The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Trudeau Decides to Run a Minority, Conservative Government

Justin Trudeau

Justin Trudeau

So, Trudeau has announced he won’t form a coalition with any other party (really, not with the NDP, Canada’s left wing party), or a confidence and supply agreement (in which a party agrees to support them on confidence votes but not other votes), but instead to run a minority government.

His first order of business will be a tax cut.

I said in the last post that I thought Trudeau would be more comfortable working with the Conservatives than the NDP, given he’s a staunch neoliberal, and this indicates he’s de-facto going to do that: The Conservatives never saw a tax cut they didn’t like, after all.

Minority governments don’t tend to last, so there’ll probably be another election in about two years. Trudeau would rather take a shot at a majority, with the possibility of a loss, than run a coalition government.

More importantly, I’m reasonably sure that he’s just not willing to do the things the NDP would require in return for a coalition. They, after all, want to raise taxes on the rich and corporations, for example.

We’ll see how it plays out. My sense is that an NDP coalition, through which he did some genuinely left-wing populist things, would have been a better call for him from a practical perspective (and I think not just because I prefer the NDP). He could then take credit for the stuff he was forced to do and win a majority–as his father did when he joined a coalition with the NDP.

But unlike his father, Justin is genuinely conservative–he’s a neoliberal. He’s going to make decisions based on what he actually believes in, which is… good?

I suspect he’s risking a loss. If he’s going to play conservative, people may decide they might as well get the real thing. But I’m bad at electoral predictions, so I’ll just sit back and see.

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Liberal Party Wins a Minority in Canada


Yes, You CAN Tax the Rich


  1. I Hate Giving My Email

    You’re better at electoral predictions than most, Ian. You saw a Trump victory over Hillary coming before the 2016 primaries had even rolled around to March.

    You Canadians have another Obama on your hands. A conservative in liberal’s clothing whose supporters will make excuses for him by trashing and discrediting his left wing opposition while he does nothing to help them. And it will depress the Liberal Party vote in the next election and make Canada vulnerable to a Trump prime minister. The Liberals may have gotten away with using Doug Ford to scare people, but that tactic will only work so many times. By 2014, it wasn’t working on me anymore.

    If I’m the NDP, and the Liberals need my votes to get something passed, I make them sweat for it. I force their hand on Medicare expansion, electoral reform, you name it, and I never, EVER compromise. What have I got to lose?

  2. bruce wilder

    On some level, professional politicians must be aware that policy success breeds electoral defeat. When voters actually get what they want, they tend to get restless and ready to move on in their loyalties, while the opposition will dull the contradictions, imitate and concede, making arguments from small differences to throw out the incumbents. I am sure riding the wild bull of popularity is a game and a challenge that is attractive to a narcissist like Trudeau, but being a neoliberal is never a matter of conviction; it is a convenience: you always have a rationale for doing what the element of your political support that has the longest attention span wants, a rationale that distracts the short attention span masses who are pleased that you look good on tv. Neoliberalism also has the peculiar advantage that policy failure of a kind that keeps those fooled by its rationales trying even though they get a bad result; in a way, neoliberalism’s well-intended rationales for doing policy contribute to the public’s memory loss and inability to see politics as anything but a game of celebrity and personality (a game to which Trudeau is well suited).

  3. jump

    I don’t think he has much choice but to go it alone since he is bound and determined to get his pipeline through and joining up with the PCs officially is just not good Liberal party optics–too blatantly in-your-face caving and declaring the political con jig is up. Not much of a downside as long as he keeps leaning to the right without openly admitting the liberal and con agenda are the same.
    I will bet there will be no socially or environmentally controversial bills introduced in the first year or two. He will throw a bone or two to the ‘people’ to keep a semblance of a socially progressive image as long as it keeps the Bloc happy too. Otherwise I agree, he will be Neo-liberal all the way, if only slightly better than the PCs.
    Seems we (Canada) prefer to keep our heads in the sand and our value skewed self-detrimental way of life.

  4. nihil obstet

    On some level, professional politicians must be aware that policy success breeds electoral defeat. When voters actually get what they want, they tend to get restless and ready to move on in their loyalties, while the opposition will dull the contradictions, imitate and concede, making arguments from small differences to throw out the incumbents.

