05.26.2014 08:23 PM

In Tuesday’s Sun: judge her by her enemies

Franklin D. Roosevelt had the very best line of all. “Judge me,” said the 32nd U.S. President, “by the enemies I have made.”

It’s true, too. Politics is sort of the opposite of real life: in the political game, you are measured not so much by the quantity of friends you have, but by the quality of your enemies. If you want to be adored, and see your name chiseled onto the side of a schoolhouse some day, become an astronaut. Politics is a vocation for losing besties, not gaining them.

A corollary of FDR’s bromide, therefore, is this: people who go into politics wanting to be much loved by many people (Paul Martin, John Tory, come on down!) end up leaving it with neither – neither the love, nor the people. You end up as an unloved loser, mostly.

Which brings us, this fine Spring morning, to Gerald Caplan, Judy Rebick, Michelle Landsberg and several other old people you have never heard of, and hopefully never will. On Friday, it was revealed Caplan’s cabal had written a missive to Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath, saying that they were “deeply distressed” by the provincial NDP campaign. (The letter “was obtained by CBC News,” and everyone knows who helped them “obtain” it.)

“From what we can see you are running to the right of the Liberals in an attempt to win Conservative votes,” shriek Caplan, Rebick et al. “It seems in your rush to the centre you are abandoning those values and constituencies that the party has always championed.”

By the “constituencies that the party has always championed,” Caplan’s cabal meant them – that is, some surly, solipsistic socialist septuagenarians who wouldn’t know how to win a general election if their lives depended on it. They are nobodies, signifying nothing. They are – as the former Chief of Staff to Ontario’s only NDP Premier, Robin Sears, hilariously put it yesterday morn on CBC – “the grumpy caucus.”

Said Sears: they come out only at elections, claiming to be NDPers, to sabotage NDP campaigns.

The CBC, having exclusively “obtained” the screed from the hard-left losers, aggressively marketed it all weekend. But other media, including those who cover Queen’s Park daily, were unimpressed. “[A] quaint baby boomer drama,” tweeted Toronto Star bureau chief Robert Benzie. “Andrea Horwath probably wasn’t counting on much support from the CCF crowd.”

Exactly: the Ontario NDP leader was acquiring the right enemies. Horwath, knowing most of the votes are found in the political centre, has been aiming the NDP ship in that direction for many months, talking up balanced budgets and the need to make life less expensive for the average Ontarian. She’s been rewarded with a four-point boost in an Ipsos poll in the past week, while her opponents have either dropped or stalled.

But that’s not enough for Caplan et al., apparently. As Sears put it, they’re Presbyterian about their politics: they think salvation only lies in pain. They don’t wish to see their principles ever, you know, sullied by actual power.

All of this calls to mind a story this writer once heard about Stephen Harper. As he was labouring to bring together the Reform and Progressive Conservative parties, circa 2004, several emissaries were dispatched to warn him about his quest for power.

“You will never get Myron Thompson and Joe Clark to sit together!” said one. “You’ll lose them both!”

“Exactly,” said Harper.



  1. TrueNorthist says:

    Good column Mr K. I would only take minor issue with this bit: “Horwath, knowing most of the votes are found in the political centre, has been aiming the NDP ship in that direction for many months, talking up balanced budgets and the need to make life less expensive for the average Ontarian.”

    Ms Horwath has only been “steering” towards the middle since she decided to pull the plug on the Liberals a few short weeks ago. Up to then she was all aboard the Wynne-train to ruin, somewhere out in left field.

  2. Ryan Spinney says:

    While I agree that the media way over played the importance of these people, but I disagree that the secret to success is in the centre, because I don’t believe thier is a objective centre. Ask 10 people where the political centre is and get 10 answers. No people confuse the impression of moderation, which helps feelings of comfort, with a belief in support for an objective centre that doesn’t exist. The centre is subjective and defined by nature by the battles of the left ad right. This leads to parties that concider themselves primarily centralists to become unmoored and to treat pragmatism as the highest virtue, instead of just one important in a bunch of important virtues, which in turns evolves into fantasical pragmatism, aka the radical centre, which leads to broken promises, lies, and the break down of other values in the name of pragnmatism. Even pragmatism can be over done. That’s not to say pragnmatism is abad thing, but it has to be balanced with other values.

    I also believe Andrea’s rightwing drift is more in style then policy, after all She’s promised free dental care for all childern, an end to privatitzing things, trying disablity go inflation, increasing minium wage to 12 dollars an hour anx indexing that to inflation, and a bunch of promises that are leftwing or compatible with being leftwing.

    The thing that really bothers these people is that Andrea is trying to appeal to people aka Ford nation and other populists that lean right, because to the far left these people are seen as less then animals, as hateful scum. While I may feel like that when I get frustrated, I can compartimentalize enoigh to see thing in more comllicated shades.

  3. Michael says:

    If all parties converge on the center “where the voters are” what is the point? What is the difference? Where is the leadership? Whatever happened to championing an idea that is the right thing to do, but not popular? If JFK had gone where the voters were, would he have favoured desegregation? If PET had gone where the voters where would we have a Charter of Rights?

  4. Coelocanth_Jones says:

    Warren couldn’t have done a better job picking apart these miserable old sods. As I said myself to a friend the other day “Fightback: The Golden Years.”

  5. DJ says:

    Judging by the polls and election prediction models, the status quo is holding (for now): a Liberal minority government with the Tories just behind and the NDP in third. Wynne seems to be holding her own.

    • Bobby says:

      Perhaps the NDP old farts are bleeding support to Wynne? If that’s the case then there’s truly no difference between the two parties.
      Merge already.

    • TrueNorthist says:

      Judging by the Abacus numbers, the Libs really only need to take a little from each of the others to split things their way. I think that is what the gang of 32 were aiming for, just a little off the top so to speak. Those numbers are among likely voters so the is no argument about whether anyone is paying attention yet, they are, so it should be frightening news for both the PCs and NDP. However I am impressed with the way Ms Horwath has stepped up her game during/since the debate. If the NDP keep swinging hard for the fence like this they will move up steadily.

  6. Craig says:

    You’re quoting the Ipsos poll – we have to remember that it’s the rogue pollster right now. It’s the only one showing such a big Conservative lead and such gains for the NDP. The new EKOS & ABACUS polls both show Wynne ahead, and Horwath a distant 3rd. So we won’t know until June 12th whether Horwath has gained support or not.

  7. Stephenson says:

    Hitting ’em hard as usual. Strictly speaking, Tommy Douglas was a Baptist minister, not Presbyterian – much of the CCF were social gospel types drawn from various congregational churches. Premier William Aberhart, known as Bible Bill for his outspoken Baptist views, got the Social Credit party rolling; Ernest C. Manning, Preston Manning’s father, was his protégé. The Missionary Alliance Church in Calgary is central command for many Harperites. Perhaps the defining feature, apart from full immersion baptism, is most Baptists reject Calvinism i.e. strict predestination/fatalism in favour of free will – hence the “can do” attitude out West. Hence the decline of the Presbyterian elite in Ontario and Westmount.

    The Christian element of CCF/NDP has been largely supplanted by unalloyed Marxism – believe in spiritual things, let alone God, is unfashionable. Yet, St. Paul’s “this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” segued easily into Lenin’s plagiarized “He who does not work shall not eat!” Socialism is the cult of physical labour. Mind, the fact that there are numerous Che Guevara shrines across Latin America shows the Communism can easily supplant or replace most Christian sects. Fidel Castro was Jesuit trained. The collectivist superman is the new Imitation of Christ. This is why beards (Mulcair) and shirtless photo-ops (Trudeau) remain ever popular.

    Marxist fanatics attacking “centrist” NDPers aside, the Martin legacy of unalloyed laissez-faireism, e.g. liquidating Canadian workers in favour of flag of convenience quasi-slaves, doesn’t make spinning for free markets, private property, and profit-based systems an easy task. Nor does the temporary foreign worker scheme to punish Canadian workers. As we move towards democratic-Maoism (ironically under the auspices of a “conservative” party), evidently the Canadian worker is drifting to a work makes free sort of situation. Roosevelt risked impeachment helping Churchill during the two long years America remained neutral; Churchill himself said: “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” Likewise, there is no viable political movement in Canada, at any level, tactically and ideologically fit enough to adequately meet present challenges. “You will never get Mulcair, Trudeau, May, and Vacant to sit together!” said one. “You’ll lose them all!” “Exactly,” said the Organization.

  8. Steve T says:

    As others have posted already, this is a quintessential problem with politics – and Canadian politics specifically. As everyone fights for the “centre” (whatever it is perceived to be, at that moment in time), no one party is distinct from another. Instead, you have a field of fence-sitters, who are constantly adjusting policy. Elections become more about who looks good, or speaks well on television, or delivers some zinger at a debate – rather than about the substance of their platform.

    I much prefer parties who actually stand for something. Parties that have principles, and don’t drift in the wind whenever that wind is perceived to be blowing this way or that. Will that get you into power? Perhaps yes; perhaps no. But at least it gives voters a true choice.

  9. Kre8tv says:

    Okay, the grumpy caucus line was pretty funny, but I seem to recall a line of argumentation here that goes something like this: if you try to pretend you’re just like the other guy, voters will choose the other guy. Right now we have Liberals trying to sell us on an NDP budget as their campaign platform, an NDP that said no to that budget claiming they are much more Liberal than liberal. Only the PCs are playing true to form, campaigning on voodoo economics and cuts for the hell of it plan. No doubt in my mind who’s going to clinch this, albeit with begrudging support of less than a majority of voters.

  10. smelter rat says:

    Maintaining a hold on the center (some would even say center-right ) has kept the NDP on power in Manitoba since 1999.

  11. Bobby says:

    I’m not an NDP supporter but if it means getting rid of those old twits I could be 🙂 Best reason EVER to change IMO.

    I think Horwath did the best job in the Northern Debate AND the questions asked were WAY better than those that usually get asked in the Prime Time debates.

  12. Lance says:

    I’m not sure if this qualifies as an “enemy”, but Trudeau is sure hellbent on making them –

    A Liberal MP was secretly recorded saying that he thought party leader Justin Trudeau had a “bozo eruption” when he declared that anti-abortion candidates won’t be allowed to run for the Liberals.

    John McKay, a Toronto MP who opposes abortion, thought he was having a private conversation at an event Sunday when he expressed his frustration with Trudeau’s public abortion stance.

    “I’ve had umpteen conversations with so many people about this. It’s driving me crazy,” he is heard saying in the audio recording obtained by CTV News.

    Good gravy……..

  13. socks clinton says:

    Reminds me of another political adage from Harry Truman: “If you want a friend in Washington, get a a dog.”

  14. doconnor says:

    Moving to the centre didn’t work out very well for the NDP in BC or Nova Scotia in recent elections. Despite our host’s faith in a sudden turn around, it hasn’t work very well in Ontario so far.

    • Warren says:

      I don’t necessarily see a sudden turnaround. I do, however, see Horvath winning the one occasion where we know people pay attention – the leaders debate.

      If she does well there, she will become more competitive. If not, low turnout will likely contribute to a Hudak minority.

      • Bobby says:

        Did you notice in the Northern debate that the signs on the front of the lecterns were not equal to both candidates? Wynne’s read “Premier Kathleen Wynne” in big bold readable letters. You couldn’t read Andrea’s sign or her name very well.
        If I were the NDP team I would have complained about that discrepancy – staging matters.

      • Mississaugapeter says:

        Deja vu in the GTA. Many similarities to election Peterson lost and Rae won. Only difference is I have never seen so many NDP signs in the suburbs before (in any election). Shows NDP is making it acceptable for those in the suburbs to acknowledge they will be voting NDP. If Horwath keeps attacking the Liberals and shines in the televised debates, no matter how well Wynne does, Andrea is premier.

        People want to turf out arrogance. Many will do it quietly in the election booth where no poll enters.

      • Matt says:

        Wouldn’t the debate be better if actual journalists were asking the questions?

        As I understand it, Sun News, CTV and global are the three networks involved in airing the debates. Get David Akin or Christina Blizzard fron Sun News, CTV’s Paul Bliss who is their Queens Park reporter, and whoever covers the Ontario Legislature for Global to be a three member panel to ask the leaders questions.

    • Matt says:

      Neither did Dix saying he wouldn’t go negative. This is where Hudak is dropping the ball. His hope and change tv spots are fine, but that needs to be followed up with ads about the Liberal record.

      And did anyone hear Wynne today? She’s “shocked” Horwath and the NDP have “decided to go negative in their campaigning” and the Liberals won’t follow them.


      The Liberals are running several negative ads about Hudak and Horwath NARRATED BY KATHLEEN WYNNE!

  15. sezme says:

    It’ll be interesting to see Horwath’s platform once it’s fully released. Not nearly as conservative, I’d guess, as these guys are making it out to be. It seems they’re objecting more to the style than to the substance. But style is how you convince voters. To paraphrase Forrest Gump, an election is like a box of chocolates.

    Meanwhile the Liberals are attempting to make hay of this discord. In my riding (Trinity-Spadina which is always an NDP-Liberal race), the local Liberal Riding Association has just distributed Caplan’s Globe and Mail column/open letter to Andrea Horwath to all households printed on orange paper, with lines like “You’re driving away many good New Democrats who, thanks to you, are seriously considering voting Liberal for the first time in their lives.” in bold. They included “Distributed by the Trinity-Spadina PLA” only in tiny letters at the bottom of the sheet. Almost dirty tricks I’d say, but possibly effective.

    • doconnor says:

      The NDP platform was released last week. Apparently to is supposed to build on top of the Liberal budget.

      Have the Conservatives come out with a costing for their platform yet?

    • Bobby says:

      It’s already out in two places. 1) Horwath presented it in Thunder Bay and 2) in the Liberal budget.

    • Mississaugapeter says:

      Dirty tricks. No. Fair game. Smart politics by the Libs in the riding.

      The NDP should not ignore this and counter. What an election is all about. Horwath has already countered. