What if I say Trudeau will lose his PM chair, partly because of Pierre Poilievre but also because of his own Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland?
Yes, as per a report by Toronto Star, tensions are brewing between the two top ministers over government spending. And the tussle can very well sink the NDP-Liberal alliance if Freeland prevails over Justin Trudeau.
To better understand how precariously Justin Trudeau’s government stands in Canadian politics, one needs to revisit how Paul Martin’s minority government collapsed back in 2005. It was NDP that sank Martin’s fortunes after a dispute over public policy and pulled the plug on the liberals. What followed this tussle was a 10-year-long conservative rule over Canada, that reduced both liberals and New Democrats to non-entities in Canadian politics.
History repeats itself in Canadian politics
Observing the political landscape of 2022, one can comfortably say that history is repeating itself. The NDP-Liberal alliance was never weaker, and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has seemingly made her mind up to put the final nail in its coffin. She has vowed to exercise utmost fiscal restraint in government spending in order to shore up her ministerial credentials and tame infuriated hawkish Conservatives.
The spring budget is arriving, and Freeland is giving her colleagues an impression that the party is over. Her message is simple. To finance new projects, new funding will not be issued. Instead, the needed money will have to be drawn from existing program cuts. Now, this pledge of Freeland can truly put Trudeau on a hot tin roof since he is planning to lavish hefty money on provinces under healthcare obligations, an issue Trudeau has been conveniently sweeping under the rug for over 2 years now.
Freeland-Trudeau tussle over spring budget
On the healthcare issue, conservatives have successfully cornered the Liberal Party. Its offhand approach to the healthcare issue has attracted the attention of liberal voters more than ever. So, Trudeau is really looking forward to announcing eye-popping largesse to put the issue to rest. But Freeland won’t allow it to happen, as her pledge to rein in public spending spells it out. And if Trudeau really gets his own way, it may come at the expense of other public programs that will cast a shadow of uncertainty over the NDP-Liberal alliance.
How can NDP spoil the Liberals’ party?
As Toronto Star defines it, “the arrangement between the two parties is based on a common shopping list, not a spending diet.” NDP doesn’t give a damn about how poor the Liberal Party’s economic credentials are. If Freeland introduces an austerity-ridden spring budget, the NDP might call it a breach of the non-aggression pact that currently governs the relationship between the NDP and minority Liberals.
And if the tussle goes out of control, NDP can simply withdraw its support from the liberal government, as it did back in 2005. In that scenario, elections will be held again and that’s exactly what Pierre Poilievre’s camp wants right now. A September poll showed more Canadians now prefer Poilievre as Canada’s PM than Justin Trudeau.
Freeland, in her spring budget, going all out against Trudeau makes it clear that a major infighting has broken out in the Liberal party. Liberals have realized that Trudeau’s leadership has rendered the Liberal Party a bystander in Canadian politics. So, overt and covert efforts are underway to shore up the Liberal Party’s approval ratings, even if that comes at the expense of Trudeau’s reputation.