Justin Trudeau’s other opponent - Macleans.ca

Justin Trudeau’s other opponent

The new Liberal leader’s biggest rivalry may not be with Harper, but fellow progressive Mulcair

Trudeau’s other opponent

Photograph by Adam Scotti

The House of Commons is laid out to create confrontations, classically a prime minister and an opposition leader glaring at one another across the wide centre aisle. So when Justin Trudeau entered the chamber this week for the first time as Liberal leader, interest naturally focused on how he would fare against Stephen Harper. (Their initial exchange was disappointingly low-key.) But there is another equally intriguing, though less obvious, way to size up the House scene. If Trudeau takes a sidelong glance from his new front-bench seat, he’s liable to catch sight of the brooding profile of NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair—potentially his even more important adversary in the next election.

Neither Mulcair nor Trudeau seems eager to publicly emphasize his rivalry with the other, at least not nearly as much as his desire to bring down Harper. Yet in key election battlegrounds—notably Quebec, home province of both—their success in the expected 2015 campaign will depend largely on which left-of-centre party comes out on top and by how much. “It really comes down to trying to eliminate the other progressive option,” says Ipsos Reid pollster Darrell Bricker. Recent polls show the Liberals surging past the NDP on the strength of the excitement Trudeau generated cruising to victory in the party’s leadership race. That sort of bounce for a new leader is typical, but not easy to sustain. Still, the opinion shift provides a glimpse of how Trudeau’s rise, if he doesn’t falter, might change the next election’s outcome.

Wilfrid Laurier University’s Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy blended the findings of five national polls, conducted in late March and early April, and projected that if those voter preferences prevailed on election day, the Tories would be reduced to a minority, 138 seats down from 164. The Liberals would vault into second place, rising to 93 MPs from today’s 35, while the NDP would be relegated back to third, dropping to 89 seats from 100. Barry Kay, a political science professor at the university and an associate at the institute, says projected Liberal gains in Quebec—from today’s eight seats to a respectable 23—would come mainly from the NDP. In Atlantic Canada and Ontario, Trudeau would pick up ridings primarily from the Tories—sometimes as a result, not so much of the Conservative vote slipping, but of NDP support shifting to the Liberals.

Bricker sees taking votes back from the NDP as Trudeau’s main task ahead. His latest Ipsos Reid poll, conducted March 28 to April 3, put the Liberals at 32 per cent, a hair above the Tories at 31 per cent, with the NDP close behind at 27 per cent. But he sees Harper’s support as solid at that level, unlikely to erode further. For Trudeau to find more votes in winnable ridings, he must slice deeper into Mulcair’s share. “As long as the NDP stays at this artificially high level, which is historical for them, it really doesn’t matter what else the Liberals do,” Bricker says.

Of course, the NDP doesn’t concede that polling in the high twenties is artificially elevated. In fact, a senior NDP strategist, who asked not to be named, argues it’s the recent Liberal numbers that are inflated. He pointed to how Stéphane Dion and Michael Ignatieff both enjoyed short-lived polling spikes after they won the Liberal leadership, only to drag the party down to crushing defeats in the last two elections. As well, the strategist says the NDP’s main concern in Quebec is any recovery of the Bloc Québécois, not a Trudeau-led Liberal revival. The NDP takes solace from numbers that suggest the Liberal leadership race failed to spark much enthusiasm in Quebec. Out of about 104,000 Liberal party members and supporters who voted—an overwhelming 80 per cent of them for Trudeau—just 11,929 were Quebecers. That’s only slightly more than one in 10 ballots cast, from a province that accounts for nearly a quarter of the country’s population.

