Justin Trudeau

Liberal Heartland Calgary

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, by elections, Featured Posts, Federal Politics | 7 Comments

Like most Liberal campaigns launched in Calgary, Martha Hall Findlay’s leadership bid is a longshot.

Wednesday was not a typical day for Calgary Grits.

While leadership candidates must all fly into town, knowing the party’s weighted-by-riding leadership system makes a vote there far more valuable than a vote in Toronto, I have never seen a serious candidate launch their leadership campaign from the heart of Conservative country. But there was Martha Hall Findlay at the Stampede grounds, declaring her intentions to run for Liberal leader.

It’s tempting to write off the Calgary launch as a meaningless prop, but politics is all about symbolism and Hall Findlay may very well be the closest thing to a “Calgary candidate” to ever run for Liberal leader. She’s an executive fellow at the University of Calgary, once lived in the city for a few years, has family in the area, and employs a Calgary-centric campaign team. Yes, she might very well get steamrolled by Justin Trudeau, but what says you’re the Liberal Party’s “Calgary candidate” more than crushing defeat? Or having your hopes dashed by a Trudeau, for that matter?

Even more surprising on Wednesday, was a poll showing Liberals on the cusp of history in the Calgary Centre by-election:

Joan Crockatt (CPC) 32%
Harvey Locke (Lib) 30%
Chris Turner (Green) 23%
Dan Meades (NDP) 12%

Now before we all get visions of Calgary’s first Liberal seat since Trudeaumania (the first Trudeaumania, that is), it’s worth considering Forum’s shaky reputation and the small sample size (n = 376). I don’t think anyone believes this poll is accurate, but the question is how inaccurate it actually is.

After all, parts of this riding are red provincially (or green now, thanks to the ALP’s rebranding), and Naheed Nenshi won over 50% of the votes in the riding during the last municipal election. It’s a downtown riding, and although they’d never admit it, downtown Calgarians have a lot more in common with downtown Torontonians than with Nanton ranchers.

So even though the Tories got 57% the last election, by-elections are strange animals and Crockatt is a divisive figure – I would not be surprised to see her at 40-45% on by-election night. And that puts us squarely in Linda Duncan territory, where a coalition of progressives could actually win.

Of course, Alberta progressives have a habit of tripping over their feet anytime they get remotely close to power. So we’ve got the Greens attacking the Liberal candidate for “just visiting”, and the Liberal candidate calling the Green candidate “a twerp”. While there are coalitions calling for strategic voting, this poll paints a picture of the Greens pulling away enough vote to let Crockatt hold on – even though the Liberal candidate is an environmentalist who founded the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.

So, in all likelihood, it will still be a few years before the Liberals actually win a seat in Calgary. Or until we get a real Calgary leadership candidate. But Calgary Liberals were closer to both those accomplishments Wednesday than they’ve been in a long time. It was a good day to be a Calgary Grit.

Another Argument Against Legalizing Pot Goes Up In Smoke

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2012 US Election, Federal Politics, Policy, US Politics | 14 Comments

The stoned slacker vote is up for grabs

In the midst of a largely status-quo election, several groundbreaking ballot initiatives passed last night. Puerto Rico voted to apply for statehood. Same sex marriage was legalized in Maine and Maryland, and was upheld in Washington State, snapping a 32 vote losing streak for equal marriage proponents. And both Washington State and Colorado voted for complete marijuana legalization and regulation. The implications of this in Canada could be far reaching, and I’m not just talking about a spike in “road trips” from Vancouver to Seattle over reading week. I expect what happened last night will lead to some sober reflection on Canadian drug laws.

At least it should, because on the very same day marijuana laws in these two states became more liberal than Amsterdam, an omnibus bill imposing mandatory sentencing for drug crimes in Canada came into effect. So while ganja may be coming to a store near you in Denver, a student who grows 6 marijuana plants in his UBC dorm room and shares them with his friends could be looking at 9 months in jail.

While the NDP and Liberals have spoken against these “tough on crime” measures, both parties have been rather timid on the drug file in recent years. In March, Thomas Mulcair said he was against decriminalization because marijuana leads to mental illness. He later backtracked, saying he was confused between decriminalization and legalization; in either event, it’s safe to say we won’t see much movement from the NDP on this issue anytime soon. When asked about marijuana by High School students in 2010, Michael Ignatieff showed his deft ability to relate to youth by telling them he’d rather see them “digging ditches” than smoking “marijuana cigarettes”.

