Breeding cynicism

Liar, liar: Trudeau’s pants are on fire

List of broken Liberal promises could fill a phone book
Photo: World Bank

It’s impolite to call the prime minister a liar. We’re supposed to write that Trudeau “broke his promise” or “abandoned his pledge” on electoral reform, because to assert that he lied would require insight into his intentions.

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But I’m starting to detect a pattern with this prime minister and government. If they promised it in 2015, you can be reasonably certain they won’t do it.

Today Trudeau sent out a rookie minister to break the bad news: electoral reform is cancelled. But that isn’t really a shock, is it? It’s been clear for a long time that this government’s only interest in electoral reform was in putting on a show of trying to achieve it, and then blaming the obstreperous opposition for their own calculated failure to do so.

So do I know Trudeau’s mind? No. But the government’s actions, from Maryam Monsef’s bizarre turns in question period to the neo-absurdist mydemocracy.ca consultation website, all lead to one conclusion: Our prime minister set out, from the begining, to sabotage his signature political promise.

Even worse, he lacked the courage to explain his betrayal to Canadians, and threw two young women cabinet ministers under the bus, left to read out nonsensical PMO talking points to the howls of the opposition and press gallery.

According to Trudeau, the promise died due to a lack of public interest and consensus on the need for change. However according to a Nov. 2016 poll by Ekos research, 47 per cent of Canadians agreed with the statement that "electoral reform is crucially important and should not be delayed for another election cycle." Only 32 per cent disagreed.

“Most of our election promises, we have kept,” new minister of democratic institutions Karina Gould declared today. Welcome to the post-fact era, where truth is nothing more than a construct.

This isn’t the first, nor will it be the last, broken promise. A new and overhauled NEB review for the Kinder Morgan pipeline? Forget it. Removal of the two per cent cap on funding for First Nations? Maybe someday. Implementing the UN declaration on the rights of Indigenous peoples? Don’t make us laugh. Cancellation of the Saudi arms deal? They lied to us when they promised to cancel it, and then they lied to us again when they claimed they couldn’t cancel it. Let’s count that one twice.

It’s been largely the same story on the economic front. Cutting small business taxes, capping the deficit at $10 billion and balancing the budget by 2019? Nope.

And that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing if the government was running up the tab to pay for badly needed infrastructure. But that promise too appears to have evaporated.

The truth is that a full catalogue of this government’s broken promises wouldn’t fit in a phone book, let alone in the space we have here today.

Even Donald Trump, who lies compulsively and rejects facts that contradict his prejudices, has entered office with a series of measures meant to keep his absurd promises. Yet here, in hunky-dory Canada, our leader played us all for fools.

This is why people don’t vote, especially young people. Because nothing ever changes and promises mean nothing.

A whole generation of young people entered politics on the Trudeau wave. They’re now left with nothing to show for it but a newfound cynicism and distrust.

Don’t worry about the legalization of weed though. You can tell he means to keep that promise by the number of highly placed Liberals who are heavily invested in commercial marijuana ventures.

If you’re a highly placed Liberal, his word is his bond. If you’re just some sap who believed what he said on the campaign trail, well, caveat emptor buddy. You should have joined the Liberal’s Laurier Club for big donors if you wanted promises you can take to the bank.

But here’s the rub: This will keep happening unless we stop it. Stop accepting lies and manipulation, and scream bloody murder when these cynical politicians lie to our faces. Call your MP, repeatedly, and get everyone you know to do it too.

This isn’t just on Trudeau. It’s also on the MPs who made these promises, to real people on their doorsteps, and now parrot the government’s deceitful talking points.

There must be a cost to a government for lying, a tangible pain that lingers to the next election. If there is not, lying becomes the norm, no one believes anything and our democracy crumbles and burns. There’s an illustrative example to be found in that giant dumpster fire raging to our south.

Are you mad now? Good. Go do something about it. Because if you don’t, then this sorry state of affairs is on you too.

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