What’s behind the Tories’ obsession with Justin Trudeau?

There’s something about the Liberal leader that gets under the Conservatives’ skins, writes Paul Wells

Christinne Muschi/Reuters

Christinne Muschi/Reuters

On Aug. 19, Michelle Rempel, a junior minister in the Stephen Harper government who won her Calgary Centre-North riding in 2011 by 20,000 votes, posted a video of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau on her Facebook page.

“Many of you ask me why I sought to serve as an MP. Part of this role includes standing up for Canadian values and speaking out against terrorist acts, injustice, oppression and violence wrought by terrorist groups such as ISIS and Hamas on innocents,” she wrote. “For me, I think this is why the attached video is so blind-rage-inducing for me.”

The video came from Ezra Levant’s nightly Sun News TV show. It showed the Liberal leader speaking to reporters in Edmonton as the party’s MPs gathered for an end-of-summer caucus retreat. “The biggest threat to global security,” Trudeau said in response to a reporter’s question, “is the kind of violence and misunderstandings and wars that come out of resource depletion—concerns of lack of hope for generations growing up in a world that is getting smaller and seemingly less and less fair.”

Seeing this clip, Rempel was fit to bust a gasket. “This man . . .  spews a diatribe of non sequiturs and platitudes,” she told her Facebook followers. “I ask you to imagine this man at the helm of our nation while serious international conflicts arise. How would he position our country? What would the consequences to our nation be? To the international community?” she asked, calling Trudeau’s answer “so mind-bogglingly ridiculous, I have to post it.”

Justin Trudeau is the fifth Liberal leader the Harper Conservative government has faced, if you count Bill Graham in 2006 and Bob Rae in 2011-12. He fronts the smallest caucus of any of them, having banished Liberal senators from the party’s weekly meetings at the beginning of this year. He is not even the Opposition leader—that job belongs to the scrappy and dogged Tom Mulcair, whose NDP caucus has 2½ MPs for every Liberal in the Commons.

Yet, there is plainly something about Trudeau that gets under Conservatives’ skins. The Liberals haven’t elected an MP in Alberta since 2004. But the Conservatives’ official Twitter account marked his visit to Edmonton for the Liberals’ annual caucus retreat by urging supporters to “sign your name if you want to keep Alberta blue.” The tweet was illustrated with an image of an all-blue map of Alberta. It left the uncomfortable impression that Conservatives are worried their party’s bastion could actually topple. Before Trudeau’s closing news conference in Edmonton, the Prime Minister’s Office sent reporters 360 words of talking points attributed to MPs Chris Warkentin and Jacques Gourde. “From the economy, to our security, to First Nations accountability and Canada’s role on the world stage—Justin Trudeau and his team have consistently demonstrated one truth,” the release said. “They lack the judgment to lead.”

Related: The Interview: Justin Trudeau’s game plan

As is usually the case, the tone comes from the top. At Harper’s annual Calgary Stampede barbecue, he mentioned Trudeau by name 11 times, and Mulcair not at all. “He has nothing—absolutely nothing—of substance to offer,” the Prime Minister said of Trudeau. The Conservatives have spent more than a million dollars running radio ads against Trudeau’s plans for marijuana legalization in the past year. And the next election is still a year away.

There are at least three reasons for the preoccupation. First, the Trudeau Liberals are demonstrably and persistently popular among voters. Second, to Conservatives, he comes off as an incorrigible featherweight. Finally, and perhaps more important, there’s that last name of his—Trudeau, a reminder of ancient battles the Conservatives thought they’d put behind them. It’s as if a government led by Robin Hood suddenly found itself confronting a party led by the fresh-faced young Sheriff of Nottingham, Jr.

First, the polls. On his website ThreeHundredEight.com, analyst Éric Grenier finds that the Trudeau Liberals have now led all other parties in national polls for 16 consecutive months. New polls this week from Abacus Data and Ipsos Reid, not firms usually accused of having a soft spot for the Liberals, showed that party increasing its lead over the Conservatives to six and seven points, respectively.

Polls, of course, are for dogs, but the Conservatives have also been underperforming at the ballot box. University of Calgary political scientist Paul Fairie keeps track of parties’ vote share in by-elections and compares them to their share of the popular vote in full-scale federal elections. The Harper Conservatives increased their vote share in by-elections after the 2006 and 2008 elections. But, since 2011, their luck has run out: Conservatives’ share of the vote in recent by-elections is 11.8 percentage points lower than in the 2011 election. That’s worse than the Liberals’ performance under Pierre Trudeau and John Turner before they lost the 1984 election, and worse than the Liberals did in by-elections under Paul Martin before they lost in 2006.

Simply put, the Conservatives are in real trouble in public opinion, and the trouble looks like Justin Trudeau.

Which brings us to the second point: Did it have to be Justin Trudeau? He has two bachelor’s degrees, in literature from McGill University and in education from the University of British Columbia. He had no particular record of intellectual or private sector achievement before he arrived in Parliament in 2008. “A lot of our MPs have a hard time taking seriously the notion that someone like Justin could run a G7 government,” a senior Conservative said in an email, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“That is because most Tory MPs come from very practical, real-world career backgrounds in small business (Joe Preston), policing (Rick Norlock), or farming (Gerry Ritz), to name a few. Others have track records of governing (John Baird) or legislating (Jason Kenney). They have painstakingly built their reputations and livelihoods over decades of work.”

This Conservative acknowledged “grudging respect” for Jean Chrétien’s and Paul Martin’s achievements, before adding that in Trudeau, Conservatives see “a frivolous head-in-the-clouds dreamer who thinks that ‘budgets balance themselves,’ that terrorists are just ‘feeling excluded’ and that million-dollar chiefs [of First Nations communities] just need more money to spend on themselves in secret.”

In the same breath—well, the same email—this Conservative insisted there is nothing personal in his party’s attitude toward Trudeau. The Conservatives ran plenty of ads against Stéphane Dion and Michael Ignatieff in their time—even against Bob Rae, when he was the party’s caretaker leader after it was nearly shattered in the 2011 election. And the Liberals were never shy about attacking Preston Manning and Stockwell Day, this source said. “Rough-and-tumble treatment of leaders is nothing new. What is new is the amazing success of the Liberal team in convincing the media that normal political criticism is unprecedented and inhumane when directed at their leader.”

But perhaps it’s possible to argue for a broad and inclusive definition of partisan rough-and-tumble while marvelling at the extent to which Trudeau plainly drives Conservatives up the wall—in a way Martin, Dion and Ignatieff never did. With them, it was business. With him, it’s—well, it’s family, isn’t it? Because Justin Trudeau is, of course, the second person with that surname to provoke something approaching a cultural response from Conservatives.

“The faithful of the party have a horrible memory of the name of Trudeau that translates into exasperation,” another long-standing Conservative said. “Pierre Trudeau and his years in Ottawa are largely the reason why our party”—the Reform Party and, then, eventually, the modern Harper-led Conservative party—“came into being.”