Ignatieff elaborated on his position by pointing to border problems legalizing the drug in Canada would create. Indeed, supporters of the current prohibition laws are quick to claim legalizing a product in Canada that is illegal in the US would lead to everything from chilled diplomatic relations to 10-hour lineups and full car searches at the border. But thanks to voters in Washington and Colorado, these arguments have now gone up in smoke. After all, no one’s going to risk smuggling joints across the border when you can just as easily buy American.

Most importantly, should these ballot measures withstand almost-certain legal challenges, there will now be two trials to cite when making the case for or against legalization. For better or wose, we’re about to find out what legalization really means; I imagine social scientists are already giddy with excitement at the prospect of crunching the crime data. If unintended consequences or logistical nightmares rear their head, no one will look at legalization in Canada for another 30 years – But if the results are largely positive and the tax dollars roll in, the case for legalization will no longer be theoretical. Suddenly, the risk won’t look quite so big and the change won’t seem quite as scary.

Regardless of what the courts say, yesterday’s votes will serve to embolden legalization activists on both sides of the border. Washington and Colorado may be blue states, but Obama only carried them with slim majorities – surely us public-healthcare-gay-marriage-loving socialists in Canada are at least as supportive of marijuana legalization, eh? These results should therefore give everyone pause to rethink the common wisdom that being labelled “soft on drugs” is campaign kryptonite. After all, the most basic rule of politics is that if the public supports something, it doesn’t hurt a politician to also support it.

Despite that, I can’t see Harper or Mulcair changing their positions – they’ve both stated their opposition to legalization and both are timid risk-averse politicians. But what about the Liberals, whose members voted overwhelmingly to legalize marijuana at their convention earlier this year? As I wrote at the time, there are many below-the-surface electoral implications to consider before running on a pro-pot platform. Who feels strong enough about this issue to change their vote over it? Does this help Liberal fundraising efforts? Does this play to the larger narrative of the Liberals as the party of “evidence-based” policy? Does it detract from the rest of the platform? If Justin Trudeau is the next Liberal leader, does this show he’s gutsy and stands for something, or does it play into the “airhead” narrative? Would this, combined with Justin’s youth appeal, actually get young Canadians out to the polls?

It’s a complex electoral calculus, but what happened south of the border last night might very well be the tipping point that prompts the Liberals to light up and run on legalization in 2015.

Who Would Canadians Turn to in the Event of a Cylon Attack?

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Humour | 3 Comments

As this picture shows, Justin Trudeau is NOT Canada’s best hope to lead the Rebel Alliance. However, in the event of a cylon attack, Justin is the man.

Last week, Postmedia ran the most awesome headline ever:

Conservative government’s order of succession shows Canada isn’t ready for a Cylon attack

The article itself isn’t earth shattering, but it does raise an important, albeit often overlooked, question. Earlier this summer, a poll showed Americans trusted Obama over Romney to deal with an alien invasion, but there’s sadly no quantitative evidence as to who Canadians would turn to if faced with a similar crisis. To bring clarity to this issue, I have therefore looked at how the different party leaders stack up in the key aspects of surviving a cylon invasion, using President Laura Roslin as the gold standard.

(NOTE: While a case could be made that Marc Garneau’s experience makes him the obvious candidate, I will follow the practice of pretty much every pollster and assume Justin Trudeau is the next Liberal leader)

Key 1 – Willingness to compromise for the greater good: Despite being an idealist, Laura Roslin was often forced into unwinnable situations that required her to sacrifice her principles to ensure survival. Torture cylon agents? Airlock prisoners? Ban abortion to repopulate the human race? For Roslin, the ends justified the means.

While all politicians compromise their principles in power, no one does it as effortlessly as Harper. A flip-flop on income trusts? A climb down on Senate reform? Ignoring his fixed election date law? Frak yeah! Harper didn’t blink. And like Roslin, Harper turned a blind eye to his campaign team’s alleged use of electoral fraud to get him re-elected.

