Ten pipers Trudeau will need to pay: A cynics’ guide to the ‘sunshine way’ 

Now that the endorphins and adrenaline have cleared the national bloodstream, it’s worth recalling that political victory is rarely free. It doesn’t come about just from affection for candidates, or approval of their policies. Special interests – be they economic, demographic or ideological – help governments get elected, then constrain their governance. This election is no different: won on a positive message of change, and the vote really does appear to be for him, as much as against – but he still has pipers to be paid. The National Post‘s Joseph Brean rounds up the top ten.

1. Maritimers
It was a Maritime sweep for the Red Team, in a vote that turned largely on a major government spending project, the Irving Shipyard’s contract in Halifax. The NDP’s Tom Mulcair pledged to keep it on track for 15 new navy ships, but was vague on how he would do that. He lost three of his strongest members, all from the Halifax area: Robert Chisolm, Peter Stoffer, and deputy leader Megan Leslie. Trudeau was bolder. He promised to divert to the navy all the money he would save by cancelling the F-35 fighter jet project, which was evidently enough to reassure many voters he could keep the money flowing.

2. Eco-leftists
The environmentalist left is a crowded wing of , from Green voters to radical activists who feared a terrorist designation under Bill C-51, but Trudeau managed to harness his fair share of it. Though his party supported C-51 Trudeau later said he would amend it to better protect individual Charter rights. He also vowed to strengthen the National Energy Board, to oppose the Northern Gateway pipeline that would cross a pristine British Columbia rainforest, and to move beyond the Tory position of, as he put it, being “a cheerleader instead of a referee.”

3. Oil and gas tycoons
Of course, the Liberals are not opposed to oil and gas. Quite the opposite, as was evidenced by the actions of Trudeau’s campaign co-chair Dan Gagnier, who wrote to executives of TransCanada Corp., helpfully explaining how to lobby a future a Liberal government on their proposed pipeline, which would run from the Alberta oil sands to the refineries and tidewater of New Brunswick. Trudeau called it “inappropriate” and booted Gagnier from the campaign. Still, the lobbyists got the message, even if it came with a wink and a nod.

4. Bay Street
One of the boldest moves of the Liberal campaign was to pledge deficits until 2019/2020 in order to invest in infrastructure, mainly transit, housing and green energy. Deficit spending can backfire. Business tends to prefer tax cuts. And much depends on commodity prices and other factors. But there will still be lots of people (including dandy-suited bankers) getting rich off this plan, which was also a key aspect of his alliance with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who supported him intensely, and whose province is likely to see much of this investment.

5. Government town-ies
Not all public servants live in Ottawa, and not all Ottawans are public servants, but it is a government town, and voters there all but obliterated the Conservative Party, even taking Ottawa Centre from Paul Dewar, the prominent NDP foreign affairs critic. After a union push against the Tories, there is a sense the old Liberal dominance of the civil service is set to return.

6. Muslims
While the Tories tried to make the niqab a big deal, Trudeau struck an inclusive and respectful tone on the subject – saying neither men nor governments should tell women what to wear. This made him a strong choice for Muslim voters, despite years of Conservative outreach on social and economic grounds. But there is another side to supporting Muslims the Liberals haven’t embraced: the fight against Islamic State, which claims many of them as its victims.

7. Potheads
Investors may have insisted they were supporting medical marijuana, but many put up money for companies who can grow the stuff in anticipation of exactly this possibility: A Liberal win and the legalization of a long-banned drug. Smokers, of course, many part of the “youth” vote, have also been waiting for a Liberal win. But there are hints of empty promises here; Trudeau has pledged he’d get to work “right away” on a new regulatory and tax bureaucracy – he didn’t offer a deadline.

8. The media
The Harper years were marked by petulant efforts at media management and exclusion, leaving political reporters hungry for access to leaders. Trudeau played to this, for example scolding his own supporters for booing a journalist’s question on Gagnier.

9. First Nations
If any group could be said to have acted definitively against Harper in this election, it is members of ’s First Nations. As voters, they rejected the fatalism that has suppressed the indigenous vote in past elections; as candidates, they won ten seats, eight of them Liberal. In some cases, aboriginal polling stations actually ran out of ballots. Now the Liberals have to launch an inquiry on missing and murdered women – fast. As Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of National Chiefs put it, a political giant has awoken.

10. Middle class families
No group saw itself reflected more clearly in the Liberal platform than middle class families, who can expect a reduced tax rate. But that burden will be shifted to wealthier families, who will lose child benefits and income splitting, which is likely to limit the plan’s popularity.

About Joseph Brean