By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Conservative attack ads against Justin Trudeau have turned into a financial boon…
OTTAWA – Conservative attack ads against Justin Trudeau have turned into a financial boon for the Liberal party.
The party raised $336,000 in the 48 hours following Trudeau’s landslide victory in the Liberal leadership race Sunday.
Officials say that’s more than double the party’s previous top haul for an e-mail fundraising campaign.
They say the donations poured in after two back-to-back mass email solicitations that urged Liberals to fight back against Conservative attacks.
The first, sent out just as Trudeau was leaving the stage Sunday after delivering his acceptance speech, urged Liberals not to let the coming barrage of “negative and misleading attacks” drown out the new leader’s “positive message of change.”
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 12:38 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Justin Trudeau presided over his first caucus meeting as Liberal leader Wednesday…
OTTAWA – Justin Trudeau presided over his first caucus meeting as Liberal leader Wednesday by harking back to the party’s signature accomplishment when his father was at the helm.
Trudeau said it’s “extraordinarily fitting” that Wednesday’s meeting should occur on the same “auspicious” day that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was adopted 31 years ago — a seminal addition to the Constitution when it was patriated in 1982 by Pierre Trudeau.
“We celebrate today, as Liberals, the document that makes sure that Canadians enjoy freedoms that can never be taken away,” he told Liberal MPs and senators.
In an era when parties are elbowing each other for room at the centre of the political spectrum, Trudeau asserted that the charter is what distinguishes Liberals from the Conservatives and NDP.
By Nick Taylor-Vaisey - Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 11:53 AM - 0 Comments
This afternoon, Liberal supporters filled a hall in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The six people who hope to win the party’s leadership made their final appeals to party faithful in a series of 30-minute showcases. Maclean’s has everything you need to know about what comes next for the party that hopes to rebuild its former glory.
John Geddes and Paul Wells, in the video to the right, wonder how much frontrunner Justin Trudeau has actually been tested during his leadership run.
During today’s showcase, Geddes and Nick Taylor-Vaisey liveblog each candidate’s final appeal. Soon, Aaron Wherry will sketch the scene in the convention centre.
The liveblog started at 1 p.m., and ran until the end of the showcase. Below, check out the delicate mix of snark and serious analysis.
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, December 14, 2012 at 10:44 AM - 0 Comments
Mitchel Raphael on the minister’s favourtie musical and wine issues at the Liberal party
What Raitt expects under the tree
On Dec. 25 expect to find Labour Minister Lisa Raitt in the movie theatre watching Les Misérables. She is a huge fan, having seen the musical twice in London and twice in Toronto. The song I Dreamed a Dream, she confessed, makes her cry every time—but only in the context of the play. That means no tears were shed for Susan Boyle, the underdog who sang it famously on Britain’s Got Talent. Raitt has told her partner Bruce Wood that advance Les Misérables movie tickets “better be under the Christmas tree.”
Someone is posing
It was a rare moment of cross-partisanship on the Hill, with politicians from opposite sides coming together for a photo op. But there’s no shared version of events as to how that photo came about. Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau told Capital Diary that Tory MP Eve Adams was hosting a group of visitors, including one from her home city of Mississauga, Ont., and asked him if he would pose for a picture with them. They went to the House foyer for better lighting. Adams, however, says it was Trudeau who asked her group if they wanted a picture, though she did join in for the snap. Trudeau says opposition MPs asking him to pose with people, even constituents, “happens all the time.”
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 1:12 AM - 0 Comments
He may be the leader of the third party, but everything goes quiet when he rises to speak
Shortly after Bob Rae was first elected in 1978, John Diefenbaker, the former prime minister who remained a MP until his death in 1979 at the age of 83, imparted two pieces of advice: “Don’t take any s–t from anybody,” and “Go for the throat every time.”