Edge: Harper

Key 2 – Embrace the prophecy: Roslin relied heavily on visions to lead her people. After all, the ancient scriptures of Kobol identified her as the spiritual leader who would find earth.

While Tom Mulcair may have a bit of a god-complex, Justin Trudeau seems the most likely to be the chosen one. Like Roslin, he comes from humble roots as a school teacher and has little experience in a position of power.

Moreover, he was born on Christmas Day and thousands of Liberals already see him as their Messiah. Maybe there’s something to it.

Edge: Trudeau

Key 3 – Able to fight: Inevitably, as the human race struggles to survive, there will be mutinies, rebellions, and hand-to-hand combat with the enemy. There’s a good chance the President will have to literally fight for their life at some point.

On this point, it’s no contest. Yes, cylons may be tougher to knock down than Conservative Senators, but Trudeau has proven his toughness.

Edge: Trudeau

Key 4 – Humanity: Of course, we still need to address the most important aspect of a cylon attack – what if they’ve already placed human look alike “skinjobs” in positions of power, waiting to activate them once the fighting begins. Above all else, it is paramount that the leader of the post-apocalyptic government be not only human, but above suspicion of being one of the final five.

While it seems unlikely the cylons would create a model so obviously robotic and devoid of emotions as Stephen Harper, there would no doubt be suspicions. And really, we must ask ourselves how much we know about the current Prime Minister. How often do you hear Harper talk about his childhood growing up in Ontario? Would it really surprise anyone if this flimsy backstory is nothing more than a cover designed to hide his mechanical roots?

Justin Trudeau, however, has been in the public eye since he was born. Criticize him all you want, but unless the cylons have developed a model that can age from fetus to adult, Justin is undeniably human.

Edge: Trudeau

So while we may not know where he stands on all the issues, on this point there is little doubt – Justin Trudeau is the leader Canada needs in the event of a cylon attack.

So say we all!

The Name Game – Part Deux

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Federal Politics, Quebec Politics | 1 Comment

Don’t believe every piece of quantitative evidence ever produced! Quebecers HATE this man!

I’ve read a dozen opinion pieces by Quebec columnists over the past few months like this one from Lysianne Gagnon:

Is Justin Trudeau really the Liberals’ best option?

If the Toronto Liberal intelligentsia believe that Justin Trudeau, being a Trudeau and a Quebecker, can revive their party’s fortunes in Quebec, they are mightily wrong. (One might also wonder if anybody can save the Liberal Party of Canada now that the NDP occupies the centre-left, but this is another question.)

Justin’s surname is as much a liability in French-speaking Quebec as it is in Alberta. Personally, I find this hostility regrettable and irrational to boot, but the reality is that more than anybody else, Trudeau Senior remains the nemesis not only of the sovereigntists but of all of Quebec’s “soft” nationalists.


As I argued at the time, every shred of evidence we have before us suggests the Trudeau name is more of an asset than a liability – even in Quebec and Alberta. And here’s some more:

Sondage: Trudeau doublerait Mulcair au Québec

(Ottawa, Ontario) L’effet Trudeau se fait maintenant sentir au Québec. Le Parti libéral du Canada (PLC) prendrait la tête dans les intentions de vote dans la Belle Province s’il était dirigé par Justin Trudeau.

Un sondage CROP réalisé pour le compte de La Presse démontre que les électeurs québécois, à l’instar de bon nombre d’électeurs canadiens, sont loin d’être indifférents à l’entrée en scène de Justin Trudeau dans la course à la direction du PLC.

Avec le jeune député de Papineau comme chef, les libéraux obtiendraient 36% des intentions de vote au Québec, contre 30% au Nouveau Parti démocratique (NPD), 19% au Bloc québécois et un maigre 11% au Parti conservateur.


Now, I don’t think anyone should get caught up in these hypothetical polls, which come down to little more than superficial perceptions. Attitudes will quickly change once Canadians get to know Justin, attack ads air, and voters consider him as a Prime Minister rather than a celebrity. Right now, the polls don’t mean a lot, except that people like his hair…and his name.

Which, once again, shows how ridiculous it is to argue the Trudeau name is toxic. It’s clearly an asset, even in Quebec – regardless of what the “Quebec intelligentsia” claim.

