Canadian history and politics #3: The Trudeau Formula: Seduction and Betrayal in an Age of Discontent by Martin Lukacs – 2020

The Trudeau Formula kicks off with a striking insight: the Trudeau Liberals are much cozier with corporate Canada than were the Harper Conservatives. The Business Council always gets its way in the end (so the author convincingly demonstrates) but while Harper personally kept the economic elite at a cold remove, lobbying has skyrocketed under the Liberals and Justin schmoozes with the super-rich.

Another savvy consideration this book provokes is that Trudeau’s symbolic progressivism has had Stephen Harper, Donald Trump, Jason Kenney and Doug Ford as convenient points of comparison. With political foils like that, progressive expectations can be very low.

The most comprehensive chapter deals with Trudeau’s finessing of indigenous affairs. The Liberals (Trudeau, his cabinet, and communications/campaign Svengali Gerald Butts) are shown to have perfectly situated themselves as disingenuous managers of First Nations for the benefit of business, brilliantly and cynically turning the page from the exhausted Harper approach.

The most disturbing chapter recounts the Liberals shameless machinations behind the controversial sale of Light Armoured Vehicles (deviously called “Jeeps”) to Saudi Arabia. Canadian made equipment has been used in horrible atrocities, there’s little doubt. How could it be? We’re talking “the largest arms deal in Canadian history” – a lot of money and jobs.

The author concludes the book optimistically, alluding to “social movements” and noting his own involvement in drafting the “Leap Manifesto” – a leftwing policy plan that was cause for great controversy in the NDP. I’m inclined to dismiss this “conclusion” as lefty-book boilerplate but not without regret. The author has dissected “The Trudeau Formula” in a way that may not be surpassed. That he can muster optimism in the face of it is inspiring.

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