These might be words to live by, but Rae looked elsewhere for inspiration—to Allan MacEachen, the legendary Liberal, and Tommy Douglas, the patron saint of the NDP. MacEachen was a commanding presence who taught Rae you couldn’t be yelling all the time, that you had to have “more than one gear.” Douglas was disciplined and practical. He cracked jokes and didn’t hold grudges. And it was Douglas who told him to eschew notes when speaking in the House. “Because as soon as you start to do it, he says, you lose all the spontaneity and all the effect,” Rae recalls.
Here are the makings of a master of the House.
By Paul Wells - Friday, October 19, 2012 at 5:00 AM - 0 Comments
Paul Wells on Dalton McGuinty stepping down and the Liberal party’s climb ahead
Dalton McGuinty remains such a gifted political performer that when Ontario’s premier announced his retirement from politics, throat catching, eyes misting, it was easy to forget the context.
The context is that two recent polls put his Ontario Liberal party in third place, about 15 points behind the opposition NDP and Conservatives. McGuinty’s energy minister, Chris Bentley, stands accused by opposition MPPs of being in contempt of the legislature over an apparent failure to disclose all of the reasoning behind the cancellation of two gas-fired energy plants. There was talk of adding McGuinty and the government house leader to the list of Liberals facing contempt motions.
McGuinty won three elections in a row, but with less of a pop every time. To say the least, he had no guarantee of winning the next. It is a familiar trajectory for Liberals in Canada these days. The question is whether it can be reversed.
Let us get the good news for Canada’s assorted Liberal parties out of the way quickly. Today, parties carrying the Liberal name continue to govern in Canada’s largest and third-largest provinces by population, Ontario and British Columbia, as well as the smallest, Prince Edward Island.
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 11:25 AM - 0 Comments
He’s the most popular politician in Canada—and not just because of his last name
Justin Trudeau lets the question hang in the air for long seconds before he exhales heavily and begins to answer. It can’t have taken him by surprise, but it’s not the sort of thing one wants to appear to be too cavalier, or God forbid, eager about. Why does he want to be prime minister?
The words are slow and deliberate at first, then gradually pick up steam. He touches on the deaths of his youngest brother and his father, more than a decade ago, and how the public outpourings of sympathy reinforced his already unique relationship with Canadians. He speaks of his own children, Xavier, 5, and Ella, 3, and his conflicting desires to spend more time with them, yet enhance their future. There’s a nod to the last few months of deliberation and doubt. He’s forthright enough to admit that the timing isn’t ideal—in a perfect world he’d have more Parliamentary experience, maybe even a stint in cabinet under his belt. But the opportunity to become leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, and thereby start auditioning for an even bigger job, is presenting itself now. And for better or for worse, he feels like it’s his destiny.
“Can I actually make a difference? Can I get people to believe in politics once again? Can I get people to accept more complex answers to complex questions? I know I can. I know that’s what I do very well. Why am I doing this? Because I can, not because I want to. Because I must.” His voice drops to a whisper on the final word. The bells at the church across the road from the café where we’re sitting in his Montreal riding are tolling the noon hour. It’s all gotten a bit dramatic. He catches himself and laughs. “I wish there was a simple, easy answer, but there’s a lot of factors. I guess it comes down to that I love this country, and I think I can do better than what we are currently getting from our politicians.”
By Ken MacQueen - Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 10:15 AM - 0 Comments
Teaching kids to snowboard in Whistler, Trudeau found a place to emerge from his father’s shadow
He said his name was Justin—just another itinerant snowboard instructor at the Whistler-Blackcomb resort, there in the winter of 1997 for the crappy pay, occasional tips and the all-important mountain pass. He was assigned to Sean Smillie’s Ride Tribe boarding classes. Lord knows Smillie could use the help. “We’d juggle 100 little kids a day on the mountain, running round, chasing after them,” Smillie recalls 15 years later over a coffee in Vancouver’s Gastown.