In areas of the country where Pierre Trudeau was often wildly popular during his nearly 20-year political career—especially, but not only, Ontario and the western half of Montreal—it’s simply impossible to fathom the extent to which the former prime minister was loathed elsewhere. His economic policy was a beggar-thy-neighbour forced transfer of wealth from the Prairies to the skyscrapers of Toronto and Montreal. His language policy reserved the best jobs for disproportionately French Canadian bilinguals. His foreign policy could be summed up as appeasement.

But perhaps the best summary of this view of Pierre Trudeau—and certainly one of the most vehement—was written by Stephen Harper. On Oct. 5, 2000, two days after Justin Trudeau delivered a much-noticed speech at his father’s funeral, the National Post published an essay about the former PM by Harper, who was then the president of the National Citizens’ Coalition.

Harper wrote that he had passed the elder Trudeau in the street a year earlier and been struck by “a tired out, little old man” who had once “provoked both the loves and hatreds of my political passion.” The loves came first for Harper, he wrote, the hatreds as he matured. He called Trudeau “a distant leader who neither understood, nor cared to understand, a group of people over whom his actions had immense impact,” a man who “flail[ed] from one pet policy objective to another,” whose government “created huge deficits, a mammoth national debt, high taxes, bloated bureaucracy, rising unemployment, record inflation, curtailed trade and declining competitiveness.”

So far, Harper’s essay could be read as a scathing attack on Pierre Trudeau’s skill or engagement as an administrator. But he closed by contesting Trudeau’s morality. “Mr. Trudeau . . .  was also a member of the ‘greatest generation,’ the one that defeated the Nazis in war and resolutely stood down the Soviets in the decades that followed,” Harper wrote. “In those battles, however, the ones that truly defined his century, Mr. Trudeau took a pass.”

In recent interviews and in a speech in May to supporters of an Ottawa monument to victims of Communism, Harper has made it clear he still sees the history of the West in the 20th century as an epic conflict between good and evil, with evil abetted by those who “took a pass.” That’s why the bland complacency of Justin Trudeau’s comments on global security issues so reliably provoke the outrage of the Prime Minister and his strongest supporters.

After the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013, Trudeau told Peter Mansbridge, “There is no question that this happened because there is someone who feels completely excluded.” The remarks Michelle Rempel immortalized on Facebook, to the effect that ISIS is wreaking havoc in the Middle East because of “resource depletion,” were of a similar sort.

One of the big questions of politics in the year before the next federal election, then, is whether Conservatives can get more Canadians to share their disdain for Trudeau. So far, if 16 months of polls are any indication, they’ve had little luck.

The second Conservative who spoke for this story says he’s sanguine about results so far. “The reality about political advertising is it doesn’t need to work while it’s running. What it needs to do is accurately predict behaviour by your opponent that will reinforce the message that you are delivering.” In other words, it doesn’t matter whether voters think Trudeau is “in over his head,” as Conservative ads say, right now. What matters is whether Trudeau’s future words and actions fit that frame. The Conservative strategy amounts to a million-dollar bet that Trudeau will keep sounding like a global hug-a-thug with no idea how grown-up things work, and that Canadians will start to notice.

This is what happened to strong challengers who failed to break through in recent provincial elections in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. In each case, an incumbent government was in serious trouble in pre-election polls. In each case, voters chose to stick with the incumbent anyway. “Even though Canadians have an affinity for [Trudeau], even though Canadians like him in a way they don’t like Harper, even though they have an affinity for the family name, when you dig below that, they are not necessarily ready to give him the keys to the kingdom,” this Conservative said. “They’re not ready to concede that he’s got the gravitas to do what needs to be done.”

Through it all, Trudeau professes to be too busy focusing on Canadians to worry when the government focuses on him. He will need his insouciance. The stakes are so high, the echoes of history so insistent, that the Conservatives will continue to treat him as something more than just another opponent. The last few times they took a Liberal apart, it was business. This time, it’s personal.


What’s behind the Tories’ obsession with Justin Trudeau?

  1. Once again, you forgot to mention how the Con’s are the ones “imploding” upon themselves. Harper throwing his own under the Bus”s, …, it’s no wonder the CON’s themselves are losing faith in themselves, and rightly so.
    It has very little to do with Trudeau, Liberals,…, and more to do with Harper’s/CON’s mistakes’, that are accumatively, finally catching up with them ALL.
    Nothing “personal”, it’s just “business”.
    Even Alberta (and the west), are slowly seeing the “light”.

    • Those who keep drinking the pollsters kool aid will keep seeing history repeat itself.

      Martin, Dion and Iggy all failed in spite of the media polls……………….so will Turdeau 2.

  2. They don’t see Justin as a featherweight….they see him as PM.

    The problem lies in the Con view of the world as still being in the fifties. Justin however is 21st century.

    • Now its getting serious, even the author wants Trudeau as road kill, too. It reads pretty personal to me.

      • It wrecks the thesis of his book. I’d be pissed off too.

    • They’re not that dumb. Trotting out MacKay for asinine comments about marijuana and motherhood tells me they’re trying to save the furniture. This does nothing beyond the core base of frothing Dick Littles and Ed Angers.

  3. “With him, it’s—well, it’s family, isn’t it? Because Justin Trudeau is, of course, the second person with that surname to provoke something approaching a cultural response from Conservatives.”

    Well, what goes around comes around . . . the Conservatives should be hoping Stephen Harper is grooming Ben Harper to be PM some day. Then those on the Liberal side will have their turn to seethe and the Conservatives will love it.

  4. All good points.

    I agree that Conservatives (including myself) have a particular disapproval of Justin Trudeau that did not exist in the days of Bill Graham through Michael Ignatieff. There was perhaps a sense of astonishment when campaigning against Stephane Dion, but at the end of the day he was still an accomplished man and well-qualified Canadian.

    What really “gets under our skin,” as you put it, is that Trudeau seems to believe he’s simply entitled to become prime minister. In many ways his life is distinctly un-Canadian in that he hasn’t had to work hard, he’s never had a sleepless night over money or personal debt, and he’s never had to go out there and ‘make it’ for himself. He’s survived off family wealth and casual employment. In many ways when one looks at Trudeau, we see the North American version of Prince Harry.

    Except he was bold enough to step down from his royal horse and pronounce his candidacy for prime minister. The smug, nonchalant swagger he offers makes it seem as though he’s waiting for us all to bow down and tell him how unworthy we all are of his “leadership.”

    And what does he offer us?

    He think’s it’s inappropriate to say that murdering women for religious “honour” is “barbaric.” His economic solutions range from wanting to raise the GST to wanting to quell the growth of the private sector. To fix our broken political system he offers to change the name of Liberal Senators to Senate Liberals. To fix the growing crisis of under-employed, post-secondary educated 20-somethings he offers to create even more public debt onto this generation while hiding behind token band-aids like Katimavik.

