By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 0 Comments
Liberal MP Denis Coderre announces he’s seeking to be the next mayor of Montreal and with that the race for Bourassa can be begin. And with that might come the first real test of Justin Trudeau’s leadership.
After losing in his first run for the riding in 1993, Mr. Coderre won it six times between 1997 and 2011, but the 40.9% of the vote he received in 2011 was the lowest share a Liberal has ever received in Bourassa.
The New Democrats came within 3,300 votes in that election, but that was with the NDP receiving 43% of the vote in the province and the Liberals taking 14%. The latest monthly polling average put the Liberals at 36% and the New Democrats at 26%, but then there seems to be some belief among New Democrats that Liberal support in Bourassa is tied to Mr. Coderre.
It was, of course, the NDP’s win in a previously safe Liberal riding in Montreal—Outremont in 2007—that gave the NDP a presence in Quebec and rattled the leadership of Stephane Dion. (Fun fact: Before the Liberals nominated Jocelyn Coulon, it was thought that Justin Trudeau might be the Liberal candidate in Outremont.)
Meanwhile, Bloc leader Daniel Paille, still without a seat in the House, has said he won’t run in Bourassa.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 5:45 PM - 0 Comments
It is important to keep this much in mind: This might be as good as it ever gets for Justin Trudeau.
He is, in the estimation of one poll released last week, in position to become the 23rd prime minister of this country. In the three weeks he has been leader of the Liberals, the party has raised more than a million dollars, the sort of pace that would finally challenge the significant financial advantage the Conservatives have enjoyed in recent years. Another poll suggests the attack ads that the Conservatives have used their riches to deploy are failing to deeply undermine Mr. Trudeau’s standing with the public.
All of which is all well and good, but not much, if anything, more than might have been said of Stephane Dion or Michael Ignatieff or Thomas Mulcair or even Nycole Turmel (thirteen months ago, with the interim NDP leader in place, the New Democrats were tied atop the theoretical standings). It did not end well for Mr. Dion, nor Mr. Ignatieff. It has not gone obviously well for Mr. Mulcair. (And the New Democrats had the temerity to dump Ms. Turmel a mere two days after she pulled them even with the Conservatives.) And so it must be understood that this might be the high point for Mr. Trudeau.
Where Mr. Trudeau is now along the arc of his story we can’t know now.
Where he is this evening, in the literal sense, is the Ottawa Valley, where the bugs are big enough to make a sound when they hit your windshield. Past Calabogie and Arnprior, but before Cobden, to Renfrew (pop. 8,218), an hour northwest of Parliament Hill. Past the water tower and the fast food franchises and through downtown to the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 148, with a french fry stand in the parking lot.
Inside the legion hall, blue plastic chairs are lined up before the stage. On the stage, father and son fiddlers warm up the crowd. Atop the stage is a picture of the Queen. Red and white Liberal signs are taped on the wood-panelled walls. Trays of triangle sandwiches (turkey, salmon, ham, egg and beef) sit on tables in the corner beside trays of vegetables and trays of cookies, cartons of juice (lemon ice tea, raspberry lemonade and lemonade) and urns of coffee and tea and the sort of small styrofoam cups that you might have thought were illegal to use by now. There is, of course, a lot of white hair here, but also parents with children and several men and women who are old enough to vote, but not old enough to have mortgages and young men with clipboards. Everyone is made to wear a name tag and the young men with clipboards will get the names and email addresses of 250 people this evening.
A Liberal last won this riding in 1997—there’s a small picture in the far left corner of the room here of Hec Cloutier posing with a veteran of D-Day—and with that Liberal running as an independent against the Conservative incumbent in the last election, the Liberals received just 6,545 votes here.
He arrives a little after 6:30pm and proceeds with the shaking of hands. He is wearing a white button-up shirt, open at the collar, slightly weathered jeans, a brown belt and brown sneakers. When he is invited to the stage he receives a standing ovation.
