02.22.2014 06:30 PM

In Sunday’s Sun: an open letter to Liberal delegates

Dear Liberal Delegates:
Sorry, but I couldn’t be there with you in Montreal.  Son Two has a lot of hockey, this weekend, and he comes first.  So, gratis, I thought I would pen you a note about 2015.
Because, after all, an election is indeed happening next year.  (Unless Stephen Harper suspends the Constitution, that is, and I wouldn’t put it past him.)
Between smoked meat sandwiches, ask yourself this question: does the Conservative Party look scared, about the 2015 election?
I don’t think so, either.  In fact, the Reformatories seem positively placid about the coming Grit-Tory confrontation.  And, make no mistake: the 2015 election will be principally a contest between Justin and Stephen.  And here are three suggestions why Harper isn’t (yet) worried about that.
One: Harper wins when progressives split the vote.  While his core vote is smaller – and white, and angry, and male – it is a highly mobilized constituency.  His devotees, conservative to the core, can always be counted on to vote.  Progressives, not so much.  

Since Jean Chretien left town – and since Harper stitched together the warring factions of the right in 2004 – his main electoral strategy has been to keep the Liberal and New Democratic parties at each other’s throats, and lazy progressive voters at home.  It’s worked.
So you can expect to see Harper doing all that he can to split, and suppress, the progressive vote between now and Election Day.
Two: there are 30 new Commons seats up for grabs in 2015, mainly in places where the Canadian population has grown – Ontario, Alberta and B.C.  According to no less than Elections Canada itself, the Conservative Party is most likely to win as many as 22 of them.  
If you superimpose the 2011 popular vote on those new seats, the Conservative majority surges – giving them close to a 20-seat majority, more than double the buffer they currently enjoy.  All of those seats are located in areas where the Cons remain strong, namely Alberta and suburban Ontario.  If you want to prevail, Grit delegates, you also need to start crafting messages aimed at seizing the affections of the consumer-and-commuter class.  Harper presently owns that vote.
Three: in 2000, Jean Chretien won a big majority – it was in all the papers.  He didn’t do that because a creationist Stockwell Day believed that the Flintstones was a documentary.  Chretien won by turning the election campaign into a referendum on what to do with his budgetary surplus.  Invest in infrastructure and health care? Or give a flat tax to the rich, and privatize health care, as Day preferred?
Expect the crafty Stephen Harper to trumpet the fact that his team wrestled the deficit to the ground.  Expect him to offer a budgetary buffet of tax cuts and measures to make life more affordable.   Liberals, meanwhile, will be characterized as the party that has no economic plan. The party that is obsessed with trivial stuff.
Resolutions about legalizing pot, prostitution and assisted suicide are a big deal to some constituencies, sure.  To most Canadians, however, they just aren’t.  Harper’s objective, then, will be to convince voters that only his is the party of the economy – and that the Grits are the party who want to fritter away the surplus on things that don’t matter.
Harper will continue to toy with you, Liberal delegates.  He – the guy who spent $1.2 million to send his limousines to India – will try and get you distracted with smears, like retired general Andrew Leslie’s moving costs.
Don’t be distracted. To win, you need to keep a laser-like focus on the economy.  You need to elbow out the NDP, and capture the bulk of the progressive vote.  And you need to develop a strategy to prevent the Cons from gobbling up those 30 new Commons seats.
Now, back to the rink. Politics is fun, but hockey comes first.  
This is Canada, after all.



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    david ray says:

    and another thing Justin as I’m sure your minions read Warren don’t invite any more Goldman Sachs of shit like Larry Summers to speak at your convention. You lost my vote right there. Same old same old. Le plus ca change in case you missed the point.

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      Elisabeth Lindsay says:

      Larry Summers was Clinton`s guy when they did all that de-regulating of the banks back then. What the heck were they thinking bringing him up here?

      I`m beginning to think that the old guard libs picked Justin `cause they knew they could easily manipulate him like this.

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        Matt says:

        Mr. Trudeau’s hand picked economics advisor Chrystia Freeland is a huge fan, and according to Coyne, so are a number of Trudeau’s back room.

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    Ty says:

    Why would he need to suspend the Constitution? He has until 2016.

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    po'd says:

    Campaign on the list of shit Harper did, and said. No doubt it will take a lot of money to cover it all.

    Explain in simple term why the plebs owe so much. That should strike a cord in the burbs.

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    Ryan Spinney says:

    Do you honestly think Mulcair will allow himself to be elbowed out? The NDP is still at historic levels of popularity and pulling money at levels, while lower then tories or libs, record breaking for the NDP.

