In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, “It’s déjà vu all over again.” This déjà vu comes in the form of the failed Liberal policies of Ontario resurfacing at the federal level.
The chief policy advisor to Justin Trudeau, Gerald Butts, was a key advisor to Kathleen Wynne, and he now sits at the right hand of the Prime Minister (although some say the relationship is the other way round).
Whatever the dynamic is between them, these two have common cause, and instead of taking a lesson from the disaster that green economics delivered for Ontario, they are doubling down and giving more of the same to the country.
The disastrous cap and trade policy brought in by the province did nothing to reduce greenhouse gases, raised the cost of business for small and medium businesses (while often giving large businesses a break), and made energy more expensive for the customer.
It did all of this while transferring large sums of money to California. The federal carbon tax will do more of the same.
Canadians are being promised a rebate cheque – but as with cap and trade the money will come from our pockets in the form of higher energy prices and higher consumer goods prices (because again small business and industry has to foot the bill).
All of this will happen while big companies will get an exemption again, and there is a massive transfer of wealth in the form of investment leaving Canada and going to friendlier jurisdictions south of the border. Déjà vu.
Energy policy in general
The Green Energy Act in Ontario drove electricity prices to three times the going rate in competitive jurisdictions. It awarded contracts to wind and solar projects that were sometimes as high as five times the going rate.
Federally, we are seeing the government—after messing up the energy market with its policies, regulations and legislation, stepping into the mess further by buying TransMountain. Virtue signalling in Toronto, virtue signalling in Ottawa, all without results.
Labour legislation that was not well thought out
In September, the Federal Minister of Labour announced an overhaul of the labour laws: “Restoring a work-life balance and better protections for precarious workers, such as part-time, temporary, and contract workers, will be among the key focuses of a planned legislative changes.”
This was the same language that was floated out there by then Premier Wynne with Bill 148. The Changing Workplace review announced “an important focus is on vulnerable workers in precarious jobs in the context of employment standards and labour relations.”
The provincial legislation did nothing but make it more affordable to operate a business, forcing companies to choose between surviving elsewhere or closing shop in the province.
The cascading effects of the minimum wage and the inability to plan production dynamically in a way that worked for both the employer and employee was devastating for businesses leading to higher prices for goods and services, job loss, and reduced service.
So now they want to try this federally?
Focusing on social justice issues at the expense of the economy
The Wynne government lectured and legislated us. They talked to us in a condescending way as if we were children.
The federal government went into the NAFTA negotiations with a list of social issues that had no place in an economic negotiation. They sent in a representative who immediately insulted the counter-party. We scraped by with a deal that barely serves our interests.
Meanwhile the Mexicans, who were the victims of seriously troubling verbal attacks from the US, quietly negotiated an arrangement that protected and deepened their long-term economic well-being.
We are now busy cozying up to the most dangerously protectionist regime in the world—SOE-run China.
The debt in Ontario grew to unimaginable heights and now the federal government debt is tracking upwards fast, all while interest rates are rising.
Justin Trudeau proudly exclaims, “the budget will balance itself.”
Wow, if I took that approach in our family business we would soon find that there was nothing left. Perhaps the fame of Ontario as an indebted jurisdiction is something Justin and Gerald seek to duplicate nationally?
Business as the bad guy
The Wynne government was constantly portraying business people as “bad actors”: people that needed to be controlled because they couldn’t act responsibly, or be respectful of their employees’ rights.
Wynne’s failing was that she did not realize the vast majority of the companies are small, have a strong sense of the personal interests of their employees, and seek to respect those interests because it is good for all: the employee, the employer and the company as a whole.
The Trudeau government announced a crackdown on companies’ rainy day money accounts, with Bill “the South-of-France” Morneau condescendingly advising about how businesses mismanage passive investment. Like province, like country, once again.
Where does all of this leave us?
As a proud Canadian, frustrated with how these people are destroying the future for my kids and my employees, I say to my fellow citizens: don’t let these boys do to our country what happened to Ontario.
And to my fellow Ontarians, I say: let’s not repeat the same mistake twice. We need to stop the madness that is liberal policy.
There’s still time. Remember, Yogi Berra also said, “it ain’t over ’til it’s over.”