Opinion: We need to admit Canada has a left-wing populism problem

National Post
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau National Post | James Alexander Michie

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill on Sept. 25, 2020. A public global credit agency has issued a warning about "the deterioration of Canada’s public finances." PHOTO BY JUSTIN TANG/THE CANADIAN PRESS

As is to be expected, the various opinions emerge and are in fact made public with great freedom, in reference to this, there are many who believe that without a doubt the grandiose promises of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau really betray his populist approach.

Certainly, the numerous discussions of populism in recent years have predominantly centered on politicians and right-wing movements. The instant the term “populism” is heard, many immediately think of the President of the United States, Donald Trump, various right-wing parties in Europe, or Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada. While there are certainly legitimate reasons to be concerned about populism on the right side of the political spectrum, it also exists on the left side, and it can present grave danger from that angle as well.

Now, recent promises by the liberal government to consider universal basic income and increase spending with a series of new government programs aimed at solving such complex problems as homelessness and climate change are a good example of this trend.

Programs of questionable effectiveness

There is no denying that these programs promise a lot, even for quick problem solving, yet many of them have noted that their effectiveness and cost are negligible and highly questionable, in that order. We must not ignore a harsh reality and it is that by their very nature, populist policies are focused on boosting the popularity of politicians in power and securing votes for them, instead of achieving the best possible results for the country, especially in long term.

In order to capture the public’s attention, these policies promise simple and comprehensive solutions to deep problems, while neglecting careful consideration of their actual effectiveness and any potential negative outcomes. Populist counters any criticism of such policies with divisive accusations of not wanting to solve the problem at all. This populist approach is especially dangerous in difficult times, such as the current pandemic and economic downturn when the utmost caution and pragmatism is needed on the part of the government.

Throughout history, many politicians in many different countries have taken the populist approach and tried to increase their support by making grandiose and unrealistic promises, expanding government spending and powers, and sowing division by disparaging their critics. Clearly Trudeau’s grandiose promises to solve complex and global problems with factors that he no doubts claims betray his populist approach.

Source: National Post

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