Latest CTV News Network Panel

Our latest True North Panel discussion on CTV News network today. As always a lot of fun.


Interesting Numbers

The latest Abacus poll was interesting as its numbers show how few people think anything would change under a Liberal or NDP government. For instance under a Liberal government, 46% don’t think there would be any difference when it comes to job creation. For the environment 51% don’t think things would be any different and crime generates roughly 66% thinking there wouldn’t be anything different.

Part of this of course revolves around the fact that “Trudeau Lite” hasn’t delivered much in the way of solid policy announcements. It’s hard for the public to evaluate how things would be different under the Liberals if they have no clue about what he stands for or what he plans to implement if elected.

This makes it very difficult for the Tories to attack Trudeau. Sure they have had a few silly ads that didn’t go anywhere, but you really do need some policy meat if your attacks are to have a greater impact. Prior to 2006 the Liberals always had the fear agenda to invoke against Harper and his supposedly secret agenda. Remember “soldiers in the streets”, the abortion issue and others that allowed them to feed the distrust Canadians had in the then new Conservative leader and any changes he might bring if elected.

Part of the Conservative problem today is that we always know what they are opposed to and their language is generally negative and combative and even when it isn’t, it still leaves a negative impression with large groups of voters. The public are left with the impression that the Conservatives are opposed to improving the environment, opposed to working with First Nations, opposed to any type of firearm regulations, opposed to open and transparent government, but support the oil sands and pipelines (which may not be the most positive message) etc. Even their positive initiatives such as free trade are so complex that while positive it still doesn’t resonate with most voters as they don’t see anything in it for them personally.

Contrast that with Trudeau’s up beat and feel good campaign. The Liberal leader is very good in front of crowds, never camera shy, plus he is personable and friendly, as opposed to the Prime Minister, who is almost always much more formal and who rarely lets his warmer side show through. The difference can be seen with the video of Trudeau’s ice bucket challenge. Everyone knows it was a made for politics promotion, but people enjoyed it anyways and he looked like someone the average, especially younger voters, could relate too.

The Conservatives have a problem because right now they can’t show that Trudeau or even Mulcair has a scary agenda. That will come as we get closer to the next election and both opposition leaders are forced into firming up their policy positions. The Conservatives are always good when on the attack and their machine will be revving up in the weeks and months ahead as they zero in on the policies of Trudeau and Mulcair. Voters will have a better opportunity to study and contrast the various party positions.

In the meantime we can expect to see the Conservatives solidifying their base, something that they have to do before using it as a springboard to go after niche voters and swing voters. There will be more attacks on the “elites” including the Ottawa media (who really have to get a thicker skin), more criminal justice bills, more support for rural initiatives and social conservative ideals such as support for family values and of course lots of patriotic moments standing up to the “red menace”.

It will be interesting to see if six months down the road Canadians still see things the same way. If they do it is a problem for the Conservatives as it makes it a lot easier for voters to change a government when voters don’t see it making much difference which Prime Minister is leading the country.


CTV News Channel

Enjoyed my participation on the CTV News Channel’s today. I was part of the True North Political panel. Always fun to share opinions with other representatives.


The Bar Has Been Set

Conservative and NDP fundraisers must be patting themselves on the back today and thanking Justin Trudeau for their good fortune.

With Trudeau’s pronouncement that he plans on winning a 170 seats and a majority in the next election, the fundraising letters to NDP and Conservative supporters almost write themselves.

Nothing rallies an organization and its supporters more than an opponent announcing in advance that he plans on beating your team. Such an announcement generates new enthusiasm in the ranks to make sure that doesn’t happen and I expect quite a few dollars into the other party’s bank accounts.

Admittedly no one campaigns to come in second or even third like the Liberals did last time. But plenty of voters will think it a little arrogant and over confident for a new leader to announce this early in the game that while he only has 37 MPs now, he will win at least 170 seats and form a majority government after the next election.

Trudeau hasn’t even announced his policy platform yet. Voters haven’t had the opportunity to look at his platform, nor to weigh what they like or dislike about it.

Good looks and a charming smile aren’t the only things that win elections. It reminds me of the ad “Where is the beef?” in this case the policies to back up the charisma and over-blown confidence.  This is the same over-blown confidence that predicted 600 supporters at a rally, when they could barely muster 300 for their leader. That doesn’t say much about their on the ground organization if that is the best they could do.

Trudeau has gone on the record now and set a very high bar for himself to which he will be held by the Conservatives, NDP, media and the voting public. To succeed he has to reach at least 170 seats, anything less amounts to failure.

Believing in your own rhetoric can be a dangerous thing for a politician. Sometimes it is better to be a little more humble in public and not walk into the trap of making announcements that may come back to bite you.


Will "Never" become "Maybe"

As someone who briefly worked for him when he was the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, it was interesting to watch the media speculation that emerged over part of an interview Jean Charest gave from Hong Kong.

His comment that “never say never” about a potential return to politics certainly stirred people up. Even after his exit from politics, Charest still commands attention and respect from both the media and the public which is more than you can say for most of the present bunch of politicians in Ottawa.

I didn’t hear anything in the voice clip that remotely sounded like Charest wanted to return to political life, but it was fun to briefly speculate about that happening. The present day Conservative Party would certainly gain an experienced political ally who as a former premier of Quebec understands it well and can present Quebec’s views to the cabinet table. Perhaps then we would be less likely to shoot ourselves in the foot on Quebec sensitive issues as we go into the next election. He might even be able to persuade the existing party structure and PMO that there is more than the Quebec City view of the province, views that don’t always mesh with the metropolitan Montreal area or even the West Island of Montreal.

As a former environment minister in the cabinet of the greenest Prime Minister Canada has had to date, namely another Conservative named Brian Mulroney, perhaps he could teach the present group in Ottawa that paying attention to the “environment” doesn’t have to be a bad thing for either the economy or for winning votes.

Who knows he might even be able to persuade some Red Tories (yes those dreaded Red Tories) to not only help out next time, but to vote for us. It might make quite a difference in ridings where the vote is very tight.

"Never say never" is a very accurate phrase in political life; the fun will be in watching to see if it ever becomes a “maybe”.