Ready Or Not, Here He Comes

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

Xavier Trudeau (left) has quickly emerged as the 2051 Liberal leadership frontrunner.

Today marks the 12 year anniversary of the first time Liberals recognized there was something special about Justin Trudeau. Justin’s moving eulogy of his father brought Liberals to tears but, Liberals being Liberals, it also made many of them wonder if one day Justin was destined to return to 24 Sussex. This was a kid worth keeping an eye on.

Flash forward six years. At the Liberal leadership convention in Montreal, Justin Trudeau became a rock star, with swarms of adoring fans following him wherever he went. By the end of the weekend, every Liberal in the country had a signed tambourine and a Facebook profile picture of them and Justin. By now it wasn’t a question of if, but when.

In 2007, he won a hotly contested nomination battle many thought he’d lose. In 2008, he was one of only a handful of Liberals to claim a previously unheld riding. In 2011, he was one of few to keep his head above the orange wave.

During this time, I suspect most Liberals secretly viewed Justin as “the next one” – that hot shot prospect you pin your hopes on. Like all prospects, the potential was there, but so was the risk he could bust and turn into the next Alexandre Daigle.

No one wanted to rush him to the majors this soon, and I’m sure Justin himself would have rather waited – but we’re in a situation where there may not be a Liberal Party for Justin Trudeau to lead in 10 years, so the time is now. Ready or not, here he comes.

The end result of this is a leadership race where no one really knows what to expect from the frontrunner. Yes, everybody has confidently written about how he’s destined to be the Liberal saviour or to go down in flames, but Justin is still very much an unknown so it’s all just speculation. A charity boxing match is not a gateway to the man’s soul. Just because he hasn’t been to outer space, it doesn’t mean he lacks substance or vision.

Justin Trudeau is a giant blob of untested potential who Liberals have been pinning their hopes on for many years. Yesterday, he finally got his call to the majors. As with all prospects, it’s likely best not to read too much into his first game, but it was an encouraging start. After the mandatory “gosh, Canada is swell” fluff, this part got to me:

But I said to Liberals after the last election that we need to get past this idea that a simple leadership change could solve our problems.

I believe that still. My candidacy may shine a few extra lights upon us. It may put some people in the bleachers to watch. But what we do with that opportunity is up to us.

All of us.

And when Canadians tune in, we need to prove to them that we Liberals have learned from the past, yes. But that we are one-hundred-per-cent focused on the future.

And not the future of our party: the future of our country.

I am running because I believe this country wants and needs new leadership. A vision for Canada’s future grounded not in the politics of envy or mistrust. One that understands, despite all the blessings beneath our feet, that our greatest strength is above ground, in our people. All Canadians, pulling together, determined to build a better life, a better Canada.

To millions and millions of Canadians, their government has become irrelevant, remote from their daily lives, let alone their hopes and dreams. To them, Ottawa is just a place where people play politics as if it were a game open to a small group, and that appeals to an even smaller one.

At this point, that’s nothing more than words, even if those words are being spoken by a leadership candidate with great hair. But they do show a certain level of self awareness about the state of the Liberal Party and politics in this country. Whether or not Justin lives by those words will be seen in the coming months.

If he does, he may very well live up to his potential.

Trudeau’s Challenging Cakewalk

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Featured Posts, Federal Politics | 8 Comments

With victory almost assured, Trudeau can work on his form, rather than swing for the knock-out

Now that we have confirmation about what we’ve known all summer, and now that we’ve exhausted every conceivable boxing-is-politics metaphor, we can begin speculating about what the Justin Trudeau leadership campaign will look like. Names of some key players are beginning to leak out, but it will likely be months before we truly get a sense of the type of campaign Trudeau plans to wage.

What we do know is that it will be a campaign like none before, simply because Justin Trudeau is a leadership candidate like none before. There has never been a frontrunner this popular who has accomplished so little in his life. I know that sounds like a nasty dig, but the fact that Trudeau finds himself in this position despite a thin resume speaks to just how impressive a politician he is. It’s not just the name – he’s immensely good at what he does.

So how then do you run the campaign of a political superstar who is adored for who he is, not for what he has done?

