Justin Trudeau

Final Power Rankings

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Fun with Numb3rs | 10 Comments

Trudeau Sophie danse

There isn’t a lot of suspense surrounding Sunday’s Liberal leadership vote. Pick the metric of your choice – fundraising, endorsements, hair volume – and Trudeau leads his nearest challenger by at least a 4:1 ratio. I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in Twitter support, but Justin has 10 times more followers than the rest of the field combined.

The following table provides an overview of what little quantitative data we have on the race and offers a Power Rank, based on how these variables have translated to votes in past contests (methodology here).

Fundraising Endorsement Media Facebook Twitter Power Rank
Justin Trudeau $1,078,866 90% 77% 73,992 199,394 78% (+3)
Joyce Murray $225,310 8% 7% 2,147 5,848 9% (–)
Martha Hall Findlay $192,280 1% 7% 8,563 7,923 6% (-1)
Martin Cauchon $148,739 1% 4% 2,612 1,655 4% (–)
Karen McCrimmon $36,222 0% 3% 387 901 1.7% (–)
Deborah Coyne $31,651 0% 2% 501 2,199 1.5% (-1)

The bracketed number on the final column reflects changes from the last update – you can consider it a “momentum” score of sorts. Although that number shows Trudeau gaining ground, that’s completely a by-product of increased media attention – his share of the fundraising pie has actually dipped from 66% to 63%, with Joyce Murray and Martin Cauchon finishing strong on that front.

As I’ve stressed before, this isn’t a first ballot prediction, though it seems like as good a guess as any. I’d personally bet the “under” on 78% for Trudeau, but I do think he’s heading for a clear majority – and not just a “clear majority” by NDP standards.

In the end, whether Trudeau nabs 78%, or 63%, or the 112% some seem to be expecting, is irrelevant. Paul Martin received 94% of the vote and Michael Ignatieff got every vote, but both inherited deeply divided parties. While I have no doubt there will still be gripping from anonymous Liberals in the years to come, Team Trudeau has smartly run a positive and mostly unantagonistic campaign, that should leave Justin with relatively few enemies within the party.

That Trudeau exits this race untarnished and that the party exits this race united are far more important than whatever number is announced on Sunday.

What percentage of the weighted vote will Justin Trudeau get on the first ballot?

Showcase Showdown

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Federal Politics | 14 Comments

LPC Convention 063

It doesn’t compare to the high stakes floor crossings and backroom deals that define delegated conventions, but yesterday’s Liberal Showcase still offered the speeches, signs, buttons, and hospitality suites politicos have come to expect at these gatherings. Justin Trudeau had cowbells. Martin Cauchon made swag history, handing out Liberal-red socks. Joyce Murray brought in a west coast hippie fusion marimba band.

And just like “real” leadership conventions, the program started with a tribute to the outgoing leader featuring, among other things, the clip of Bob Rae skinny dipping with Rick Mercer. That left the candidates with the unenviable task of trying to make themselves more memorable than Bob Rae’s naked body glistening on a 70-foot High Definition screen. Bonne chance!

First up were Deborah Coyne and Karen McCrimmon – two candidates with little hope of winning, but who impressed for very different reasons.

McCrimmon is very much the anti-politician – she speaks honestly from the heart, in a style I truly hope never gets polished out by political consultants. She displayed her customary bluntness yet again, becoming the first politician to ever get bleeped on CPAC during a convention speech, after punctuating a colourful anecdote with a four letter word. The rest of her speech focused on the big picture, as she passionately urged Liberals to “follow your hearts and ignore the naysayers”.

If McCrimmon personified the Liberal Party’s heart at the Showcase, Coyne was the party’s head. While it may feel good to “ignore the naysayers”, the naysayers make a few valid points – especially those naysayers who no longer vote Liberal. Coyne gave Liberals the hard medicine they needed to hear, arguing “we are the third-place party today because, as we looked for the easy answer, Canadians lost sense of what we, as Liberals, stood for, and of what we bring to the table that is distinct from any other party.”