    Trudeau isn’t offering solutions. What “gets under our skin” is that he doesn’t believe he even needs to offer solutions. He thinks he’s entitled to be our prime minister and that the election should be as effortless as the Liberal leadership contest. Conservatives don’t think Trudeau has a birthright to become prime minister and then to just see where the job takes him from there. We think our political leaders should articulate a reliable plan which offers real solutions to economic, social and political challenges, and that leaders should have a demonstrated capacity to carry out their plan.

    For a middle-aged guy, Trudeau’s resume reads like a third year university student. Those of us who love Canada — who recognize our role as a leading economy and principled voice on a global stage — we think it’s a tad distasteful that a ditzy dilettante expects our nation’s top job based upon his smile and ability to make Heather Mallick a little randy.

    We don’t dislike the guy, we just think he’d make a better car salesperson than prime minister.

    • As if on cue . . . there’s Exhibit “A”

    • Did Wells put you up to that?

    • “For a middle-aged guy, Trudeau’s resume reads like a third year university student…. Those of us who love Canada ”

      Middle aged!

      Only guys like you can love the country…Only you guys can run the country!

      what were you saying about entitlement buddy?

      Nah, you don’t dislike the guy, it’s something WAY stronger than that.

    • mtl_bcer – your comment epitomizes just about everything that is wrong with conservatives. You appear to be projecting wildly and you sound like a typical conservative attack ad. You are very drunk on the Kool-Aid. So to you a prime minister must have grown up poor or in challenging conditions or they’re not worthy of leading. Talk about an elitist attitude. You either have a conservative defined and approved background or you’re not worthy. Sheesh! So to you teaching is causal employment. You must have had some terrible teachers. Many of mine were inspiring and I still reference them today after half a century. How do you feel about working in a mailroom? Is that a better breeding ground for leaders? “Smug, nonchalant swagger” That’s you projecting. Remember when the Canadian government became the “Harper” government. Do you think that suggests entitlement at all? Elitism maybe? Methinks that you do indeed dislike this “ditzy dilettante”. I’m sorry but Canadians have had enough of your conservative arrogance and they will “entitle” someone other than Stephen Harper next election.

      • Boy do you ever have me pegged wrong!

        No Conservative am I (if you have read any of my other posts)

        I was merely commiserating with them by encouraging them to look on the upside (for them, that is), they can try replicate what they feel is Justin’s unfair / family-name based leadership of the LPC to pursue the same approach with Stephen Harper’s son in the future.

        • So, you’re that “Liberal Minute” Youtube video guy who takes every chance to sabotage Trudeau because he killed your nomination?

    • I am assuming you think you are offering a non-partisan response?

      • That was directed at J Dan. I see Macleans hasn’t improved their reply format.

      • I’d say that’s about as non partisan as it gets with the Tory core, wouldn’t you?

    • Meanwhile, you have actual car salesmen like Dean Del Mastro in… well, who WERE in caucus. BTW, is the AC at the PMO fixed yet? Those short pants you’re wearing must be getting uncomfortable.

    • Why do not you say what you really think – that you hate his guts instead of: “We (who Reformers/Alliance masquerading as Cons) don’t dislike the guy …. ETC.
      Why are you putting down car salespersons? Like in any profession there are good, mediocre and bad people. How would you rate Harpers track record and his judgement in hiring and appointing PMO staff, Senators, Ministers, Senior advisers, Judges and list goes on and on.
      Do you think he would be hired by a reputable car dealership as car salesperson with that kind of performance record? No way my friend.

    • Typical conservative response based on half truths and ideologicaly blinded perceptions. Justin Trudeau has never said or indicated in any way that he just ‘deserves’ to be PM. Every thing i’ve heard him say about that has been along the lines of needing to work hard, and to prove to people in places like Alberta that he and the Liberals are not the Liberals of the 1970s and 80s. As for being a ‘ditzy dilettante’ – he didn’t just fly in with his latest girlfriend from Cannes. He’s a high school teacher, in a long term marriage with kids, whose past includes working on political campaigns, and volunteer work. People who have known and talked to him – including former PM Brian Mulroney – describe him as intelligent and articulate. Or maybe there’s another definition of ditzy dilettante that i don’t know about.

      Its the Conservatives who seem obsessed with, as you out it, ‘his smile’. The rest of us see a dedicated, intelligent individual who will continue in the moderate Liberal tradition. This contrast nicely with the present Conservatives (very different from the PC party of my youth) who are obsessed with controlling the media message, preventing scientists from speaking out (and firing them for not towing the Tory line), and who lie and tell half truths regarding senate expenses.

      Hate him all you want – he’s not the reason the Tories will lose the next election. The Tories are.

  5. The Michelle Rempel example is so laughable, coming from a Harper puppet.
    How about her telling what SHE thinks. Oops, sorry. I forgot. She can’t give her opinion.
    And maybe Canadians are just looking for a leader that is actually…how can I put this…human! Yes, that’s it, human.
    Not a bully.

    • Rempel, the same one who posed on her desk and then shrilled “sexism” when people point out it was perhaps inappropriate? There’s a future for her offering samples at Costco after the election. Nice lady, but whacked.

  6. “Many of you ask me why I sought to serve as an MP. Part of this role includes standing up for Canadian values and speaking out against terrorist acts, injustice, oppression and violence wrought by terrorist groups such as ISIS and Hamas on innocents,” she wrote. “For me, I think this is why the attached video is so blind-rage-inducing for me.”

    Was it Churchill who wrote “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it”?

    I personally think Ms. Rempel is a capable MP, but up to now, I assumed she became an MP because Jim Prentice resigned one of the safer seats in the country, and she won the nomination (and hence MP perks etc) by acclamation.

    Here’s how the Calgary Sun reported it:

    Michelle Rempel has clinched the Conservative nomination for Calgary Centre-North.

    Rempel, the director of the University of Calgary’s Institutional Programs Division, who has been a volunteer for the party and in the community, and also worked as a managerial consultant in Calgary, was acclaimed Friday night after no other candidates came forward.

    Jobs, economy, security and a strong voice in Ottawa were the main issues in Rempel’s campaign.

    The riding was left vacant after MP Jim Prentice stepped down last month to take an executive job at CIBC.

    But, in fairness, this was reported Dec 17, 2010, so like the newly elected president down south, she probably had not fully contemplated events nine months later, though I haven’t yet checked old U of C Institutional Programs calendars.

  7. you’d think that with a head as big as Rempel’s she’d have a few brains rattling around inside of that extra large noggin’……..but alas, it seems empty………..

    • Maybe she had too much wine when she wrote of her induced blind rage.

  8. “His economic policy was a beggar-thy-neighbour forced transfer of wealth from the Prairies to the skyscrapers of Toronto”

    As opposed to the forced transfer of wealth from Ontario to Alberta for over a decade through the National Oil Policy in the 60s and 70s

    • Yes. Paul Wells is a centre-right commentator, and this piece, displays his conservative economic view. Not entirely objective. Wells admitted in a piece on the Ontario election earlier this Summer that he voted for Tim Hudak. And Pierre Trudeau was a better manager of the economy than conservatives claim.