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“If you can imagine, learning how to snowboard is about one of the funniest things in the world for a kid, so I had to have a really particular kind of staff,” says Smillie. This Justin guy, a student at the University of British Columbia, was studying to be a teacher. He was great with kids, was a gifted, if chaotic, boarder and clearly knew the terrain. Strange thing was this Justin boarded in a fireman’s jacket, at least until he got his official instructor’s uniform, which was . . . unusual. But, whatever, it’s Whistler, right?
Smillie and his instructors were all of similar age and disposition. Loved the kids, loved the social life, loved above all the downtime carving tracks on virgin snow on the most extreme runs on the two mountains. Smillie’s job was to cruise the classes, and help out where needed. “Justin always got the wild, crazy kids who were running all over the mountain. He was perfect for that, so I ended up working with him a lot, riding with him and the kids. We became buddies out of that.” Still, says Smillie, “I had no idea who he was, not for months and months. No clue.” When you’re young and you work at a resort like Whistler, you tend to live for the moment and the weather forecast; the past is parked outside the bubble. Finally someone mentioned that his buddy was the eldest son of ex-prime minister Trudeau. That Trudeau? “I kind of did the sudden stop—wait a minute!” Smillie says. “I just kind of asked him one day: ‘Is your father Pierre?’ And that was it.” Life went on as before.
By John Geddes - Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 11:04 AM - 0 Comments
Liberals hunting for a fiscally minded champion to take on Trudeau have the Bank of Canada governor in their sights
In all the hoopla surrounding this week’s official launch of Justin Trudeau’s bid for the Liberal leadership, something was missing. Just about every ranking Liberal, including those rushing to support Trudeau, declared a preference for an exciting, competitive race rather than a “coronation.” But where was Trudeau’s worthy adversary? The long-established pattern in the party, going back decades, has been for a champion representing its progressive wing to square off against a rival preferred by its business-oriented side. And if Trudeau fits the former role, there can be little doubt who would be the dream champion of the latter camp—Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney.
Despite the absence of even the faintest hint of public confirmation from Carney, or any reliable source close to him, that the star central banker might be contemplating a jump into politics, that scenario is being feverishly discussed by Liberal insiders. “I don’t think there’s any question there are a lot of people in the party who would love it if he ran,” says Tim Murphy, a Toronto lawyer who served as chief of staff to former prime minister Paul Martin. “The problem is no one knows if he’s actually interested.”
Murphy counts himself among Liberals who want the party to emphasize economic pragmatism and managerial experience as critical to refurbishing its tattered brand. They contrast themselves, in broad terms, with fellow Grits who are more preoccupied with progressive causes—especially, in recent years, environmental policy. Murphy argues that running mainly on those left-of-centre themes suggests “a longer path back to power,” battling the New Democrats to regain status as the main alternative to the Tories over two or three elections. The other possible path, he contends, would be “to present a centrist image based in economic competence,” competing head-on with Stephen Harper’s Conservatives right away, while aiming to marginalize Thomas Mulcair’s NDP as lacking “economic understanding and skills.”
By Martin Patriquin - Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 6:28 PM - 0 Comments
Being in the Liberal party on the other hand…
Justin Trudeau was his usual schmaltzy, painfully earnest, bilingual self last night, and good lord did the crowd eat it up. Outside of church or your average Justin Bieber concert, you rarely see so many enraptured faces and hands clasped over hearts. And you know what? Good for him. Even though there is a certain Gouda quality to his delivery, and even if his frequent cozy bromides to Canada may set one’s teeth on edge, this much is true: Trudeau believes every word that flows out of his mouth. When he says he loves Canada, over and over, it’s not because he’s trying to convince you of as much. It’s because he really means it, perhaps more and more every time he says it.
In Quebec, that is part of the problem. At least, so goes the prevailing wisdom in the province. The thinking is this: much like his father before him, Trudeau is an Ottawa-first centralisateur who sees Quebec as just another province. Not only did he stifle Quebec’s collective will by running a campaign of fear during the 1980 referendum, he had the gall to jam the Charter of Rights and Freedoms down the province’s gullet in its aftermath. Pierre Trudeau, said red-headed separatist firebrand Pierre Bourgault in 1990, “never ceased to violently attack Quebecers.” And like his father, Trudeau fils will only embarrass himself and his party if he tries his hammy I-Love-Canada schtick outside a few cloistered ridings on the island of Montreal.
