“Warren Kinsella's book, ‘Fight the Right: A Manual for Surviving the Coming Conservative Apocalypse,’ is of vital importance for American conservatives and other right-leaning individuals to read, learn and understand.”

- The Washington Times

“One of the best books of the year.”

- The Hill Times

“Justin Trudeau’s speech followed Mr. Kinsella’s playbook on beating conservatives chapter and verse...[He followed] the central theme of the Kinsella narrative: “Take back values. That’s what progressives need to do.”

- National Post

“[Kinsella] is a master when it comes to spinning and political planning...”

- George Stroumboulopoulos, CBC TV

“Kinsella pulls no punches in Fight The Right...Fight the Right accomplishes what it sets out to do – provide readers with a glimpse into the kinds of strategies that have made Conservatives successful and lay out a credible roadmap for progressive forces to regain power.”

- Elizabeth Thompson, iPolitics

“[Kinsella] deserves credit for writing this book, period... he is absolutely on the money...[Fight The Right] is well worth picking up.”

- Huffington Post

“Run, don't walk, to get this amazing book.”

- Mike Duncan, Classical 96 radio

“Fight the Right is very interesting and - for conservatives - very provocative.”

- Former Ontario Conservative leader John Tory

“His new book is great! All of his books are great!”

- Tommy Schnurmacher, CJAD

“I absolutely recommend this book.”

- Paul Wells, Maclean’s

“Kinsella puts the Left on the right track with new book!”

- Calgary Herald

Impressions about Justin Trudeau and Justin Trudeau’s mouth

I read this story, and then I re-read it.

It’s one of two possibilities.  One, it’s a candid and honest admission by Justin Trudeau about one of Justin Trudeau’s shortcomings, for which he deserves credit.  Or, two, it’s a bit of pre-conditioning – some inoculation – against future verbal gaffes.  Which is shrewd, and for which he also deserves credit.

Either way, there’s no downside – and a fair amount of upside – to giving such a year-end interview.  He wins either way.


As the cliché suggests, there’s always a but.  Mine is this, drawn from one of my books, The War Room:

To evaluate the effectiveness of a political story or advertisement, I always watch it with the sound off. That way, I’m forced to consider the visual impact for what is a visual medium. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, for instance, understand the power of image — he allowed the media to take many pictures of him during his twelve years in the White House, but never wearing the braces that he was forced to wear after being struck with polio. So, too, Ronald Reagan’s former advisor, Michael Deaver, who was obsessed with television images: “I have always believed that impressions are more important than specific acts or issues … I believe TV is a great boon to us in judging our leaders. It lets us see all the dimensions that, in the past, people could only see in person: the body language, the dilation of the eye, the way they perspire. We see them when they are tired, worried, under great crises. If television focuses on somebody every day, it shows all the dimensions.”

I didn’t like Ronald Reagan’s policies, and I didn’t like what Deaver did on Reagan’s behalf.  But his observation about “impressions” is a credo I live by.  It’s what I tell my clients, too.

When it comes to your public reputation, what matters most isn’t facts.  It is impressions – the impressions of you that are built up over time by ongoing media coverage.  Some judgments are made on the basis of a single story, to be sure.  But, mostly, citizens form judgments after looking at, or reading, a lot of stories over a period of time.  No single fact typically sways public opinion (which is why scandal stuff rarely sways public opinion, but that’s a post for another day).  Shared impressions acquired over time, however? Those matter.

That’s the risk Justin Trudeau runs, here.  Whether he and his team are aware of it or not, they are presently creating impressions about Justin’s suitability to be Prime Minister.  Personally, I know he’d be a fine Prime Minister – but I like people who are iconoclasts, and colourful, and who take risks, and who refuse to be J. Alfred Prufrock.  It’s how I’ve lived my own life, in fact.

But I’m not running to be Prime Minister. So, Justin and Gerald and Cyrus and a small group of others need to consider this:

What do Canadians want in a Prime Minister? If their near-decade of support for Stephen Harper is any indication, they have lately wanted a Tim Hortons-loving, hockey Dad Everyman. So, ipso facto, are the impressions being created by Team Trudeau going to help Justin Trudeau ultimately become Prime Minister?

Personally, my heart says: Please God, yes. My head says:



42 Responses to “Impressions about Justin Trudeau and Justin Trudeau’s mouth”

  1. Matt says:

    Who was the politician who dropped the football?