    • A “federal” compact.

      Ontario paid more for oil than world price to support Alberta’s oil industry. Alberta paid more for cars and manufactured products to support Ontario’s tariff-protected branch plant economy and banks.

      • That’s what makes me laugh about these Alberta freeloaders. My family is in oil (hint: the same company as Harper’s, and no, not in the accounting department of the mail room, but operations) and I know the truth.

        Alberta never had it so good: lax regulation, non-existent pollution laws, no sales tax, and compliant aboriginals. They’re the ultimate in entitled, but project it elsewhere. After 8 years of Harper, many people outside the oil industry are also beginning to see that too.

      • I forgot.

        For goods flowing from Ontario to the West, it was FOB shipping, and Westerners had to pay the shipping.

        And for goods flowing from the West to Ontario, it was FOB destination, and Westerners had to pay the shipping.

        • Don’t forget: the west is the first part of Canada to get bad weather, and the last to get sunshine.

        • Less viscosity for water transport as opposed to land. Would that FOB Ontario port be Thunder Bay?

  9. Nice piece. Look forward to the follow-up “What’s behind the Liberals obsession with the Tories obsession with Justin Trudeau?’ that’s distracting them from putting forward anything remotely like an agenda for improving the country. Perhaps they’re counting on the national mellow-ness about such things increasing by many magnitudes the only substantive policy change they’ve heavily promoted to date is implemented.

    The obsession/counter-obsession is very mindful, in my view, of the 2008 and 2012 US presidential elections, which the Republicans largely fought on the basis Obama was a lightweight unsuitable for the job and the Democrats largely fought by hoisting the Republicans with their own obsession petard. He won anyway and the fact the Republicans were right all along will offer little comfort to the Tories, who face an opponent with charisma equal to Obama, but a smidgen of his intellect and even less worthwhile experience, as hard as that is to fathom.

    • “Nice piece. Look forward to the follow-up “What’s behind the Liberals obsession with the Tories obsession with Justin Trudeau?”

      Pretty cute, but it doesn’t hold up, as Well’s last para makes clear, at least as far as JT is concerned. I do believe you’re dangerously close to blaming the victim; isn’t that supposed to be a cardinal sin for a Harper supporter? Best just sit back, have a toke[legally] and watch the Harper juggernaut self implode, as much as anything else because it can’t get a handle on how to bring down this supposed light weight. Trudeau may not be an intellectual, but there are a number of ways to view native intelligence – just look how successful Klein was in his time; something that completely baffled me when i lived in AB. Turns old Ralphie was a damn lot smarter than folks like me ever gave him credit for. And i doubt he read any more of Friedman or Hayak than he did a primer on sociology. Trudeau has political instinct of some measure in the blood and the bone. In ways that neither Dion and Ignatieff never did, despite their intellectual accomplishments. And that’s what’s truly got the Tory back room guys worried.

      • To paraphrase the former VP candidate:

        I knew Ralphie. I voted for Ralphie. Justin is no Ralphie.

        More particularly, Ralphie was a populist, which is often even greater political currency than being an intellectual. JT is, regrettably, neither, notwithstanding the swooning within the Heather Mallick class.

        • What quaifies you to know anything about Ralph? Ever vote for him? Live in AB? But If you think JT doesn’t have the potential to be populist you’re about as clueless as the rest of the Tory crowd. Actually him becoming nothing but a populist is one of the things that does concern me about him. I hope, like his dad, he does have the capacity to say no to people, and very important and influential people too…some of them own his own team.

          • Seriously? You think the dauphin can even be mentioned in the same breath as Klein as a “populist” politician? Let’s put it to a vote: anybody who, when viewing JT is reminded of a young Ralph, only with better hair, post here.

          • GWF…actually an conveniently for you they can’t post here. You might want to remember that Kleins populism ended at the AB – it was hardly pan Canadian. And i see you didn’t answer my question…so shall i take that as a no, you haven’t had the pleasure of voting for Klein, or lived in AB. Just how much do you know about Ralph’s populism…just what you’ve been told i suspect.

          • Sigh…at the AB border, and little or no further.

    • Ah, yes.
      It’s such a contrast with a leader that has the intellectual muscle and just plain gravitas to formulate a vision as sophisticated as the, “Cut taxes!” “Tough on Crime!” “More Military!” agenda. One who brought to his run for office a unmatched depth of experience that included…running for office.
      Not to mention his international experience visiting an all-inclusive in Cancun.

      • I hear he did make a quick run across the border into Montana once, in order to pick up a six pack of Coors and some cheap grass…but that was just a vicious rumour put about by Chretien.

  10. My sense is that, at least outside of the rabid partisans of whatever stripe, the attempted reconciling is we’ve got Trudeau who seems very likely to not fully grasp the realities and nuances of the most significant issues and then we’ve got Harper who has clearly demonstrated he doesn’t, but has been running the show anyway. Perhaps the question is do we go with the devil we know who continues to oversimplify and misunderstand virtually every major issue, since it hasn’t destroyed anything yet, or go with the devil we don’t and cross our fingers it doesn’t actually get worse.

  11. Do the Conservatives not realize how little experience Harper had when he became PM? He’d never served in a government or been a cabinet minister, and hadn’t even been in Parliament for that many years. He actually quit Parliament after one term in the 1990’s and went away for a couple elections before coming back. Most of his time was spent working at right-wing lobby groups like the NCC.

    • Rebecca asks,
      “Do the Conservatives not realize how little experience Harper had when he became PM? ”

      Rebecca, the question is not one of experience. Justin Trudeau GREW UP with a family in power, he had far more political experience than most, even if he’s never held office. The question, is one of competence and capabilities.

      Even harper’s worst enemies admit that he’s highly intelligent, while at the same time calling him heartless. Justin Trudeau on the other hand…seems like a really nice guy. Yeah, he’s phoney as a 3 dollar bill…but he’s got a nice smile and good teeth.

      Harper’s intellect allowed him to learn quickly, and to have a firm grasp on policy. Trudeau, has not the intellectual capacity or frankly, the common sense required to make a competent PM. As much as it pains me to admit it, I think that Canada will one day have a PM Justin Trudeau. And I think he’ll make even more of a mess than did his father. If you want to know why those who don’t vote Liberal dislike Justin Trudeau…….you just need to watch the guy speak. He can speak for hours without actually saying anything.

      Watch a reporter ask Harper a tough question on the fly. He gets a good, well thought out response.

      Now watch a reporter ask Trudeau a tough question…er, ok, so he doesn’t get asked tough questions. Watch him try and answer an easy one……….and he can still manage to screw it up.

      It comes down to a simply choice.

      Do you want a PM who is competent, an intellectual heavyweight, and knows where he stands on an issue.

      or do you want a PM who makes you feel good, looks good, but hasn’t got an ounce of common sense, and can only answer questions his handlers give him beforehand?