“What a pleasure it is for me to be back in the valley,” he says. “Here in Renfrew the welcome is always as warm as the sunshine and today it’s really warm indeed.”
Now a joke.
“What a great time of year it is. It’s spring and, like clockwork, the birds are singing, the buds are coming out on the trees, attack ads are appearing on TV,” he quips. “It’s the rite of spring here in Canada.”
The crowd laughs.
And now both a flattering assessment of the country and a segue to the problem Mr. Trudeau claims to aim to address.
“It’s been a wonderful past six months, through this leadership campaign,” he says, perhaps still getting used to the fact that that campaign is over, “I’ve managed to travel to all sorts of different corners across the country and everywhere, whether they’re Conservative areas or less-Conservative areas or Liberal areas or anywhere across the country, everywhere I meet Canadians who aren’t defined by the brand of politics that they follow or the colour or the approach, but are defined by a sense of optimism about our future. We are a people who are confident, forward-looking, engaged and ready, always, to roll up our sleeves and build a better country.”
Hurray for us.
“And that’s what we’ve lost a little bit of in the past days and past years in politics,” Mr. Trudeau says. “And that’s what I know Canadians are hungry to get back.”
The crowd applauds.
He talks here about the “politics of negativity, of division, of fear.” He says it will get you elected, but it leaves you unable to govern.
And then there is an explanation of the country that might best be reported at length.
“And let’s face it, Canada is an extraordinary, unlikely, country. We are defined by the fact that our ancestors, or ourselves, came to this country, from distant lands, trying to build a better future for ourselves and for our children and our descendants, and when we got to this land, whether it was 400 years ago or 40 days ago, we deal with the same thing. A country that’s too big, too empty and, notwithstanding beautiful days like this, too dang cold too many months of the year.”
Someone in the crowd suggests long johns, but Mr. Trudeau doesn’t pause to engage the joke.
“So what we do and what we’ve done throughout history is learn to lean on each other. You learn to succeed in Canada, it takes a lot of hard work, but no matter how hard you work, no matter how smart and capable you are, you need to know that you can rely on your neighbours in times of trouble,” he says. “And that’s universal. Here in this country, we’ve learnt how to lean on each other. How to build success as communities and as a country out of what was an inhospitable land. And those two facets of working hard and strong communities is what has shaped us into the modern country we are. We’re that one place in the world that has figured out how to be strong not in spite of our differences but because of them. Regardless of your background, regardless of where you settled geographically, or your religion or your language, Canadians are defined not by singular histories or culture, but by a shared set of values. Values of openness, respect, hard work, compassion, a willingness to be there for each other, a willingness to roll up your sleeves and drive to succeed, a desire for equality, for justice. These are the things that define us. And we had to learn how to define ourselves by these shared values because, on the surface, we are so different. And that’s what has made Canada just such an extraordinary success through the 20th century.”
There is something here. There is a hint of what could be a serious discussion about government and democracy and what we want and what we should hope for and how we should go about doing it.
He talks about inequality and resource and environmental concerns and fear and insecurity. He wonders aloud, rhetorically, why the politics of division is so effective. He mocks the government’s assurances (“We’re doing better than Spain,” he fake boasts). He says something has changed. And then he’s explaining the country again.
“The story of this country—that story of hard work and pulling together—built the premise, the basic promise of this country. That wherever you are from, whatever language you spoke, you could come to this country, work hard and you’d be able to create greater opportunities and a better life for your children here than you ever could have anywhere at home. And every successive generation has built on that, so that every coming year, every next generation, could expect better than the last. And that’s something deeply comforting in the very idea of progress that this country is built on. That you build for the future. That your hard work will provide for your shoulders for your kids and grandkids to stand on,” he says. “But now… for the first time perhaps… in the story of this country… people are worried that the next generation will not have the same or better quality of life than this. That our kids might not have greater opportunities than we did. And that’s incredibly destabilizing.”
The country is doing well, but as individuals we are feeling the strain, he says. He has a statistic on median family income. He takes note of where he is and there’s a tangent about our history of military sacrifice and then it’s back to what division has wrought: a sort of hiding and settling.
