With promises of legal pot, the withdrawal of our military and massive deficits for infrastructure, it will be interesting to see if we notice a difference in our day-to-day lives once Justin Trudeau takes the helm as Prime Minister.
On the home front, Trudeau will be revamping Canada’s infrastructure by borrowing $30 billion over the next three years. There’s no telling whether or not he chose the ideal amount of money to borrow, but his timeline is well-suited for Canada’s four-year election cycle – it’s probably no coincidence that his first balanced budget is planned for the next election year.
Despite the debt associated, it’s easy to feel confident about spending money on infrastructure. When corporate investors decide where to grow their money, they take into account how efficiently each economy runs. Hindrances like poor roads, unreliable energy and slow internet will dissuade businesses from investing, while slowing growth and increasing challenges for existing entrepreneurs. Since lending rates are at a historical low, maybe instead of saving our pennies until we can afford crucial hardware, it could be more beneficial to finance a renovation, entice a greater GDP and pay the accrued debt with a fraction of the increased tax revenue.
But as Harper said during his visit to Penticton, “our economy is not some theory in a classroom.” Most people don’t want to take major spending risks on untested ideas. Other than a Canada Savings Bond though, it’s almost impossible to predict how much an investment will yield exactly. The bail out of General Motors and Chrysler, then unprecedented, had to begin theoretically, and it seems to have been a successful tonic. But since history is bound to just one track, we can never truly know if saving the auto industry was the most prosperous path forward.
Advocates for legal marijuana have a long list of arguments for their cause, but aside from the benefits of tax revenue and safe regulation, there shouldn’t be laws in place that are so far offside from reality. The legal status of pot does an extremely poor job of deterring anybody from using it. The Penticton RCMP, who laid zero charges against the producing or distributing the drug in 2014, seem to be applying their resources where it matters. But even though local police seem quite sensible on the issue, it undermines the entire legal system to have de facto freedoms.
It will be interesting to find out how marijuana makes its way into the market. The Liberals hope to make it tougher for children to get their hands on it while taking the money out of the hands of drug dealers. But if the prices and quality aren’t competitive and it’s a hassle to buy, the government will have trouble shutting down the underground market.
Outside of our borders, Trudeau is shifting Canada’s role in the Middle East. His decision to pull a handful of CF-18 Hornets (circa 1983) out of Iraq probably won’t be seen as the watershed moment where ISIS started winning. The symbolism and moral support is of course important to many people who witnessed their barbaric acts online, even just hearing of them can ignite vengeful feelings of retaliation. But the provocative nature of their social media campaign makes it hard to wonder what ISIS is trying to accomplish beyond luring Western countries into another quagmire in the Middle East.
Through humanitarian aid, which includes Trudeau’s pledge to resettle 25,000 refugees, Canada has a lot of value to offer people who need help in Iraq and Syria. Militarily however, Canada’s contribution is a drop in the ocean compared to the U.S. By outspending the closest 10 countries combined, America doesn’t leave much opportunity for its allies to offer impactful support.
It’s refreshing the Conservatives didn’t succeed on one of the major campaign issues they jumped on — the niqab. Not everybody in Canada sympathizes with the freedoms being sought by those who wear them, which made Harper seem slimy for the amount of attention he drew towards his hard stance against it. Considering how you can count on one hand the number of people affected by the Conservative’s attempt to suppress them, the matter garnered an unreasonable amount of attention.
As a political case study for future generations, it’s going to be entertaining when students read about the Conservative Party’s attack against Trudeau’s hair. It must be upsetting for the party donors whose money was wasted on commercials facetiously complimenting their opponent’s hairdo. Yet Trudeau somehow managed to win the election without drawing attention to Harper’s grey mushroom cut. We can’t know how hard Prime Minister Stephen Harper had to work behind the scenes to keep Canada safe and economically sound, but as a peasant, the most potent observations I made under his leadership had to do with our currency: the discontinuation of the penny, new editions of print money, and lowering of GST twice.
Harper made himself a difficult figure for younger people to commend. He comes across as an out-of-touch populist who’s not very charismatic or persuasive. Nonetheless, I don’t doubt his commitment to the economy. After enough time passes, we may find ourselves admiring his tenure more than we could expect. Perhaps the Harper era will be even remembered as the good ol’ days.
Dan Walton is a reporter for the Penticton Western News.