The other candidates performed largely as expected. Martin Cauchon gave a rousing speech, but he continued to play the golden oldies – same sex marriage, Kyoto, Kelowna, and Iraq. Joyce Murray offered a valiant defense of her co-operation plan, but connected far more with the crowd when talking about her experiences growing up in South Africa under apartheid. And while I question Martha Hall Findlay’s decision to borrow the theme song from “The Biggest Loser”, she looked relaxed and confident on stage, reminding Liberals that Harper wasn’t elected due to his sparkling personality and charisma but because he sticks to his convictions. Hint, hint.

Those were all fine speeches, but let’s be honest – Martin Cauchon could have healed a cripple with his touch on stage and the story of the day would still have been Justin Trudeau. Love him or hate him, his was the speech people came to watch.

With the current campaign all but over, Trudeau used his speech to signal what his next campaign, in 2015, will be about. He promised a message of “hope and hard work”, using optimism as a wedge issue against Harper and Mulcair. It’s a powerful message, because it’s one custom fit for Trudeau. The man oozes youthful optimism with every word he speaks, regardless of how hollow or cliche those words are.

Like hope, “hard work” is a promise Trudeau is especially well suited to deliver. Despite all the “silver spoon” attacks (or perhaps because of them), Trudeau has worked hard every step of his political career. While most in his position would have demanded appointment to a safe seat, Justin fought to win a contested nomination meeting many thought he would lose. He won back a Bloc riding in an election where the Liberal Party stumbled, and held it in an election where the party fell flat on its face. His insurmountable level of support this campaign is due as much to his willingness to attend hundreds of rubber chicken fundraisers coast-to-coast, as it is to his rock star appeal.

Liberals may not yet know where Justin stands on every issue, but they know they will soon have a leader who can credibly deliver a message of hope and a promise of hard work to voters. That’s a lethal combination, and it should give Liberals themselves a ray of hope that better days lay ahead.

Updated Power Rankings Show Trudeau in Control

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Federal Politics, Fun with Numb3rs | 18 Comments
Karen McCrimmon recognizes the state of the race better than most.

Karen McCrimmon recognizes the odds she’s facing

When I released my first set of LPC Power Rankings in early February, I was a bit surprised to see Justin Trudeau up at 66%. These rankings aren’t intended to be a first ballot predictor, but they came pretty close to the mark in the NDP contest and it was still a bit of shock to see Trudeau 54 points above his nearest competitor. But wouldn’t you know it, Marc Garneau’s mystery poll was essentially spot on my numbers. So maybe there’s something to this.

And if there is, we are heading to an absolute rout.

Fundraising Endorsement Media Facebook Twitter Power Rank
Justin Trudeau $1,001,060 94% 60% 71,773 195,672 75% (+9)
Joyce Murray $169,411 5% 13% 1,998 5,615 9% (+4)
Martha Hall Findlay $178,590 1% 10% 8,571 7,819 7% (+1)
Martin Cauchon $103,203 1% 7% 2,565 1,609 4% (+3)
Karen McCrimmon $26,259 0% 6% 375 848 2% (+1)
Deborah Coyne $27,385 0% 5% 479 2,155 2% (+1)

You can see the methodology behind these rankings here. Since the last update, I’ve sweetened the recipe with ever-so-small weights for number of donors and Facebook “talking abouts”, but it doesn’t change the rankings.

The bracketed number on the final column reflects changes from the last update – you can consider it a “momentum” score of sorts, with everyone picking up some of the pieces from the Garneau, Takach, and Bertschi campaigns. Trudeau’s +9 score is nearly as much as the rest of the field combined, and he shows no signs of slowing down the stretch.

Nearly doubling her Power Score since the last update is Joyce Murray, who has raised an additional $100,000, picked up 1200 new Twitter followers and 800 likes, while earning an endorsement by Ted Hsu.

This sets up an interesting battle for second between Murray and Hall Findlay, but it appears to be a battle for a very, very distant second.

A True Debate

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Federal Politics | 13 Comments

trudeau thumbs up
For a while we could pretend the Liberal leadership debates were going to effect the outcome of the race. It was just over a month ago that Martha Hall Findlay jabbed Justin Trudeau about his privileged upbringing, prompting many to wonder if this would be the turning point. A few weeks ago, all eyes were on the Trudeau-Garneau exchange, after the astronaut badgered the frontrunner over his lack of policy and substance.