Nationalists like Bourgault birthed the theory that thanks to their long memories and freakish sense of betrayal, Quebecers despised Trudeau (and by extension the Liberal brand) en masse. Alas, it doesn’t really square with the facts. Trudeau won a majority of Quebec seats (if not always the popular vote) in each of his elections, despite his well-known reputation as a separatist-baiting so-and-so. Sure, his party took a bath in the province in the wake of the repatriation of the constitution, but that had arguably as much to do with high debt and a morose economy as it did bruised feelings in Trudeau’s province of birth. And anyway, if there was a hate-on for Trudeau, it was pan-Canadian in nature: in 1984,
two yearsseven months after Trudeau took his walk in the snow, Mulroney’s Progressive Conservatives trounced the Liberals across the country.
By Peter C. Newman - Tuesday, September 18, 2012 at 8:20 AM - 0 Comments
Peter C. Newman on the Liberals — now and then
Justin Trudeau’s expected move into contention for the Liberal crown revives memories of a half-century ago, sitting around a polished table in a refurbished farmhouse near Ottawa, when I was part of a small knot of media junkies quaffing sangria and talking politics. This was in 1968, when it was his father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, about to hurl himself into the political snakepit, who was the topic of intense speculation.
There is a disconnect between the storied political campaign of the intellectual gunslinger who put us on the map with his macho pirouettes and devil-may-care gestures, and his eldest son, whose entry owes more to boxing than thinking outside the box. One vague link occurs. The year that the senior Trudeau was crowned coincided with Ben Tre, the Vietnamese city that the Americans, then at war, had to “destroy to save it.” Unless Justin as leader applies some harsh medicine to the remnants of the Liberal party, he will end up like Ben Mulroney, hosting entertainment shows. (Already the politician, Justin invited Ben to his wedding to glamorous CTV talk show correspondent Sophie Grégoire.)
A high school teacher when he wore a cropped version of a Johnny Depp beard, Justin reached out to the country only once before, at his father’s funeral: voicing the most poignant of the elegies, ending his prayer with the heart-rending, “Je t’aime, papa.” Prayers will come in handy should he be charged with rescuing the Liberals, who haven’t been the country’s Natural Governing Party since Noah launched his ark, or so it seems. The state of the Grits in the past decade adds up to an act of supreme self-immolation. They have lost every power base they once commanded: Quebec, the Maritimes, rural Ontario and Toronto. Their record in the past four elections, as they spiralled toward political purgatory, was to lose an average of 30 seats at a time in the past four elections. The downward momentum increased in the last election, when they gave up 43 constituencies, including that of the enigmatic Michael Ignatieff, the party’s previous instant messiah. The best brain of his generation he may have been, but without any discernable focus, he became the Titanic of his party and hasn’t surfaced since.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Michael Den Tandt proposes a dozen policy directions for the Liberal party.
Make the first $25,000 of income for anyone earning their livelihood as artist, or a farmer, tax-free…
Design a system of proportional representation, perhaps based on the Australian model, that works for Canada. Draft accountability reforms that restore the traditional powers of MPs in the House of Commons, and that cannot be scrapped or ignored if you get back into power…
Declare that the Indian Act is racist, an abomination in modern Canada. Dedicate yourself to its speedy and complete abolition in a way that respects First Nations concerns about losing even more than they’ve already lost. Wherever possible, and if local people approve, give title to existing reserve lands to the people who live on the land, to do with as they please.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 12:20 PM - 0 Comments
MONTEBELLO, Que. – The federal Liberals have set a $950,000 spending limit on a…
MONTEBELLO, Que. – The federal Liberals have set a $950,000 spending limit on a leadership race that formally gets underway in November and wraps up in Ottawa next April 14.
