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A lot of Canadians may cringe at the prospect of a Chinese state-owned company buying into Alberta’s oilsands, but Justin Trudeau is okay with it. And to his credit he isn’t afraid to say so. Suddenly, the federal Liberal leadership race is getting interesting.
Bucking popular opinion, even within his own party, Trudeau regards the $15-billion, heavily-conditioned bid by China National Offshore Oil Corp. to buy the Calgary oil firm Nexen as “good for Canada,” insofar as middle-class prosperity rides on expanding our business dealings with the fast-growing Asian market. Risky though it is, this readiness to Kick it up a notch, as celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse might put it, looks good on Trudeau and the party.
As the odds-on favourite to win the leadership vote on April 14 Trudeau could have played it safe and kept mum. But that would have ceded the debate on a hot Canadian energy issue to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives and Tom Mulcair’s New Democrats, in effect reinforcing the Liberals’ marginalization in a polarized environment. Trudeau’s bolt from the blue reflects a — correct — perception that the Liberals need to get back into the game and recapture their relevancy by taking bolder stands that will raise their profile after last year’s election debacle.
Charisma and youthful energy might see Trudeau through the five-month leadership race. But it won’t be enough to defeat the Tories in the rougher 2015 election, or even to reclaim official opposition status. That will require fresh ideas, combativeness, and a strong ground game.
At this early stage Trudeau appears to be branding himself as a fiscal conservative, with socially progressive leanings. While that may alienate some in the party’s left wing it is the sweet spot for many working Canadians (whom he is openly courting), young people and women.
For the rest of this editorial, please go to the Toronto Star website: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/article/1291128–justin-trudeau-kicks-it-up-a-notch-as-liberal-race-heats-up