“That’s. Not. Good. Enough,” he says.
To listen for the first time is to wonder where he’s going with all this and whether he’s really ready to engage in a philosophical debate about achieving the collective good. His speaking style is not too overwrought. His left hand is halfway into his pocket and he gestures with his right. He is smooth and loud and generally without affectation.
“What I see right across the country is, more now than ever before,” he explains, “Canadians don’t believe that politics is a useful tool to achieving those big, collective dreams for ourselves.”
There is still, he adds, a “a very strong sense of citizenship in Canada.” And then he elaborates and expands and then there’s a bit about our willingness to take a position on big issues like climate change and peace in the Middle East. And then he’s back to our ability to believe in politics.
“But politics? Politics has ceased to be a meaningful way for ordinary citizens to help shape their community and their world, particularly the politics that happens down the road from you in the House of Commons. And that’s what we have to turn around.”
Fair enough. But how? With speeches like this? With someone like Mr. Trudeau? With a new app? With open nominations at the riding level and more freedom for MPs, sure, maybe. But what else?
There are the bones of something here. Or, rather, there are the guts of something. At some point it needs the structure and ability of muscle and bone.
“What I’ve seen over the past six months and what I’ve continued to see as I get out across the country is people who want to believe that politics can matter once again,” he says. “Can be a place where we talk about big words like vision and a long-term plan and robust, meaningful solutions that’ll have an impact on the next generation. But we’ve grown cynical. And we’re not sure that’s possible anymore. And collectively, as Canadians, we’ve begun to despair.”
There is an argument here. Or at least an argument to be made. There is something deeply important here. Or there could be. About how Stephen Harper has governed and how Mr. Trudeau wishes to govern and how we want to govern ourselves. About what politics is and should be. About how we imagine ourselves as a collection of 35 million people.
It is an argument that Stephen Harper has been quietly engaging for seven years. It is an argument that Thomas Mulcair quietly confronted last month (“We don’t have to accept less. We can strive for more.”) And it is an argument Mr. Trudeau now seems to be building towards here in Renfrew in the company of a couple hundred people and several varieties of sandwich.
“And that’s why over the past six months of this leadership and into my three weeks as the leader of the Liberal party of Canada now…”
The crowd applauds.
“I have seen people responding, incredibly positively, to the idea, not that we’re going to bring in all the answers, but that the Liberal party of Canada is once again going to ask Canadians to help us build those solutions.”
He mocks the Liberal tendencies toward self-satisfaction and arrogance and he talks about rebuilding the party and this idea of doing that in collaboration with Canadians.
“That sense of trust we have to rebuild doesn’t come from convincing Canadians to once again trust politicians,” he says, “but from convincing Canadians that there are politicians who trust them.”
The crowd applauds, but it’s not clear what this means. And it can’t be known what this will amount to as it pertains to what Mr. Trudeau and the Liberals will offer the country in 2015.
What he has to offer now is the idea of him and a sense of what he might do. He has the broad strokes of what might be an interesting stump speech and a raw ability to deliver it. He has some favourable polling results and the party has a million dollars and the young men with clipboards have another 250 names and email addresses. There are so many more days between now and when it might all amount to something. And so much depends on Mr. Trudeau and his advisors and, of course, fate. Potential is a wonderful thing. But it is theoretical.
At about 7 o’clock, his advisor gives him the sign to wrap it up and Mr. Trudeau finishes on a rousing note. A woman comes on stage to thank him and present him with a bottle of maple syrup. And then Mr. Trudeau walks off the stage and down to the floor of the legion hall, where a line forms around the room of those who want to shake his hand or get his autograph or have their picture taken with him or some combination thereof. He pulls people in close for photos and flashes a toothy grin. Young women and old women giggle in his presence. It takes him more than a hour to get through the line.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 6, 2013 at 10:53 AM - 0 Comments
Mr. Trudeau announces that, since he became leader, the party has taken in more than $1 million in fundraising.