There are hints, however, that the NDP is taking the Trudeau threat more seriously than Mulcair’s advisers admit. Although the Tories were out first this week with widely anticipated anti-Trudeau attack ads, the NDP is also producing new TV spots. According to the NDP strategist, they will highlight Mulcair’s experience—implying a contrast with Trudeau. Like their Tory counterparts, NDP strategists apparently see Trudeau as lacking a credible prime minister’s resumé. At an NDP policy convention last weekend in Montreal, though, Mulcair mainly left it to other New Democrat MPs to dismiss the new Liberal leader. Trudeau was more overt in his acceptance speech after his leadership win was announced in Ottawa, lumping Mulcair in with Harper as “divisive and negative.”

Canadian politics is often portrayed as if it follows the two-party U.S. or British mode, as a right-vs.-left affair. But with the rise of Trudeau making it a three-party contest again, the first order of political business might not be to defeat Stephen Harper so much as to establish which rival really ranks as his foremost challenge.


Justin Trudeau’s other opponent

  1. What a load of disengenious crap. This seriously reads as if you’ve never taken the time to talk to people swayed to the NDP last election. Mulcair has alienated voters by being every bit the manipulative creep that Jack Layton wasn’t. Pretending otherwise is rediculous.

    To be honest, everything about this article sounds like Macleans is trying to create a left-wing divide where there’s a atypical unity among the left’s voters. How can I possibly prepared for my left-wing political opposition with dishonest journalism misrepresenting my opposition’s actual views and opinions?

    Kindly knock it off. I respect my enemy, and all articles like these are doing is alienating me from longstanding Canadian periodicals.

    • The Philosophy of As If
      Do not be alienated: Pray to God.
      Jesus saves.
      God bless the Prime Minister and Her Majesty Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada.

      • Was there a purpose to this babbling, or are you just trying to clutter the page with empty catechisms?

        Going over your posting history, it’s clear your only task in these comments are to replace genuine commentary with insubstantial banality. Kindly desist. /:D

        • I babble, really? I am a babbler. I like that. Well said. An inveterate babbler–that is even better.
          Is it because I am the sophist and you are the philosopher?
          Of course there exists a rational distinction between babble and science.
          Where is your rational argument? Words are a dime a dozen.
          Sound political and economic judgements are worth their weight in gold.
          Here, let me assist you in this endeavour.
          The conclusion is, therefore Dettling is a babbler.
          Now you give the premises.

          • Typically, sophists avoid referring to themselves as sophists, as the outward portrayal of sophism disempowers the practitioner.

            Sophist don’t ramble, which is all you’ve done.

            You’re not a sophist – just an obstacle in the way of free, unencumbered and open dialogue.

            And if you could do me a favor – please stop editing your comments. It’s exceptionally dishonest, and misrepresents my replies to you.

          • Yes Sir, you are the master and I am the slave.
            Be so kind as to elucidate why you do not ramble and babble.
            Where is the rational argument? Where is the connexion between premises and conclusion? Perhaps my eyes are bad … So much could be …
            An imaginary creature with horns could be running around your bedroom this very moment. My goodness, what a world we live in.

          • Lose the banal false platitude, and the reiterations of criticism you’ve taken from other users.

            You’re transparent, and boring. Say what you have to say, as an adult might. You’re not worth the respect of answering directly until you do.

          • Where is the rational argument?
            I will assist you.
            Consequently, therefore and thus are necessary elements.
            Wars da bif?
            God bless The Prime Minister and Her Majesty Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada.

    • I’ve read you twice now, and i still can’t tell what you’re pissed about. The jist of the article is about right, there almost certainly will be a long struggle between the Trudeau led libs and the NDP, particularly in QC and Ontario

      • Well, politely, your lack of intellectual depth isn’t my problem – it’s yours.

        • Can the snark and simply explain, if you can be bothered jerk.

          • The snark is deserved. Can the hypocrisy. And the ignorance.

          • Hypocrisy? How exactly? You’re miffed because i asked you why you seem pissed. Did i hurt your tender feelings then?
            Personally i have no fondness for passive aggressives who start out by “politely” suggesting the other party is stupid for asking a simple question.

            I’m still waiting for an explanation bud. Which if you go back to my original question, was all i asked for – why are you pissed [or upset if you prefer] at macleans or Geddes?

          • A shallow hypocrite lacking the ability for self-reflection, then.

            Get off your high horse. No one owes you a jot notes version, especially in light of your Disqus history, replete with vapid conjecture.

            I believe your next move is another hallow attempt to turn my words in hopes of scoring a repartee in an internet debate. Shame the crowd clearly has some greater sense of scrutiny than yourself – by all means, invest yourself further in something you’ve already admitted you don’t understand.

            As for ‘miffed’ – you might want to look into purchasing yourself an introduction to psychological projection. I’d suggest something from Baumeister, or perhaps MacCallum.

          • You’re right, i’m owed nothing. But since i have the time and the inclination to deconstruct a light weight, vacuous comment you can’t be bothered to defend; except by getting all huffily pompous. I’ll do it for you:

            “To be honest, everything about this article sounds like Macleans is
            trying to create a left-wing divide where there’s a atypical unity among
            the left’s voters”

            Conspiratorial rhetoric bordering on the paranoid. And it still isn’t clear what you’re objecting too…”atypical unity”…i’m a liberal and i know that’s laughably naive. How old are you, 14?

            “How can I possibly prepared for my left-wing political opposition with
            dishonest journalism misrepresenting my opposition’s actual views and

            Vacuous, unfocused gobbledegook.

            Don’t bother thanking me. You’re welcome.

          • That certainly does reflect the sort of ignorance I’ve accused you of. Your reply was almost note-for-note what I suggested you’d put forward, too. Right on up to your hypocritical lack of self-reflection, and your habit of projection (especially the ‘Conspiratorial rhetoric bordering on the paranoid’ line – which, given your consistent and reliable conspiratorial rhetoric, bordering on the paranoid, is especially laughable).

            No one cares if you’re a liberal, or for your banal antipathy for the young (who deserve more respect than we give them). What they care about is what’s right.

            And they’ve indicated through the votes. Just as you have.

            I’ve noticed you’ve taken the time to down-vote each and every one of my comments. I haven’t returned the favor. In fact, I’ve avoided touching the voting system entirely. I believe in a greater intellectual honesty than that. One you could certainly benefit from.

          • I voted you down because I disagree with your comments. Hardly dishonest in any way – that’s what it’s for.

            Anyway, enough. It must be past your bed time sonny – class tomorrow eh!

            By all means have the last word. Bye.

          • And your last rebuttal is an impotent attempt at a dismissal, as well as a confession of your own youth, a weakness which you earlier tried to weaponize yourself. A hypocrite to the last.

            Those youths you denigrated earlier have a term called ‘pimping away’ – a play on ‘limping away’, to be used whenever someone tries to present themselves as prideful when they’ve been utterly denigrated.

            It’s a base bit of slang, but it accurately describes your departure.

            So by all means, pimp your dishonest lack of self-awareness away.

          • I’m in my 50s.. Einstein !

          • so f’ing stupid, just shut your moron mouth

          • No, let him speak. This is the sort of behavior I’ve been working to expose from the get-go.

          • Wow. That was insightful. Did you type it with your thumbs?

          • “i’m not dumb, you’re dumb, you dumb thumb typer”

            lol look at the dumb guy getting mad all over the place

          • Why the quotation marks? Who the hell you quoting?[ Do i really want to know?]

          • wow you really are dumb

          • Is it a punctuation free day now then? What happened to those quotation marks, and all the rest of it?

          • lol moving the goalposts

            what a dumb baby you are

  2. What seems and shows is not what is.
    If my aunt were bald she would be my uncle.
    But she is not bald and she is not my uncle.
    So much could be, may be, can be and would be but is not what is.
    “We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
    By seagirls wreathed with seaweed red and brown,
    Till human voices wake us, and we drown.”
    We know these delusions as the death rattle of every inferior ruling class.
    God bless the Prime Minister and Her Majesty Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada.