Yesterday, everyone knew that what happened in Montreal would have little bearing on the outcome of a race which has already been decided. For a press corps who covers politics like sporting events, this was like sitting through the third period of a blowout – the signs of boredom were visible on Twitter, and their questions to the candidates in post debate scrums were essentially variations of “why aren’t you dropping out?“.

In response to said question, Deborah Coyne conceded she couldn’t win, but re-iterated the importance of debating ideas.

Indeed, if you looked beyond the sport and spectacle of it, there was real substance to be gleamed from yesterday’s debate.

In addition to what seem to have become the compulsory debate topics of pot legalization and supply management, there were meaningful exchanges on C-54, CIDA, open nominations, and the retirement age. There weren’t a lot of sound byte zingers, but for a party trying to figure out what it stands for, these were topics that needed to be discussed. Martha Hall Findlay and Deborah Coyne had a great exchange on education, identifying problems, quoting figures, and offering solutions. Later, it would be Findlay and Murray weighing the pros and cons of pipelines. And everyone got to have their say about co-operation with the Greens and NDP. While I’m not a co-operation proponent, it’s a debate the party needs to have, and it’s important for voters to know exactly where the frontrunner stands.

On that question, there was no doubt. Trudeau initiated the debate with Murray, and promptly dismissed co-operation as a “single minded, win-at-all-costs” idea that would remove choices from voters and leave Mulcair as PM. He, quite rightly in my opinion, argued that voters would not respond to a “hodge podge coalition” whose only uniting message was that they weren’t Stephen Harper. In the NDP leadership race, Mulcair’s victory slammed the orange door shut on co-operation, and it is now assured that Trudeau’s will have the exact same effect on the red door.

Another issue the Liberal Party needs to sort out is the “Quebec question”, especially in light of new Quebec Liberal leader Philippe Couillard’s musings this week. And once again, the next Liberal leader left no doubts where he stood. After touching on the topic in a break out debate with Martin Cauchon, Trudeau tossed out his prepared closing statement to revisit the issue. He talked of moving past “old squabbles and quarrels”, arguing we’ve spent too long trying to buy off Quebec rather than asking Quebecers to be at the table building the future of Canada.

Trudeau’s detractors will dismiss this as more “hopey changey” baffle-gab that sounds pretty but means nothing. However, in the process of gabbing, Trudeau said “non” to another round of constitutional talks and re-iterated his support for the Clarity Act. More importantly, he said it in language voters can relate to and feel good about – something Jack Layton was a master of, but Michael Ignatieff could never quite pull off. In two years, Trudeau will need to debate Thomas Mulcair on this very topic, so the practice was helpful.

Indeed, if this leadership race has been nothing more than a training exercise for Justin Trudeau, it’s training that will serve him well very soon.

“Brazeau Vows to Fight Charges”

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Federal Politics | Leave a comment

trudeau brazeau

Sen. Patrick Brazeau tweets vow to fight charges against him

Sen. Patrick Brazeau did not attend a brief hearing Friday over charges of assault and sexual assault against him, and maintained his innocence in a passionate tweet.

The 38-year-old’s lawyers claimed they had not received full disclosure of evidence against their client, forcing the hearing to be pushed to June.

Brazeau has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and on Friday afternoon made his first direct public comment on the allegations, tweeting, “I will fight these charges against me to prove my innocence. I shall return!”

If history is any indication, the smart money is on the charges knocking Brazeau out in the third round. (pause) OK, sometimes they’re just too easy.

But on a semi-serious note, we’re now coming up on the one-year anniversary of the much hyped fight between “Senator Soldier” and “the Shiny Pony”. I remember rolling my eyes at the metaphor overdrive that followed Trudeau’s upset victory – how it was a brilliant political calculation, how this showed his true grit. I know in politics a dropped football can become more than a dropped football, but the whole thing seemed too gimmicky to assign a greater meaning to it.


