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Canada

LILLEY: For Trudeau, it’s all about electoral politics

It’s an interesting contrast, how Justin Trudeau deals with Quebec’s premier compared to Ontario’s and it tells you a lot about the coming election.

When it comes to the Trudeau government’s relationship with Ontario Premier Doug Ford it is attack, attack, attack. Trudeau even had one of his ministers label one of Ford’s ministers “unCanadian”.

Why?

She dared to demand that the feds pay up for their portion of the mess caused by illegal border crossers.

Ontario’s Lisa MacLeod wasn’t telling Trudeau’s immigration minister to stop bringing people in, even those crossing illegaly. She simply told Ahmed Hussen that the feds owed Ontario $200 million.

Compare that to what happened with Francois Legault this week.

Trudeau met with Legault in Sherbrooke, Que. where the Liberals were holding a cabinet retreat.

Legault told the PM that he wants Quebec to reduce the number of immigrants it takes in from 50,000 to 40,000, wants to keep the current level of immigration funding he gets from the feds and wants $300 million in compensation for those illegal border crossers.

Oh and Legault also said that before immigration levels rise in Quebec he wants a language test and a values test in place.

If Ontario made that same list of demands it would be mere seconds until Gerry Butts, the PM’s top adviser, begins calling Doug Ford a Nazi on Twitter.

Legault got a meeting.

Senior ministers from both governments will meet in two weeks to hammer out the details.

It all comes down to electoral politics.

Trudeau knows that Legault is right in line with public opinion in Quebec on immigration. The people of that province are fed up with the illegal crossings and Trudeau’s refusal to deal with it.

For our normally sunny-ways, diversity-is-everything PM, he can’t run against Legault or be offside his immigration demands.

The Liberals only have a 12 seat majority and they know that they will be losing seats in Alberta, British Columbia and quite probably Ontario.

They need to make those up somewhere and they think Quebec is key. They want to build on their 40 seats there and fighting with Legault on immigration will hurt them.

It’s the opposite in Ontario.

Team Trudeau sees fighting with Doug Ford as a key to success.

The plan is to make Ford the enemy and rally as many lefty voters to the Trudeau Liberal banner as they can.

With Ford’s PC Party winning many of the same seats that the Liberals hold federally, the Trudeau braintrust is worried those seats could flip Conservative blue in October.

So it is constant battles on the carbon tax, on immigration funding, on language rights.

In fact Trudeau’s minister for official languages, Melanie Joly, just announced $1.9 million in funding for a French language university that the Ontario government cancelled.

“We will always be there for the Franco-Ontarian community as a partner for the French University of Ontario,” Joly said.

Except there is no French University of Ontario.

Citing budget pressures, the Ford government put plans for that school on hold along with three English universities.

Ever since, Trudeau’s Liberals have been attacking the Ford government on this file.

So where is this $1.9 million going if there is no school?

It is going to the group of activists that have been agitating for the school to allow them to keep working for the next year.

Meaning they are paying a group, with taxpayers money, to attack the Ford government on an issue that will help Trudeau.

Let’s face it, if Trudeau really cared so much about official bilingualism then he and his team would be denouncing the Quebec government forcing a hospital in LaChute to remove English from its signs or Legault’s plans to do away with nine English school boards.

But it isn’t about official bilingualism, it is about winning votes and the next election.

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