Justin Trudeau launched his campaign for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada a couple of days ago. This week, I gave an interview to La Presse about Mr. Trudeau’s economic vision – or rather his lack of vision. Here is an English version of the article by Joël-Denis Bellavance published on Friday. — 14 October 2012
Maxime Bernier goes after Trudeau
October 12, 2012
Justin Trudeau is using “empty slogans” to woo the middle classes, but he has nothing credible to propose to improve their lives from an economic perspective, believes Maxime Bernier, the minister of State for Small Business.
Stephen Harper’s conservatives have until now remained silent on the candidacy of the young MP from Papineau, who wants to lead the Liberal Party of Canada. Mr. Bernier broke that silence by sharply criticizing some passages of the speech delivered by Mr. Trudeau when he launched his campaign in Montreal Tuesday of last week.
In his speech, Mr. Trudeau claimed that the middle class plays a determinant role in economic growth. “We need to learn what we have forgotten. That the key to growth, to opportunity, to progress, is a thriving middle class, he declared. A thriving middle class provides realistic hope and a ladder of opportunity for the less fortunate. A robust market for our businesses.”
“The great economic success stories of the recent past are really stories of middle class growth, he added. China, India, South Korea and Brazil, to name a few, are growing rapidly because they have added hundreds of millions of people to the global middle class.”
Maxime Bernier thinks Mr. Trudeau has it all wrong. “It’s the other way around! It’s not because their middle classes have grown that China and India, among others, have become economic successes. It’s rather because these countries have first experienced strong economic growth that their middle classes have had the chance to develop.”
“And why did they experience strong economic growth? Because over the past couple of decades, their governments have abandoned their old socialist and interventionist policies and have liberalized their economies. They increasingly relied on private enterprise, open markets and a more reasonable tax burden instead of trying to control everything and to stifle innovation with excessive regulation, bureaucratic planning and restrictions on businesses.
In an interview with La Presse, Mr. Bernier said that he did not expect to hear specific proposals from Justin Trudeau right at the start of his campaign. But these words from the aspiring leader about the middle classes convinced him that he had to speak out.
“Justin Trudeau confuses cause and effect in terms of economic development. This is the only economic perspective we find in his campaign launch speech. This does not bode well. You can’t govern a country with empty slogans,” concluded Mr. Bernier.
Sources close to Justin Trudeau did not make much of the conservative minister’s remarks. “Mr. Bernier is ten days late. People are looking for something else than the conservatives’ dirty politics. There’s a reason why Justin’s candidacy is attracting so much interest. And the campaign is only beginning,” said a close collaborator who did not want to be identified.