Category Archives: Liberal Party

Idealism for Ideals

In the middle of the summer, I was asked by my friend Joseph Uranowski to write an article on whether or not Justin Trudeau should run for the Liberal leadership. In sum, I argued that he should run, contingent on whether he could manifest big ideas that would be otherwise necessary to revitalize the party.

Mr. Trudeau has decided to run, but I see little discussion of principled, progressive, innovative ideas. I see a “Justin.ca” based leadership. And that may produce strong polls, and media fascination, but no meaningful change to Canada. So, I will broaden my desire for Mr. Trudeau. I don’t want the ideas necessary to revitalize the Liberal Party, I want the ideas necessary to revitalize the country.

High on Justin | Graham Hughes, Canadian Press

Perhaps it is because I am a hopeless idealist, but strong polling numbers mean little to me if there is no substance to back it up. Justin Trudeau might be the best man to lead the Liberal Party back to power, but I don’t simply want a Liberal Government to have a Liberal Government. I want a Liberal Government so that grassroots Canadian principles and ideals are reflected by our Government. I want the Liberal Leader to lead Canada back to the soft power hegemons we once were with Jean Chretien. I want them to have the domestic nation building focus and initiative of Pierre Trudeau. Where is the vision of a better country? Where is the notion that innovation will make this country stronger? If we say Mr. Harper does not reflect Canadian values or beliefs, then the Liberal focus should be finding a leader with a strong, progressive voice who does. But what kind of values are those? What do they look like when enacted through policy? In other words, what is Canada supposed to look like and what is it supposed to be?

The point is that I will not vote for the Liberal that will simply get the party back to high office. I am looking for a true leader. I want someone who will combat poverty in our country. Someone who will fight addiction and mental health issues. Someone who wants to fix the enormous gap in the quality of education between the suburbs and the inner-city. Someone who can stabilize the economy and lower the unemployment rate. Someone that can keep our country together, and restore our standing in the international community. Someone who will not cower from cooperation, tolerance and understanding even if it means working with other parties.

Is there a Liberal candidate out there that can make me believe in what Canada once stood for?

So far there is one candidate with the organization and publicity necessary to win a general election. While I remain unconvinced that Mr. Trudeau has the ideas necessary to win an election, he is the only candidate who can win, and I am not blinded by my idealism. Canadians, like myself will wait for ideas; but they will not wait long. If Justin Trudeau is going to convince us that he has what it takes to lead more than just the Liberal Party to the mountaintop, he shouldn’t wait until the Spring to do it.

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Bob Rae’s Steep Climb

A Leger Marketing poll was conducted between April 2nd and 4th,  and showed the NDP on top of the pack, with 33%, leading the Conservatives by 1%. The Liberals were far behind at 19%, the same level of support given in May 2011. Leger’s information confirms another poll done earlier in the week by Harris-Decema with nearly identical numbers.

Polling Info Puts Conservatives and NDP in Statistical Tie | This Graph Copied From http://www.harrisdecima.com

With the next general election coming three years away, these results certainly should not fill Conservatives or Liberals with immanent fear. That said I think this poll provides two implicit pieces of information:

  1. Ordinary Canadians can see the NDP as a possible Federal Government option for the first time, well, ever
  2. Bob Rae is running out of time to instill confidence in Liberal members and supporters that he is capable of transcending these poor poll numbers

I believe Mr. Rae has the Liberal leadership locked up. Even though Dominic Leblanc is assumed by many to be the strongest (not to mention the most likely) challenger to a Bob Rae acclimation, the decision to move to a one-member-one-vote, has crowned the lone gentleman with an overwhelming amount of daily media attention (and thus unparalleled name recognition) the inevitable winner.

Only two people could pose a reasonable threat to Mr. Rae’s permanent leadership aspirations. First, Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty, who would risk Ontario’s provincial political stability if he were to run, and second, MP Justin Trudeau who has not only publicly rejected notions of running for leadership, but is likely going to wait to run for leadership until his chances of becoming Prime Minister are assured.

If the odds play out and Bob Rae becomes the next Liberal Leader he will be competing against two men void of charisma and character in Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair. Bob Rae a personality in his own right is not from Quebec, like the NDP leader, nor is he Prime Minister, like the Liberal Leader: two distinct disadvantages. Additionally, I’m not sure he shares the political shrewdness the other leaders share, nor the willingness to push the envelope when it comes to campaigning.