Now all the Liberals need to do is maintain that pace for the next two years.
In 2012, the Conservatives raised $17.2 million. In 2011, they raised $22.7 million. In 2010, they raised $17.4 million.
Raising a million every three weeks would give the Liberals $17.3 million over the course of a year.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, April 26, 2013 at 9:05 AM - 0 Comments
Teachers are apparently unimpressed with the Conservative attack ads.
The head of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation says members have been contacting him since the Conservatives began running TV ads that refer to his past as a drama teacher as a sign of his inexperience and unsuitability to lead the country.
“People are very insulted that their profession was targeted in that way,” said Paul Taillefer, president of the federation, a national organization representing about 200,000 teachers. (Taillefer is also a former Liberal candidate who ran unsuccessfully in the 2008 federal election.) “To say that it is not a worthwhile profession and the skills you garner in a teaching career don’t really count for anything, well, people are pretty upset about that.”
Other observers wonder if the ads are an attempt to question Mr. Trudeau’s masculinity.
“I think there is a subtle attempt not necessarily to question Justin Trudeau’s masculinity but to at least make him appear less masculine,” said David Coletto, a Canadian market researcher and CEO of Abacus Data.
Coletto says recent polling shows Trudeau does just as well with men as with women, something that would worry the Conservatives. “I think (the ads) are meant to weaken his standing particularly among middle-aged men, who are really the core of the Conservative government’s coalition, so they’re trying to shore that up … the idea that this guy’s not a man’s man, and maybe therefore not worthy of our vote,” said Coletto.
In a note to supporters this morning, Trudeau campaign co-chair Katie Telford claims the Liberals have raised $500,000 in the past week, more than half of those donating making their first political donation and one in five having not registered or voted in the leadership campaign. The Trudeau response ads have apparently begun airing. There also appears to be a second cut of the French ad that differs slightly in the images used from the one released earlier this week.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 3:06 PM - 0 Comments
Yesterday afternoon, Liberal Senator Celine Hervieux-Payette apparently sent out a tweet suggesting that an alignment with U.S. policy would somehow draw the interest of terrorists.
On that basis, the Conservative party is now appealing for funds to help spread the word of Justin Trudeau’s unfitness for office.
Yesterday, the RCMP announced they had foiled a potential terrorist attack here in Canada – and Justin Trudeau’s Liberal team thought it was a good idea to use the moment to score cheap political points against our Conservative government.
Here’s what Trudeau’s senior Quebec advisor, Senator Hervieux-Payette, had to say on Twitter: “Harper wants to align Canada with the US, wants the same republican policies: he will get also the same terrorists.”
I guess now we know what Trudeau meant when, instead of condemning the Boston bombers and calling for their swift punishment, he opined that we needed to look for “root causes” because terrorists are probably feeling “excluded.” Trudeau’s Liberals think Conservative policies are the real “root cause” of terrorism.
The media are deliberately ignoring this story to protect Justin Trudeau. We tried to get reporters interested, but the media would rather report on an NDP news release about Earth Day.
That’s why we need your help. We need to make sure every Canadian knows that Justin Trudeau lacks the judgement and experience to be Prime Minister.
He’s the most inexperienced leader of the Liberal Party in history – and it shows. Help us send a message to Justin Trudeau that his comments on terrorism are unacceptable.
National Campaign Manager, 2011
I’m not sure what evidence there is that the senator is Mr. Trudeau’s “senior Quebec advisor.” (I’ve asked Mr. Trudeau’s office for clarification.) She endorsed Joyce Murray in the Liberal leadership race.
Update 6:02pm. Liberal House leader Dominic LeBlanc was asked about this after QP today.
