Hope and the hard work of coming up with a decent slogan

Politics Insider for Aug. 27: All the parties have their sayings, they're fighting about secret carbon agendas, and Trudeau checks his own backyard

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The slogans aren’t strong: Nobody who really loves politics can resist political slogans. They’re inherently silly and reductive. And yet, telling. “The land is strong” perfectly captured the arrogance of Pierre Trudeau’s nearly disastrous ’72 campaign. Certain words resonate across the political spectrum: Margaret Thatcher and Barack Obama both made hay with “hope.” Now, the main Canadian slogans for 2019 are out. Justin Trudeau’s Liberals ask voters to “Choose forward.” It’s concise but not convincingly catchy. Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives declare, “It’s time for you to get ahead.” That might describe the moment, but it doesn’t quite promise the outcome. We’re still waiting for the NDP catchphrase. [CBC News]

Duelling nails on chalkboard: Ottawa happens to be home city to both the Liberal MP whose voice most drives Conservatives up the wall, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, and the Tory MP whose every utterance most irritates Liberals, Pierre Poilievre. Their latest war of words rewards some close listening, for those who can stand it. Poilievre says McKenna let slip in a Globe and Mail interview that Liberals might boost their carbon tax higher than the $50 per tonne it’s slated to hit by 2022. McKenna countered that there is “no secret agenda.” It’s just that her current carbon price deal with the provinces only runs to 2022. After that, she said, “Any decision would be taken in discussions with provinces and territories and stakeholders.” Here’s a generous chunk of video of her fielding reporters’ repeated questions, perhaps a foretaste of how Liberals will finesse a major election point of dispute. [CityNews]

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and there’s need of money: G7 summits are notorious for producing wordy communiques and not necessarily a whole lot else. The one that just wrapped up in Biarritz, France, however, delivered an unusually short document—and, at least from Canada, some real money for a pressing emergency. Trudeau anted up $15 million and dispatched Canadian water bombers to help fight the horrific forest fires in the Amazon. Host Emmanuel Macron, the French president, also announced a US$20-million commitment from the G7, but part of that was earmarked for long-term rainforest-protection. John Kirton, director of University of Toronto’s specialized G7 Research Group, summed up what happened this way:

“After phone calls from Macron and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro agreed to send his army to fight the fires. G7 members would immediately act to stop the fires by providing the specialized firefighting personnel, equipment and aircraft needed there. At the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York of September 23, they would work with the countries of the Amazon Basin, coordinated by Chilean president Sebastián Piñera, to produce a medium-term preventive and reforestation plan.” [University of Toronto]

Will Trudeau get a bounce from what was generally seen as an error-free performance in Biarritz? It can’t hurt to look competent on the world stage, and that contribution for South America’s forest fire challenge looked resolute. Still, the latest Angus Reid Institute polling suggests Trudeau is still fighting to win back Canadians who backed him in 2015: 

“Troubling to the Liberals, they find themselves competing for a significant portion of their own 2015 voters. One-third of current uncommitted voters (35 per cent) say they supported the party in the last federal election, but will not yet commit to the party again, while one-in-five (20 per cent) voted for the New Democratic Party. Notably, a considerable number of uncommitted respondents say they did not vote in 2015 (14 per cent).” [Angus Reid]