Trudeau in Montreal: He’s a Liberal

Paul Wells explains why things just got interesting


Why did Patrick Muttart lose his job on the Conservative campaign in 2011 for leaking this photo to Sun News?

Exhibit A

First of all, because it was a really lousy hoax. It was not at all a photo of Michael Ignatieff in Iraq, as Sun News had been told. But why did Muttart want it to be a photo of Michael Ignatieff in Iraq? Because it has been a central element of Conservative strategy, since the day Stephen Harper formed the modern Conservative party, to set Liberals against themselves and Liberals against New Democrats. And to the extent voters could be reminded Ignatieff was a key supporter of George W. Bush’s war in Iraq, he would lose all credibility among voters who were proud of Jean Chrétien’s decision to stay out of that war.

That’s also the reason the main voice in the Conservative attack ads against Stéphane Dion was Ignatieff’s. Liberal division cost them power and has cost them 80% of the seats they held in 2000. Liberal unity is trouble for Conservatives. A truly unified left-of-Conservative vote would be the end of Conservative power.

Much of that is beyond the control of any Liberal leader as long as the Liberals and NDP remain discrete and competitive parties. But Ignatieff, and Stéphane Dion, and to a great extent Paul Martin before that, could not even succeed at job one: they did not unify and motivate Liberal party members and traditional Liberal voters. With Martin, it was the manner of his accession to the party’s top job, the nasty scandal Jean Chrétien left on his front porch, and a bad strategic decision to reach out to voters who’d never voted Liberal before without cementing base support. With Dion it was a failure to consolidate support after he became the first leader in the party’s history to rank lower than first place on the first convention ballot. With Ignatieff it was a long history of estrangement from the country and the party’s core principles on foreign policy and Quebec. The Conservatives were good at finding those fissures, sticking a knife in and twisting. They had to be: when the divided recipients of the left-of-Conservative vote threatened to unite during the 2008 coalition crisis, Harper came as close as he has ever come to losing power.

Along comes Justin Trudeau. He’s the first Liberal leader since Martin at least, and I’d say since Chrétien nearly a decade earlier, to be accepted by Liberals automatically, without some effort of will, as their leader. That was obvious both in the delegates’ reception to Trudeau’s very good speech today and in the way Trudeau earned their applause: Not by hectoring them to rise up but by speaking softly and calmly in language they recognized. 

He opened with a too-cute-by-half anecdote about a fictional mother named Nathalie who works hard and plays by the rules and worries about things. Stephen Harper and Tom Mulcair, he said, want to exploit her fear. He wants to solve her problems. How? “For me, it starts with the core liberal ideas of freedom and opportunity. The idea that no matter where and to whom you were born, you start free, and should have a fair shot at success.”

Freedom, of course, has been a central Conservative idea, but parties are free to nudge one another off their squares, as the Conservatives have worked diligently to do with the notion of patriotism, once so central to Liberals’ self-image. From there Trudeau added a few other notions — education as a basic right, trade as a source of prosperity — and flirted with what could be a risky notion in a Liberal room: resource exports as a key Canadian asset. But he couched in a way that revealed how sloppy the Harper government, once so careful to keep up at least the appearance of environmental virtue, has been at defending that vulnerable flank. “It is a fundamental economic responsibility for the Prime Minister of Canada to help get our resources to global markets,” Trudeau said. “More and more, the way to do that is with a robust environmental policy that gives assurances to our trading partners that those resources are being developed responsibly.”

That bland excerpt drew one of several long standing ovations. I’ve seen earlier Liberal crowds, for longer than I would ever have thought possible, haul themselves to their feet for jarring, overly laboured, awkward or barely comprehensible lines delivered by a succession of over-credentialed stumblebums. This was different. This enthusiasm came more naturally to this audience.

In interviews on my book tour I’ve used a gruesome analogy to explain Stephen Harper’s success at keeping his Conservative base long after Brian Mulroney and Joe Clark started to lose theirs (in Mulroney’s case, through the spectacular defection of thousands of militants and millions of voters to the upstart Reform Party). To people who spend their lives calling themselves conservatives, Clark and Mulroney weren’t conservative. In an early episode of the TV show Walking Dead, post-apocalyptic humans realize that if they smell like zombies they can walk among them. Stephen Harper smells like a conservative to Conservatives. They trust him and will go far with him, even when the direction seems uncertain or confusing.

Justin Trudeau is the first Liberal leader since Jean Chrétien who smells like a Liberal to Liberals. And in the most intriguing part of the speech, he set about doing to Harper what Harper has been so energetically doing to one Liberal leader after another: peeling the party base off the leader.

“Many Canadians who voted Conservative last time are beginning to cast a weary eye on this government,” he said.

“I say this to the grassroots Conservatives out there, in communities across this country. We might not agree all the time on everything. We might disagree about a great many things, but I know we can agree on this: Negativity cannot be this country’s lifeblood. It may be the way of the Conservative Party’s of Canada current leadership, but it is not the way of those Canadians who voted Conservative.”

He went on in this vein for some time. For the first time, he was suggesting, not that Harper is too conservative, but that he is not many conservatives’ idea of a proper leader for their movement. This is a tough row to hoe. The most frequent response from many Conservative partisans will be more derisive laughter. And the likelihood of Trudeau giving up before he gets very far with this strategy is probably high. Liberals are really good at dropping a strategy before it pays off. But in one recent poll, the Liberals were the second choice of 1/4 of Conservative supporters.

Harper has spent a decade collapsing the Liberal vote. He has had tremendous help from a decade’s worth of Liberal leaders. As a result of that stellar combined effort, the Liberals are the party with the most ground to make up if they are to hope to compete for power. But Justin Trudeau has put Liberals in a mood to fight, and now he is knocking at Harper’s door. Things got interesting today.