I actually don’t follow madame Hervieux-Payette’s comments on Twitter. My understanding is that a staff person has apologized for in fact having used her account to put on Twitter views that certainly are reflected by myself, by the Liberal caucus or by the Liberal leader. What’s interesting for us is that Mr. Harper probably holds the speed record in trying to exploit a tragedy like the Boston bombings for political advantage and this week he gets another prize for the record in terms of speed of trying to exploit for financial gain for his Conservative Party these tragic events. There’s no depth to which he won’t sink to try and collect money for the Conservative Party, sending a fund-raising letter with a series of falsehoods, that’s only one of them, there are others, but we’re not – we’re not particularly surprised or worried about that.
I’m told Senator Hervieux-Payette was not Mr. Trudeau’s senior Quebec advisor.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 11:18 AM - 0 Comments
I’m told the Speaker hopes to deliver a ruling on Mark Warawa’s question of privilege after Question Period this afternoon.
Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber wondered yesterday about how statements would be distributed among parties were the Liberal motion to pass. The Liberals tell me that statements would be allocated proportionally—the current system seems to basically follow this rule. I emailed Mr. Rathgeber to ask about the Liberal motion and in the course of that conversation he suggested that party affiliation should be ignored entirely and statements should be allotted randomly, similar to how the order for private members’ bills is established.
It should be random ( by lottery) the way PMB Precedence is established … The point is slots are given to Members; not parties. This is an important distinction and important in re-establishing the significance of the Member. Matters of Private Members should be managed outside the caucus apparatus, as is done with PMB and Motion Precedence.
Speaking with reporters after QP yesterday, Thomas Mulcair said the New Democrats would support the Liberal motion, but also suggested it might not amount to much of a change.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 12:52 PM - 0 Comments
Justin Trudeau says thanks to Liberals for their support, and the $336,000 they’ve apparently donated to the cause in response to the Conservative attack ads.
Meanwhile, here is a note that just went out from the Conservative party.
On Monday, we launched three new ads informing Canadians that Justin Trudeau is in way over his head.
Unsurprisingly, some members of the media are criticizing our new TV ads. They are circling the wagons.
But here’s the truth — these ads have spread farther and faster than any ads we’ve ever done. We are communicating directly with Canadians rather than passing through the media’s “filter”.
In two days, our ads were viewed more than 270,000 times on YouTube — more views than we have ever received on any video before — including during an election cycle.
We received so much traffic to our website that it temporarily crashed — something that’s never happened before.
Despite what the media wants you to think, the response to our new ad campaign has been overwhelming.
I’d like to thank you for helping make this happen, but our work is far from over
Please visit http://JustinOverHisHead.ca today and hit the share button on these ads and to help us keep the momentum going.
National Campaign Manager, 2011
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 7:35 PM - 0 Comments
The prepared text of Justin Trudeau’s speech upon being elected leader of the Liberal party.
Thank you, my friends, thank you
Normally I’d start by thanking family and friends for putting up with my absences and allowing me to go off and campaign, but that’s not exactly right. My decision to seek the leadership was never in spite of my responsibility to my family, but because of it. And therefore family and friends were always at the very heart of this campaign. We did this together.
Thank you Sophie.
Thank you Xavier et Ella-Grace.
To my fellow candidates, Joyce, Martha, Karen, Deborah, Martin, David, George and Marc, and to the thousands of Canadians who worked on your campaigns, I want to say: we are not adversaries but allies. Your courage, intelligence and commitment will continue to bring honour to the Liberal Party of Canada.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 6:40 PM - 0 Comments
The statement released by the Conservative party in response to Justin Trudeau’s election as Liberal leader.
“We congratulate Justin Trudeau on becoming Liberal leader.
Stephen Harper has an Economic Action Plan that has created 900,000 new jobs since the recession, the best job creation record in the G-7. He’s lowered taxes, such as the GST, and increased support for families with measures like the Universal Child Care Benefit.
Justin Trudeau may have a famous last name, but in a time of global economic uncertainty, he doesn’t have the judgement or experience to be Prime Minister.”
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 5:19 PM - 0 Comments
But it hardly matters whether the dance was a candid moment or not. Certainly, as many (including the Globe’s Jeffrey Simpson) have noted, Trudeau understands that politics is very much about the art of performance.
