Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday February 7, 2023
Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are stuck in the mud and hoping a health care deal helps pull them out
Justin Trudeau told us he was roaring into 2023 to “meet the moment” but lately his Liberals have been regrouping, retreating and running around in circles.
In a speech to his caucus prior to the resumption of Parliament, he said the Liberals would put forward a “positive vision for the future,” including good jobs, safe communities with clean air, and “an economy that works for everyone.”
At the top of the list was a fix for health care, which he promised would mean not only more federal money but better health care outcomes. Mr. Trudeau had just announced that he was convening a meeting with premiers for Feb. 7, a sign that a federal-provincial deal on health care is close. That was supposed to be the first big item on the Liberal agenda in 2023.
So this week Mr. Trudeau has an opportunity to take back the initiative.
A prime minister’s meeting with premiers never goes by without disagreement, but it is a place where the PM’s voice carries the loudest. And if the meetings do end with a level of federal-provincial agreement, sealed by a major, multiyear injection of federal cash, then Mr. Trudeau will tout progress on an issue at the top of Canadians’ concerns.
At this point, the Liberals are getting a little desperate for that kind of agenda-setting. Anything where the news is something the Liberals are doing, rather than something they are undoing, or something they wish they could do over. So this is a big week for Mr. Trudeau.
His Liberals would like to carry a health care deal into a spring of initiatives and a budget that is expected to centre on clean-tech incentives and industrial strategy.
But that’s just a hope right now. Mr. Trudeau’s government has had setbacks and scandals and made blunders before, but the Liberals have eventually regained the ability to set the political agenda with a flurry of activity. That is one of the home-field advantages of being in power: Government actions have consequences, so their agenda is consequential. Yet lately, Mr. Trudeau’s team seems less able to control it.
Mr. Trudeau’s government is encountering problems of a third-term government that has been through a lot.
One is that things come undone or are shown to have been done badly. (Continued: Globe & Mail)