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Trudeau in Montreal: He’s a Liberal

  1. Bravo Paul! W00T! Every now and then you knock one out of the park. Great analysis!

    • Trudeau actually carried a strong baritone sound in his speech today .

    • …”and btw, I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up”.

  2. The idea that Harper smells like a Conservative to Conservatives and Trudeau smells like a Liberal to Liberals is I think exactly on the mark.

    • We’re bringing a new dimension to our political analysis here at Maclean’s: Smell-O-Vision.

      • Does Tom Mulcair smell like a Dipper… future column?

      • As long as it isn’t hi-definition. We do not want hi-definition smell-o-vision.

      • Smells aside, I loved the zombie analogy. And I’ve never even seen an episode of The Walking Dead.

    • I think Geoff Norquay alluded to the same thing last week on Pnp with Evan Soloman. And I think it went this way ” a leader of a party should get out into the community so voters can smell him, touch him, and feel him “.

    • That all depends on what the “Conservative” party means. Harper’s united Conservative party is very different from Mulroney’s united Progressive Conservative party. So the above reference is clearly self-referential. Given the Harper Con party is at 30% in the polls, that party does not appear to include moderate conservatives (unlike Mulroney’s party.)

      And what exactly is the definition of “Liberal”? Today’s Liberal party is right of Brian Mulroney. It appears to cater to disenfranchised red Tories more than centrist liberals. It’s no where near the “just society” Liberal party of the post-war era.

      I think this partisanship is completely without sense or purpose. Partisans view political parties like sports teams. They only care if their team wins. There are no core values being represented or fought for.

      Liberals hated Mulroney, but became Mulroney when they came to power (without batting an eye.) Small-c conservatives hated liberals like Clinton, Chretien, Martin and Obama, even though they largely got their way and converted them to conservative doctrine. It’s ridiculous.

    • The smell thing is on the mark I would say…. and moreover Paul seems to understand that this Convention was about internal Liberal dynamics. It was vital for Trudeau to lock in the recent gains to the Liberal party and he has done that. Given that, my expectation is that when the actual policies come out, the economic side will be pretty conservative (no new taxes, no structural deficit). It will drive the Conservative pundits nuts (i.e. Coyne), Trudeau signalling a big spending vision and then campaigning on being responsible but it is precisely what Harper has done… convince your base that your one of them but you will need time to move the country.

      On a different issue, Soudas did fairly well to live up to his “leaked” strategy in terms of getting some mainstream press. That said, outside of partisan political junkies Canada has ignored this convention and the “intense” discussions around the General’s real estate fees as well. It would be fascinating to know if the alignment with the Olympics was a strategic decision.

      • A “strategic decision” or a tactical blunder, you’re intimating (ie: why hold a convention when almost everyone’s eyes are elsewhere?)?

        • It can’t be a mistake that the convention was scheduled at the same time as the Olympic hockey finals/semifinals.

          • You’re right…. two winning teams playing at the same time.

  3. “He’s the first Liberal leader since Martin at least, and I’d say since
    Chrétien nearly a decade earlier, to be accepted by Liberals
    automatically, without some effort of will, as their leader.”

    This really resonated with me. Never thought of it that way but it is true. Truthfully, I really disliked Ignatieff. I did like Dion but could see what made him look weak. I did not expect to like Trudeau (being a big fan of his father, I initially thought that he was just trying to ride on his father’s coattails). But he earned my support.

    In the early days I waited for the other shoe to drop – expected something to happen that the conservatives could exploit, but nothing really has. I trust Trudeau to get it right, and I have not trusted a liberal leader to do that for a long time.

    More to the point, I am witnessing friends slowly but surely following suit. I believe Trudeau has what it takes to bring liberal voters back.

    • Justin “has what it takes”.. This sad wishcasting onto the empty vessel will surely lead to a hard reality hangover in the morning.
      There won’t be enough media cheerleaders to prop up the buffoonery this shallowest of candidates will emanate over the course of an election campaign. To my Liberal friends out there, enjoy this moment. Hold onto it. Remember these good times in the safe Liberal harbour. Justin’s about to go out to sea. Hard times are ahead for him.

      • What?!?

        Oh. My. God. I am so scared now. You have totally opened my eyes to what is coming.

        Or, you know, not.

        Ha ha ha ha ha

        • Well as far as I’m concerned Trudeau is just Harper in a red suit. Not a hell of a lot of difference to tell you the truth. Both bought and controlled by the oil industry.

      • YOU and your ilk are the reason I will not vote for the Conservatives ever again. Slinging insults that would be weak in a grade school playground. Unable to look a policy issue in the eye. It is sad.

        • What policy issues ?

      • It’s really interesting how Trudeau drives conservatives especially nuts. It reminds me of how Liberals reacted to Harper prior to his forming government.

    • Getting the Liberal voters back may not be enough in these times. Facing a united Con party with a center-left divided three ways, Liberal prospects are not as rosy as they were when Chretien was in power (against a divided right.)

      Paul Martin won a minority in 2004 on 37% of the vote. He kept the Cons down to 30% (where they are now in the polls) and the NDP down to 16% (now 23%.) But the Green party sopped up 4.3% of the vote which disappeared into thin air under our preposterous voting system First-Past-the-Post.

      Two years later, Martin was defeated by Harper. If Trudeau wins in 2015, he could be replaced by Jim Prentice in 2017, who has the potential to unite the right behind back-to-back majorities like Mulroney.

      Justin promised to fix our broken voting system with ranked ballot voting but is killing his promise with Resolution 31 this weekend. His ambition for absolute power on 39% of the vote could make him one of the shortest reigning PMs in history.

      • Thanks for the history lesson.