The spending cap is higher than some Liberals had proposed—and almost double the limit set by the NDP in their leadership race last winter—which could favour a high-profile, powerful fundraiser such as Justin Trudeau.
The party has also put in place a relatively steep $75,000 non-refundable entry fee, to be paid in three instalments, that could narrow the field and keep out political gadflys.
And in a nod to embarrassing leadership debt problems that still plague several of the also-rans in the 2006 Liberal leadership race, the new rules stipulate that no candidate can run up a total campaign debt of more than $75,000.
With the once-mighty Big Red Machine down to 35 seats and third-party status in the House of Commons, many Liberals feel the party has to get this leadership race right.
Candidates will be able to sign up paying party members or non-paying supporters up to 41 days before the April 14 vote, and all supporters will have to register with the party before being eligible to cast a ballot.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 5:39 AM - 0 Comments
MONTEBELLO, Que. – The federal Liberals wrap up three days of caucus meetings today by releasing the playbook that will help determine the shape and course of the party’s looming leadership race — the party’s third such race in six years.
MONTEBELLO, Que. – The federal Liberals wrap up three days of caucus meetings today by releasing the playbook that will help determine the shape and course of the party’s looming leadership race — the party’s third such race in six years.
With the once-mighty Big Red Machine down to 35 seats and third-party status in the House of Commons, many Liberals feel the party has to get this one right.
As MP Dominic LeBlanc, a prospective leadership candidate, puts it, the next leader needs to commit 10 to 15 years of his or her life “occupied exclusively” with rebuilding the Liberal party and winning elections.
One leaked draft of the spending limits suggested a $75,000 non-refundable ante to enter the race and a $750,000 spending cap.
A high entry fee would keep out the political gadflys, while the cap would ensure prospective leaders aren’t saddled with debt from losing campaigns.
LeBlanc says the leadership race isn’t the place for politicians to be learning public speaking and he’d endorse a stiff entry fee.
“The Liberal leadership shouldn’t become a kind of practice for the Toastmasters club,” said the New Brunswick MP. “I think if you want to practice speech-making there are other places to do it.
“The deposit should reflect the nature of the office you’re pretending to want to occupy.”
Back in 2006 the Liberals had a refundable entry fee of $50,000 and prospective leaders were allowed to spend up to $3.4 million.
The result was a large field of candidates with little hope of winning, many of whom walked away with huge debts that have been almost impossible to repay. Earlier this summer an Ontario court rejected requests to extend the payback period for three failed candidates from the 2006 Liberal race won by Stephane Dion, putting their leadership debts into a kind of legal limbo.
Elections Canada appears to be wrestling with how to handle the arrears, since tight donation rules enacted by the Conservative government in the middle of the 2006 Liberal leadership campaign mean failed candidates can’t go back to their old supporters for another round of donations.
New Democrats put a spending cap of $500,000 on the lengthy race that crowned leader Tom Mulcair in March.
“I hope that candidates and the party itself will discourage people from assuming big debt loads,” LeBlanc said of the Liberals. “If you can’t run a campaign that’s spending the money that you’re raising, why would you think accumulating a large debt — as some people did in the past — is any easier to pay off after you’ve lost?”
Along with spending rules, party president Mike Crawley is expected to detail the voting system that will be used by the party to tally leadership support, and the exact date next April when the new leader will be announced.
As many as half a dozen of the party’s 35-member parliamentary caucus could join the hunt, depending on the rules announced and who is and isn’t in the race.
All eyes will be on party rock star Justin Trudeau, son of the late prime minister Pierre Trudeau, who is a fundraising magnet and who’s name recognition stretches far beyond party ranks. Fellow Montreal MP Marc Garneau, a former astronaut, is signalling he’ll likely be in the race, while LeBlanc, Dennis Coderre and David McGuinty all appear to be kicking the tires.