    Mulcair has done a far greater Job as official opposition leader then all the last Liberal leaders combined and down more damage to Harper then any of them.

    And Mulcair is very good at dealing damage to bis oppentants. Even with the ghost of his daddy helping him, Justin is facing an NDP in a stronger position to win then ever before, one that doesn’t have the stink of tory or liberal corruption.

    Think on this Quebec is the province most familiar with both men and Mulcair usually out polls Justin and beats Justin by far in catories like Best PM and Trust. Why would Quebecers who are in a better position to know both men as they are both Quebec MPs trust and respect Mulcair far more.

    Mulcair is the greater threat to Justin then Harper. Harper is starting to mold and his party is so scandal ridden even his base has to hold its nose to vote for him.

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    Sean says:

    There’s something else here and I’m only speculating. During my lifetime of work, over thirty years, I’ve worked for many a boss. And there’s nothing as demoralizing, or upsetting to staff when a boss wants to rid some members and replace them with his/her handpicked favorites. What Justin is doing, re his open nomination move, is bound to have the same psychological impact on some members. To feel unwanted, unneeded, not valued is the next thing to banishment. This may well be a toxic seed which could metastasize into something very ugly.

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      Bluegreenblogger says:

      I do not think that open nominations are equivalent to rejecting anybody. Au contraire..

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    Swervin' Merv says:

    Yes, the split among progressives will be a key factor. For example, Ralph Goodale is the only Liberal presence in Saskatchewan, where strategic voters could return at least a couple of Conservative seats to the NDP (with the now fairer urban/rural redistribution). But, in other provinces, I wouldn’t be suprised if Trudeau steals votes from the NDP (and disaffected Conservatives) if he continues to look like the winning horse against Harper. (He looked very confident today in his convention speech.) It’s likely that both Liberal and NDP seats will be needed to form a coalition government.

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    Ronald O'Dowd says:


    I’ve been convinced for some time that the next election will be all about economy vs. change. Perhaps I will be proven wrong if it’s really about the desire for economic change as when Obama indirectly trounced Bush.

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    Matt says:

    Andrew Coyne said it best:

    Same old Liberal Party.


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      Steve T says:

      Yikes. Many folks, myself included, are looking for a government that is:

      – Socially liberal
      – Open, honest, and ethical – even when “unethical” doesn’t mean illegal.
      – Fiscally conservative, in a way that grows the economy via the private sector, not bloated public-sector spending.

      Reading the Coyne article, and the Ivison article linked on that same page, it seems the Libs are abandoning fiscal conservatism. To many Canadians, that is the kiss of death.

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      Bill Templeman says:

      Matt, what struck me about Coyne’s list of #Lib14 resolutions is that there were precious few dealing with environmental issues. Apparently it must be 1966 in Montreal this weekend and the future is looking rosy. Who knew? Add to this the impression, echoed by Coyne, that all these delegates’ resolutions may come to naught as a powerful backroom cabal of inner circle gurus still set the policies that make up the platform.

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    MississaugaPeter says:

    WK, agree with your three points 100%, but …

    1. A letter to delegates? The delegates are not the one’s calling the shots. The Liberal Party is run by Trudeau and his well-to-do, country club friends (yes, Butts’ dad was a coal miner, but he successfully joined the club at McGill) . Even though the Liberal leader has always had the final say, there has never been a more public display of my way or the highway. All decisions are made by a small cabal of friends who out-centralize even Harper.



    “…the genesis of Trudeau’s dramatic move was a meeting of his tight-knit inner circle before Christmas…”

    “His advisers ultimately concluded that booting Liberal senators from caucus was the only measure that would meet the leader’s criteria. The decision was a closely guarded secret. Senators, many of whom have devoted decades of service to the Liberal party, were not consulted for fear of Trudeau’s move leaking out.”

    2. Do you really think that they are going to listen to anyone over 50? Now that you have listed these three points publicly, I am sure they will do the opposite. You represent the old Liberal Party, and in their opinion, your ideas are old ideas that do not pertain to the new order.

    An example of this is:


    The guy (Rice) who has been bleeding Liberal for years out west doesn’t have a chance of being president of the Liberal Party because he is not a Trudeau confidante …

    “She was not granting media interviews throughout the four days of the Montreal convention, preferring to let her volunteers do the outward displays of campaigning. “I think she’s at home with the baby,” was a standard reply to questions about the candidate’s whereabouts.”