      Trudeau doesn’t have the right “stuff” to be PM, but Canadian history shows that this is not always a requirement. Trudeau will be PM one day…….and the country will go downhill until he’s eventually turfed.

      but hey….at least he’s not NDP.

      • “Even harper’s worst enemies admit that he’s highly intelligent, ”

        No they don’t. Intellectual lightweight who’s bought into low tax fantasies.

        Name one substantive accomplishment. And please don’t say recession managing as he only survived because Canada practiced old style Keynes policies of paying down debt until 2006.

        “Watch a reporter ask Harper a tough question on the fly. He gets a good, well thought out response.”

        Delusional. This is never allowed.

        • Oh well.
          He’s got a nice smile.
          I’m sure he answers lots of “tough questions on the fly” in all those scrums he does.

          • Thanks Lenny. I read that comment by James and could not stop laughing.

            It is notable that James has not returned to defend it.

      • Politics is now branding, not about ideas. Read Susan Delacourt’s book.

        Trudeau has brand power. Like him or not, that’s the future.

        • Totally shallow..and that is a true pity for Canadians.

      • Harper an intellectual heavy weight. You must be kidding, right?

      • Harper, as we’re now seeing unravel, before all canadians, is a not-so-good economist, and a horrible businessman.
        He’s a puppet stuffed in a sear-suckered suit.

  12. Shouldn’t the headline say What’s The Media Obsession With Justin Trudeau? Everyday we are bombarded with inane stories about Trudeau. Enough is enough. Hopefully the average Canadian is not that gullible.

    • The media is covering Justin Trudeau because he leads the political party that has been ahead in the polls for the past year and that has done the best in the by-elections during that same time period. It makes sense for the press to cover the party that is #1 at the present time.

    • We’ve been gullible enough to re-elect Harper and thugs, but no more. Most Canadians are now seeing the light, and we will rid ourselves of this scourge once and for all.

      • And who believes in Santa?????

  13. “In the same breath—well, the same email—this Conservative insisted there is nothing personal in his party’s attitude toward Trudeau… “Rough-and-tumble treatment of leaders is nothing new. What is new is the amazing success of the Liberal team in convincing the media that normal political criticism is unprecedented and inhumane when directed at their leader.”

    I guess that whole paragraph holds the key to how little self awareness the CPC has in regard to their methods and motivations; even when you factor in this seems to be pretty commonplace in politics anyway.[ few Chretien era libs would for instance like to admit they might have crossed the line in attacking Reformers personally back in the day] But i imagine one glance at those stripper cum psudo homo erotic Tory ads tell the tale for most ordinary voters. There’s something new with these guys. It’s personal and partisan all the time…24/7. They can’t seem to grasp that after awhile the public , and even the conflict loving media grow bored with this. Their inability to put anything into any kind of context even 40 years on is astonishing really.Matched only by the capacity to hold on to their grudges like they’re gold dust.
    It’s a good thing fanboy…er PW submitted Harper’s unbelievably whiny frat boy letter which he had published barely two days after PET’s funeral.[ things like respect are another value that Steve reserves for himself to give only as HE sees fit]It isn’t that any of his criticisms of Trudeau don’t have any truth in them at all [that would be to play the same juvenile Harper style game] it’s that’s the kind of polemics you wind up with when you elect to first remove every trace of context from your critique.It’s abit like saying it’s obvious Churchill was a war monger…cuz obviously there was lots of wars when he was in office,or Roosevelt a feckless socialist just cuz he went around building dams and giving bums soup kitchens for fun. Stuff, events, happened in PET’s time that was not necessarily under his control either. Whether his responses were the correct ones is of course open to much debate. SH seems to think he has sole rights to hindsight and it doesn’t ever, ever, apply to him by the way. The fact he did it before PET was cold in the ground says much about Harper’s character. And much that hasn’t really changed. SH reminds me of one of those one sided carboard child’s dolls, there’s little or no depth to the man,and he only faces in one direction. Depressingly pretty much all of his party take their cue from him. Which is ironic really, since the man he most despises did not run cabinets and caucuses that were fueled on personal animosity and a complete absence of context. The fact the son has opted for a strategy largely not to play in Stephen’s sandbox, must be yet another source of irritation for our emotionally stunted PM.

      • You mean like Stevie boy in 2000? I probably am obsessed to some degree. Difference is i do context[yes even for SH. Why i read Wells for one thing] and i’m not ever going to be PM of anything.
        But since you’ve opted for the personal, let’s talk about your political obsessions shall we?

        • I’m obsessed with good governance. In my personal experience, there is little or no co-relation between this and the personality of the person leading that governance. That is why, though I think JT is a twit, I’m more interested in an explanation from he or his party as to why this country, which by most objective measures has done reasonably well, relatively speaking, during the Harper government’s tenure, should now toss that government out. I suspect I’m unlikely to get it.

          The fact JT is a twit might actually be a positive – the three government leaders I personally consider to be among the worst I expect would rank among the highest in intellect: the current US president, the former Alberta premier and, FTW, he who haunts us still.

          • Undoubtedly there is little or no correlation between intellect and good character [ witness Clinton Bill] Not that precludes someone from having a gift for politics.[witness Clintons again, or Harper] The question is, should there be?
            As for SH, i have no problem putting him up there on your list of among the most intelligent; and even less on mine as among the least of good character. You ask why he deserves the boot after giving us reasonably good governance? I’m afraid i can’t agree with your premise: “there is little or no co-relation between this and the personality of the person leading that governance.” What’s more i doubt you held that view when Chretien was in office. There is indeed a co-relation, or there should be. That’s what’s most likely going to do Harper in, as it almost certainly would have had Chretien stayed on. Each to their own i guess. I liked JC. Thought he governed reasonably well too; but he and the libs heartily deserved to be tossed when they were. We just didn’t know we were going to get Chretien part 2. But without the wit and the charm as at least some compensation for some of the thuggery.
            I’ll take character over soaring intellect any day. I’d prefer both. In JT i may have to settle for one, just as you settled for one[ the least important imo] in Harper.

          • ” why this country, which by most objective measures has done reasonably well, relatively speaking, during the Harper government’s tenure, should now toss that government out.”

            Oh, I remember you now!
            You’re that guy who kept saying, “Why should we throw the Liberals out and replace them with helmet-head who’s never had a real job, when the country has done so well under their tenure?”


  14. Paul Wells should be careful about comparing provincial elections to federal politics. Provincial elections are very different from federal elections, and none of the provincial challengers he refers to were as well-known a figure as Justin Trudeau. Justin Trudeau is the son of a Prime Minister and has grown up in the public eye. Adrian Dix, Tim Hudak & Danielle Smith do not have that distinction.

    Incidentally, the Liberal Party has many years of experience in government, prior to Justin Trudeau, and is already an established brand. And because Harper has been in power for nearly a decade, he is at risk of continuing to decline in support the way most leaders at his stage do, regardless of whether Trudeau is in the mix or not. It’s very rare for a PM to win 4 consecutive mandates – in fact, it hasn’t happened for over 100 years. This is also a point missing from the Wells piece.