His critics, of course, might offer the photo-op as further evidence that Trudeau is strong on style and light on substance. But at this point in the race, the dance music is drowning them out.
The fact that the NDP Leader decided to go through an electoral campaign while recuperating from cancer and a broken hip brought him a lot of sympathy. His strong performances at the televised debate in French and during a popular talk show on Radio-Canada showed him as someone committed to social justice, close to ordinary people and equipped with a good sense of humour.
Suddenly, Quebeckers began referring to the NDP Leader as “Jack.” In Quebec, people calling a politician by his first name means that he has struck an emotional chord. These days, Quebeckers don’t say they’ll vote for the NDP or for candidate so and so. With an air of defiance and fun, they announce they’ll vote for “Jack.”
Defiance and fun. Fun. If there is anything Mr. Trudeau might be able to project more easily than Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair it might be that.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 8, 2013 at 11:33 AM - 0 Comments
Here is Mr. Trudeau’s full interview with Tom Clark, including the hotly contested moment in which he might have said decibels when he should have said decimals, which seems to have been deemed a matter of profound import on Twitter yesterday.
At just after 5pm on Saturday, the following email went out to supporters of the Trudeau campaign.
Over the past number of months we have offered Canadians proof that politics can be done differently — that it can be positive, trustworthy, and inclusive.
We owe this success to you and your willingness to be a part of this change. Your hard work, your support, your generous donations — but most importantly, your willingness to share our message of hope with others.
Now, we need to make sure that message isn’t drowned out by negative advertising and cynical attacks — and that’s going to take more money than we have right now.
I need you to make a donation today, no matter what size. We need to be ready, and we need to demonstrate our resolve.
After what I saw in Toronto today, I know we can make this happen. Our strength and success over the next week — and over the coming months — depends on you:
Thanks for being a part of this.
That followed a similar plea that went out last Wednesday, following a report that the Conservatives were prepared to attack.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 8, 2013 at 10:47 AM - 0 Comments
A week from now, barring something quite shocking, Justin Trudeau will stand in the House of Commons as the 13th leader of the Liberal party and ask the Prime Minister the sixth and seventh questions of the afternoon.
On that note, here again is the op-ed Stephen Harper wrote about Pierre Trudeau in October 2000, as published by the National Post a week after the elder Trudeau’s death.
(Also: Please note the prediction I made in the preamble.)
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 6:34 PM - 0 Comments
Four years ago, Justin Trudeau penned a few hundred words on the inaugural address of the new American president.
“He invoked George Washington and the revolution that created the United States. He returned to a moment stripped of all but ‘hope and virtue.’ That was the beginning of America, and it is to those fundamentals that he reached,” Mr. Trudeau wrote of Mr. Obama. “But what kind of tools are hope and virtue alone? Surely we need stimulus for the economy, regulation for the banks, protection for the environment, jobs for the jobless, subsidies here, investment there … Surely hope and virtue are just rhetorical flourishes, not the tools he plans to use to set the world on a new course? Surely we need action, not just pretty words? But President Obama told us that those will indeed be how he brings change to America. For actions, behaviours and habits will never change unless mindsets, assumptions and expectations are first shifted.”
How to do that?
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 10:48 AM - 0 Comments
First choice on my ballot will be Joyce Murray, MP for Vancouver Quadra. A party leadership race is a critical moment that determines the direction that a party takes for many years. A vote for Joyce calls on the Liberal Party to put sustainability — an honest accounting of the fiscal, environmental, and social assets and liabilities we pass on to our children — at the forefront of our party’s identity. A vote for Joyce also expresses support for cooperation between the progressive political parties in the 2015 election as a strategy to avert another Conservative victory. As 2015 rolls around, I think that exploring possibilities for cooperation will be very important for the good of the country, and completely compatible with first building up the Liberal Party’s own organization and identity.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 11:47 AM - 0 Comments
Martin Patriquin takes a good look at Justin Trudeau’s appeal and success in Quebec.
