The Kenney-Poilievre Doctrine

The minister of democratic reform explains his defence


In the current issue of the print edition, I look at Pierre Poilievre and the minister’s defence of the Fair Elections Act. We spoke a bit about his approach to defending the bill, an approach that owes something to Jason Kenney, and some of that conversation made it into the magazine item, but here’s more of what Mr. Poilievre had to say.

I have noticed that those ministers who have intense knowledge of the minutiae are always infinitely better at defending their bills. I think of Jason Kenney, for example, he can recite legislation in his sleep. And that’s why he’s almost never stumped in the House of Commons when he’s questioned about it.

The biggest problems that government’s have with legislation is when they can’t answer basic questions about controversial measures contained in them. The inability to answer arouses new suspicions. And whenever that happens the legislation is unsuccessful. They either have to retreat or amend. We wanted to be in a position where our legislation was very defendable…

[Jason Kenney] advised me to have very detailed knowledge of the legislation and to have prepared facts to respond to anticipated objections. His formula for responding in the House is always to deliver a multitude of simply presented, irrefutable, documented facts. And that is the approach that I’ve tried to take in defending this bill…

All of us in politics these days, make the mistake of focusing too much on getting the right lines. We say, well, we’ve got to have the right message. Actually, what people want are the right facts. And they don’t need to be complicated, archaic facts. Rather, they need to be clear, simple, documented, irrefutable.

If you look at this controversy over the veterans office closures, as the facts started to come out about the policy, the controversy just sort of melted away. Most of the offices are still going to be held in the same building, for example. It’s just a simple fact.

So much of the time in politics we try to come up with these clever turns of phrase, slogans or messages, but what the public really wants is just the simple facts. And which ever side has a better mastery of those facts, I think wins the debate in the long run.

You might quibble with various aspects of this. Mr. Poilievre, for instance, hasn’t entirely disavowed cute turns of phrase (“The Fair Elections Act would give [the elections commissioner] sharper teeth, a longer reach, and a freer hand“). But he has also invoked various statistics and statutes to explain and justify the reforms he is trying to make. And that not only seems to boost his credibility, but it also probably increases the burden on his critics and rivals.


The Kenney-Poilievre Doctrine

  1. “….and at the very end of everything I ever write, i press Ctrl +F and replace “utterly embarrassing bafflegab i can’t even believe the people who vote for us will swallow” with “facts””

  2. “And they don’t need to be complicated, archaic facts.”

    It takes arcane knowledge to know which facts are archaic.

  3. The CPC is well aware of the old truism, “a lie can travel the world before the truth can put its boots on” and have no compunctions saying whatever seems best at the time. By the time it’s been debunked, they’ve put out a dozen more.

  4. Well, you can’t knock him for his sense of humour. Did he manage to keep a straight face through all that? Did you?

  5. Down is the new up. Fiction is the new fact. Welcome to Harperland.

  6. I guess he must mean the *other* facts.

  7. Here’s an irrefutable fact, Pierre: you’re going to jail.

  8. Is that really Skippy saying those things? Because if it is, I have to call ‘possession by a ghost of a reasonable parliamentarian’ as the only possible explanation.

  9. Wow. You’re the last person I expect to write an article like this. Well done.

  10. Sounds like Skippy has a new crush …

  11. I don’t think our Veterans plan to just melt away even if the media has moved on .. to attacking their retirement benefits. Why should a retiring veteran have to leave their home community ( think medical specialists/grown children) if they want to move to a bungalow with no stairs? It makes no sense.

  12. The root cause of skippy’s problems is that he’s been byrned before .