Tag Archives: Justin Trudeau

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.


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

Harper Eats Cake, Has Cake

After Stephen Harper’s majority victory on May 2nd fear-mongering over his presumed extreme right-wing agenda which was only restrained by a minority government ran high. With a majority government and a full mandate, the true ambitions of the Prime Minister would presumably become unleashed on the Canadian public.

So far, we’ve seen glimpses of the right-wing extremism Michael Ignatieff had spent weeks warning against. The long-gun registry issue, the omnibus crime bill with its overwhelming super-prison promotion, Bill C-30, the Enbridge pipeline, the list goes on. While I certainly think the country is headed in the wrong direction, I hardly think Mr. Harper has been a “dystopian” ruler as he has been made out to be. Same-sex marriage, abortion and wearing hijabs are all still legal (not without pressure mind you, but I digress), while the death penalty and nuclear weapons are not on the table.

I think Andrew Coyne is correct in asserting this first Conservative majority budget was a great opportunity for the true (small-c) conservatives to make their presence on Parliament Hill known. The budget was, with some select exceptions, universally classified as a moderate one, something Liberals might even consider backing had someone named John Turner proposed it. I think Michael den Tandt goes too far when he suggests that the budget is something a social Liberal like Jean Chretien might have passed, but he too observes the non-conservative nature of the Conservative budget. With a majority mandate and no real opposition to his desires, why is it that the Conservatives persist with record-high levels of spending, the prolonged isolation of social conservative issues, and the play-nice policies of someone who is acting less like a Reform party member, and more like a 1980’s  “business-Liberal”?

I believe it is because the Prime Minister wants to stay in power, and he wisely holds his position more dearly than his values. He has managed to make centrist Canadians (also known as your average Canadian voter) think he can handle the economy better than anyone else, and that he is trustworthy to keep our social programs in good conditions. Meanwhile, he has convinced his base that he is the best person to move Canada right, that taxpayer waste will not be acceptable under his watch. If you look purely at his record, six years as Prime Minister, three electoral wins and the destruction of three consecutive Liberal leaderships (each by a larger margin than the last), it is hard to debate Mr. Harper’s incredible cunning and skill. If you want any real indication of how politically prudent Stephen Harper is, consider his successes have been in spite of any charisma, humor, or personality. Yes, he is that good.

I have told anyone willing to listen that the Conservatives are in line for another majority in three years time. There are four possibilities I see as potentially disrupting his success. First, Stephen Harper could take off the camouflaged mask to reveal his right-wing extremism and scare average, centrist voters away. Second,  if social and fiscal conservatives, the base of Harper’s support, discover that Mr. Harper has no mask on at all, a portion of the party may either force him further right or (more a more damaging alternative) launch a Wildrose-esque rebellion against him. Third, the progressive parties could form a cooperative pact. These three are incredibly unlikely. The fourth possibility is that there is a scandal so large (one involving electoral fraud, for example), that the Conservatives lose the trust of the Canadian voters. Mr. Harper is already on this, however, and I believe will do whatever it takes to prevent this burden from falling on him in three years time.

I suppose there is a fifth option. Justin Trudeau could settle political differences in the boxing ring. Judging by Saturday night’s result, at least this way the Liberals would have a fighting chance. I don’t know if Trudeau’s back is broad enough to carry progressives back to 24 Sussex, but that smile he wore after he beat down Brazeau just might be.