The likely Liberal leader’s standing in the province might be tested very quickly. Denis Coderre, the MP for Bourassa, is thought to be preparing to run for mayor of Montreal. Last fall, he said he would remain an MP until at least the next Liberal leader is chosen in April. If Mr. Coderre steps down, the Liberals have a seat to defend and it’s not obviously a safe one for them. In 2011, the New Democrats got within 3,280 votes of Mr. Coderre and he finished with his lowest vote total in his seven elections there.
So Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals will have to hope to hold it and the Thomas Mulcair’s New Democrats will, with some justification, be hoping to pick it up—with visions of Outremont possibly dancing in each side’s respective heads—and the final result will no doubt be interpreted as having some greater meaning for both sides.
(And then, as well, partisans and pundits might bother Daniel Paille, the seatless leader of the Bloc, with questions about whether he’ll run in Bourassa.)
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 11:06 AM - 0 Comments
Jonathan Kay suggests Marc Garneau’s defeat is a defeat for idealistic pundits (and possibly a mark of shame on the entire nation).
Pity Marc Garneau. We said we wanted a serious intellectual promoting serious policy ideas. He was brilliant enough to fit the role perfectly. And naïve enough to think we actually meant it.
Alice Funke, meanwhile, suggests Mr. Garneau never fulfilled the promise of substantiveness that he made.
Kay could have probably written the same thing about Michael Ignatieff in May 2011 or Stephane Dion in October 2008. But then he wouldn’t have been able to say that voters chose instead to fall in love with a sexy, charismatic pop idol. (In fact, in three consecutive elections, a plurality of voters has chosen a party led by a relatively unexciting policy wonk who likes to remind people that he studied economics.)
By Paul Wells - Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 12:37 PM - 0 Comments
I know one former senior advisor to Stephen Harper who responds to the mention of Justin Trudeau the way one would expect somebody with that pedigree to respond: with condescending contempt. But I know other Conservatives, some still in the Prime Minister’s employ, who see the way crowds react, still today, to the Montreal MP, and shrug. Maybe we can’t do anything against this guy, they say. Maybe things are what they are and we’re just going to have to watch it happen.
Marc Garneau dropped out of the Liberal leadership contest because he is not a fool. The poll numbers he released, if anywhere near accurate, would have led to futile humiliation. He would have lost badly and then been asked to rally to the new leader. He is an engineer, so he found a more elegant solution. He is rallying now to avoid losing later. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 12:31 PM - 0 Comments
Officially, there is still a month left in the Liberal leadership race. Unofficially, the race was declared finished this morning. For all intents and purposes, maybe it wasn’t ever a race.
Marc Garneau quit this morning, despite, in his estimation, running in second place. According to the poll numbers he read aloud to reporters, Justin Trudeau enjoys the support of 72% of Liberals. Mr. Garneau had the support of 15%. Joyce Murray was next with 7.4%, then Martha Hall Findlay with 5.2%. (The survey apparently didn’t include the other candidates.)
Of course, Mr. Trudeau could still lose. A month is a long time. Something could happen to imperil the Trudeau campaign. But the most realistic alternative is now out of the race and so the odds of Mr. Trudeau losing now become that much longer (so long that you now have to dream up a fairly crazy scenario to imagine anyone else winning).
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 11:16 AM - 0 Comments
Marc Garneau’s statement on his withdrawal from the Liberal leadership race.
But it is my opinion now, based on internal analysis, the Party has chosen. Justin Trudeau is the person Liberals want to see as the new leader of our party and I recognize that and congratulate him. The number of new signups, the external polls and my own internal polling show that I have a solid base of support and that I am the Party’s leading second choice, but ultimately, I am second. Justin is poised for a decisive victory and it is time now for me to down tools.