    • I was thinking of making the same point about JT not being Dix et al., But it doesn’t change the fact that it is very hard to beat an established incumbent.[the fact that the ndp could not push Clark out for instance still boggles my mind] without a good game plan, even if the other guy/gal seems an obvious FU. There is a danger there for Trudeau also. It’s fair comment i think, although the CPC faith in their over your head stuff finally resonating with the public smacks to be of witch craft or astrology. It has to compete against a by now very strong ebb tide in the affairs of SJH.
      Bye Steve. Don’t worry we’ll send the SAR guys out after you once we’ve had our sun downers on the deck.

    • I was thinking of making the same point about JT not being Dix et al., But it doesn’t change the fact that it is very hard to beat an established incumbent.[the fact that the ndp could not push Clark out for instance still boggles my mind] without a good game plan, even if the other guy/gal seems an obvious FU. There is a danger there for Trudeau also. It’s fair comment i think, although the CPC faith in their over your head stuff finally resonating with the public smacks to be of witch craft or astrology. It has to compete against a by now very strong ebb tide in the affairs of SJH.
      Bye Steve. Don’t worry we’ll send the SAR guys out after you once we’ve had our sun downers on the deck.

  15. The headline,”What’s behind the Tories’ obsession with Justin Trudeau?” should really read:

    “What’s behind the Paul Wells’ and the corporate media’s obsession with Justin Trudeau?”

    If he were Justin Smith, he would not be a national party leader let alone an MP because of his lack of accomplishment and gravitas. His performance in the House continues to be very weak, and his “unplugged” verbal gaffes bespeak a person who should never be unscripted.

    Sadly, we are witnessing the corporate media manufacture consent for Harper-lite rather than a desperately-needed real change in Ottawa.

    Trudeau – like Harper – supports the massive corporate tax cuts to 15%;the XL pipeline export of raw bitumen and good, value-added Cdn jobs to the US, and raw bitumen to China via the Kinder-Morgan pipeline: some remedy for his alleged concern for creating Canada’s middle class jobs!

    However Justin and his national fundraiser – Stephen Bronfman – have growing connections with Bay street and the corporate-media elites whose job it is to assure that there is alternation between the black cats and the white cats who always ruled in Tommy Douglas’ “Mouseland”.

    Despite Trudeau’s self-serving elitist tax and oil/pipeline policies it is Paul’s task to assure us that Justin is a “progressive”. LOL!

    • Geez…do they spoon feed you this down at the union hall? Sorry but you might want to do more than regurgitate verbatim the ndp line – if only for the entertainment value.
      Don’t you think Well’s is a bit too busy being a Tory fan boy to have time to “assure us that Justin is a “progressive”. LOL!”

  16. Conservatives talk sanctimoniously as though their positions on various subjects are actually right. But their positions are actually wrong according to at least 60% of Canadian voters. Conservatives do not reflect basic Canadian values of fairness and balance. Conservatives somehow believe that being mean spirited, intolerant, anti-science, anti-environment and pro anything that big business and big oil says defines the Canadian mindset. They are simply on the wrong side of Canadian history on many, if not most topics and their self righteous indignation is being perceived more and more as being quite immature and petty. They think they are world leaders but they are leading Canada backwards. Liberals like Trudeau and other progressives are seen as leading Canada forward into a future that is more hopeful and peaceful.

    • Trudeau supports the massive federal corporate tax cuts to 15% – is that progressive?
      Justin supports the export of unprocessed bitumen to the US via the XL pipeline and to China via the Kinder-Morgan pipeline – is that progressive?
      Supporting – and being supported by – corporate Canada and its media is progressive?
      What Liberal double-think.

    • You’re right on the mark!

  17. The reigning kleptocracy will pull out all the stops, and there will be blood. They know how to drag us – the electorate – down to our basest selves. But it will be for nought: Harper will be tossed out because of real self-inflicted wounds, which he might have stanched with a less deep-rooted paranoia.

  18. What Wells fails to realize is that Canadians are keeping score and harper is loosing.

    The “If you’re not with us your agin us” attitude while stripping Canadians of their rights is very abrassive an doesn’t sit well with the majority of Canadians.Can you say internet spying bills – yes plural.

    Lets count shall we;

    Attacks on our democracy/election system: In and out and Robocalls CPC guilty, fair elections act what a joke.

    Attacks on the Charter and the SCoC – attempts to change Charter 7 fails for harper 7 and then harper attacks the CJ of the SCoC – this was an epic fail for the CPC- for putting the Charter ahead of harpers plans

    Senate scandal – unfolding – the duffy trial should be in full swing before Oct 2015

    • Actually, I think he’s tightening.

  19. Funny, I guess that’s why I’m a Liberal. I’ll take a guy with two degrees over someone with a background of black-and-white knee-jerk decision making (like cops, Norlock, Glover, a few other pieces of work) any day of the week.

      • And then there is that former police chief of London, York Region and Toronto who thinks he knows about combat.

        My next-door neighbor in Toronto warned me when I was moving to London for university in the 90’s about Fantino. He was ex-TPS, Bill McCormack’s squad car partner back in the day, and on the TPS homicide squad.

        RIP John Lepage (former president of the Toronto Tall Club too!)

  20. After the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013, Trudeau told Peter Mansbridge, “There is no question that this happened because there is someone who feels completely excluded.”
    Pretty hypocritical of the conservatives… Considering they are spending $ 10 million studying the exact same causation.

  21. Harper is shaking in his boots regarding Trudeau, and so he should. He’s on his way out, and none too soon. it will take a lot of hard work and political will to undo all the damage Harper and gang have done to this country. My bet is that Harper will resign before the next election. I don’t think he could stomach losing to a Trudeau. Sure would like to see that happen, though. I am so looking forward to a government that we can respect again.

    • Nah, maybe JT should give him a break. Best of 3 in the ring. He can even let that craven little git Levant throw in the white towel for him.

  22. Before slagging Justin’s foreign policy…. What are some of you Conservative lemmings referring to? Before Steve rode his “high” white horse into Ottawa, had he ever left Canada to go abroad and learn or is he flying off the seat of his pants.

    If his name were not Trudeau? Blah, blah, blah, he represents Papineau. The fine folks of Papineau most likely never heard of PET. The populace represents many nationalities that are less affluent. He worked his backside off to win them over and I would suggest, that serves him well today. So get used to it.

  23. I think Harper is hoisting himself on his on petard.

    I am a life long small-c Conservative but after Harper it is unlikely that I will return in my life-time.

  24. Food fight guy/gals. Wells thinks it’s too civil around here…i think that’s what he said.

    It’s getting better, but not the same since you nuked it. God help me, but i think you have to go to the Post’s boards now for a decent lively debate…cept after hours. Then you ought to button up your jammies, tighten up your bike helmet and keep the bear spray handy. That’s what i do anyway.