        • Ron is right. If Trudeau passes on electoral reform…a warm and fuzzy Prentice will be PM for a decade. But never mind that…either you belive in reform…or you don’t.

          Which is it? I will vote for the Party that proposes reform…

          • Guess what? We won, Resolution #31 AND #92 passed, and I am a happy camper.

        • Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

          If someone as unlikable as Harper, who had a hard time getting conservatives to vote for him, mowed down 3 Liberal leaders and coasted to 9 years in power, what happens if they get a competent leader?

          The Liberals are still looking for a messiah instead of a solution to their problems. Unfortunately Trudeau has more style than substance and killed the only chance to really do something. Now the Conservative party is Canada’s natural governing party.

          • Now I thank you for the cliche and the rehashing of con talking points.

            Your “analysis” is nothing new. Maybe try that on someone who has not been paying attention for the last 10 years – I am sure it would be insightful to them. My point is that even with all this history, I believe Trudeau can bring liberals back to the fold.

            I also happen to believe he does not intend to win the next election. It would be a victory to return to the official opposition and hopefully hold Harper to a minority.

          • I am a non-partisan centrist. Certainly not con. Just pointing out what’s coming down the pike.

            What kind of future does Canada have if the Liberals’ big plan is to hold the Cons to a minority government?

            If Trudeau had stuck with his plan to bring ranked ballot voting to Canada we would have real change. It stops vote splitting by fixing our existing system. That means stopping the Cons from winning dozens of center-left ridings against the will of center-left voters and stopping them from destroying the country on less than 40% of the vote.

            In a democracy, the will of the majority is carried out: not that of an arbitrary minority party.

          • I never said you were a con – just recycling their talking points.

            And I never said I thought his “big plan” was to hold Harper to a minority. Just that I believe it is the plan for the next election (although I doubt even the liberals thought Trudeau would sustain his lead in the polls). If the liberals win the next election there will be 300 first time MP’s in government. Would you want to lead a huge number of green MP’s at the same time you are forming your first government? I know I wouldn’t.

            Finally, for the sake of clarity, my original post spoke about returning liberal voters to the fold. Not forming a majority government, or any government. You have to build the party before you do any of that. Trudeau is doing exactly what he must – getting out to build the party, build the donor base and recruit candidates. To suggest the liberals are looking for a messiah is just utter nonsense. Trudeau is not sitting in his ivory tower waiting for the people to come to him. He is going to the people. He is doing all the hard work it takes to build a party from a handful of MP’s into a real contender. Given the state of the LPC over the past 10 years, that is no small feat.

            I really do not need yet another lecture on how Chretien did not face a divided right. Sheesh – that is like saying the sky is blue.

          • Yeah Trudeau is ditching Question Period to “go to the people” with motivational speaking tripe. It must be hard work travelling around the country instead of doing his job.

            Trudeau will have a hard time accomplishing what Paul Martin accomplished 10 years ago — back when the party was in disarray according to you. Keeping the Cons down to 30% at election time will be a no mean feat. That will require winning over all moderate conservatives (Paul Martin was one of them himself.)

            It doesn’t matter if Trudeau has rookies or not. Getting an election under his belt will not make vote-splitting go away. The two issues have no correlation whatsoever.

          • We are not even talking about the same thing.

            I said I believe Trudeau can bring liberals back to the fold. That statement you expanded to mean that I expect him to win the election, to which you added your stuff about vote splitting and all that stuff anyone who knows anything about Canadian politics already knows about.

            I was pretty rude about the way I addressed your post and I should own that. So while that is happening maybe you can check what you are saying here because it has nothing to do with my point.

            Trudeau needs to build the party – what is the point of even talking about what he can accomplish in the next election if he has not even accomplished that?

          • Rebuilding riding associations is his job.
            Getting 5 minutes in question period is not a prudent thing to do.

            You are more convincing when you are not trying to be an ass Ron.

    • I agree with you. I have friends that use to vote for Progressive Conservative Party. Now they do not like Harper’s Conservative Party (Reform/Alliance) and they are telling me that they regret that Harper got majority Government and will not vote for Conservatives as long as Harper is the leader of the Party. Basically they do not trust him.

    • I’m another example, Gayle. I didn’t support him in the leadership race, but I sure do now. Three or four “little” things he’s done that meant the world to me–all about respect.

  4. . and Trudeau goes very negative! What is that all about? Hypocrisy?

    • How? By saying something you don’t like?

    • Riiiiiggght, pointing out that Harper uses negativity is going negative, got it.

      • Not just negative; “very” negative.

  5. “In an early episode of the TV show Walking Dead, post-apocalyptic humans realize that if they smell like zombies they can walk among them. Stephen Harper smells like a conservative to Conservatives”

    This was very funny

  6. i guess hes proven one thing, he can and never will know how to balance a budget!! cant wait to hear how hes gonna start borrowing 20 billion a year on pet projects!!

    • Harper/Flaherty have not delivered a balanced budget for 8 years — and have run up the debt to north of $600 billion. This is not a winning issue for the Tories.

      • LOL 600 million. thats the total of all governments in cdn history, dont play with numbers. the real number is 125 and u always conveniently leave out the recession in 08. obama has never balance a budget and has borrowed 7 trillion. guess who JT’s new campaign managers worked for last???

        • Harper and Flaherty have given to us the highest annual deficits in our history. Flaherty has never provided a balanced budget in his career, either provincially or federally! Yes the toal deficit is 600 billion+, but Harper was given a huge gift, that of a balanced budget and the first thing he did was screw that one quite quickly! Canadians deserve more than what Harper can provide, which is venom, bitterness and negativism!

          • Flaherty was finance minister for one budget in Ontario (2001/2), and it was in surplus. The first two federally were also in surplus. Then the recession hit. Despite the headline numbers, this year’s budget has a tiny surplus too.