  2. Tracey says:

    The nastiness, the sore winners, bullying has become so tiresome. Canadians are naturally pleasant and good natured. My gut tells me they are tired of the mean spiritless politics has spewed by this govt.

    I believe people are looking for Canada to be back on the world stage. To win back that ‘Canada the good’ image. Be the diplomats, gracious and determined that we used to be. Trudeau has the ability to bring us back to that.

    To meet the guy is to instantly like him. This is very rare quality. But I understand your concern. Too open, too honest? While the conservatives easily slay people who present less of a threat? What will they do with him?

    I do believe people are tired of the mean nasty spin.

    • Lance says:

      I like my rare-sort likeable bartender as well, but so what? Does that mean he is fit to be a Prime Minister?

      Don’t fool yourself, Justin Trudeau is not playing it any differently. It may look he is playing it on the down-low upfront, but you watch his Twitter and Facebook people and tell me that they aren’t absolute sharks. A weapon is a weapon. It may not be a cudgel, but it IS a dagger in the dark and is just as vicious.

      I think you are wrong about the “good image” – to a certain extent. Canadians would rather have the perception of a take charge asshole regular guy for a leader than an affable aw-shucks consulting kind of guy. Its the same reason why many people like fighting in hockey and measure that up against the relative calm of European type play, and why some guys just seem to be able to treat women like assholes and still get the girl, or why the beautiful harpy has a full rolodex of eager guys.

      You are also wrong about the “mean nasty spin” – again, to a certain extent. People will naturally say that they hate the gutter politics, but you know what, IT WORKS, even on the people who say they hate it. In fact, ESPECIALLY on the people who say they hate it, because THEY are the ones that need to be convinced. And don’t make the mistake of assuming that playing politics like that is only one sided. When given the proverbial shiv, be they Liberal or Tory, (and NDP too if they ever get there) they will BOTH drive it home given even half the chance. It sucks, but it just IS. And that isn’t about to change.

      • Domenico says:

        “Canadians would rather have the perception of a take charge asshole regular guy for a leader than an affable aw-shucks consulting kind of guy.” I think Chretien did pretty well for himself with the aw-schucks/little guy from Shawinigan message.

        • Elisabeth Lindsay says:

          Are you kidding me Domenico??? Where or where do you think Mr. Harper finds his inspiration?

          The aw-schucks guy from Shawinigan never was anything but a schtick. Don`t think anyone took it seriously.

      • scot says:

        Thanks for the right wing take Lance. Normal people don’t agree.

      • Lance says:

        Domenico, Chretien was also as ruthless as he could be. It helped him be so successful; ditto with Harper. Ignatieff and Dion failed in part because they wanted to be “nice guys” (and they are decent men) and take the high road. Well, look where THAT got them.

        Scot, thanks for the erroneous assumption about my political “take” and what constitutes “normal”. I simply MUST be right wing; why, because I don’t think Trudeau will make a decent PM? Oh please. I’m so glad that there are some people out there willing to stick people in a generic box with a generic label because they simply can’t admit when the truth is uncomfortable and two sided. Like I said, nice guys finish last. That isn’t just an apropos statement, everyday life bears that out, ESPECIALLY in politics.

        • scot says:

          Well Lance, most of your comments are from the con perspective. Right wingers in this country may amount to 30% on a good day so not the norm.

          • Lance says:

            Wrong, that is YOUR perspective about my comments and ANOTHER assertion about what MAY be “the norm”.


          • Bobulous says:

            Unfortunately Lance, I’ve found that many of the commenters here resort to insults and name calling if you have a different point of view. You are a ‘conbot’ or a ‘shill’, or are ‘reciting PMO talking points’. I tend to tune out certain posters just because of their hyperpartisanship and intolerance of other viewpoints. Thankfully there are other posters here who make thought-provoking points and actually raise the level of discourse.

          • scot says:

            Sure my comments are from my perspective just like yours are. also, duck, quack,etc.