I congratulate my fellow candidates. They deserve to be recognized for stepping forward in what is a very demanding process. I have made my message clear – the party must be clear on where it stands and where it wants to lead. There is a significant portion of Liberal party members and supporters that supported my message. In speaking with Justin, I know he understands and that message has been received. I look forward to working with him on that.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 11, 2013 at 12:27 PM - 0 Comments
Paul Adams wonders what it would take for the New Democrats and Liberals to consider a merger. Greg Fingas notes a wrinkle in Joyce Murray’s cooperation proposal: Ms. Murray wants to combine the 2008 and 2011 election results for the purposes of figuring out where to cooperate, in part so that an “anomaly” like the NDP’s result in Quebec in 2011 can be accounted for.
Now, one of the main criticisms of strategic voting schemes has been their inevitable reliance on re-fighting the last war – with results ranging from ineffective to downright counterproductive. But Murray apparently isn’t satisfied with even that well-established level of failure. Instead, she’s going a step further into the past, seeking to incorporate yet another layer of past (and outdated) data from the 2008 election in order to try to make her proposal palatable among supporters who apparently want to live in denial that the most recent federal election actually happened.
Moreover, she’s explicitly declaring that a plan nominally aimed at expanding the number of progressive seats in Parliament will operate on the assumption that the largest actual grouping of such seats is an irrelevant “anomaly”. (Not that the NDP’s success in winning Quebec ridings from the Cons and Bloc would be subject to her cooperation plan in the first place – as in another familiar failing of strategic voting schemes, Murray doesn’t seem to recognize that a viable coalition needs to hold and build on the seats it actually holds rather than simply assuming the rest of the election will proceed exactly like the previous one.)
By Paul Wells - Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 12:19 AM - 0 Comments
The Prime Minister’s comments in Question Period today to the effect that two former civil servants are “partisan” when, and to the extent that, they criticize his government, have occasioned a lot of close parsing by Colleague Wherry. And it’s true, I have no idea whether Scott Clark and Peter DeVries support the Liberal party. And there are uncomfortable echos of the whole Linda Keen affair in the notion that, to this PM, critics are by definition Liberal.
But neither did Stephen Harper pull the whole notion out of the air. Look:
OTTAWA—Another high-profile public servant has joined Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff’s inner circle.
Patrick Parisot has quit his post as ambassador to Algeria to become Ignatieff’s principal secretary.
Parisot, a former broadcaster who served as a valued adviser to former prime minister Jean Chrétien, is the fourth person to jump straight from the bureaucracy into Ignatieff’s inner sanctum.
The pattern is troubling to public administration experts who believe the line between professional, neutral public servants and partisan political staffers has become dangerously blurred. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, March 3, 2013 at 10:55 PM - 0 Comments
Justin Trudeau’s closing statement at today’s Liberal leadership debate was a fairly remarkable minute and a half. It probably represents both everything his detractors detest and everything his supporters adore: from the drama of the opening line (“You can feel it”) and the feel-this-word pronunciation to the pretty much perfect final 20 seconds. He baits the audience with a humble brag—and that somebody claps makes it all the better—then pivots to turn into a rallying cry for everyone in the room and all his supporters watching. The crowd, so complimented, loves it and Mr. Trudeau gets to finish over the resulting applause.
Note also how he goes from talking about how well the party is doing to how he is being attacked: it’s a bit of an awkward transition, but it also makes it sound like he’s already the leader.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, March 1, 2013 at 10:50 AM - 0 Comments
The Liberal leadership frontrunner explains his approach to politics.
And Trudeau acknowledges he has made mistakes, but he says that’s the price of being unscripted and genuine — or, in other words, being the breed of politician he believes Canadians are hungry for. “I’ll always choose to be that rather than to be inauthentic … and hyper-controlled and totally scripted the way other people are,” he says. “That’s not me. And I don’t think that’s what Canadians want either.”
Authenticity is a troublesome idea. But the talking point may be the illness that is choking the life out of our democracy. So what if Mr. Trudeau is somewhat right? What if there is a great yearning for free-speaking politicians? What if part of the blame for the decline in voting rests with the increasingly scripted nature of political discourse? Could a politician succeed while being less disciplined? How would that work exactly?