    “So her rare public appearances at the Montreal convention are probably going to be the most that many partisans see over the next year…”

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    Doris says:

    Well if the idea of an electoral cooperation proposal is not being floated then the Libs had better not waffle about a minority parliament coalition. Start f……g around with this like Iggy did and the votes in the middle will disappear and the Lib arrogance will win out – that’s a non-starter too.

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    Tim says:

    There was a Liberal Party Convention? Whatever moron initially championed holding this thing during the last weekend of the Olympics should be fired, then permanently banned from ever operating in any kind of context involving political strategy. With that said, it doesn’t look good on Trudeau either to not have seen this coming.

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      William says:

      Fired? Why?

      A convention of LPC faithful was somehow going to conflict with anyone enjoying the Olympics how?

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      Ottawa Civil Servant says:

      Thankfully, JT was able to commit his full concentration to the Olympics, since he was seen more often in front of the TVs than in front of the reporters.

      Maybe he could have taken a question or two between periods?

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    William says:

    Apparently, Canadians prefer Harper to be PM under tough economic times.

    I wonder if that’s because while has been PM, it’s mostly been tough economic times….

    There’s a line of attack…

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    Matt says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but looking at the resolutions that passed, and I fully realize just because a resolution passes it doesn’t mean it will end up in the platform, it would seem the Lib delegates want to take a decidedly left turn in their policy.

    National Energy Plan v2.0? Really???

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      Michael says:

      Yup NEP 2.0 would cost the Liberals all of their Alberta seats.

      But it might gain them a few in Ontario and Quebec. 😉

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      dave says:

      We already have n NEP 2.0. We decided to just turn it all over to (increasingly foreign owned) fossil fuel companies.

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    Paul Brennan says:

    libs got it in the bag – angry tom , cons self imploding , I agree keep americans away from being advisors, no matter how good Canadians dont like being told what to do by Americans and of course we are better at hockey ..

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    Bluegreenblogger says:

    Hmm, correct me if I am wrong, but Justin Trudeau seems to have been targeting the Tory voter from the very beginning of his leadership campaign. And he is correct to do so, the Dippers can only be squeezed so far. even if the Liberals totally eclipse the Dippers, that will not be enough to deny the plurality to the CPC. Your column dwells on Harpers opportunity with the division of the ‘progressive vote’, but Trudeau is not playing that game (yet). Eating a tenth of the Dippers vote will not win an election for the Liberals. Eating 10% of the CPC vote will. I think that the biggest reason for optimism about the Liberals chances is that they have a leader who is thinking strategically for a change. Trudeau wants to put the CPC on the defensive, and is moving the Liberals into traditional ‘Harper territory’ on a few carefully selected fronts/issues. I expect a few more tidbits for Libertarian types next, as support is slowly pared away from the Conservatives. I don’t care if you call it ‘triangulation’ or what, but it sure as hell seems to be working. Obviously the CPC will fight back, and equally obviously the Dippers will be all-in on the ‘left’ flank of the Liberals, but I seriously doubt that Harper will have the liberty of choosing the ground on which he will fight the next election.

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    Matt says:

    Trudeau/media love affair on the rocks?

    Trudeau slammed for not holding post convention media conference


    Might have had something to do with this:

    Trudeau nowhere to be seen as Liberal delegates vote to support assisted suicide


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      Vankleek Hill says:

      From the article:

      “Could party strategists be shielding Trudeau from the media?”

      Yes, that’s the case. “Why” should be a big worry for Liberals. Justin “Sarah Palin” Trudeau can’t be trusted to answer questions himself.

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        Matt says:

        It’s things like this that should worry Liberals. From last night’s airing of Tout Le Monde en Parle:

        The Liberals had been urging the government to do more, Trudeau went on to say in French.
        “President Yanukovych has been made illegitimate. It’s very worrying, especially because Russia lost in hockey, they’ll be in a bad mood. We fear Russia’s involvement in Ukraine,” Trudeau said.
        ‘Extremely serious’
        “Just because of hockey?” asked Guy Lepage, the show’s host.
        “No. That’s trying to bring a light view in a situation that’s extremely serious,” Trudeau said.
        Another guest, singer and actor Dan Bigras, then pointed out they were talking about massacres, something Trudeau agreed was horrible.


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    Matt says:

    This AGAIN??

    2008 minority parliament – Dion was threatening to bring the government down on a daily basis. Harper had meetings with all three opposition leaders individually. ALL said there was no common ground to allow parliament to continue functioning. Harper went to the GG and dissolved parliament.

    2011 minority parliament – it was the opposition who defeated the government early based on manufactured contempt of parliament charges.

    Minority parliaments can fall at any time.

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