Bart’s Books: Coyne Unscripted

Deborah Coyne, her daughter, and Justin Trudeau's dad.
Deborah Coyne, her daughter, and Justin Trudeau’s dad.

Despite the ever growing sense that the LPC leadership race is all but over, as a voting member, I still intend to do my due diligence and fully research the candidates before casting my vote. And since Deborah Coyne is on the top half of my ballot at this point, I recently gave her new 85-page e-book a read through.

Contrary to what the newspaper excerpts would suggest, the book is not a check-out line tabloid about Pierre Trudeau (apart from the bombshell that our 15th Prime Minister didn’t trust microwaves). Nor is it a policy-heavy leadership manifesto. Rather, it’s very much a political memoir – albeit one no doubt written with this leadership race fully in mind.

So like all Canadian political memoirs, we get a bit about Coyne’s upbringing, passing mentions of watching hockey as a child, and tales from youthful travels to Soviet Russia. While the memoir touches upon her time with Pierre, and has a few passing mentions of Justin (and Marc Garneau) that will no doubt make readers smile, the body of the book focuses on her work fighting against the Meech Lake Accord. As a someone who believes in a strong central government, that spoke to me – but even Meech supporters would have to give Coyne grudging credit for sticking to her convictions.

Memoirs always cast their subject in the most flattering light possible, and the picture this one paints of Coyne is certainly appealing – a bold and highly driven individual, who has seen the world and had her nose in politics from a young age. In her twenties, she wrote and called the PMO to get herself credentialed for a Summit in Mexico, as part of her thesis research. The girl has spunk and, unlike Lou Grant, I’m a fan of spunk.

Indeed, after reading through the book, I was left with a far more positive impression of Coyne than I had coming in (and not just because she quotes a certain progressive blogger in it). Here’s someone who was fighting for greater grassroots engagement in the Liberal Party 30 years ago. Someone who sees the Liberal Party’s inability to define what it stands for as its largest challenge. Someone who genuinely believes in politics for a purpose.

That’s not to say Coyne has my vote. Although she has seen the political process from many vantage points, she lacks the elected experience and political skills of her more polished opponents. However, Coyne’s book is certainly worth a read for any undecided Liberal supporters – and not just for the Trudeau gossip.

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12 responses to “Bart’s Books: Coyne Unscripted”

      • I hope someone else goes the distance! Because if not, the ‘coronation’ comments I’ve been shitting on will then be altogether justified.

        I don’t foresee Joyce, Martha, or Deborah dropping out, but I didn’t foresee Marc doing so either. I expected Bertschi to get out by now, not Garneau. At all.

        • Did you see that poll (of 6000 Liberal supporters) Garneau commissioned? Trudeau was at 72%, Garneau, 15%. That race is a done deal – and nobody with anything to lose wants to end up like 2003 Sheila Copps.

          • Agreed, but there still does need to be a vote. The vote the real deal, the polls just reflect a subset of the voting population and their voting intention at the time of polling. In this case, a pretty well unequivocal result, surely, but still not the result of an actual vote. If every one else dropped out, there would be no democratic legitimacy to a Trudeau leadership.

          • So they say; but how accurate are polls? As we all know, there’s only one that counts…

            I’ve heard some speculation that Joyce Murray is the impetus for Garneau’s withdrawal – that instead of the 7.4% quoted in the poll, she’s actually doing much better. But who knows?

            All I can say is that I’m disappointed in Garneau, and glad that I didn’t make any contribution to his campaign beyond the $50 I paid to attend one of his events.

          • I’m a bit skeptical of any internal poll released without methodology, but it alligns with my power rankings and what I’ve seen on the ground.

            I’m sure candidates would love to give their big speech in Toronto, but no one wants to embarass themselves. Cauchon definitely has to get out, and for Findlay and Murray it comes down to what they consider embarassing. The others don’t have much to lose, so as long as they have the money, they’ll likely stick it out.

      • That’s what a lot of people seem to have been assuming; that it’s already been over for some time. That’s part of what’s so offputting.

        However, there’s still a full month to go until the main vote!

        A month was enough time For Layton’s NDP to rise from third place to the Official Opposition. A month was enough time for Kim Campbell’s PCs to go from having an even chance at government to being reduced to two seats. A month was enough time for the Yes side in the 1995 Referendum to go from being dispirited to coming within a hair’s breadth of getting the majority they wanted.

        What does it say about the party, when the second place candidate drops out a full month before the actual vote?

  1. I believe the numbers cited above were 6000 respondents from a question sent to 50000 “supporters”.

    Not a poll, by any statistician’s definition.

    No way to know who responded, and definitely not a random sampling. Reports said there were only four names listed (not all the candidates).

    Still, if you’re trailing 3:1 or worse, you can read the writing on the wall, writ large, however the sample was drawn.

    • Yeah, I’d be curious if that 50,000 was drawn from the full list of 294,000 or not. It could definitely be skewed, but when you see numbers like that, it’s hard to see how JT doesn’t win on the first ballot.

      • Depends on how well spread out his supporters are, riding-wise. Maybe if they are all urban, someone else will do better than expected in rural ridings. But from what I’ve been reading from the pundits, sounds like Trudeau draws considerable crowds in rural areas too. Would Murray? I have my doubts.

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