            However, recession and stimulus alone does not excuse all 7 deficits. If they hadn’t cut the GST, the budget would have been balanced 1 year earlier.

        • Biff is really Charles, and Charles is really Biff.

          Either way, he is really on your side. He thinks his exaggeration is helping.

          • lol i know, liberals are terrible with money, but over estimating by 500 billion is a bit much

        • Bush also was president for 8 years and barely had a surplus when he started. I think you don’t really understand the dynamics.

          • obama has borrowed more money than all other presidents combined. now JT new campaign manager is the same man that told obama to borrow all the money. FACT

        • Yup… $125 billion Harper has added to our debt.

          But of coarse Stephen Harper was the first PM that faced a downturn in the economy.

          Your boogieman, Pierre T. faced 2 middle east wars, 18 % interest rates and Quebec Seperatists…and oh…he gave us the Charter of Rights.

          Piss off troll…go watch Duck Dynasty.

          • ok sheep. go talk hug some trees.

          • How old did you say you were?

          • old enough to join the military!

  7. This comment was deleted.

    • “At this stage he appears to want to be all things to all people”.

      I agree that’s really unnecessary. All he really needs to be at this stage is not Harper.

      Polls suggest an increasing percentage of Canadians, including some Con supporters, are terminally sick of the Harper party’s relentless venom.

      • Like the CROP poll showing Trudeau in a horrific nosedive in Quebec, you mean?
        I don’t opine with wishful thinking. Just experience. Which experience shows that in the past three elections, liberals clung to mid term polls as if they were the election. Dion was the savior. Then Iggy. Each time Harper was doomed! Liberals projecting their own partisan venom of Harper onto the general populace, unable to grasp that the public just doesn’t view the world of “CPC evil, liberals good” like they do. The public saw the worldwide economic turmoil all around them over the last 6 years, and saw that we were a relative island of stability and prosperity. The public cares about themselves, not liberal partisanship. Which is why Harper’s vote share will increase.
        And like the last three elections, folks such as yourself will view in shock and horror how the voters could have been so “wrong” in putting Harper in power, with yet a further vote share.

        • Trudeau may not be getting much traction in Quebec vs. the NDP but he’ll have to slide a lot further down in that province (or in the maritimes, for that matter) before he enters the nether regions inhabited for many months by the Harper crowd. Quebec is scorched earth for the CPC.

          BTW, have you noticed that the Cons’ support is even beginning to erode measurably in cowboy country?

          Actually, I don’t care if you’ve noticed. The longer Harper’s supporters keep whistling past the proverbial graveyard and dismissing the polls, the greater their surprise when they’re toppled. So carry on blithely, please. Your smug serenity is appealing.

    • You lost me at Obama being the worst president ever. He’s been a solid, conservative President in a sea of reactionaries. He has at least two major accomplishments, and quite a number of smaller ones. His foreign policy score is excellent, and he’s not done yet. His mistakes have been pretty small potatoes.

      Sure, he’s not Lincoln or FDR. But he has done well during one of the more difficult periods in US history, with perhaps the most difficult Congress since Reconstruction.

      History is going to judge him to be above average. If there’s a big black mark, it will be that Americans look at this as a dark time for freedom, as Obama aided and abetted the growth of the surveillance state.

    • Oh. My. God.

      The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

      Biff/Charles points out that poll numbers were high for Ignatieff and Dion too, mid term. Wow. While I knew that, no one has EVER pointed that out on these boards before.

      Such a rational, measured position to take.

      Or you know, not.

      This time is different. And you know it.

    • You must be dreaming or you recently fall from another planet?
      Please wake up and see the reality.
      After the RCMP lay criminal charges against the accused Senators and PM’s Chief of Staff and, when they start “singing” under the oath your dream will become a nightmare.

  8. The immediate acceptance? That isn’t the by-product of a healthy party going through the painful machinations of thoughtful introspection towards betterment.
    That’s a desperate clinging for an anointed savior – a telltale sign of a party in decline.
    How sad that this once great party has become rapturous over the political equivalent Paris Hilton.
    Oh this will be a hard fall indeed.

    • I want some of what you’re smoking.

    • On second thought…..delusions don’t appeal.

      • He is just scared. He knows perfectly well he is wrong.

  9. The Dauphin is at intellectual level of his supporters, Dion and Ignatieff were far too cerebral for Libs. Trudeau is a dandy who has no policy ideas of his own and that fits perfectly with Libs.

    • Perhaps. But what about Harper? All his policy ideas have been failures. War on drugs; boutique tax cuts that target votes instead of economic performance; extraneous corporate tax cuts that did nothing but waste $14B/yr in revenues; GST tax cut economists hated killing $12B/yr. Please tell me something Harper did right.

      • Yes, that’s right. Before Harper came along all drugs in Canada were 100% legal. Harper invented the “war on drugs” personally and snuck it into law without anyone noticing.

        • He didn’t invent the “war on drugs.” He imported it from America after the Americans abandoned it.

          • He didn’t import it from America either. Drugs have been illegal in Canada since long before Chretien or Mulroony.

          • That sounds like what he is trying to do with the tough-on-crime stance, as well, and that despite warnings from several states whose administrations have abandoned it.

  10. “Along comes Justin Trudeau. He’s the first Liberal leader since Martin at least, and I’d say since Chrétien nearly a decade earlier, to be accepted by Liberals automatically, without some effort of will, as their leader.”

    But why was that? How did that happen?

    Part of the answer lies with most of the media who from the time of the boxing match covered Trudeau like he was a celebrity. When he declared for the leadership there was very little critical coverage , just photo coverage. Lots of pictures – even when the article was about someone else. (e.g. the G & M using a picture of Trudeau when the article was about Marc Garneau.) The media made it easy for Trudeau from the start.