  3. “…largely on which left-of-centre party …”

    Ahem, Mr G, one of those parties is most decidedly not a left of centre party; even if does contain LOC folks like me. This is one of the tenents of the new Trudeauism. I doubt Mulcair would make the same claim.

  4. JT has a very large problem which he can’t fix, his mouth runs off while his brain is still in neutral.

    • Still voting yourself up there i see Billy boy.

      Look at some of Harper’s statements at the same age…barely any better.

    • Billy Bob I like your style.

  5. Curious how much the NDP paid Maclean’s to run this article

  6. NDP and Liberals. Whats the difference? Trudeau is an interchangeable center-left Liberal(like his father who voted both Liberal and NDP in national elections. NDP voter in several elections in 1950’s and early 60’s.) Mulclair is dropping the socialist line and moving the NDP further to the center. Both parties are social leftists who favor big government spending(look at Liberal provincial government in Ontario or NDP provincial governments in Nova Scotia and Manitoba). The only nationwide party that isn’t left-leaning is the Conservative Party. If you favor smaller limited government then the Conservatives are the best option(since the NDP and Liberals want to increase the size of government rather than cut anything). If you are a union guy(who is pro-life, opposes the gun registry, or supports the death penalty), you can vote for the NDP or Liberals but neither party will let you run for office under their banner. These same guys claim to support the working man but have done nothing to help the common man. I live in a high crime area. The Liberals and NDP try to make it impossible for a law abiding citizen like myself to own a gun for protection. For decades, the NDP and Liberals have worked to undermine the right of myself and other citizens to defend ourselves from robbers and other home intruders. They have given the criminal more rights than the average joe canada who follows the law and works hard to make a living. I defend myself I go to jail while the left supports light sentencing of the criminal involved(can’t have mandatory minimums?) My problem with Harper is that he won’t allow a free vote on reinstating the death penalty or even discuss the possibility of concealed carry. He could also go further on economic reforms like the Liberal Party in Australia(read up on the Australian economic success story) or like Thatcher did in Britain. But hey, go vote for Trudeau and enjoy a rehash of the same failed economic policies that Daddy tried in th 1970’s. High unemployment, inflation, and up to 52% of GDP in government hands it worked so well here(and its working so well in western europe).

    • History is your friend. Read up a bit.

  7. Still trying to figure out how the Liberals are a “centre left party.” All their policies sway to the right and their record on the environment would shame most of the world’s conservatives. Anyone?

  8. This article is exactly spot on – the real struggle is not between Harper and the young Dauphin, instead it is clearly a choice now for the collective wisdom of the average Canadian to choose between the NDP, Liberal and dare I say the Green parties. Of this there is no doubt and any attempt to debate otherwise shows more the dislike for harper than anything else. We are in a most unusual postion right now becuase in a strange way the more unpoular Harper is the more likely he will win the next election .. The key has been and remains the struggle between those who think that soem sort of ABC movement can solve the situation and the best part of this for us Tories is that it can’t it only further increases the likelhood of Harper winning. We are in a most peculiar postion and I am so looking forwad to the next few years as as in all my years being a political junkee (and as a sidenote folks there seem to be few people here who think I am a paid poltical operative – of which I find endlessly amusing becuase I only wish I could find a way to be paid for such) – we are now on the 3 time around the circuit so to speak and next year the final stretch will happen and by that time all the gloves will be thrown on the floor of the ring and the real battle begins in earnest – and indeed it will be Tommy The Beard and Justin the Just Watch Me Kid (PS: Mulcair needs to get rid of the beard as it’s a curse – literally check it out :) – since 1874 if you have a beard you lose !!!! – so any Dippers out there get him to shave and his numbers would skyrocket – don’t know why this is just is!

    • what a load of crap