Executive Director of the Angus Reid Institute.shachi_kurl

Leave a Reply