  25. Bingo: “It’s as if a government led by Robin Hood suddenly found itself confronting a party led by the fresh-faced young Sheriff of Nottingham, Jr.”

    Pierre Trudeau destroyed Canada. Every citizen has worked hard and paid taxes for 30 years to keep up with the debt he built at 25% interest rates.

    Every one who graduated in 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1984 knows the Trudeau burden. Cabinet Ministers were pushed to come up with new spending with no regard to the cost or potential effectiveness (not unlike the $2 Billion long gun registry Chretien’s Govt dumped on us with no benefit — but then, he was a Trudeau disciple).

    We have all fought back from the Trudeau apocalypse — Clark, Mulroney, Wilson, Don Mazankowski, Chretien, Martin, Harper, Flaherty and Oliver have all done yeoman’s work — yet there is still decades’ work to be done even as generations later we are still hamstrung by a Prime Minister worse than Barack Obama (to give you a sense of the scale). That’s why thinking people would prefer Mulcair over Trudeau if Harper is defeated (at least Mulcair has the burned-in memory of the failure and devastation of PET).

    Mr. Wells was still in primary school when Pierre Trudeau devastated Canada, and perhaps skipped the reading at Western University that might have enlightened him on its scope…

    • Stagflation was a global [western anyway] problem at the time. The US for with it, the UK was also a basket case. Everyone wrestled with high interests rates. And Mulroney not only failed to get a handle on the resulting debt – he increased it. It wasn’t until Chretien’s time that the federal govt got a handle on it. and…Mulcair was/is an admirer of PET. Only 4 strkes and out. Sorry to burst your little bubble. Go back to your 2 minute hate by all means.

  26. Someone please enlighten Michelle Rempel that “blind rage” isn’t really working for the Conservative Party these days, as the country watches the Conservative Party flail away aimlessly at and alienate pretty much everybody. By the way, what “intellectual or private-sector achievements” did Stephen Harper have when running for Prime Minister? An apology op-ed he wrote in a US paper for not joining them in invading Iraq, and working in the mail room at his dad’s company? His judgment never got any better as he appointed 59 Conservative lackeys to the Senate including the likes of Gerstein and Finley (campaign directors during the In and Out election fraud to which the Conservative Party pled guilty) and Wallin, Duffy, and Brazeau (anyone with a sense of irony is enjoying watching those boomerangs come back around.) And as he called Peter Penashue the “best MP Labrador ever had” *after* the guy resigned for breaking election laws to try to run for re-election. Setting a new ethical culture in Ottawa indeed.

    I also don’t see what parallels can be drawn from the provincial election cited to the federal one in 2015. In BC, you had an NDP candidate with a checkered ethical record invalidate the ethical issues against the BC Liberals and gift-wrapping them with an inoculation against them, which was the main problem they had. In Alberta, you had some candidates of a new political party fumble the ball for the party because they couldn’t keep quiet about the lake of fire. And in Ontario, you had a PC candidate running on the basis of his expertise as an economist, with a proud centrepiece of an economic plan that had flagrant and basic mathematical errors in it and was panned by every credible economist who scored it, never admitted any error, and who was already disliked because of the last time he ran.

    There’s a reason why Conservatives who give these confidential insights on Trudeau’s “lack of intellectual or private-sector achievements” do it on condition of anonymity – because it makes them look like such clueless hypocrites. And the Conservatives are just kidding themselves and trying to save face with the notion that their attack ads are effective now because they will germinate later. The elections against Dion and Ignatieff, on the other hand, were over before they began because the ads worked when launched.

  27. “This is what happened to strong challengers who failed to break through in recent provincial elections in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. In each case, an incumbent government was in serious trouble in pre-election polls. In each case, voters chose to stick with the incumbent anyway.”

    I think though, in each case mentioned, the incumbent leadership had recently changed. Perhaps voters decided to give the new leaders (all females) one last chance?

  28. “A lot of our MPs have a hard time taking seriously the notion that someone like Justin could run a G7 government,” a senior Conservative said in an email, speaking on condition of anonymity. “That is because most Tory MPs come from very practical, real-world career backgrounds…”

    Trudeau was a teacher before he sought office. I find it interesting that Conservatives view this as an unworthy occupation.

    • Mike Harris was a teacher too. My old internet friend Chris M. had him as a teacher in North Bay. Wasn’t exactly a stellar job, from what Chris told me.

    • Exactly.

      Teachers bad. Cops good.

    • A teacher? A part time drama and snow board instructor. A teacher? Hardly.

  29. SH’s essay ” a distant leader…nor cared to understand a group of people over whom his actions had immense impact….whose government created huge deficits…bloated bureaucracy…” could have been written about the present day Conservatives…the environment ravaged? first nations ignored? veterans short changed? the unemployed increasingly ineligible? OAS increased age? farmers abandoned? TFW’s?
    Stephan Harper seems to believe as long as you disrupt lives using a pen rather than a knife or a gun all is well.

  30. The liberals will win the next election.

    Canada does not elect governments – it throws out the old ones.

    Truthfully, the world is becoming a tough place – and I firmly believe a trudeau led government will be a bad thing for Canada

    However Harper is also a bad thing for Canada

    The citizen of France who leads the NDP would also fail.

    In the end we are in trouble – this country is about to make some serious mistakes – all in the name of politics – but those who support the Libs and those who support the Cons and those who support the NDP are all missing this completely as they continue to complain and whine about the “other party”.

    Canadians as a whole, live a very entitled and safe life in their nice little comfortable bubble and never move out of it until that bubble is poked – and world events will poke it in the next 3-5 years.

    In my opinion – and I would be willing to bet in the opinion of many others – there is not a worthy leader in any party right now.

    • And in the situation that usually faces voters…we go with the devil one we know…because there is no other better person than Harper at this time. I expect a Conservative victory with Harper stepping down after the first year or two.

      • I will grant you that you could be correct – time will tell

        If the defining characteristic of our future leader is his willingness to legalize/decriminalize marijuana – then this country truly is in trouble – and the voters will only have to look in the mirror to see who should carry the blame

        • We’re in trouble if our education system is so inadequate that an adult doesn’t know the difference between a characteristic and a policy position.

  31. Someone has to counter the absence of any of the “rest” of the media holding JT’s nose to the grind for the many statements made that need to be explained if he is ever to be a serious contender for PM.

    • Media? LOL

      I consider them all to be the lowest of the low class out there

      I hope someone can hold trudope’s nose to the grind stone – however I do not honestly believe the public cares – most have their minds made up now.

  32. Trudeau is charismatic…Harper is not. A large part of politics is still popularity contest. Harper has never run against anyone that was even remotely charismatic, and he has benefitted from that. Harper’s much vaunted economic prowess has been riding on Paul Martin’s coattails from the very beginning. Harper is not a pleasant man, not the sort you aspire to have a beer with or invite to the cottage. Harper has done some damage to Canada and its reputation, and some damage to some individuals. Harper’s government is getting long in the tooth. These are some of the reasons th PCs are obsessed with Trudeau, but the real reason is fear. And their fear is justifiable. Harper’s earliest ambitions were to wipe out the Liberal party and he almost succeeded, and now he is working on the destruction of the PCs. Good luck with that.