Others from outside caucus, including former MPs Martha Hall Findlay, Martin Cauchon and Gerard Kennedy, Ottawa lawyer David Bertschi, Toronto lawyer George Takach, Ontario government economist Jonathan Mousley and David Merner, past-president of the party’s British Columbia wing, are considering taking the plunge.
Constitutional lawyer Deborah Coyne has already announced her candidacy, as has Shane Geschiere, a Manitoba paramedic.
By Paul Wells - Monday, July 9, 2012 at 2:28 PM - 0 Comments
The party has set an insanely lackadaisical schedule for choosing its next leader
And now we bring you exciting news from the Liberal Party of Canada, where—no, wait! Come back!
The latest news from the Liberals is that Deborah Coyne has entered the race to become, more or less, depending on definitions, the party’s sixth national leader in a decade. (I never know how to count Bill Graham.) This is an exciting development if you’re the sort of person who wishes a conversation about politics were about any other conceivable topic, just, please, not politics, because it’s pretty easy to segue from talking about Deborah Coyne to talking about how Pierre Trudeau was the father of her daughter.
Bam! Suddenly the Liberal Party is about 14 times as interesting as it was a few minutes ago. You can measure this. There are instruments to measure such things.
By John Geddes - Monday, June 25, 2012 at 5:30 PM - 0 Comments
The Liberal’s star attraction has the name and the buzz. But who is in his inner circle?
When Justin Trudeau stood in front of a Liberal crowd in a Winnipeg restaurant and bar early this month, it was no surprise that he easily grabbed and held the room’s attention. After all, the approximately 150 party members and potential supporters at the Pony Corral, a dockside establishment on the Red River not far from the University of Manitoba, had turned out expressly to hear the Montreal MP with the famous last name who is arguably the Liberals’ sole star attraction these days. But Neil Johnston, the local party organizer behind the event, said if the way Trudeau went over with the partisan patrons was predictable, the impression he evidently made on servers and cooks was less expected. They stopped working to listen, too. “The kitchen staff, they were probably recent immigrants,” Johnston said, “and they were talking about it afterwards.”
The spread of Trudeau’s celebrity well beyond the desperate, diminished ranks of Liberal stalwarts is what makes him by far the party’s most closely watched personality as it slowly ramps up to choose a new leader. Interim leader Bob Rae’s decision not to try to win the job for real next spring has left the eldest son of the late Pierre Trudeau strikingly isolated as the only putative candidate capable of generating serious buzz. Still, even Liberals galvanized by the scion’s sizzle wonder if there’s enough substance beneath it. And that leaves party insiders unusually curious about exactly which veteran strategists might gather around Trudeau to lend their experience to his excitement—assuming he relents and reverses his stated position that as the 40-year-old father of two young children this is the wrong time for him to attempt the leadership leap.
By Paul Wells - Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 1:09 PM - 0 Comments
A few thoughts on Bob Rae’s decision to forego the Liberal leadership race.
First, that cloud of dust you see is the Conservative Party of Canada tumbling forward to the ground. They’ll get up and regroup of course. They have a lot of money and a five-year winning streak. But they spent millions of dollars in 2012 running Bob Rae down. And now for their efforts they are left with Tom Mulcair’s NDP at a new durable plateau of popularity; serious trouble in a Quebec that will have 78 seats at the next election; and Not Bob Rae. Attack-ad money down the drain.
Second, Rae’s decision probably improves the Liberals’ chance of success. As Jordan Owens wrote here over the weekend, Rae has already shown much of what he can do as Liberal leader. Leading a third party is always hard for anyone, especially when you’re the first Liberal to do it, but Rae has been unable to craft a coherent Liberal message that went beyond middle-roadism. Some of that would have changed if Rae had become for-real full-time leader, but style is style: he has always preferred to improvise. In 2006 he ran for the leadership, in a party to which he had never belonged before, on his record, rather than on a specific program. So the Rae we’ve seen, winging it sometimes quite well but winging it all the same, would have been the one who continued to lead.
