Don Martin: Rare case of a PM acting in national interest over political calculations
Published Thursday, December 1, 2016 5:55PM EST
It would’ve been great fun to join the pile-on and dedicate this Last Word to Prime Minister’s Justin Trudeau’s big Cuban gaffe this week.
That fawning tribute to Fidel Castro as “Cuba’s longest serving president” overlooked the fact he was a ruthless ruler spared the inconvenience of free speech opposition or elections. Much hilarity ensued.
But this week also featured the most substantive decision of Trudeau’s prime ministerial reign with his approval of two oilsands-connected pipelines - and he made the hard call without flinching at unleashing polarized opinion or fear of future election consequences.
Yes, Twitter trolls can now attack for having someone say it was impressive show of Trudeau spine in a week which started with the prime minister looking like foreign affairs Jello.
But he could’ve tossed the pipeline turd to his ministers to announce late last Friday while he was on tour in Africa, knowing it couldn’t be polished.
He could’ve gagged his Vancouver MPs, who fear they’ll face pipeline punishment in 2019 when a tanker a day could be filling up at the Trans Mountain pipeline terminal in Burnaby.
Instead he took to the National Press Theatre personally, fielding most of the media questions himself, there’s no sign his shell-shocked B.C. MPs have a PMO sock stuffed into their mouths and he plans to travel to B.C. shortly to sell the Trans Mountain pipeline personally.
With his actions, Trudeau has opted to dip into his vast reserves of political capital at a frantic pace to help an Alberta where voting down Liberals is a birthright.
And he did it knowing his bravado at the podium will be seriously tested on the ground.
The most predictable visual haunting the rest of his mandate will be protestors being dragged away from an oncoming trench as pipelines roll out.
It will be particularly difficult for him as RCMP vans are filled up with handcuffed First Nations leaders. Film at 11 on many future newscasts.
The other potential collateral damage is B.C. Liberal premier Christy Clark. With her election just five months away, pipeline pushback could easily knock her down to minority rule or worse.
And the last thing Trudeau wants is a B.C. NDP government joining the pipeline blockades.
So add it up and this was a rare case of a prime minister acting in a national interest over political calculations.
In a warped way, it could go down in history as one of Trudeau’s finest moments.
And that’s the Last Word.