Something amazing happened this week.
Within 24 hours, the Trudeau government officially fell back to earth.
It all started with the decision to approve the Bay du Nord oil project in Newfoundland. Then, the tabling of the budget gave him, for the first time since he came to power, a minimum of fiscal responsibility.
No more “building back better”; suddenly money doesn’t grow on trees anymore. We must be concerned about economic growth, finance the energy transition, reinvigorate the Armed Forces.
Several have mentioned a transition budget. But a transition to what? There is the question.
Because if the Trudeau government wants to give itself the means to face the challenges facing Canada, it will eventually have to decide.
For all the observers who decried the decision to approve the Bay du Nord oil project, the government’s decision can be defended.
I will not go back over the monumental cost of the project and the credibility of Minister Steven Guilbeault, others have fully tackled it.
In an ideal world, the Trudeau government would have refused this project. However, the economic survival of Newfoundland is essential. The $3.5 billion in revenue and 1,000 jobs that will result from the project are hard to refuse. The signal of a country open to investment is just as crucial.
The ecological ideal has given way to the economic pragmatism of a country of natural resources like Canada.
In terms of the environment, the question now is whether in every detour the economic excuse will win out over the climatic reality.
Justin Trudeau’s new pragmatism has sown doubt.
The rebound of the Canadian economy may be almost spectacular, but the government has also grasped the clouds on the horizon.
Canada has one of the worst medium- and long-term growth rates in the OECD. Still the same problem: anemic productivity, a dysfunctional innovation regime.
Growth offensive in the budget. The combination of energy transition and innovation could have been devoted to generating the investments the economy needs.
But the government preferred to fall back on new, highly bureaucratic agencies whose success is far from guaranteed.
Here, pragmatism has trumped the required audacity.
This is how this so-called responsible budget is also an undecided budget.
A little social programs, a little environment, a little military, a little growth and innovation.
The risk is that by doing a bit of everything, you don’t do anything well.
Thus, while the new pragmatism of the Trudeau government has succeeded in reassuring everyone, it fails to offer a convincing vision of the future.
For this, you will have to choose. The challenges are such and the competition so fierce on a global scale that Canada will not be able to surf forever. The day will come when the government must have the audacity to put in all its eggs.