Liberals need to stop offering quick-fix political solutions to complicated long-term issues, said Trudeau, who spoke without notes and leaned casually on the podium, in a style that mirrored his father.
"We live in a world where our citizens demand of our politicians short-term results," he said.
"Politicians are locked into immediate returns, polling data. Long term for a politician is four years. There is no more long term in our society. This is how we got into this mess we're in of people not being engaged."
Trudeau speaks to the lack of vision in most political policies, instead most measures are crafted for immediate gratification. This condition is a combination of an electorate that demands results now and parties who put attaining and retaining power as their paramount concerns. What is the political advantage to favor legislation that may have a societal payoff long after an administration is gone? There is a tension between self-interest and the long-term health of the nation.
Harper's government represents the end point of this approach, wherein every measure is a calculation of immediate power. Survival is the impetus, which is essentially a narrow view that causes long-term problems. This is not to say past governments weren't guilty of short-sighted political opportunism, only that Harper is unique with regard to degree. Despite the talk of principle, you can pick almost any measure and find self-interest at the core. If you take Trudeau's thoughts as truth, then the nation withers because complicated issues demand leadership that looks beyond mandates.
Trudeau argues that the environment is the defining issue for the future, with a great quote on approaching issues:
"If we deal with what is urgent, we never get around to what is important"
Government as simply reactionary, plugging holes in the dam as they emerge, instead of looking at solutions in their entirety. Quick fixes that avert immediate disaster, but don't address the core problems. Trudeau's comments are bang on, but if politics are to regain a vision, it necessitates an electorate that is willing to move beyond immediate gratification. If people are won over with simple payoffs like GST cuts, then they say to politicians "we are sheep" that can be easily manipulated through our own short-sightedness. Ultimately people, and my extension the media, must demand "vision" and reward that boldness. It might just be that politicians simply mirror society, in that we now live in a world of immediate gratification that demands nano-second responses. The only issue on the horizon that has the capacity to force a long-term view is the environment, both for people and politicians. Hopefully, this issue can act as a catalyst to blunt the tendency for short-term fixes, that leave the future wanting.