    And they still aren’t asking the hard questions.

    • The guy’s been covered by media since he was born. He IS a Canadian celebrity, and his first foray into the public eye as an adult was his eulogy to his father. I don’t agree with you that being in the public eye is easy for anyone, especially children and teens. And the fact he was born during his father’s tenure as PM isn’t anyone’s fault — it’s just the way it is. You need to deal with these facts; argue with his economic policies, or his social policies, but there’s no turning back time and making him unfamous or unappealing. It seems to work both ways: older folks who disliked his father’s POLICIES seem to push those feelings to the son. Fair? Has your entire career been based on what your father achieved, or not?

      • Life isn’t fair, nor is it hair.

        • here we go with the “hair” comments again…

          and yet it is your hero Stephen Harper who employs a full-time stylist to ensure every follicle on his helmet-head is photo ready on a moment’s notice:

          paid-for (incidentally) by your monthly donations to the CPC.

          • Except in a in depth discussion about economics in Canada, Harper looks like he’s teaching an advanced course at McGill, whereas Trudeau looks like Jeff Spicoli from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”. Ezra Levant is virtually the only one in the media to show Trudeau’s few “economic discussions” such as they are. How terribly sad. Hair isn’t the issue with Justin per se. The issue is that nice hair is about all he has. Oh, the debates will be marvelous.

          • Anyone who can claim that Ezra Levant is Canada’s most reliable economic reporter is…well, what would be the right term? Nuts or lying? Which are you?

          • You are free to believe that because Ezra Levant dared pushed the “play” button on the video showing Justin looking like a fourth grader, that Justin is really an intellectual power house. But all the bullets in the world out there wouldn’t be enough to shoot the messenger into changing the reality of Justin being a complete intellectual lightweight.

          • Lying.

          • You guys and Ezra thought the Brazeau fight would be marvellous too!!

          • Fair enough. I say we put Jeff Spicoli as the head of the Bank of Canada. He was an awesome surfer dude!!!
            How terribly sad and pathetic that Justin supporters have to continually rely on an amateur fisticuff match made on a lark, as his life’s signature achievement.

          • Biff, Spicoli was a fictional character in a movie. In reality, he was an actor named Sean Penn.

            In future, “Justin supporters” will be able to move past the boxing match and just enjoy his tenure as pm.

          • Spicoli might be fictional, but so is “Natalie” some fictitious woman who Trudeau’s basing his entire economic “policy” on.

          • You have ZERO sense of humour.

          • Prior to leading the CPC Harper authored the document that would become a national party (Reform) platform.
            Prior to leading the liberals, Justin took off his shirt to fight a Senator who would go onto face criminal investigation.
            Harper was the President of a national organization.
            Justin, lead in the university beer drinking lead.
            Harper was known (revered and reviled) for his conservative thinking scholarship.
            Justin was known for spotting the best powder on the upper bowls at Sunshine.
            Harper quit the presidency of the National Citizens coalition to run for PM.
            Justin quit his latest university program, after quitting his previous university program – engineering (cuz “math is hard”), to try to become PM.
            How’s that for funny?

          • Hi Biff!

            Look at you! All lying and stuff again.

            ha ha ha ha ha

          • Well, to be fair, they were right about that: lord knows I enjoyed it immensely. That pony’s mane was super-shiny that night.

          • I have never donated to any political party.

            Hair today, gone tomorrow.

        • So is your hair thicker or thinner than your father’s? Have you been able to achieve even half of what he did? Bet you aren’t nearly as smart as him! Once, your dad did something I didn’t like, and I really hate you for that — I will hold that against you, and maybe even your grandchildren too. And don’t even get us started on yo momma! What an airhead!

          So, WBR, how would you like to hear and read that about yourself every freakin’ day of your career?

          • Calm down. Where did I allude to even a smidgen of what you’re frothing about?

      • My point was not about his paternity but about the inadequacy of media coverage from the start of his campaign. It’s the media who has not asked the in-depth questions about his policies, whether they be economic or social issues. It’s also the media who really didn’t give his rivals for the leadership much attention and in doing that they abrogated their journalist responsibility to inform Canadians. I’d like to see the media do as you’ve suggested – argue with his policies and not get distracted by eye candy.

        • Get a grip. You people and your paranoid delusions about media bias. No one is buying that anymore – unless they read the Sun.

          Try thinking for yourself.

          • Would you argue then that the media did give us equal coverage of Garneau’s candidacy, for example? or Martha Hall Findlay’s? compared to Trudeau’s? btw, I subscribe to the G & M but that’s it. How is criticising the media for the nature of its coverage paranoid? Or do you think we ought to accept what we’re given?

          • The notion that the media is somehow giving him a free ride is paranoid. Sure, he attracts coverage, but that is not something he cannot help. This fame could have hurt him too – if he had screwed up that would have been all over the headlines. But he didn’t screw up.

            There is lots of media attention to the fact he has not given policy details – and he has been asked about that. Your problem is that it is not affecting his standing in the polls.

          • However, it is difficult for the media to do its job when Trudeau refused to have a media scrum or interview following the convention.
            In fairness, he did answer a question about the colour of his baby’s nursery.LOL

          • Really? He refused a media scrum at the end of the convention so that means the media cannot do its job?

            What – because Trudeau never meets with the media to do interviews? I suppose all those other scrums I saw were a figment of my imagination.

            If this is all you have, you don’t have much.

          • As I said “it is difficult for the media to do its job” – not “cannot do its job” as you misquoted.
            A scrum or in-depth interview following a convention when – according to CPAC hosts who I watched throughout the convention – $34 billion in programs is approved by the delegates seems to be a critical moment in the party’s history.
            Coupled with Trudeau’s Saturday interview on the CBC’s “The House” that he would support no new taxes – either corporate or personal, or increase in the GST – one wonders just how big a structural deficit Canadians would be looking at.
            Or will there be yet another Liberal massive raid on EI funds a la Chretien/Martin?

