Article by Jamie Watt, The Toronto Star
It’s a sad fact that “compromise” can be a dirty word in politics.
In our party system, there is always some measure of compromise. No one ever gets all they want.
Governments come to understand that with every decision they make, at least one section of Canadians will be unhappy.
The Liberal election manifesto was designed, and stunningly so, to build the widest tent imaginable under the party’s bright red banner. As Liberal leader, Justin Trudeau successfully engaged lawyers on Bay Street and suburban soccer parents. He brought urbane West Coast hipsters together with fishers from St. John’s.
Now, more than a year later, the reality of governing will test the durability of this winning coalition.
To win again in 2019, Trudeau must hold that broad array of voters together, a task that may be easier said than done if the past few weeks are any indication.
Trudeau has been trying to find middle ground, but in politics the reaction to issues tends to be focused on the ends of the opinion spectrum, on the black and white and not the grey. When trying to play the middle, a politician runs the risk of upsetting everyone and pleasing no one.
In 2015, the Liberal coalition was made up of a robust cadre of moderate Conservatives, staunch Liberals and soft New Democrats. In recent weeks, it would appear that the Liberals’ big red tent isn’t as friendly a place as it used to be. With each policy decision, Trudeau runs the risk of driving some who took shelter in that tent back to their former homes.
For example, Trudeau’s approach to marijuana and his recent decision on pipelines have upset people on the left and right of the prototypical Liberal voter.
On marijuana, Trudeau is firmly in the legalization camp and Liberal MP Bill Blair, Toronto’s former police chief, is working on new legislation. However, Trudeau says that, in the meantime, the government is not in the business of pleasing recreational marijuana users and police should “enforce the law,” including using criminal charges and raiding illegal marijuana dispensaries.