Thursday
Feb122015

Winners and Losers

Political types tend to look at every action that takes place as a win or lose situation. This is especially true in today’s hyper-partisan political environment where each side regards the other parties as the enemy, not just as competitors for the hearts and minds of voters.

In this super charged environment capturing one of the other sides MPs and bringing them into your party is a big coup. One side celebrates and basks in the limelight of success and the losers go on the attack doing their best to savage the departing MP.

It’s no wonder then that Eve Adams has garnered so much publicity, generously helped by social media which allows so many people to join the debate in real time.

This type of environment and mind set helps to explain Trudeau’s hastily organized press conference to announce his most recent catch. In today’s fast paced environment the Liberals knew that the Conservative attack machine would pounce as soon as their suspicions about Adams departure could be confirmed. This is standard operating procedure. We did it to both Scott Brison and Belinda Stronach when they defected to Paul Martin. Journalists will remember the stream of messages flowing to them with various negative quotes, even before Martin and the MPs went before the cameras.

On the day of her departure to the Liberals, political staff and operatives would have been absorbed in trying to determine the winner and loser of that day’s event. However there is always an impact on others especially MPs who on one side feel let down and on the other side quietly debating amongst themselves the wisdom of their leader’s actions in taking in that MP. That internal debate will go on for some time and always has the potential to be divisive especially with party volunteers at the riding level.

Whatever her motives for joining the Liberals, Adams and Trudeau succeeded in generating a wave of publicity that helped to split the coverage of the Prime Minister’s cabinet shuffle. A good news day for the Conservatives became one of defence and attack while trying to stay on the good news message of the shuffle.

The real winner or loser will not be determined for some months. Eva Adams is a successful campaigner having won in three municipal elections as well as one federal contest. In spite of her recent missteps since her election, Adams was considered a real catch by the Conservatives in 2011 and was made a Parliamentary Secretary almost immediately. Not bad for a rookie MP.

Unlike Joe Oliver who as Finance minister has one of the toughest and most time consuming jobs in the country, Adams can now devote herself to organizing and preparing for both the nomination fight and the upcoming election. Rule one in politics is never underestimate your opponent and the second rule should be don’t believe your own rhetoric. While the Conservative attack machine successfully savaged Adams, she does know how to campaign. At the same time we cannot predict the mood of the country when the election happens. The real winner and loser didn’t happen last week, it will be determined months from now and Canadians will have a front row seat watching it all play out.

Thursday
Feb052015

Power and Influence Magazine (2)

Following up on my feature story in the present edition of Power and Influence Magazine (Latest article is out https://twitter.com/PowInfluen…/…/557206278406033409/photo/1 ) I am pleased to announce that I will now be a regular columnist with Power and Influence magazine

Thursday
Feb052015

Power and Influence magazine

The latest edition of Power and Influence magazine is out. I have a feature story in it. There is no direct link but this will take you to free download from the Hill Times.

Latest article is out https://twitter.com/PowInfluen…/…/557206278406033409/photo/1

Thursday
Jan082015

Todays CTV News True North Politics Panel

Participated in today's True North Politics Panel. As always enjoyed the discussion.

A clip of the discussion can be found here

http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=526763

Wednesday
Jan072015

Change was needed, change is needed

The Prime Minister finally did what everyone knew had to be done and he removed Fantino from Veteran Affairs. It was long overdue.

Clearly he waited too long, the damage has been done. In politics perception is reality and most voters  perceive the Conservatives as not caring enough or doing enough for our veterans. One can certainly argue that the Conservatives have gone out of their way to honour the sacrifices, deeds and events around our veterans, but what really counts for the public is how the government helps our vets in their time of need.

For most Canadians a vet is a vet, they all deserve the same type of treatment and the same level of assistance.  The public does not distinguish between a World War Two vet, a Korean War vet or and Afghanistan vet. They don’t understand or accept the government explanation of the difference between how older vets are assisted and how we assist newer veterans under the Veterans Charter. A vet is a vet.

The Conservatives get bogged down in numbers, how much they have spent or reallocated (a fancy way of saying cut). The public doesn’t care about their numbers unless they see factual proof that our veterans are benefitting and that the government is doing all that is possible to take care of the health of our vets. The government can throw around all the numbers it wants, but all it takes is for a couple of vets to go on TV and disagree with those numbers and the amount of assistance that they are getting and the government has once again lost the argument. Any sense government numbers made went out the window when the public heard how much money the department returned to government coffers.

The government is in bean counter mode, it’s all about the dollars. The public see a defence based on dollars as a smokescreen; they don’t believe the numbers and frankly don’t care about them. They don’t see the proof that everything possible is being done to help our vets, their perception is the government isn’t doing enough. That is an argument the government can’t win.

A new minister will help in the short term. Fantino maybe a competent individual, but his public persona was wrong for the job. The lack of empathy shown was very damaging to him and the government and the Conservative brand as well.

Erin O’Toole may be a fine MP and he has the potential to be an excellent minister, but outside of personality, the biggest problem is that he is still administering the same policies with the same budget restraints. Unless the policies change the government will not win this fight. The government will never win an argument based on dollars and cents; they cannot win an argument that creates two classes of vets. Until they accept that a vet is a vet and bean counting be damned, they have lost this battle. Our vets (all of them) have stood up to far more that politicians, they won’t back down. It’s time for the government to make a strategic withdrawal and rethink the whole veteran’s issue. Perhaps that will be O’Toole’s greatest contribution, but to do that he has to first convince the Prime Minister.