The easiest road for frontrunners to take is keeping a low profile and avoiding controversy like the plague. Yes, Jim Dinning’s “pro sunshine” campaign for the Alberta PC crown in 2006 exploded in a supernova, but playing it safe works out more often than not.

A variant on this strategy is the tactic employed by Justin’s father in 1968 and Barack Obama in 2008 – pick one big idea (“Just Society”, “Yes We Can”), but focus on photo-ops rather than policies. I’m sure the temptation among many in the Trudeau inner circle will be to position him as the hopey-changey candidate, take a few shots at Stephen Harper, but keep the tone as light as possible. Justin may not have a plan to make the Liberals relevant in Alberta but, look, he’s rock climbing! Justin may not have a position on supply management but, look, he’s churning butter with a class of grade 4 students!

I have no doubt that type of air war, paired with a well run ground game, would lead to a first ballot victory in April. But the unique challenge of this campaign is that the definition of “winning” is not necessarily getting more votes than his nearest competitor. If Trudeau crawls across the finish line with his reputation damaged, the party brand weakened, and the party divided, it’s game over for the Liberal Party.

With Trudeau’s objective re-defined as victory over Stephen Harper rather than victory over Marc Garneau, the wishy-washy rockstar campaign begins to look less appealing. We all know attack ads are coming, and we don’t need to see Conservative Party focus group reports to know these ads will try to brand Justin Trudeau as an airhead and a lightweight (or as Andrew Coyne put it on The National: “flibbertigibbet“). If Trudeau wants to erase this caricature before it is drawn, the leadership race is the perfect venue to do that. We know the media will hover on every word Justin says over the next six months, so he’d be foolish to not take advantage of the microphones that will be in front of his face.

My advice to Justin would therefore be to use the leadership race as a chance to re-explain to Canadians who he is and what he stands for. That will mean sticking his neck out and taking controversial stands, but he’s better off doing that now than after the honeymoon wears off. There’s nothing wrong with photo-ops, but if he’s petting cute animals the caption should be that Justin is talking to farmers about his plan to save the family farm. If he’s kissing babies, the caption should be that he’s announcing his child care policy. I know it’s easier to have him somersault into swimming pools and shoot hoops with Young Liberals, but there’s no point in holding any campaign event that doesn’t help write the narrative of Justin Trudeau as a man of substance. I don’t know which anonymous Liberals are quoted in today’s CBC article, but no one on the Trudeau campaign should be referring to him as “the American Idol candidate” – even if it’s in the most flaterring terms.

So when a divisive issue comes up, Justin will need to take a principled stand, even if he alienates some of his caucus supporters in the process. When Justin is asked about Deborah Coyne or Martha Hall Findlay’s latest policy paper, it’s not simply enough to shower platitudes about “studying the issue”. When he’s challenged to explain his position, he can’t smile and tell reporters to wait for the next election.

In politics, it’s almost always easier to win when you play to your strengths. And because politics is about winning, politicians rarely have opportunities to work on their weaknesses. Since Justin Trudeau is almost assured to be the next Liberal leader, rather than running up the score he’d be wise to use the next six months to grow as a politician, re-defining himself as a thinker, and re-defining what the Liberal Party stands for in the process.

The Table Stakes

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Federal Politics | 11 Comments

Forget Mark Carney. We need “electable” candidates like Jim Karygiannis in this race!

Now that we know who can run for Liberal leader (namely, anyone with $75,000 and 300 signatures), the question becomes who should run:

“We have to be careful not to think that somebody who wants to raise his or her profile or somebody who wants to pursue a particular single issue should see this as an attainable platform to do that,” New Brunswick MP and prospective leadership candidate Dominic Leblanc told Postmedia News earlier this month.

“What I think Liberals want are a number of good candidates with broad skill sets and different experiences so that the party has a choice between people they can see one day as occupying the Prime Minister’s Office, not somebody who has other ambitions.”

“The ability to win one’s own seat is to extent a judgment of one’s own electability,” he said.

“So party members will have to ask themselves a whole bunch of questions around what are the skills and the attributes they want for somebody who will be leader, and surely electability will be one of the main factors, I would hope.”

I don’t know why anyone would want to limit the pool of candidates to elected MPs at a time when that’s a pretty shallow pool. Brian Mulroney never held elected office before becoming PC leader, and it’s hard to argue Mark Carney wouldn’t be a formidable candidate if he decided to test the waters.