Third, the party’s predicament is partly down to poor design. That it still has no clear idea who will lead it, 13 months after its election defeat, is not ideal. It needed to settle its leadership question earlier, and it still needs to settle it soon. The national executive should seek to accelerate the leadership selection process, even if it means forcing perpetual touring-company Hamlets like David McGuinty to finally make a decision.
Who should run? Continue…
By Paul Wells - Friday, May 4, 2012 at 11:08 AM - 0 Comments
If this guy’s name was Joe Smith, the notion that Liberals might turn to him would be a no-brainer
The only time Justin Trudeau had for an interview on a recent Thursday was over breakfast at his Ottawa hotel. Under his suit jacket, the sleeve buttons on his dress shirt were undone. His necktie was knotted, but left loose over an open top button. His mane of black hair was tousled. Even in genteel disarray, even dressed more or less like a couple hundred of his parliamentary colleagues, the 40-year-old Liberal MP for the Montreal riding of Papineau looked like a million bucks.
I showed up late, slumped into a seat, ordered an omelette. I’ve known Trudeau for nine years, never well. Trudeau wondered why I’d convened this little meeting. “Your ﬁrst note to me said you’d need three minutes to chat. Now it’s breakfast and your photo department is calling my ofﬁce looking to take pictures. What’s up?”
There was no point beating around the bush. It’s not as though he hadn’t heard the question before.
By John Geddes - Friday, May 4, 2012 at 10:59 AM - 0 Comments
Only Justin Trudeau, who has seemed to rule out a run, rivals Rae for generating interest
Mike Crawley, the new president of the Liberal Party of Canada, may be a youthful 43, but he boasts a surprisingly long history of stepping up when the party ﬁnds itself in dire circumstances. A few months after then-leader John Turner led the Liberals to a soul-sapping defeat against Brian Mulroney’s ascendant Conservatives in the 1984 election, Crawley opted to join the losing side. Growing up in an Ottawa family that didn’t care much about politics, he was nonetheless a teenaged true believer. “My ﬁrst event was a hoity-toity fundraising reception that I got a free ticket to,” he remembers. “I showed up, didn’t know anybody—a geeky 15-year-old with all these people in nice suits. Even though I was just 15, I thought I could have some inﬂuence, and that attracted me.”
Since Liberals elected him to head their national board of directors at a convention early this year, Crawley has taken on a behind-the-scenes rebuilding challenge even more daunting than what confronted his elders in the party back in the dark days of the mid-1980s. Turner had at least clung to ofﬁcial Opposition status. But in the May 2, 2011, election, Michael Ignatieff led the Liberals to a third-place humbling, as the NDP vaulted over them to become the government-in-waiting. A party laid so low normally looks to a leader for direction. But the Liberals put off picking Ignatieff’s permanent successor until spring 2013. That left Crawley and his board to map out two or three years of painful recuperation. His diagnosis of the Liberal malaise is blunt enough to come from a disdainful Tory or New Democrat. “The root of the party’s problem,” he told Maclean’s, “is that it’s gradually become more and more closed both to new people and new ideas.”
In fact, critics have long slammed the federal Liberals as a closed club. In the past, however, that club always offered the cachet of power, or close proximity to it. Losing three elections in a row under three leaders—Paul Martin, Stéphane Dion and Ignatieff—wiped out any aura of exclusivity. So now the Liberals are trying to reconnect even with sympathetic Canadians too wary to sign a membership card. As of this week, the party began inviting mere “supporters” to register, just by entering their names and email addresses on the Liberal website. No initiation fee is charged.
By Paul Wells - Friday, April 13, 2012 at 11:14 PM - 0 Comments
“You trying to get me to spend money?” a senior official in the Liberal party said to me this afternoon.
“Your tweet. Cheeky.”
The fog cleared a bit. Ah. I had indeed written something on Twitter about how, weeks after the Conservatives had started running ads attacking Bob Rae’s record as Ontario premier, the NDP had managed to produce ads promoting their own leader, while the Liberals still hadn’t made a move.
So is that going to change?