    Policy success does tend to lead to electoral defeat, but I don’t think it’s just restlessness. We all want contradictory things. First, you vote for the policies that you most want. Then, when you get those, you think about the other things you want. So, in the New Deal era, we wanted banks where our savings were safe, good infrastructure, decent labor laws, and some protection against destitution in old age. By the 60s, a substantial proportion of the American population felt that they had those things. Now they wanted to pay less in taxes and to be able to roll the dice at getting rich (without losing the New Deal safety features). Neoliberals won by supporting the assumption that the New Deal accomplishments would continue, but that everyone could pay less in taxes and maybe get rich at the financial fad of the day.

    That’s the importance of maintaining an overall vision of how things do and should work and relentlessly repeating it. Jimmy Carter seemed to understand the importance of vision, but allowed the discourse to be driven by technical small fix jargon. Neoliberals present everything as individual action. Whatever you want, you can get it because we support those who will give it to you.

    Short attention span and shorter memory are aspects of a lack of mental framework in which to see what’s happening.

  5. edmondo

    My condolences to the people of Canada. Who is your Trump?

  6. A1


    There is no Trump in Canada. The Cons are like Country Club Republicans or Corporate Democrats- lets change our sign colours but not the message.


    Do you realise there are two NDP parties? The resource based socialists and the woke urbanites? See Rachel Notley for an example of the first. Doing something socialist will be a challenge as there does not appear to be a will. For example a national pharma care will be a fight with giant European multi nationals and the EU and all the woke people like the EU so heads will explode. That a national pharma care program is of benefit to all Canadians, so what? Same with national dental care. Notley did not have the energy to fight with Alberta dentists over price fixing and gouging so I don’t think Trudeau is motivated get into a scrap with the dentists.

    Bruce Wilder

    Canada has always been a trading nation so we have never been anti trade per say. As Ian can tell you we had free trade fights in the 80’s but that more about personality and the particular deal than against trade per say. But that was then and this is now and even the woke part of the NDP are for open borders, unlimited trade with China, and support war with Iran or Syria or where ever the Neocons want to invade today. Canada is no different than the US in that lobbying is important. Look at the Quebec Dairy farmers meddling in the conservative leadership and the liberal leadership so changes to dairy supply side management will not happen despite Quebec Dairy farmers screwing Canadians.


    The moron running the NDP has already misplayed his hand. Trudeau is in a great position as it will not be a coalition government but a minority. He can pick and choose on any issue. Want a pipeline – the cons. Want to bury SNC inquiry – the BQ. Want trans gendered people in all the schools – the dippers. It will likely be okay as Trudeau will have to work for it but if it was easy they would call it snow boarding.

    So Ian I don’t know if there is any large ground swell of support for truly socialist policies that you would like.

  7. Hugh

    A minority government seems like a great excuse for not getting anything done, –until people get tired of it. It also seems like a great opportunity for the NDP to point out that Trudeau doesn’t stand for anything.

  8. edmondo

    It also seems like a great opportunity for the NDP to point out that Trudeau doesn’t stand for anything.

    Neither did Obama and he is worshipped in the D Party.

  9. edmondo

    There is no Trump in Canada.

    We said the same thing until we got one.

  10. bruce wilder

    “not getting anything done” and “getting things done” are the reality and promise of neoliberalism, respectively

    of course]one of neoliberalism’s attractions as a doctrine is that it is very permissive of a policy agenda of privatize the profit and socialize the losses. so, under neoliberalism, things do get done, but there’s a lot of pretending to frustrated good intentions, a pretense that the young Trudeau is very good at playing

  11. Stirling S Newberry

    With all due respect, you people do know what you are talking about. You shamble along and say the neo-liberals are out to get you. No dears. neo-libs is one piece of a puzzle, it can be good or bad. One more time through. Neo-liberalism is not paying for anything by taxing imports. Why is that important? Because if you pay for what you want with other people’s labor, they will do the same to you. So the net result is everyone does not export more. Lose all the way around.

    However, what do you do with the extra money you have saved? If the answer is “a tax cut” you are still in losses because there’s no such thing. What you are complaining about in one generation not paying there fair share (which is legitimate) but you want to tax imports, which does not work. You are cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    The correct thing to do is not to let tax havens import wealth. There is your problem. Not neo-liberalism, but tax dodges with neoliberalism as a frontman. Because let us face it, the wealthy do care about anything but not having the wealth taxed.

  12. NR

    Doug Ford is the Trump of Canada–an incompetent idiot who only cares about making himself and his cronies richer. The conservatives did poorly in Ontario because voters there have gotten a firsthand look at what they’re all about with Ford.

  13. Hugh

    Neoliberalism is precisely that, an updating of Wilsonian liberalism. Like its forbear, it is pro-corporate, elitist, paternalistic, rabidly anti-progressive, and interventionist internationally. It also believes in the magic of markets, free trade, and globalism. Unsurprisingly, all three of these consistently screw American workers.

