09.19.2013 01:07 AM

Twenty years ago today

Wanna feel old?

Read these grafs, from the column I’ve filed for Sunday.  TWENTY YEARS AGO TODAY THE RED BOOK CAME OUT.

Holy crap, do I ever feel old.

“…So we put out the Red Book. It was 112 pages long, it was bursting at the seams with ideas, and it provided an effective rebuttal to the Conservatives’ nasty insinuations. “I’ve got the team, I’ve got the plan,” Chretien would say, over and over, at every whistle-stop along the way to a massive Parliamentary majority. 

 The debate about when to release the thing went on almost as long as the writing of it. All at once? In pieces? Before the election? In week one? In Ottawa, or elsewhere?

 Chretien made the final decision, appropriately. The Red Book would be released on September 19, 1993, eleven days after the campaign began. We printed up thousands of copies, and they were all gone by lunchtime. Bureaucrats figured we were going to win, and they wanted to get a head start on their homework.” 



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    robin says:

    And, then, there was the Blue Book that a flustered Kim Campbell had earmarked with protruding sticky notes so she could reference its contents since she had no idea what was in it; another example of a desperate campaign attempting to put image before substance by pretending to have substance. The Blue Book had been hastily prepared in a vain effort to counter the Red Book.

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    Robert says:

    It was the beginning of making campaigns more about substance versus just style or image.
    Subsequent campaigns for all parties have followed this same approach.
    Next question should be is how many of the promises were fulfilled?

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      Warren says:

      Enough to get majorities in 1997 and 2000, I guess.

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    patrick says:

    Eleven days before the election Chretien and the Liberals release their vision of the future and everyone is complaining about Justin Trudeau not releasing his vision of the future 2 plus years before an election.
    Sometimes I think the press just all jump on a band wagon of thought because it’s the easiest thing to do.

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      Warren says:

      That’s the point of my column.

      If I were advising Trudeau, however – and I’m not, he’s got Team Kennedy and Team Martin doing that – I’d advise him that he is in a slightly different situation. Given that the main criticism of him (from all sides) has been that he’s a beautiful dummy, he has less time to roll something out than, say, Dion or Ignatieff (who were academics, had written books, etc.).

      But, in the main, I agree: you’ve got to roll out your policy book when it’s right for you, and when voters are paying attention – not when your opponents or the media say to.

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        Kaplan says:

        I think he’s made some progress by announcing Freeland and Leslie as policy advisors. We can debate whether they’re appropriate picks, but at the very least, I’d anticipate Trudeau’s gotten some mileage from the coverage featuring him surrounded by Very Important Thinkers.

        I’d remind folks, too, that Harper didn’t release his election strategy until the 2006 campaign got underway. Then, it was an announcement a day. Of course, Harper had his own brand, and a long history of policy debates, to bring to the table.

        But it feels like Trudeau’s doing the right things to shore up criticism that he’s a lightweight on policy – and that’s by creating a team that will (presumably) offer some serious and innovative policy proposals, and not just rush out talking points everytime the media ratchets up the pressure.

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          Kaplan says:

          Sorry, I should correct that: Harper didn’t release his policy platform until the election got underway.

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        patrick says:

        So he doesn’t need a full policy set yet, just enough display of depth to prove he’s not an empty suit.

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    Kaplan says:

    The 1993 campaign marked the first election I could, and did, vote in. I lived in southern Alberta, was in my first year of college, and it was during the real rise of the Reform Party. I voted for my local Liberal candidate after reading the Liberal red book, and seeing Chretien in action. Such a fascinating election – rise of not only Reform, but the Bloc – and the utter demise of the Mulroney/Campbell PCs.

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