“Ain’t gonna happen,” Senior Official in the Liberal Party said. Continue…
By Colby Cosh - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 5:06 AM - 0 Comments
If you enjoy seeing somebody injure themselves trying to occupy two positions at once, have a look at Josée Legault. The Montreal Gazette columnist and former PQ strategist was largely responsible for viralizing Justin Trudeau’s weekend remarks on separatism; transcribing his remarks on her blog, she accurately noted how unthinkable Trudeau’s position would have been to his late father, and how surprising they were coming from any Liberal. Yet when the story blew up in English Canada a couple days later, Legault took umbrage. Those hysterical Anglos had distorted the story. Continue…
By Peter C. Newman - Monday, January 23, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Peter C. Newman on how the convention revealed a party still searching for a way back from the brink
It was like spending a frigid weekend huddled around the world’s biggest samovar, with 3,200-plus joyful Liberals, not one of them fitting my expectation that they had shifted categories from walking wounded to being the walking dead. Their joy is that, whatever else they might do in a future that remains a distant and ill-defined option, at least they can pretend that dreams still count. That even if the Earth moved last May 2, and left the one-time power barons barren of power, they exist, awaiting heaven’s command.
Assembled, they project the distinct impression that while they are in third—which is like having a one-way ticket to purgatory—they should still be heard. No longer members of Canada’s natural governing party, they are losers searching for a mission. Slip-sliding away, like drunks convinced they are holding up the lampposts. The Grits have yet to earn another chance to head an effective opposition. Beyond that, they can’t count on Bob Rae being the dream candidate who could lead them back to the Treasury benches. He has enough political baggage to fill an airport carousel. For some inexplicable reason, he reminds me of Sir John A. Macdonald’s line, “I do not say that all Grits are horse thieves. But I feel quite sure that all horse thieves are Grits.”
Before they’re taken seriously again, the Grits must correct a potentially fatal absence. The Ottawa delegates scored high on youth (a third were under 25) and gender (half were women) but dismally failed the skin-colour test. Swaths of white stands out in our multi-hued society. Also, the delegates’ decision to legalize marijuana hands Stephen Harper the most effective of cheap shots: I can visualize future Tory ads entirely devoted to attacking the “Marijuana Party.” The up-and-coming generation may swallow that Kool-Aid but parents and grandparents vote, too.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 11:41 AM - 0 Comments
Grits fear Mulcair may dampen their momentum
The election of Thomas Mulcair as leader of the NDP in March could dash Liberal hopes of reconstruction, according to Liberal militants anonymously quoted by Montreal’s daily La Presse on Tuesday. The comments echo the words of Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae, who had already said in November that the outcome of the NDP leadership race would have serious consequences on the other parties. Mulcair, the MP for Outrement, Que., is perceived in the NDP as the natural Quebec candidate, where the party pulled off its victorious Orange Crush in the last federal election. The Liberals fear he would know best how the NDP might keep the 59 seats it gained in La Belle Province, writes La Presse.
By Adam Goldenberg - Sunday, January 15, 2012 at 12:27 PM - 0 Comments
Each morning, the Liberal party’s press office issues a notice to journalists, describing the day’s events. Today’s closing act, it says, is a “Speech by Liberal Leader Bob Rae.”
Among his audience, there are those who think that his job title is missing a word. You won’t find it on the Liberal website, either. “Interim” has been trimmed. But despite his best efforts, when Rae speaks today, those three little syllables will be on every delegate’s mind.
By refusing to confirm or deny his own ambitions, the interim leader has put himself—and his party—in an unenviable position. If he pulls his punches this morning, he’ll disappoint delegates who flew across the country for a partisan pep rally. But if he hits it out of the park, he’ll face renewed calls for clarity about his own intentions: why would he be doing such a good job as interim leader if he didn’t want to keep the job? It’s a ludicrous question, of course, but it’s Rae’s dilemma, distilled: as far as many Liberals are concerned, he’s stuck between a big black block and a leadership race. Continue…