      • Whats with all these declarations on behalf of ‘Canadians ar ready’, or ‘people are tired’? Opinions are not monolithic. In fact, a great many people are capable of holding many diametrically opposed opinions. I think that is why, as Warren said, IMPRESSIONS are important. Get the right impression under the average Joes hat, and he will go through remarkable mental gymnastics to hold true to his or her ‘gut feel’ over his reasoned conclusion. In the best of worlds, you would appeal to both the right side and left side of the brain. Let your arguments CONFIRM peoples positive impressions. I am looking forward to the next election. It is going to be quite different from anything we have seen in a few decades. Trudeau is clearly ahead on the impressions scorecard. I wonder if the policies will really matter that much by the time they come out.

      • Elisabeth Lindsay says:

        The only ones saying Harper – mean, nasty, are the losers of elections over the last decade.

        I include in that list, media types who are not spoon fed any more, civil servants who are in favour of huge governments, etc.

        All people who are not exactly sweet happy love-bugs.

  3. Tim Sullivan says:

    We never want what we just had. From PET to Mulroney, then to Chretien, then to Harper …

    • hatrock says:

      Tim, I would sort of agree, but all four of them were/are strong and daft. As Lance says above, “Canadians would rather have the perception of a take charge asshole regular guy for a leader than an affable aw-shucks consulting kind of guy”. He’s exactly right. If you look back at all the PMs we’ve had that lasted more than one election, they all had that “take charge” perception. It shows strength and resilience–both an historical and current trait of Canadians.

      So looking at who recent PMs were up against.

      P. Trudeau was up against Stanfield and Clark, both weak looking in personality.
      Mulroney was up against Turner. Same thing.
      Chretien was up against Campbell. She appeared relative strong, but everyone was sick of her party.
      Chretien was then up against no singular opposition for the next two election.
      Harper was stronger than Martin but causing a Liberal minority. Then it flipped as Harper then looked stronger than Martin.
      Harper was up against Dion. Weak.
      Harper was up against Ignatieff. Very weak.

      It seems more so then that the opposition party thinks it needs to put forth a candidate with a personality counter to the current PM, usually a softer one, and that right there is a mistake.

      So I would submit to you Tim, that when over 38% of Canadians simply pick the leader with the strongest personality, he/she becomes the PM.

      • scot says:

        Ya, you’re wrong just like Lance. Strictly a right wing take. Most people I know don’t like hockey fights. They worry about their kids health. Also they like decent types, not assholes.

        • Lance says:

          Most people YOU know; operative phrase right there. Facts don’t change just because everyone else that YOU don’t know often think otherwise. And as an aside, if people didn’t like fighting in hockey IN CANADA, it would be GONE, simple as that. Go to any Toronto or Montreal game and listen to the crowd reaction when a fight occurs. They aren’t most people either, but the thousands of people all around the cities in stadiums all over North America sure are more than the “people you know”. It might be ugly, but the truth often is, no matter how deep you bury your head.

          And who and what people like are mutually exclusive from what they will accept as a leadership. We can respect our leaders without necessarily liking them. It happens all of the time.

          Nice captcha by the way – PET2. ;)

          • scot says:

            Take a poll of Canadians asking if they approve of hockey fights and I would bet at least 70% disapprove.

        • Elisabeth Lindsay says:

          But, Scot, sweetie-pie that you are, what they LIKE and what they vote for are quite different.

          • Lance says:

            “Most people I know”………….”I would bet”………..Again, nothing factual, just what you assertMuch more measureable and factual is the 18,000 people crowd reaction at the Air Canada Centre or any other hockey stadium or a pub when a fight occurs. That isn’t just arena venues and pubs; look at the TV highlight reels on sportscasts. I remember recently on The Score when they highlighted two-thirds of all goals scored that night AND showed half of the fights that happened. Now why would fighting be given that kind of prominence if it weren’t “approved” of?

            And don’t bother about specific polling. I can show you a poll by Angus Reid (no, I’m not link dumping on Mr. Kinsella’s blog) that shows that 65% of hockey fans like fighting in hockey, just as you no doubt can show me a poll supporting otherwise. We know by reading this blog that polling companies have taken a HUGE hit in the last little while.

            No, fighting isn’t going anywhere. And yes, Canadians like watching their hockey fights.

          • scot says:

            You live in a small world Lance. Hardly fair to judge something based on fans of said thing. Hey, 65% of hockey fans love hockey.

          • Lance says:

            LOL the fans of “said thing” are the only real barometer by which it even exists in the first place, so not only is it “fair”, it is the only opinion that really matter or has any impact.