He faces a steep uphill climb from the 19% he currently stands at, and fights on both flanks. The Liberal Party cannot afford to wait until the “honeymoon period” for Mr. Mulcair is over, since some leaders – Justin Trudeau’s father for example – never see their honeymoon period expire. In my opinion, if you will not cooperate with progressive forces, you must force the NDP to the left, by outflanking them on progressive issues like recreational drugs, while forcing the Conservatives right by appealing to Canadians’ anger on the mismanagement of taxpayer funds.

Bob Rae needs to be more fiscally responsible than the Conservatives, while demonstrating that the Liberals have better progressive policies than the New Democrats. With both parties sprinting to the center, Bob Rae must stretch around them, making Canadians consider embracing a government that includes the best parts of both the political left and right. It will take smart policies and strong leadership, but Mr. Rae, might just be able to pull it off.

Rae and Mulcair Won't Work Together, So They'll Eat Eachother | Image Stolen From news.nationalpost.com


Mulcair’s Center Squeeze

Most New Democrats – probably all New Democrats – genuinely dislike Steven Harper. With good reason, he’s muzzled scientists, bullied unions, abandoned the impoverished, given tax breaks to the largest corporations, all things that stir up democratic socialists. Yet, their newly minted leader was not only represented the Quebec Liberal Party in the Quebec National Assembly, but he widely reported to have been courted by those same federal Conservatives that many NDP members despise.

Mulcair Rolls Up His Sleeves| Image Stolen From http://www.theglobeandmail.com

I say this because I want to prove that Thomas Mulcair represents an entirely novel brand of politics to the New Democratic Party. To me, Mr. Mulcair’s leadership has already proved to be three things: prudent, calculated and aggressive.

During the NDP Leadership campaign, Mr. Mulcair was quick to reference the lack of successful campaigns between Winnipeg to Vancouver. If the Party continued to do the same things, Mr. Mulcair reasoned, there would be no change. When he said that New Democrats have to bring the center to themselves, what he meant was “we have to shuffle to the right”, otherwise they will retain their altruistic values Ed Brodbent held, and find themselves where Ed always was: on the periphery of Canadian politics.

In the two weeks since his election, Thomas Mulcair has tried to swing the Liberals to the periphery, denied any cooperative merger, left non-NDP opposition members 20 minutes (out of a possible fifteen hours) to abhor the budget on the Commons floor, and called Liberal Leader Bob Rae anxious over recent polling showing an NDP surge in Canada.

Mr. Mulcair has demonstrated his calculative, prudent approach to politics, something Steven Harper has exemplified during his tenure. The current Leader of the Official Opposition understands the only chance of an NDP government is with a marginalized Liberal Party, one polling in the mid-teens, as their own party used to. The prescription is to make Liberals irrelevant, and eliminate any other diversions that stand between himself and the Prime Minister.

Additionally, Mr. Mulcair has selected a flat personality as his Deputy Leader. Not only does this decision hide the spotlight from a potential future challenger, it also makes Mr. Mulcair look like an even stronger leader in contrast, while smoothing over possible tensions from the election by picking an “establishment” MP. It’s smart and calculated.

I believe Mr. Mulcair has the leadership capable of winning a government because it matches Mr. Harper’s brand of leadership, and I sincerely mean that as a compliment. Both men seem to know what it takes to win: hard work, willingness to get dirty, and a “eat-or-be-eaten” disposition. If Thomas Mulcair can successfully chart a course to the political center while keeping the grassroots happy, he will have literally mirrored Mr. Harper’s accomplishment, and this is worthy of respect. What he needs to do is go from an alternative to the alternative, and that, in my opinion can only happen by suffocating the other leftist party between themselves and the government so that there is no unique message they can make.

With the right kind of messaging and debate performances, Tomas Mulcair might be able to prove to Canadians that he can be Prime Minister. I have two questions: First, will the eventual Liberal leader be able to stand up from a political threat greater than Stephen Harper? Second, can the Prime Minister label the NDP Leader the same way he labeled Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff?

Dion, Ignatieff, Rae | Image Stolen From http://www.hilltimes.com