Trudeau's pipeline gamble demonstrates the limits of charm and idealism

If he hadn’t learned it already in the past two-and-a-half years, Justin Trudeau is probably now discovering that governing is a lot harder than it looks when you’re in opposition.

In an election campaign, the answers are easy. You can promise to consult everyone, to listen carefully, to get social license on major energy projects. You can propose an idealistic compromise of carbon taxes and pipelines, claiming to balance the economy with the environment. Surely, no one could argue with that. And even when you’re in power, you can bring the premiers who are fighting with each other to your office and try to resolve the dispute.

But sometimes, charm isn’t enough to bridge the gap between two sides in a debate. And as Prime Minister, you suddenly find yourself spending $4.5 billion to buy a pipeline. Imagine what Trudeau would be saying today if it were Stephen Harper who was ignoring the opponents in British Columbia. It could turn out to be a good decision or a bad one, but either way, it’s probably one that Justin Trudeau never imagined he would have to make.

Listen for 60 Seconds with Sutcliffe weekdays at 6:20 am, 8:20 am, 4:20 pm and 6:20 pm on 1310 NEWS. And join me and my guests on Ottawa Today, featuring discussion and analysis of the big stories of the day, weekdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.