          • scot says:

            You were referring to the population at large Lance so completely off side to judge by the subset called “fans”. You sound like a fairly young individual.

  4. !o! says:

    I took the goal of the piece as to give the impression of being genuine, human, down to earth. Normal people don’t have scripts, normal people mis-speak, normal people like you and me shrug off being tongue tied or saying the wrong thing. This contrasts with the narrative of Harper as being controlling/obsessive and having secrets.

    I think though, that if that is correct, and that’s at least some of the thinking behind it, it presupposes that people know/care about politicians having scripts. Which is a mistake I think, most people aren’t that politically savvy. If they are aware of it, it’s not at the gut level.

    • !o! says:

      I guess though, that regardless, it will still tap into some discontent with the leadership style of the current regime. If nothing else, I think people in general still feel nostalgic about our collective relationship with government in the past (and the way society was more cohesive in general). Being able to tap into that I think seems like a good strategy.

    • Luke says:

      I’m not sure that people aren’t aware. I am more interested in politics now than I used to be, and even then I remember watching Harper’s dreadful stare-at-the-camera-and-read-your-stupid-piece-of-paper approach during the debate last election, and I thought something along these lines: “Can this guy not actually articulate his own thoughts without a script? Pathetic.”

      But his party clearly won the election anyway, so who knows. At this point, I think is about time that lots of people are looking for a change, and as long as the Liberals contrast themselves just enough (but not too radically), they can pull off a win. This is why I think Justin is clever to make clear the difference in style, approach, and temperance between his Liberals and Harper’s Conservatives, while also taking positions that are frequently somewhat right of centre on economic issues — he won’t turn off too many right-leaners looking for a change and many progressives will vote for the Liberals anyway simply because they have the best shot of ousting the Conservatives.

      • !o! says:

        I agree with you that Justin’s personality and presentation in front of camera is more likeable and more genuine in general compared to Harper, that’s a good thing.

        I guess I more mean the piece itself. The thing about articulating the decision to not be scripted. You can make the decision in private and be unscripted and not say it, but the saying of it is significant. The saying of it has political symbolism, that’s more what I was talking about.

  5. Tracey says:

    Dear Lance, I was a conservative up to the 2011 election. I was a EDA executive, a campaign co-manager, was on the fundraising committee of a now Minister, I also frequented Ottawa CPC campaign school and party meetings. I was as involved in politics as one can be without being a paid campaigner or paliamentary aide. I was what many party’s seek, a devoted volunteer and advocate.

    Then I woke up, and saw corruption from the inside. Anything and everything worse than previous govts. Worse because they did it with arrogance, meanness and entitlement. They cheat, they lie, and they do it while pulling the chain of their base. This might be acceptable practice for you because it is politics. It wasn’t for me, nor should anyone follow blindly, and stand up even when their own do wrong.

    Many conservatives are leaving or have already departed. The party deserves a trouncing. And a trip to the woodshed. The irony of how they’ve behaved since Paul Martin requires defeat.

    • scot says:

      It’s all about being progressive Tracey. Conservative or Liberal.

    • Lance says:

      “This might be acceptable practice for you because it is politics.”

      I never said that it was “acceptable” per se, merely acknowledging politics being what it IS. You can change your political party, or be part of none, but you won’t be reinventing the wheel anytime soon, no matter WHO is driving the chariot.

      And yes, sooner or later they WILL be defeated, even NEED to be defeated. NO party should be in power forever, even the ones we support.

  6. Cyd says:

    The only issue I have with Justin’s speaking ability is his too frequent use of, “uh”, “uhm”, “uuuuh” and “uuuuuuuuuhm”. Is it any wonder that we haven’t heard any actors say they studied under him when he taught drama?

    • Attack! says:

      Ok, so his own elocution can use some work, but that last dig’s a stupid attack by a lazy person. Do some research (& don’t rely on the Sun): He was mostly a math & science teacher. He only taught drama & poetry teacher for 6 months when he filled in for someone who was on maternity leave; doubt he even had any drama training himself. & it was, what, at the Grade 9 level, in Vancouver? So, yeah, unlikely to be too many working actors who owe their craft to him.

  7. ottlib says:

    Nice sentiment by Mr. Trudeau and I really hope he is correct but he does not have the luxury of speaking directly to Canadians.