          • So wait – he DID do an interview on Saturday, in the middle of the convention. But his failure to do one scrum somehow makes him inaccessible?

            Now you are ridiculous.

    • A good point.

      According to a CPAC (cable news channel) interviewer the Liberal promises – based on passed resolutions re national Pharmacare, child care (promised since 1992!), infrastructure etc. will cost about $34 BILLION annually.
      Since Trudeau promises no new taxes of any sort (read Trudeau’s lips) in his CBC “The House ” interview – a massive structural deficit is really promised.
      Tom Mulcair – on the other hand – promises to restore the federal corporate income tax rate to it’s 2006 rate of 22% (when unemployment averaged just over 6%) to it’s current 15% (when unemployment averages just over 7%).
      The 22% rate is still significantly below the US rate of 35% but aids in forming a fairer tax regime in which corporations that are presently hoarding massive profits rather than investing workplace training or new equipment (as recommended by the Conference Board of Canada) will pay a fair share of their profits to economically and socially useful initiatives.
      The choice is becoming clearer: vote for the 15% corporate rate parties (Libservatives and Conliberals) that are building structural unemployment with a chronic underclass of unemployed youth – or restore corporate taxes to a fairer level and prepare for the emerging knowledge-based economy and society.

  11. I don’t think Trudeau will necessarily give up on this appeal to conservative voters. Trips to Alberta and Ontario Conservative ridings stressing the “negativity not lifeblood of Canada” theme will scare the Conservatives and maybe even force them to pay attention to ridings they hold. Maybe keep some cabinet ministers grounded.
    I still think there is a Lougheed, Davis, Stanfield, Mulroney constituency out there. A lot of them may be sick of his governments and this leaders style as much as policy.

  12. Wow..the white hot burning passion of Jughead..inspires 33 comments so far….fascinating…

  13. “But in one recent poll, the Liberals were the second choice of 1/4 of Conservative supporters.”

    Is that supposed to show Liberal strength or weakness?

    With any amount of critical thinking the second choice of all (4 out of 4) Conservatives should be Liberals. Maybe there will be some Cons that could vote Green….. but there will be none that will vote NDP and none that vote for the BQ.

    Using the same logic about half or more of the 18% of Canadians that vote Liberal would vote Cons as a second choice… (All Liberals that support Paul Martin and Manley and Emerson) . Most of the Liberals that would vote NDP did last election.

    • I would put Liberals as my second choice. But like in hockey, who wants to play for silver?

      • WBR: when Liberals elected their new leader last year, eyes were indeed set on winning silver next time around. However, given the banner year the dynamic new leader has had, given the larger war-chest now available, given the government’s Very Bad Year: eyes are now set on gold. Goals change. Governments lose. Liberals are no longer just complaining about Harper: now we’re talking about our new guy and his swagger.

        • At the crucial moment, Liberals will choke on all that hair.

        • “now we’re talking about our new guy and his swagger.” – but not how you pay for the $34 billion in convention program promises.
          Trudeau’s “no new taxes” statement on the CBC’s “The House” on Saturday guarantees a chronic, structural deficit for the nation.
          Celebrity will wilter and then there must be a day of reckoning when serious quesitions about serious issues facing our nation must be answered

    • I would vote for the NDP before I’d vote for the Liberals. With the NDP you at least know what you’re getting and can plan accordingly. With the Liberals, nobody has a friggin’ clue what they’d do.

      With the NDP you know you’ll get a tax-and-spend government, which I would actually prefer to what would likely be a borrow-and-spend Liberal government.

      Thankfully, this is all just a hypothetical, since I’ll be happily voting for the Conservatives and their balanced budget.

  14. The Conservative coalition that Harper has forged will have more strength than you give it credit for.

    There were thousands of reasons for the Liberal/Cons coalition to fall apart in BC but under the threat of a United Left larger government NDP it held fast.

    It seems pretty obvious that Trudeau is adopting a large government Obama platform that has been rejected in the US.

    • *President* Obama ?

  15. Mr. Wells

    Would you be able to put this question to Mr. Trudeau the next time you talk to him:

    Was the Harper 2% GST cut a mistake or a good thing?

    If it was a bad thing will you raise it back to 7% and if not why not?

    • Justin addressed that in his speech I think ( we are hurting enough – so it sounds like no new taxes – just different spending priorities one assumes )

      • what billion dollar programs are on the chopping block? CBC ? health care transfers to provinces. You don’y just find the billions Trudeau wants to spend by streamlining the bureaucracy and auditing the senates expenses.

    • Sometimes in politics you may disagree with something but once it is implemented, reversing it is just too problematic, perhaps even impossible.
      By the way your Republican pals will likely face that with Obamacare.

      • The Gun registry and CWB monopoly were just too ingrained in the Canadian mosaic to actual do something about them. The Cons said they were bad and actually did something about them.

        What sort of punks whine about things and then when they have an opportunity to fix them just go along with them.

        Reversing it is just too problematic….. How ineffectual would the Liberal government be? We would like to address the first Nations situation, but you know that is just too hard to try???

        The Manitoba NDP were able to raise their PST. Went off without a hitch… Political price to pay but NDP standing behind their principles.

        For crying out loud , not that I agree with it, the province of BC was able to switch the HST and then under “progressive” forces pressure were able to back it out and go back to the PST/GST.

        Are the BC Liberals that much smarter than the Federal Liberals? Why would that be?