    We have discussed at length on this site the multiple failures of markets. The only magic about them is the magical thinking that underlies a belief in them.

    What we need in the face of climate change is a sustainable industrial policy, not free trade. Enormously long and fragile supply chains are not sustainable. Regional trade may still be feasible, but most long distance international trade probably won’t be. We need to act accordingly. I shed no tears over the demise of free trade. There was nothing free about it to the millions of Americans who lost their jobs because of it and the millions more who have seen their wages stagnate and their benefits evaporate by the threat that if they don’t suck it up, they too will lose their jobs to offshoring.

  14. I was wondering when someone would get around to Doug Ford. I figured it’d be sooner.

    To be honest, I would be surprised if “edmondo” could pick Canada out on the map, but ’tis moot in the generally accepted vernacular. The problem is not neo-liberalism, neoliberalism as a frontman is the problem. Tax dodges are but a part. There’s an old canard about usurers leaping to their deaths from tall buildings on Black Tuesday – it’s a canard, they didn’t jump. Nothing will change until we throw the usurers and insurers from the rooftops. Call it what you wish – “deep state” – but until we put an end to “finance” as an “industry”, until the Bankers and Insurers are out of power, nothing is going to change. We have to stop doing what we’re doing. It isn’t working.

    For quite some time now an undercurrent of Herbert’s Dune has haunted me: Beast Rabban. The placement of agency so brutal as to condition the oppressed population to the subsequent placement of an equally efficient though less brutal “messiah”. An imprecise analogy to be sure, an obscure sixty-something year old novel few today have actually read, but I have seen both Trudeau and Obama in that light: pretty boys following a particularly brutal regime.

  15. different clue

    Stirling S Newberry sure does like to condescend to us little people, doesn’t he?

    Naked Capitalism has written a lot about Neo-Liberalism as a bundle of approaches to government, governance, business-privilege, rich-person privilege, Market Stalinism, etc. People could read that and read Stirling S Newberry’s pro-Free-Trade Hasbara and see which seems more reality-based.

    Stirling S Newberry still hasn’t explained his statement of several years ago that the Cambodians could have avoided the American bombing and in refusing to avoid it could be said to have asked for it. If I had several spare hours to devote to a brute-force search for that quote, I could find it here in the Ian Welsh archives.

    Stirling S Newberry seems to expect an awful lot of credit for having a Ye Olde English-style name.

  16. Mike Barry

    Stirling never told us what choice Cambodia actually had. Inquiring minds want to know.

  17. different clue

    @Mike Barry,

    His Snobship can’t be bothered to bother bothering with the bothersome concerns of bothersome little people like us.

  18. Robotpliers

    The bees are a buzzin’. Stirling has a tendency to both see the bigger picture and be right, or at least be thought-provoking. I’d recommend listening instead of stinging.

  19. different clue


    Please explain to me what I listen to through the haze of supercilious chaff in which he enshrouds his comments.

    Please explain to me what he means by Cambodia choosing on purpose to be bombed during the Nixon period and please explain why/how he is correct about that.

    Please explain the reasons for his support for Free Trade and neo-liberal market stalinism.

    Buzzy little bees want to know. Since you think he has something valuable to say, perhaps you could explain those several things just above to me. And since I am a little hard of thinking, I hope you will use small words. And please type slowly, so I can keep up.

  20. Mike Barry

    @different clue,

    I thought you were being unjustly harsh toward Mr. Newberry. Then I ran across this snippet of dialog from 2016:

    capelin permalink
    October 4, 2016

    “>tell that to the carpet-bombed cambodians.

    They did have a choice.”


    Stirling Newberry permalink
    October 5, 2016

    If you need me to spell it out for you, then you’re not worth conversing with.

    So if anything, you were too easy on Stirling. 😉

  21. different clue

    @Mike Barry,

    Thank you for finding that. I knew I remembered it being there. His response to the question is typical of fact-free charlatans. The reason he said ” if you need me to spell it out for you” etc. etc.
    is to hide the fact that he doesn’t even know the alphabet of Cambodian history, so how could he spell it out when he doesn’t even know the letters?

    But he is not concerned with “knowing things” or “informing others” . His words there and here show that he is just interested in impressing people with his smart mensa-grade self.

    The clothes have no emperor.

  22. Mike Barry

    “The clothes have no emperor.” — dc

    I am so stealing that. 😉

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