  33. I am honestly puzzled why so many commenters think Wells is bashing Trudeau and pumping Harper. I do not read this as him taking a position one way or another.

    I find it amusing that conservatives complain about Trudeau not coming from the “real world”. Harper is a few years older than me, which means that he was in university and looking for work in the 80’s. In Alberta. Where that work was not so easy to come by. Many people who were able to get jobs did so because they had an advantage. You know, the kind of people whose father’s worked at big oil companies and could pull some strings to get them in there.

    So it is amusing indeed that conservatives complain about Trudeau playing off his father’s influence when it is abundantly clear Harper’s first foray into the working world came the same way. (And I wonder where the Taxpayers Federation got its funding from? Could the aforementioned oil company have been a donor?)

    Anyway, for what it is worth (and it may not be much), I see this little plan of the conservatives working if, at election time, Trudeau and the liberals do not come up with a dynamic platform. If they fumble, and his platform can be characterized in a manner that fits with the conservative narrative, he is toast.

    I, for one, do not see that happening. He has surrounded himself with excellent people and he is clearly not going to position himself as a one man show, surrounded by puppets.

    One of the main reasons I support him over Mulcair (and Harper, obviously) is that he is not trying to pit one segment of Canadians against another. Harper’s attitude towards the poor, the First Nations, Quebec etc is to simply ignore them and focus on the segments of the population where he can get votes.

    Take, for example the call for an inquiry into the missing and murdered Aboriginal women. Harper claims this is treated as a crime, and he is tough on crime. Sure. So why is it when he is trotting out all these victims of crime to support his tough on crime initiatives, he never asks an Aboriginal family to speak out on his behalf? Because they do not represent the pool of voters he is trying to reach.

    • I voted for Harper because I was opposed to the universal childcare platform of Martin. Afterwards, there was no viable alternative. Now I will vote for ABH and Trudeau is not NDP! I think the mistake we made was to give Harper a majority. Things have not been going well since then. I guess we have been seeing the true stripes and I don’t like them much..

  34. Interesting article. One thing though. You say the government is Robin Hood. Robin generally stole from the rich to give to the poor. Harper is more like Dennis Moore from the Monty Python sketch, “He steals from the poor and gives to the rich, stupid b@#$%!”

  35. I wonder if his book will include an “uhhhhhh” after two or three words as he does when speaking in public. If the left absolutely must get back in, could they at least give the job to Mulcair instead of this mop top?

  36. The conservatives seem slow reacting to Trudeau this summer.It almost looks as if they’ve given up.Maybe they are tired of governing.

  37. It’s also possible that focusing on Trudeau is a way to divide and conquer. By keeping him in Canadian minds he pushes out Mulcair towards irrel

    • ..elevance.

      Well, this is the last I’ll try to post from my phone.

  38. I must say – this is the most antique comment space I have ever seen – but, here goes!

    I have been a Conservative Party member and voter for a while now. I liked their domestic economic policies and their less alarmed position on AGW! In my youth I was an NDP supporter and then as a more mature voter, I adopted the Liberal Party – until Dion became leader – what a disaster!

    Now, however, the Conservatives will not get another penny from me, nor my vote, until Stephen Harper is replaced by someone much more “Canadian”! On the world stage – he does not speak for me!

    As a Canadian, I am proud of our image as levelheaded, fair-minded peacekeepers! On International Policy Harper presents himself as a belligerent, pompous war monger – unquestioningly aligned with American policies. I am not proud of that Canadian image!

    I am quite convinced that the coup in Kiev was aided and abetted by America, Europe and possibly Canada – to what end is not entirely clear since the outcome is to no ones true advantage. Until the coup and the accompanying anti-Russian propaganda, Russia and Europe, and many pother countries,
    had a friendly and mutually beneficial relationship. Perhaps the coup was simply a way to avoid an unwanted outcome to the coming election in May, 2014! Perhaps some higher power, similar in outlook to John McCain, wants war with Russia!

    One thing is certain, Ukraine will never be the country it once was. It will take a generation or longer before the people of Eastern Ukraine will forget and forgive their treatment at the hands of their countrymen. The announced election in October can not, and will not, reunite this country! It is critically injured and this outcome is partly our fault! I am not comfortable with that!

    Being Canadian is not merely about domestic economic success – it is about our national soul! I no longer believe that the Harper government can grasp this concept! I can now only hope that that Justin Trudeau will have this kind of insight, and that he will have a chance to prove himself!

  39. I was ready for another Trudeau piece but I actually found this one quite to the point. I think most of us can’t believe that anyone would fall for this guy’s campaign. He arose from nowhere and was instantly parachuted into a seat based on a funeral speech. His leadership bid was basically uncontested. Martha Hall Finlay was made to apologize for confronting the Dauphin. Garneau backed out once he saw that. Junior is obviously being scripted. Nobody with a literature degree talks about inclusion, resource depletion and root causes. He is using the same Democrat operatives that put empty suit Obama in place of which David Axelrod is one. Mitch Stewart of Obama’s personal NGO “Organizing for America has also been hired as a consultant. Trudeau even brought Obama’s favourite author north and gave her a plum seat in Toronto Centre. Oh yes, Chrystia Freeland of the vanishing middle class meme. No doubt she is there as the next heir in waiting. The Democrats must be desperate to unite the West with like minded leaders. And of course, their strategy is getting people involved. Data mining names, setting up web pages, “liking” on FaceBook and Twittering. But we can see that empty suits don’t work. We now have Mr. Obama stating he has no strategy for dealing with ISIS. Pretty faces and empty suits work well in a world populated with rainbows and unicorns but not with the likes of ISIS and Putin.

    • Practicing your creative writing?

      • Nah. He’s just regurgitating the wingnut scripture he consumes.
        He didn’t create a word of it.

  40. Mr. Wells faithfully and uncritically compiles every Reform/Conservative criticism of Justin Trudeau, including from its loonies. He repeats Mr Harper’s repulsive attack Pierre Trudeau, just two days after his death.

    Well done, sir. You’ve outdone yourself.

  41. a better question would be, what or whom is behind the media obsession with justin.

  42. Michelle blowing a gasket, as Paul Wells puts it, is very understandable.
    The thought of the damage that PET junior could cause Canada is frightening.
    Call it ‘obsession’ if you will, but for most thinking Canadians the possibility of that pandering clown running our beloved country is beyond comprehension.

  43. only trouble with conservatives is post Harper ,
    the conservatives largest problem is still hanging around Harper he sneaks in the house when its time to vote then seconds later he votes then runs away like a thief in the night.
    if only the old joe Clark conservatives would simply evolve as the rest of Canada and learn to get up and learn to walk on their hind legs as the rest of us who have suffered the 10 years of Harpers failed BS

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