  16. “I say this to the grassroots Conservatives out there, in communities across this country. We might not agree all the time on everything. We might disagree about a great many things, but I know we can agree on this: Negativity cannot be this country’s lifeblood. …”
    And Liberal lies and deceit should be its lifeblood?
    How does this Thespian tyke claim to relate to the average ‘working stiff’ when he himself is a ‘silver spoon stiff’, born to $millions and unlimited privilege?
    He seems good at acting with drama, but for the sake of Canada should stick to teaching it.
    Another piece of drama comes to mind: “it is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” (Macbeth)

    • Another piece of drama comes to mind in relation to your post: “the lady doth protest too much” (Hamlet)

      • I’m not sure if “shut up and follow the liberal media’s lead in blind adoration of our dear leader” was a quote in Shakespeare, but that seems to be an apt response in any event.

        • Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.

    • The old “born with a silver spoon in his mouth” routine.
      Trudeau’s net worth is under 2 million – by today’s standards he is not a tycoon and there is no “unlimited privilege”.

      Stephen Harper on the other hand has a net worth of 5-6 million U.S.
      and he doesn’t even walk among us.

      • You left out that whole “born” part.
        In fact, but for Justin’s last name, he would be currently living in a shoddy one bedroom apartment.
        Those who drop out of teaching to go in and out of university programs until they are forty tend to not attract the highest income.

    • He does not have to make that claim. He DOES relate to the average “working stiff”. Just go out and ask them. Why do you think so many people come out to see him? Why do you think the number of liberal donors now surpasses the number of conservative donors?

      Go ahead and gnash your teeth at this, but face facts.

    • I don’t like the silver spoon argument against Trudeau. For a start, people like FDR can accomplish a great deal for working people.
      Trudeau was born into a well off family but one with a father often absent and a mother with serious emotional problems. Her problems I should warn you are no longer viewed with contempt, but with sympathy and admiration.
      Harper was born into an oil executive’s home in a upscale Toronto neighbourhood and into a very stable and well off household with a stay at home mom.
      All and all, a stable, secure, comfortable home life is more of a “silver spoon” than a chaotic upbringing lived in the public eye.

  17. According to a CPAC (cable news channel) interviewer the Liberal promises – based on passed resolutions re national Pharmacare, child care (promised since 1992!), infrastructure etc. will cost about $34 BILLION annually.
    Since Trudeau promises no new taxes of any sort (read Trudeau’s lips) in his CBC “The House ” interview – a massive structural deficit is really promised.
    Tom Mulcair – on the other hand – promises to restore the federal corporate income tax rate to it’s 2006 rate of 22% (when unemployment averaged just over 6%) to it’s current 15% (when unemployment averages just over 7%).
    The 22% rate is still significantly below the US rate of 35% but aids in forming a fairer tax regime in which corporations that are presently hoarding massive profits rather than investing workplace training or new equipment (as recommended by the Conference Board of Canada) will pay a fair share of their profits to economically and socially useful initiatives.
    The choice is becoming clearer: vote for the 15% corporate rate parties (Libservatives and Conliberals) that are building structural unemployment with a chronic underclass of unemployed youth – or restore corporate taxes to a fairer level and prepare for the emerging knowledge-based economy and society.

    • “will cost about $34 BILLION annually.”

      2 WhatsApps

      • And if only the Government of Canada had 2 WhatsApps on their hands that they didn’t know what do to with, they could sell them and pay for the Liberals’ promises. Failing that, it’s coming out of your pocket and mine

        • I only offered it to point out that there is indeed that much money kept loose in cash boxes in certain places, and as a comparative to the relative innumeracy that howls billions, without some context, absurd as it is.

          34 billion amongst 34 million – Google the population of Canada, I guess, according to the last reliable census

          Will cost each Canadian $972 a year, div by 365 = $2.66.

          Tim’s is going to go broke because we you afford a cup of coffee a day?

  18. Robert Fife and a panel including Iveson seemed to miss what Trudeau was up to in his speech.
    He didn’t want to get anybody off their chairs by being fiery and bombastic.
    He was low key, even flat on purpose. He wants to be seen as SERIOUS.
    And there were a few policy hints. Enough.
    It’s amazing how the Ottawa crowd still keeps underestimating him.
    So Wells,I think you win the Trudeau speech analysis prize from the left anyway.

    • 1st prize: a soup bowl of extra thin-gruel.

    • There is serious and then there is sounding like you are explainng algebra to ten year Olds. Trudeau sounded like the latter.

  19. “Justin Trudeau is the first Liberal leader since Jean Chrétien who smells like a Liberal to Liberals.”

    So Trudeau smells like Chretien? But what does Chretien smell like? Never mind.

    But what about Dion? What did / does he smell like, if other than a Liberal?

    And what did / does Ignatieff smell like, if other than a Liberal?

    Now that Wells has blown the whistle on them, I imagine Dion and Ignatieff will both be presenting themselves to their wives, asking for a thorough smell test and candid report.

    Personally, I can still pick up strong wafts of Adscam whenever I think of Liberals.

    They still haven’t paid back all those millions they stole from taxpayers, and only one criminal conviction for a scam that allegedly stole tens of millions over several years across the entire country, straight into Liberal coffers?

  20. To: Paul Wells, you have written: “unified left-of-Conservative vote would be the end of Conservative power”. If I bought ALL of the lottery tickets I would win.
    Your: “anything but Conservative” reeks of stupidity.

    • hes great friends with JT the clown expect nothing less

    • Reading is hard.

      • comprehension is even more difficult.

  21. Soo Komarade Wells what does this picture with American soldiers to the side of an American chopper in who knows what country have to do with the Boy King???

    • You’re right, the story would have worked a lot better if somebody had answered that question, say maybe in the top two paragraphs, with links. Incidentally, if you google “Communist term of affection,” it’ll tell you how to spell that word you were reaching for.

