Trudeau tries to revive economy, party
Pierre Trudeau's campaign to revive the Canadian economy and simultaneously revive the sagging fortunes of his Liberal Party has gone into high gear.
The Prime Minister's major cabinet shuffle this past weekend follows up his tough anti-inflation program announced last June. And the politically risky job of implementing the recovery program has now been given to one of his most trusted allies, Marc Lalonde, who takes over the key finance portfolio.
The new look at the top ties in with other moves by the Liberal government to redress the impression held by many voters that Mr. Trudeau has failed to come to grips with the deeply entrenched problems of high interest rates, persistent double-digit inflation, and unemployment now at a record 12.2 percent.
There have been highly publicized meetings with leaders of labor, business, and other key sectors to discuss wage and price restraint. The Liberal administration has unleashed a massive publicity campaign in support of its recovery program. Mr. Trudeau recently canceled a long-planned three-week trip to Southeast Asia in favor of trying to improve the business climate.
Lalonde says for the moment he plans no major changes in the economic program , which emphasizes voluntary wage and price restraints. But it was widely noted that appointment of the blunt-speaking French-Canadian leaves the administration in a position eventually to bring in full-scale wage and price controls or measures to stimulate the economy - moves which his predecessor, Allan MacEachen (reassigned to external affairs), strenuously opposed.
Replacing the controversial Lalonde as energy minister is Jean Chretien, formerly justice minister. In recent years, Chretien has achieved a measure of popularity in the Canadian West, where the Liberal Party is otherwise roundly disliked. Hence, Mr. Chretien's appointment is seen as an effort by the Liberals to build bridges to the western petroleum-producing provinces.