A year later, it’s impossible to look back and not be somewhat taken aback at just how dramatically the respective career paths of the two combatants have diverged. I didn’t think it was possible for one man to embroil himself in as many controversies in so short a time frame as Brazeau has – there was the sexist slur on Twitter, his abysmal attendance record, the residence audit, the Teresa Spence taunting, and finally domestic violence charges that saw him booted from the Tory Caucus. I know he wasn’t exactly a rising political star before the fight, but to see him pummeled to the mat time and time again over the past year has been shocking.

In the other corner, Justin Trudeau was already a rising star, but in March 2012 no one expected him to run for LPC leader and, if you floated his name as a candidate, many would have dismissed him outright. For all the talk we hear these days of his “inevitability”, you could have found more than a few Liberals willing to place money against Justin a year ago.

In the alternate Fringe universe where Patrick Brazeau knocks out Justin Trudeau, prompting squeals of delight from Ezra Levant, Brazeau probably still disgraces himself and Trudeau probably still becomes the next Liberal leader.

But the entire story certainly makes you wonder about how political metaphors can come alive and take on a life of their own.

Beau Risque

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Quebec Politics | 6 Comments
Couillard will try to make history by becoming Quebec's first bearded Premier in over 100 years.

Couillard will try to make history by becoming Quebec’s first bearded Premier in over 100 years.

The Quebec Liberal leadership race drew few headlines outside the province, but everyone is paying attention to newly elected leader Philippe Couillard now:

Quebec Liberal leader Couillard sets sights on Constitution signing

After a convincing victory on Sunday as new Quebec Liberal party leader, Philippe Couillard has his sights set on becoming premier and steer the province into signing the Canadian Constitution.

By the time Canada celebrates the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, Mr. Couillard believes he can persuade the rest of Canada to embark on a new round of constitutional talks that would accept Quebec’s “distinct” or “specific” character within Canada.

I’m not sure this is the battle cry I’d be sounding if I was just elected opposition leader in a province which is literally falling apart, but Couillard’s words bear attention. After all, there’s a reasonable chance he’ll be sitting in the Premier’s chair come 2015, in which case this will likely be an election issue. If he’s not Premier, then there’s a pretty good chance a referendum will be looming, in which case this will definitely be an election issue.

The real question is whether Couillard can find a federal dance partner for his constitutional tango.

Justin Trudeau has been categorically opposed to re-opening the constitution, getting into a heated argument with Jean Lapierre on this topic in December (It’s amazing how many substantive positions one winds up taking even while being accused of running a “photo op” campaign). Although some Quebec Liberals will be uncomfortable at the prospect of a Couillard-Trudeau sparing match, it’s been a long time since we’ve seen the federal and Quebec Liberal leaders in anything resembling an electoral alliance so this wouldn’t be a new dynamic.

The real question is whether Harper or Mulcair line up with Couillard. An all-beard alliance between former Cabinet colleagues Mulcair and Couillard makes a certain amount of sense. On the 30th anniversary of the Charter last year, Mulcair promised “to work to ensure that one day [the charter] becomes part of a Constitution that includes us all“. The one stumbling block may be Mulcair’s plans to start a provincial NDP in Quebec, but that was always a bit of a hair brained idea, and I’m sure it’s one he would gladly let die if he can count on the PLQ’s machinery next campaign.

Harper has been less eager to re-open the constitution, but if his support sags in Ontario, he will need to win new seats in Quebec to preserve his majority – and he may see this beau risque as a means to that end. Moreover, 2015 could be his last election, and Harper is still a Prime Minister without a legacy. It’s not like they name airports after you for cutting the GST 2 points. It would only be natural for him to want to accomplish what Trudeau and Mulroney could not, knowing he can always exit stage right if he fails. Moreover, a new round of constitutional talks would allow Harper to follow through on his long-stated desire for an elected senate and a more decentralized federation. If he truly wants to reshape the country, what better way to do so than a new constitution?

That said, the man hasn’t exactly been inviting the Premiers over to 24 Sussex for homemade lasagna on a regular basis, so it seems unlikely he’d want to subject himself to weeks or months of debate and negotiation. Harper has always been a cautious politician, and a new round of constitutional talks borders on foolhardy. Although success would become his legacy, so would failure, and that’s the far more probable outcome. Exiting politics as the man who put the country through another round of constitutional strife and re-ignited the separatist movement would likely not help the hockey book sales in retirement.