    He is filtered by the media like all politicians so he will only be able to take this approach as long as they let him. When that changes he will have to change as well or that will be that.

    I can understand his desire and like I said I agree with it but I certainly hope the professional political operatives in his organization are prepared for when the media decide they do not like the “human” Justin Trudeau anymore.

    As for Mr. Harper I do not know of anybody who actually likes him. That includes those amongst the many people I know who have voted Conservative in the last few elections. They did not vote Conservative because they like Mr. Harper or his policies. They voted Conservative because they did not like the other guys more. If Mr. Trudeau can become liked by a significant number of Canadians he will go along way towards finding political success. It will not be sufficient on its own but it would be a very good start.

    • Mark says:

      Actually, I voted for Harper because I thought he would do a better job than Ignatieff and the Conservative platform appealed to me more than the Liberal one. I don’t need to like my Prime Minister – he’s not coming over for dinner. If Trudeau’s main asset is that he’s ‘likeable’ that doesn’t exactly bode well for the country if he is elected.

  8. Andy says:

    Attack ads only work when they are reinforcing feelings that are already there.

    When they are used against a candidate that is liked, hey fsail, and can backfire hugely- we all remember the famous Chretien ad, and what happened after that.

    If Trudeau can maintain his likeability factor, the attack ads won’t work.

  9. The 'other' George says:

    People buy on emotion and justify with logic. JT may be onto something. I can relate to some of the previous posters, I once volunteered and contributed money to the Conservative party, but stopped a few years ago after I realized how they lived up to the truism “absolute power corrupts absolutely”. I now find myself considering the pros and cons of rep by pop…the first-past-the-post system lends itself to corruption and de facto dictatorship.

    Unfortunately, until we have a politically literate and engaged populace, we will always get the government we deserve. The average Joe, as Warren astutely pointed out, buys impressions, not reality…and politicians exist to create and sell impressions of the reality they would foist upon us.

    I suspect I will be spoiling another ballot in 2015.

  10. e.a.f. says:

    Spoil a ballot in 2015? great way to help stevie slime and his slimers to remain in office and ruin this country. Trudeau the younger is creating impressions. Many of the aging baby boomers, those at the top end, think he maybe too young. On the other hand who cares. If he demonstrates he cares about canadians and Canada he may have a chance at winning. the only thing the federal liberals will have to do is run a caimpaign which clearly outlines what the slimers have done to this country. i.e. taken us into wars and not supported vets when they returned. going through vet’s medical files, the whole dirty mess. trudeau and his political aids will have to not necessarily run a dirty campaign but do need to clearly out line the differances between them and the cons.

    there can be no repeat of what the slimers did to Dion. He was an honest intelligent man who would have made a good P.M. but we saw what the media, come on down Duffy did to him. Being left of the liberals, there is one thing the liberals did in 1971, which was implement a U.I. Act, which was the single best social thing the federal government did since bringing in a national position on medical care. Since then most governments have tried to stamp it out. The result,. more poverty in Canada. and the downloading of the cost to the provinces.

    • Attack! says:

      Trudeau will actually be nearly the same age in Oct. 2015 (just shy of 44: he’ll be 42 this Christmas) as Harper was when he first became PM in 06 (born April 30 1959 – so, 46 going on 47).

    • Lance says:

      What “wars” did the Tory government take us into? What party was in power when the government sent our troops into Afghanistan?

  11. m5slib says:

    Did anyone watch Justin’s interview with Evan Solomon on power and politics? It was impressive for a few reasons:

    First, he was discplined as hell. Practically every question, he worked back to the middle class angle.
    Second, he was good on his feet. He knew the question about his QP attendance was coming, but Evan kept on pushing it, and Justin knocked that one out of the park. You can’t help but compare it to Iggy’s lacklustre response during the 2011 debate. Evan had better luck with the Canada Post issue, but instead of providing answers, Justin remained disciplined with the middle class theme while highlighting Harper’s faults.
    Third, he keeps on improving. He already has assets, and he’s building on them. He’s the nice guy, the nation’s son, your wife’s secret dream, and your canoeing partner, but don’t forget, he’s also the guy who beat up Brazeau. Yes, it’s just one match, but I think the lesson is don’t let the pretty face fool you. He’s a natural politician, a good learner, and a hard worker. That’s a good combo.

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