After a decade of Stephen Harper, the arrival of Justin Trudeau felt like a relief.
But as Canadians reckon with the gulf between the dazzling promise of Trudeau’s election and the grim reality of his government, journalist Martin Lukacs makes the case that “real change” was never on the table.
Drawing on investigative research and first-hand reporting, he reveals that behind the new wave of Trudeaumania was a slick status-quo political machine, backed by a cast of corporate elites and lobbyists who expected a pay-off from Liberal rule in Ottawa.
Lukacs exposes a climate plan hatched in collaboration with Big Oil, the arming of a bloody Saudi war in Yemen, a reconciliation industry that has masked ongoing theft of Indigenous lands, and the sell-off of public infrastructure to private profiteers—a re-branded continuation, not a break, from Harper's legacy.
Trudeau's much hyped new politics, Lukacs argues, was in fact an Instagram-era spin on an old Liberal approach: playing to people’s desire for far-reaching change in order to ward off a backlash against the Canadian elite.
But as the Trudeau formula unravels, Lukacs warns that right-wing scapegoating politicians are misdirecting this growing discontent with the established order. The only way to defeat the rise of an ugly right—and fulfill the hopes betrayed by Justin Trudeau—is an unapologetically bold response to inequality, racism, and climate breakdown.
In this election year and beyond, Lukacs argues it’s time that Canada’s progressive majority abandon the idea of saviours and renew the task of collectively winning the world we need.
What People Are Saying
“With meticulous research and reporting, and clear-eyed analysis, Martin Lukacs has written a must-read that brilliantly maps the inner logic of the Trudeau years. He decodes how a progressive veneer is bound to an elite agenda, and in the process exposes how Canada’s establishment operates when they think no one is watching.” Naomi Klein, Author of This Changes Everything and The Shock Doctrine
“Martin Lukacs is a journalist I depend on to inform me about what is really going on.” David Suzuki, scientist and broadcaster
“One of Canada’s most important independent journalists and a staunch voice for social and environmental justice.” Maude Barlow, Council of Canadians honorary chairperson
About the Author
Martin Lukacs is an investigative journalist who has covered Canadian politics for more than a decade. He has been an environmental writer for The Guardian, and was a co-author of the Leap Manifesto. He lives in Montreal and occasionally visits Twitter.
Table of Contents
PART I The Elements of the Formula
1. More Radical Options
2. Real Change™
3. The Clickbait Prime Minister
4. In the House of Justin
5. Out of the Limelight, into Legislation
PART II The Outcome of the Formula
6. How Justin Learned to Stop Worrying and
Love the (Alberta Carbon) Bomb
7. The Reconciliation Industry
8. Stakeholders, Transparency, Democracy,
and Other Obstacles
9. Sunni Ways
PART III The Undoing of the Formula
11. The Green New Deal of the North