So when Couillard is looking for dance partners in 2015, he’d be best to extend his hand to Mulcair.


Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Featured Posts | 25 Comments
I look forward to the debates during Prince Charles' coronation.

I look forward to the debates during Prince Charles’ coronation.

The media reaction to Marc Garneau’s exit from the Liberal leadership race has not been kind. The party is “not a happy place“, the race is a “fiasco“, this is the “worst-case scenario“, is the Liberal Party serious?”. I haven’t checked out SunNews’ take, but I’d imagine they aren’t overly ebullient either.

None of this should be surprising. The media treats politics like a sporting event, and it’s hard to write a compelling story about the Dream Team rolling over Kazakhstan by 40 points. This has led to the return of the dreaded “c” word – coronation (I’ve even been guilty of using it in a few posts). With a Trudeau victory now innevitable, the term is being flung around derisively, with many drawing parallels to Ignatieff’s ascension in 2009.

However, that’s a completely unfair characterization of the race, and comparisons to the Ignatieff coronation are laughable. Just a month into that contest, the National Executive named Ignatieff leader, denying party members a say in the process and effectively forcing Leblanc and Rae to drop out. There were no debates and the final ballot had just a single name on it.

This time, we’ve been treated to one of the most open leadership races in the history of Canadian politics. There were few restrictions to enter, and 9 candidates declared, giving Liberals uneasy about the frontrunner plenty of choices. Unlike past leaderships which have been decided by a select group of delegates and party elites at convention, this contest has been open to any Canadian who supports the Liberal Party. No backroom deals to deliver delegates, no rules restricting membership forms. Hell, you don’t even have to pay $10 to participate.

Anyone who wanted to run could run, anyone who wanted to vote could vote, and Liberals got a chance to see the candidates in a range of settings. Voters have had 6 months to scrutinize Justin, and they’ve reached their verdict. Even if the convention becomes a mere formality, much like those that follow US primaries, that doesn’t mean other candidates weren’t given a chance.

Now, it’s perfectly fair to say the Liberal Party is making the wrong choice. That they’ve been swept up in nostalgia and blinded by wavy hair. I can understand how many are frustrated at the lack of concrete policies coming from the frontrunner.

But when you run a fair and open leadership race with 9 candidates and one guy wins overwhelmingly, it’s not a coronation. It’s an election where the vast majority of voters came to the same conclusion.

Lost in Space

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Federal Politics | 9 Comments

garneau trudeau

Marc Garneau’s withdrawal from the Liberal Leadership Race will certainly be overshadowed by the other leadership race which wrapped up today. But that’s kind of appropriate, since that’s been the story of his candidacy – despite being a genuine canadian hero, he has constantly found himself overshadowed.

During the height of Liberal dominance, the Natural Governing Party would have surely turned towards Marc Garneau. They had a habit of picking distinguished and respected men, choosing Louis St. Laurent in 1948 and Lester B. Pearson a decade later. Neither excited the masses, but they had the CV for the job and could be counted on for competent and steady leadership.

But politics has changed over the past 60 years, and the Liberal Party has changed over the last 6. This leadership race isn’t about electing the Prime Minister, or even the leader of the Opposition – it’s about finding someone who can lead the Liberals back to relevance. When party members want someone who can excite the masses and change the story, suddenly being the “safe choice” is more of a liability than an asset.

From the start, this race was never going to be about Marc Garneau. Even though Garneau has schools named after him, he was always the Liberal Party’s “safety school”, who the party would only turn to if their Plan A imploded. Given that Garneau’s own polling had him more than 50 points behind Trudeau, it’s clear that hasn’t happened.

If there were any doubts before today that Justin Trudeau was going to be the next Liberal leader, Garneau’s announcement makes it all but official. Ironically enough, Garneau just didn’t have the star power to compete.


Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, 2013 OLP Leadership Race, LPC Leadership 2006, NDP Leadership 2012 | 20 Comments

The Liberal leadership race is the first real test of the supporter system, and with the cut-off to sign up and vote now passed, we have our first indication of how successful the experiment has been:


That’s over twice as many members as the NDP recruited last spring, and over 100,000 more than the highly competitive 2006 Liberal Leadership Race. It’s hard to say if this boom is due to the supporter system or Trudeaumania II, but as the following table shows, by any metric you use it’s one of the most successful leadership drives in recent memory:

Race Format Candidates Eligible Per Vote Per Pop
2013 LPC WOMOV Supporters 8 294,002 10.6% 0.9%
2013 OLP Delegated Convention 7 45,000 2.8% 0.4%
2012 NDP OMOV 7 128,351 2.9% 0.4%
2011 BQ OMOV 3 36,341 4.1% 0.5%
2011 BC Libs WOMOV 4 92,000 12.2% 2.1%
2011 AB Libs WOMOV Supporters 5 27,567 21.6% 0.8%
2009 ON PC WOMOV 4 42,000 2.9% 0.3%
2009 ON NDP OMOV 4 23,908 2.8% 0.2%
2006 LPC Delegates Convention 8 185,000 2.6% 0.6%
2004 Conservative WOMOV 3 251,000 5.7% 0.8%
2004 ON PC WOMOV 3 61,104 4.0% 0.5%

It remains to be seen how many of these supporters will actually vote, but when it comes to collecting contact information and bringing new blood into the fold, the numbers are encouraging. The Liberals signed up 0.9% of all Canadians and 10.6% of their previous election voters – both totals greatly exceeding any federal leadership race of the past decade.

Of course, huge sign-ups for the 2011 Liberal leadership races in BC and Alberta haven’t translated to electoral success, so it’s a little premature to start measuring the drapes at 24 Sussex.

But this contest appears to have given the Liberals a jolt of life, which is not always the case during a de facto coronation. Paul Martin capped his decade-long regicide in 2003 with restrictive membership rules and a process that left the party divided. The Party establishment was so enthralled with Michael Ignatieff in 2009, that they didn’t even bother giving members a say.

You can argue all you want about Trudeau’s qualifications and readiness for the job, but at the very least this is a coronation that has brought hundreds of thousands of new Liberals into the fold. Open and competitive races are no doubt more difficult on the frontrunner than hotwired acclamations, but both the party and Trudeau will be stronger in the long run because of this process.

One Week

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Federal Politics | 4 Comments
The media have jumped over Tom Flanagan, likely because they wanted an excuse to use this awesome stock photo.

The media have jumped over Tom Flanagan, likely because they wanted an excuse to use this awesome stock photo.

I’ve been on vacation for the past week and, surprisingly, there weren’t a lot of bars in New Orleans showing the Liberal Leadership Debate over the weekend, so I’m not able to weigh in on how the candidates fared. However, that question is becoming less and less relevant, as a Justin Trudeau victory becomes more and more inevitable.

While every bit of evidence we’ve seen so far has suggested Trudeau sits well ahead of the pack, the caveat has always been that leadership races are won on the ground. Just because you’ve got donors and Facebook likes, it doesn’t mean Canadians are actually signing up to vote for you.

However, it appears at least 150,000 of the 294,000 Canadians eligible to vote for the next Liberal leader were signed up by the Trudeau campaign. The other seven campaigns will be sure to remind everyone of the new set of caveats that come with these figures – votes in weak ridings are more important, turnout will be low, and just because you were signed up by the Trudeau campaign doesn’t mean you will vote for Justin Trudeau. But it’s also true there are Trudeau supporters who were members before the race started, or who signed up on their own.

So it’s not over yet, but with the deadline to sign-up now passed, it’s going to take more than a few stumbles by the frontrunner for this race to get close.


The big story is the implosion of Tom Flanagan’s career. Although I rarely agree with Dr. Tom, I’ve always found him more entertaining, candid, and insightful than most pundits, and he offers up a very compelling defense of the latest controversy.

Still, it’s somewhat bemusing to see the campaign manager of the campaign that accused Paul Martin of supporting child pornography brought down in this manner.


An NDP MP defects to the Bloc. The only surprise here is that it took 22 months to happen.

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