While we can all agree electing an electable leader might be a nice change, winning a seat isn’t the best litmus test to judge electability. Unless, of course, you believe Lise St-Denis is more electable than Ken Dryden.

If we take Leblanc’s argument to its logical conclusion, we could just rank Liberal candidates by their share of the popular vote – in which case, the media should be paying way more attention to Scott Simms (58% of the vote) than Justin Trudeau (38% of the vote). It also stands to reason that Martha Hall Findlay (40% of the vote) is more “electable” than, say, Dominic Leblanc (39% of the vote). A lot of good Liberals lost their seats last election through no fault of their own, and we’d be foolish to turn our backs on them because they didn’t have the good fortune to be running in downtown Toronto.

Still, we can probably all agree that some of the names being floated at the moment are not credible candidates, by any definition of the word. So what should be done with the half dozen fringe candidates who have no realistic shot at winning?

I disagree that leadership races are just about winning. After all, when I signed up for Dominic Leblanc’s leadership team in 2008, I didn’t hold any delusions about him winning – but I truly felt he would make the best leader and that he brought a different perspective to the table as a young Acadian MP from a largely rural riding. Likewise, I feel the current race needs a candidate from Western Canada, and if none of our four MPs west of Guelph want to run, I’m all for having someone else carry that banner.

What prospective candidates need to ask themselves is why they’re running and what they bring to the race. If this is nothing more than fantasy baseball camp – paying $75,000 for the opportunity to see their name in the newspaper and debate Justin Trudeau – then they don’t have any business being in this contest. If it’s only about raising their profile, I’d suggest they’re better served avoiding the risk of becoming a punch line for the Rick Mercer Report and instead working towards a riding nomination in 2015.

But if someone has a unique message, and they’re able to passionately and eloquently advocate it, I think there’s a place for them on that stage. When I say “unique message”, I don’t mean the usual platitudes (“I’m fiscally conservative and socially progressive“) – the Liberal Party needs bold ideas, and a leadership race is a great time to discuss them. If this contest turns out to be nothing more than a training ground for Justin Trudeau, we’ll all benefit by forcing him into a substantive dialogue about the issues of the day.

I do recognize the risk of no-name candidates sucking up the oxygen, but there are tangible benefits to a larger field beyond the usual feel good platitudes about democracy. Specifically, candidates with different backgrounds advocating for overlooked issues will appeal to Canadians who wouldn’t otherwise care one bit about who leads the third place party in Ottawa. Martin Singh and Niki Ashton were never going to win the NDP leadership race, but they still signed up thousands of Canadians, many of whom will stay involved with the NDP.

Not every long-shot candidate is going to engage otherwise overlooked voters, and they won’t all bring something substantive to the table. But those who do should not only be allowed to run – they should be encouraged to.

Charest’s Loss May Be Harper’s Gain

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Federal Politics, Quebec Politics | 5 Comments

It was hard for Harper to say no to “the most federalist Premier in my lifetime”…and the one man who laughed at his jokes.

Although the federal leaders executed Cirque Du Soleil worthy backflips to stay out of the Quebec election, the repercussions of this vote will be far reaching. Having a separatist attack dog in Quebec City – even one on a minority government leash – undeniably changes the dynamic in Ottawa.

So who benefits?


The Liberals

Traditionally, Canadians have tended to trust the Liberal Party on the national unity file, and this is an area where the Trudeau brand remains strong. While I’m sure Justin doesn’t want to become a shadow of his father, people will listen when he speaks out about national unity, so it’s an issue he could use to define himself.

Assuming of course, he manages to win the leadership. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. But at the very least, another Liberal leader could still press the issue by sending Trudeau before the cameras or having Stephane Dion write an open letter to Pauline Marois. Hell, I think we know Stephane will be doing that, regardless of whatever the next Liberal leader wants.

And yes, no one seriously expects there to be a referendum call during Marois’ term as Premier. But what if she tries to forge ahead with some of her controversial religious and linguistic policies? That sounds to me like a great opportunity for a party looking to reclaim its position as the defender of minority rights to take a firm stand – even if it means alienating a few xenophobic pequistes.


