Someone needs to send this Liberal government an urgent message: Stop calling us deplorables!
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, under calm but persistent questioning from Evan Solomon on CTV’s Question Period, blurted out Sunday that “I have no time for folks who are like, you know, ‘we shouldn’t take action,’ ” on climate change.
She later clarified that she meant politicians, not ordinary folk. But the minister acknowledged ”I get frustrated,” when people oppose the Liberals’ national carbon tax to fight global warming.
This is no way to win votes and influence premiers.
Bill Morneau has much the same mindset as Ms. McKenna. The Finance Minister was testifying before a parliamentary committee last week when Conservative MP Lisa Raitt accused him of hypocrisy for promoting gender equality in words but not deeds.
“I actually find your line of questioning to be offensive,” Mr. Morneau responded, insisting that promoting women was a core Liberal priority.
“We will drag along the Neanderthals who don’t agree with that and that will be our continuing approach,” he concluded.
It’s all reminiscent of Hillary Clinton’s statement during the 2016 election campaign that “you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables,” who were, “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic − you name it.” That sentence helped make Donald Trump president.
An Ipsos poll last week reported that voter dissatisfaction with the governing party is high. Most revealing is how the Conservative and Liberal bases are evolving.
The Conservatives hold commanding leads in the Prairie provinces and a more modest lead in British Columbia. The Liberals are strong in Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Since more people live in the four Western provinces than live in Quebec and Atlantic Canada combined − a population gap that is increasing with time − this confers a permanent Conservative advantage over the Liberals, in terms of core support.
Because of this schism between west of Ontario and east of Ontario, Ontario elects the government. In that province, the Tories are streets ahead of the Grits, right now, who are essentially tied with the NDP in the race for runner-up. That probably has something to do with the unpopularity of the provincial Liberal government under Kathleen Wynne.
Things may change if Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford wins the June 7 provincial election. A year-and-a-half from now, as the federal election approaches, Ontario voters may welcome a progressive federal alternative to whatever shenanigans the Ford Tories are up to at Queen’s Park.
But to win back public support, the Liberals simply must change their tone. Two thirds of Ontario voters live in suburbs. If you visit any suburban shopping mall, you will notice that SUVs and pickup trucks greatly outnumber hybrids and hatchbacks.
Many people who own big cars and trucks worry about global warming. But they also worry about their fuel bill. And they certainly do not need or want to be lectured to by Catherine McKenna. (And the men who typically own those pickup trucks don’t appreciate being called sexist Neanderthals by Bill Morneau.)
There is another cars-versus-climate-change issue emerging. The Trump administration is expected to roll back increasingly strict mileage standards for cars and trucks put in place during the Obama administration. California and several other states are vowing to stick with the stricter standards.
If the United States splits into two standards, it’s a safe bet the Trudeau government will side with the one that’s stricter. But how will suburban Ontario voters react, if trucks and SUVs become increasingly expensive or unavailable?
The Conservatives would love to paint Justin Trudeau as the prime minister who took away your SUV.
Another example, on a different subject: You can be pro-choice and queer-friendly and still think it’s wrong for the Liberals to cut funding for a summer jobs programs to faith groups that aren’t, as the NDP’s David Christopherson demonstrated last month.
Now comes word that a Liberal MP, John McKay, has broken ranks and criticized the government for its intolerance. This is yet another example of the Liberals losing touch with voters, especially new Canadians, many of whom are religiously observant.
It’s time the Liberals started showing voters a little respect.