'None of them are a good option'?
Happy Conservatives go conventioneering as Liberal 'luxury beliefs' fall out of favour. But what would a Poilievre government do in the real world?
Readers of this newsletter will be aware that I don’t regard contemporary “progressive” politics as genuinely progressive or Trudeau’s Liberals as particularly “liberal.” I’ve also spent a good bit of effort pointing out that in 2015 Team Trudeau came to power with a largely undisclosed “post-national” agenda that was occluded by the camouflage of what a lot of people call virtue-signalling, or use the term “woke” to describe.
A better term: “luxury beliefs.” It perfectly describes the weird thing that has displaced working-class politics on “the left,” and it neatly encapsulates the Trudeau Liberals’ governing principles too.
Advocating for defunding the police or promoting the belief we are not responsible for our actions are good ways of advertising membership of the elite. Why are affluent people more susceptible to luxury beliefs? They can afford it.
That’s from Robert Henderson, author, Cambridge University doctoral student and faculty fellow at the University of Austin, a new institution that set out as an explicit rebellion against the enfeeblement of academia by what’s known as “woke” ideology. If I’m not mistaken, the term “luxury beliefs” was coined by Henderson. Smart guy, regardless.
Very generally I’ve come out of an old-school “left wing” view of the world, more or less, only to find myself in recent years far more comfortable in the company of conservatives, or people who consider themselves classic liberals. I expect it’s because of a shared revulsion for the post-truth sensibilities that dominate so much of “the discourse” these days.
I set this out as a preamble to the case that I’m not in the tank for the Conservatives, which my loudest detractors constantly allege about me. I’m not in the tank for Poilievre or for any party and I have no ideological commitments beyond what might be discerned in my convictions in the matter of universal human rights.
I’ve simply concluded that an honest assessment would give Poilievre credit for his laser focus on the concerns and anxieties of that constituency we used to call “ordinary Canadians,” which is to say most of us. Poilievre deserves credit for this because it’s exactly the sort of thing decent political leaders should do in a healthy liberal democracy.
Poilievre’s focus appears to have done him a world of good, besides. He now enjoys a very good shot at winning his party a majority government in the next federal election. That’s why his proposed remedies for what ails this country deserve very close scrutiny, rather than hullabaloos about prayer rooms at the Conservative convention and that sort of thing.
I’ve been meaning to get to this for a while because I’ve written nothing of any consequence about Poilievre, for or against. After soaking up a lot of data these past few weeks I took an opening shot at it in my column in the National Post this week: Voters need more than snappy slogans from the Conservatives: The party needs to work on substantial policies — especially on housing and immigration — to deliver Canadians from Liberal blunders.
Those “blunders” have been a great deal more destructive than most journalists have taken the time to notice, and a great many Canadians are finally coming to terms with the damage. Because they can’t afford not to. So what does Poilievre propose, exactly?
Long story short: What Poilievre has yet to demonstrate is a talent for policy, for effective remedies that will make an appreciable difference to the pall of gloom that eight years of Justin Trudeau’s sunny-ways landlordism has cast over the country. Which is the case I make in my column. Things are worse than Poilievre says, and worse is yet to come.
I’ll elaborate below the paywall.
Canadians warm to Polievre’s Conservatives, but only a little.
This morning’s Angus Reid polling shows that the implosion of support for the Trudeau Liberals that I refer to in my column is continuing, just as Conservatives are gathering to talk policy in Quebec City. At 39 percent, the CPC enjoys a 12-point advantage over the Liberal Party. Twice as many Canadians see Poilievre as the best prime minister as those Canadians who see Trudeau that way.
But only 18 percent of Canadians rate “taxes” as a particularly big concern, and only about 30 percent of would-be Conservate voters do, which is odd, given the close attention Poilievre pays to taxes (‘ll come to this later). Some of the Liberal base has bled away to Jagmeet Singh’s New Democrats, but the Conservatives are clearly reaping the windfall of the disaffection that has been growing across the country, in pretty well all demographic categories.
Making ends meet in Canada & the U.S. Something bad happened around 2015.
House prices to income ratio in Canada. There’s that 2015 point again:
Man does not live by bread alone. But bread would be nice, please.
It would be foolish to hive off “bread and butter” issues from all those things that can’t be so easily captured in charts and graphs. Ottawa no longer really knows how many people live and work in Canada or how many people are coming to Canada annually, for instance. And Ottawa doesn’t seem to want to know, as I describe in my column.
“Out of status” workers? Who knows, Ottawa says, officially: Could be 20,000, could be 500,000. CIBC analysts say it could be a million people are uncounted, mostly foreign students who haven’t bothered to leave or to fill out the easy forms encouraging them to stay.
The number of newcomers is already way, way higher than the 500,000 Ottawa says it wants by way of new citizens every year starting in 2025.
Last year Ottawa’s employer-friendly streamlining of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, all by itself, brought in 220,000 people to work on farms and fish plants and of course in Amazon warehouses and Starbucks and McDonald’s. It’s so out of control that an independent United Nations human rights official is calling Canada “a breeding ground for contemporary forms of slavery.”
The outsized influence the uberwealthy Beijing-aligned Mandarin bloc wields in Liberal power circles has a great deal to do with distortions in residential property values and weirdness in federal policy - at least as much as taxes, I’d reckon. The mobility of international capital makes luxury real estate a dirty-money bolthole for transnational criminal operations, just as wealth migration contributes to sky-high home prices already bloated by speculators who have accelerated the conversion of housing stock into the stuff of investment portfolios.
Remember the long-delayed and much-diluted foreign buyer ban Trudeau promised? It turned out not to apply to foreign “students” whose daddies can buy condos for them, and it doesn’t apply to anyone in Canada with any kind of a work-allowed visa.
Canada’s housing market was already a grotesquely inflated mess when Trudeau’s Liberals were first elected eight years ago, and I know of no evidence for the notion that Stephen Harper’s taxes had much to do with that. Now, Canadians may well be sitting on the largest housing bubble of all time. A lot of people have been making a fortune out of this obscenity. Like Vancouver-Granville Liberal MP Taleeb Noormohamed, for instance.
Noormohamed took over the Liberal banner in Vancouver-Granville after the demotion-resignation of Jody Wilson-Raybould, whose transgression was to stand for the rule of law against Team Trudeau’s backroom arm-twisting on behalf of SNC-Lavalin. Noormohamed has made a killing in the ponzi scheme Canada’s housing industry has become. He bought and sold at least 42 properties between 2005 and 2021, holding most of them for less than a year. He made $4.9 million for himself along the way.
Immigration “policy” is inextricably bound up in trade policy, which is systemically integrated with foreign policy, which is central to how Canadians understand their place in the world and how Canada measures up.
‘Just look at the growth in Canada’s GDP since Trudeau was elected! Higher than the G7 average!’ Okay, let’s have a look. It’s a mirage. Population growth - last year Canada’s known population grew faster than any year since 1957 - masks what’s been happening to Canada’s real GDP, which, by the way, is now contracting.
And no, you can’t blame refugees for this. The Trudeau government has been scaling back refugee resettlement for years, and in any case the UN’s registered refugee population holds all the highly-educated, highly-skilled workers Canada could ever ask for.
You can’t blame taxes for this, either. And here’s where things get really interesting. It’s where Poilievre isn’t quite coming clean about the housing crisis. It’s not just about taxes.
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