Tuesday, November 27, 2012

By-election winners and losers

In the late hours of Monday evening, when the results from yesterday’s by-elections were trickling in, the immediate judgment from certain pundits and journalists on Twitter was that “nobody won” or that it was a “wake up call” for the major parties.

I don’t buy it.

In fact, in the cold light of day, it seems clear  the Conservative Party of Canada was the clear winner and that the real loser was media expectations for Trudeaumania.

Why are the Conservatives winners? It’s obvious: they won two out of three by-elections, one in Durham, one in Calgary-Centre.

Yes, Calgary-Centre victory was relatively tight, but the Tories still won by more than 1,000 votes and that aint bad.

More interesting is the failure of Trudeaumania.

Recall, how the media keeps telling us that Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau is a new breed of politician, whose idealism, charisma and charm will energize vast throngs of apathetic Canadians into obedient Liberal-voting legions.

He’s being sold, in other words, as the messiah who will smite the evil Harperites.

Yet we didn’t see much evidence of Trudeau’s divine magic on by-election night.

In fact, in two ridings, Durham and Victoria, the Liberals got crushed.

But what about Calgary Centre, you ask? The Liberals finished with 33 percent of the vote. Isn’t that the best result they’ve had in a long time?

Yes, it is.

But remember, Calgary-Centre was a riding the Liberals could win. By Alberta standards it’s centre-left/Red Toryish, the Conservatives were hampered by infighting between the Wildrose tribe and the Progressive Conservatives and, of course, Trudeau was making personal appearances in the riding.

And by-elections are wild-cards where anything can happen.

Yet the Liberals still lost. And voter turnout was low – less than 30 percent of eligible voters in the riding cast ballots.

And so the highly vaunted Trudeaumania didn't excite voters enough to get them to vote Liberal in sufficient quantities nor did it even get them off the couch!

Indeed, if anything, Trudeau The Great might have cost the Liberals a win in Calgary, thanks to his highly publicized anti-Alberta comments.

The bottom line is that while Trudeaumania may have smitten the media, voters  in general are not yet truly engaged in federal politics.

Remember that the next time you see a poll showing Trudeau will win a majority government.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Trudeau's Weaknesses Revealed

Could it possibly be that the impossibly handsome Justin Trudeau, he of the adorable smile and famous last name, isn’t perfect?

OK I realize that to the Canadian media, AKA “The Justin Trudeau Fan Club”, that question is close to heretical.

After all, they keep telling us about how it’s our national destiny to see Trudeau the Magnificent proclaimed God-Emperor  … oops I mean Prime Minister.

In fact, they seem irked we have to endure three whole years of non-Trudeau rule.

Yet we need, I think, to consider those controversial comments he made a few years ago that recently surfaced in a Sun News story.

It seems to me they might conceivably, possibly, perhaps, be considered somewhat of a mistake.

You probably know which comments I’m talking about.

While being interviewed for a French-language news show, Trudeau proclaimed “Canada isn’t doing well right now because it’s Albertans who control our community and socio-democratic agenda. It doesn’t work.”

Get that?

He doesn’t say Canada isn’t doing well because Conservatives are running the country or because Harper is running the country, but because “Albertans” control our socio-democratic agenda, whatever that means.

To me, that sounds an awful lot like anti-Albertan bigotry. I mean, if you take Trudeau at his word, he would actually support a Conservative Quebecer for prime minister over a Liberal Albertan.

Take that Harvey Locke!

He then goes on to say the only good prime ministers come from Quebec and indeed that Canada “belongs to Quebec.”

Needless to say, these are not the sort of comments that will win votes outside of Montreal. It also undermines the media narrative that Trudeau is an idealist whose only goal in life is to unite all Canadians in a big group hug.   

Mind you, I doubt this will get him into too much trouble, at least in the short term. For one thing the media won’t play it up. Check out, for instance, this Canadian Press story on his comments which manages to put Trudeau in a positive light and attack the Conservatives all the while burying the lede so deep you will need a steam shovel to find it.

Now that’s journalism.

Also, we must remember Trudeau’s comments were made in 2010, before the media realized he was the true Messiah who would rid the country of the evil Harperites. Recall, at that time they assumed Michael Ignatieff was the true Messiah who would rid the country of the evil Harperites.

So given all that, maybe technically-speaking we shouldn’t consider his two-year old comments a mistake.

But still, whether the media will admit it or not, this episode reveals two glaring weaknesses in Trudeau’s candidacy.

First, it shows how the guy lacks political savvy and message discipline. In other words, he has a tendency to say stupid things. This means the problem for the Liberals isn’t what dopey things Trudeau has said in the past, it’s what dopey things he might say in the future.

And you better believe once he steps in the jungle of leadership politics, his battle-hardened and tough opponents will do everything they can to get under his skin, hoping to trigger an ill-considered outburst.

Secondly, and more importantly, Trudeau’s comments on Alberta and Quebec reveal that his mindset is  more suited to the 1970s.

Back in those days Liberals assumed Canada’s governing classes had to come from Central Canada, so as to ensure the country was run for the benefit of Central Canada.

Anything west of Ontario was there simply to provide a location for Liberal Party socialist experiments like the National Energy Program.

This, by the way, is also apparently the attitude of Trudeau’s comrade, Liberal MP David McGuinty.

What McGuinty and Trudeau don’t seem to get is that Canada is now much different place than it was 40 years ago.

Economic and political power is shifting west and if Trudeau doesn’t come to grips with that fact, he will need more than a god-like persona to lead his party out of the wilderness.


After a consulting with his spin doctors and pollsters, Justin Trudeau now admits his comments about Alberta were a mistake!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Attack advice for the Green Party

I witnessed an interesting debate on Twitter today as to whether or not this pamphlet constituted a political attack.

In the pamphlet, Chris Turner, Green Party candidate in the upcoming Calgary-Centre federal by-election, suggests Liberal candidate Harvey Locke "doesn't understand Calgary now. He hasn't  lived here for well over a decade."

Some say this is an attack, some say it isn't.

The correct answer is, it definitely is an attack, but an incredibly lame and ineffective one.

Here's what a more effective attack would look like:

Harvey Locke: Bad for Calgary!

Harvey Locke wants to be an MP for Calgary-Centre – but here’s the shocking secret he doesn’t want you to know.

He lives outside the city!

It’s appalling, but true! Locke is not from here. He is not one of us!

How can a man who doesn’t live amongst us, possibly understand our unique Calgary-Centre concerns, our Calgary-Centre issues and our Calgary-Centre problems?

Answer: He can’t!

Yet this outsider, with his strange non-Calgary-Centre ways, wants you to trust him with your precious vote.

It’s frightening!

Don’t be fooled. On Election Day, let Harvey Locke know you don’t want a stranger to represent you in the House of Commons.

Vote for your neighbour, vote for Chris Turner, a proud Calgary-Centarian.

He's one of us.