      • My comment was just to screw up the other Lieberals commenting here.. . …by the way when are you taking over from Butts??

        • Well, I’m kind of hoping Gerry holds on a while longer because I need to write a new chapter for the paperback edition of my second book about Stephen Harper. You’re totally doing great on this conversation.

          • Glad o be of service, I’m trying to bring you down gently after the HIGH of this weekend with your BFF JT…

      • I know you don’t need me to say this, but you are hilarious.

        Don’t ever change…

  22. I cannot get over the irony of a party claiming that climate change is going to destroy the earth if we keep electing Conservatives and don’t do something calling any other party a party of fear.

    • We’re all entitled to our own interpretation, but my reading of Trudeau’s speech is they’re pivoting off “fear” and toward arguing that climate change policy being the cost of accessing foreign markets for Canadian oil.

      Every day/week/month/year that goes by without a pipeline being approved makes that argument that much more plausible. On the other hand, Keystone XL approval would also make it fall apart quite quickly.

  23. Both parties have lied still don’t know which one to pick I do none the crap will fly more and more everyday rather it’s Harper Trudeau Horvath take your pick more higher taxes more thing sold wake up citizens can you go green it does seem to be yellow

    • having a problem with your meds?

  24. JT seems a natural leader, Liberals naturally like him, the whole shebang is natural natural natural because . . . Liberals are solely interested in power and the polls are currently in their favour.

    You have to hand it to the Berald Guts braintrust: it really is all about the dust jacket, not about the book. Ditch the stuttering professor and the harrumphing British TV personality for a GQ model and you go up. Utter genius, I tell you.

  25. Knocking on Harper’s door?

    LOL…………JT isn’t even on Harper’s street, let alone neighbourhood.

  26. He’s also the first party leader to be accepted automatically by a fawning media. He shares all the media’s values….dope smokin’, baby killing, old people suicidin’, spending tons of money on ‘strategies’. Imagine the conferences! Gormless, sexless, funless ‘experts’ will fly in at great public cost for wine and pot. The can develop boffo plans like new math and a firearms registry…and all will be right with the world again….

    • What wold conservatives do if they could not whine about how everyone is always against them?

  27. Question Paul: How similar is the smell of a Liberal to the smell of stale marijuana smoke?

  28. I am a fan of Paul Wells, I enjoy his column and his book on Mr. Harper was excellent I thought. I will not be supporting Mr. Trudeau. I simply do not think he is very smart or informed, I don’t think he is up for the job. The Liberals (the back room Liberals I am referring too) picked a guy who could win, but I don’t feel like he is the guy who should win.
    I could be wrong, we’ll know when the election is actually on, and the honey moon is over, and for all of us I suppose I hope I am wrong. But eventually someone (like Mr. Wells who is too smart himself to not suspect this I think) is going to have to ask the question, which is “Mr. Trudeau, do you have any idea what you are talking about?”

    • The backroom Liberals, who now choose the leaders, wanted a guy who they could control, and who could read a script. This is why they took Trudeau, a former drama teacher. This is also why he avoids anybody but friendly press. He’s incapable of speaking off the cuff without prepared talking points.

      Just the type of puppet the backroom Liberal puppet masters were looking for.

  29. I must admit, Trudeau does seem like the real thing, it will hopefully be nice to be able to hold my head up in the world again when I say I am Canadian. The way I used to, before we became a USA lap dog like England and Australia.

    For the last couple of decades it has been embarrassing, sort of what I envision being an American is like (without the empty ‘patriot’ crap). Canada has no business in foreign undeclared wars (aka invasions) killing and murdering and being killed, we are above that garbage, or once we were.

    I suspect we once were above the envirocide (yes my word, I claim it! I invented it!) happening in that age old conservative stronghold known as Alberta, and yes “TAR SANDS” s the accurate name for it

    As for burning the records of 300 years of fishstocks in the Canadian North Atlantic, someone should be publicly horse whipped for that one, shame shame shame, this alone should cause your party to crumble into nothing for evermore..

  30. Trudeau is as fake as the G20 lake. He has spent the last couple of years lining his own pockets and that of the LPC doing speaking engagements while we the public have been paying him a salary to be in Parliament. Devoid of ideas he hired Mitch Stewart as his campaign advisor. Mitch just happens to be the Director of Organizing for America, Obama’s personal NGO that he created from his campaign team – Organizing for Action and part of the Chicago Machine. At the same time, Obama really liked this book called “Plutocrats” and gave the author a leg up getting it publicized. No doubt Justin heard about the author, Chrystia Freeland from Stewart. Freeland was pursuaded to move back to Canada and run for office. So Justin has his Obama sponsored advisor, his Obama sponsored shadow Finance Minister, and next we get Obama’s financial advisor and Senior Advisor in the persons of Larry Summers and David Axelrod speaking at the LPC convention. And to end it all, Trudeau creates Nathalie, the fictitious everywoman and the mirror image to Julia, Obama’s everywoman. Do they think we’re fr*gging stupid up here? Justin Trudeau – made in American, now available in Canada. Have your credit card ready.

  31. Paul, we need you get off your knees and be a journalist for once. No more of this policy-free fluff and Bay Street pandering. Do you not have a shred of dignity left? To humiliate yourself so publicly is just embarrassing.

  32. Analyst and author Paul Wells singularly noted that these statements received an exceptionally
    enthusiastic standing ovation.

    Audiences of Canada’s “natural governing” party, of course, admire qualified sentences and are easily
    excited by expressions of concern for the good regard of governors elsewhere.
    Still, Trudeau and his audience last Saturday weren’t thinking about polluters
    in Beijing or inconsequential bureaucrats in shrinking European resource

    They’re convinced that as prime minister, Justin Trudeau would better impress Barack Obama and his administration
    than Stephen Harper.