The Conservatives

There was a time when Stephen Harper would shower Jean Charest with compliments at every press conference, but the love has faded from their relationship in recent years. Indeed, it’s not hard to imagine Stephen Harper secretly rooting for a PQ victory last week. A Marois minority was likely his best-case outcome, politically speaking.

After all, it’s not like Stephen Harper has made a name for himself building consensus between the federal government and the provinces. For a man who is rarely seen smiling with the Premiers, a good enemy is more valuable than a shaky ally. And what a foil Marois is! This isn’t a “charming separatist” in the mould of Lucien Bouchard or Gilles Duceppe – outside Quebec, she is seen as destructive, closed-minded, and hateful. It’s a lot easier to say “non” to Pauline Marois than to “Captain Canada”, Jean Charest.

Conflict with a PQ government is inevitable, and Harper can score points outside Quebec by standing up to Marois. However, unlike Trudeau or Chretien, the threat of a referendum does not hang over Harper’s head, minimizing the risk of a tough position.

And it’s not like Harper has a lot to lose. Unlike…


The NDP

Thomas Mulcair is in a delicate position. Many of the people who elected his Quebec MPs justed voted in Pauline Marois – but the people who elected his other MPs are not fans of hers. Don’t expect Mulcair to be rushing to the microphones the next time Marois says something controversial.

Further muddying the waters are Mulcair’s musings about starting a provincial NDP in Quebec. While this might help the NDP organizationally, it could box them into positions they’d rather not take. It’s one thing to go by Thomas in Quebec and Tom elsewhere – on policy, Mulcair is going to get burned on any inconsistencies.

The Liberals rightly recognize that national unity is an area where they can score points vis-a-vis the Dippers. They’ve already tried to smoke the NDP out by musing about a motion re-affirming support for the Clarity Act. Expect more of that as Marois pushes national unity front and centre. The NDP may have gotten a free ride on the Sherbrooke Declaration when Jean Charest was Premier and they were the third party in the house, but the level of scrutiny will be higher for a government-in-waiting, with the separatists in power.

Mulcair is going to have to defend positions that may not be popular in the rest of Canada. Bonne chance!

“Adorable! Cute as a button. A good left hook, you really gotta love him”

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

The most Twitter followers AND a theme song? John Ivison is right – this race is over.

It’s no “Ted Morton is the Man“, but The Justin Trudeau Song is kind of catchy.


The Race Is On

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Federal Politics | 11 Comments

Justin Trudeau and Martha Hall Findlay appear ready to roll

The Liberal Party has released the rules for its leadership race, effectively sounding the starting pistol.

The finish line will be April 14th in Ottawa, when the leader is announced. There’s still no word on exactly how that vote will be conducted, though I assume there will be a mail/online/phone option for those who don’t travel to the convention.

The first draft of the rules made reference to a “leadership showcase and debate” to be held on April 6th in Toronto. Although that line has been deleted, I hope it happens, since it would restore some of the relevance to candidate convention speeches. There’s a part of me that loves the idea of Joe Supporter tuning in to watch the speeches Saturday afternoon, and being so moved by what he hears that he switches his vote. Yeah, yeah, I know that’s not how leadership races work in practice, but at least we won’t be in the NDP’s situation where Mulcair could have dropped his pants and sung La Marseillaise during his speech, and still had enough advanced votes cast to win.

The entry fee will be $75,000 – a higher bar than I would have set, but I recognize the desire to wean the field down to the serious candidates. This isn’t baseball fantasy camp, where anyone can live out their dreams of debating Justin Trudeau; candidates who have nothing to offer are only sucking up oxygen.

As I’ve written before, I do think long-shots like Deborah Coyne and David Merner have something to offer, so I do hope they’ll be able to raise the needed funds. But this spells the end of the road for the Shane Geschieres and Jonathan Mousleys of the world.

The other rules are mostly bureaucratic and won’t change the dynamic of the race. The membership/supporter cut-off will be 41 days before the vote. There will be a 10% tithe on all money raised (Liberals can’t resist a chance to tax). The amount of debt candidates can accumulate has been mercifully limited.

There are still details to be announced – most notably, the debate schedule and voting mechanism – and the contest won’t officially start until November. But for all intents and purposes, the race is on.

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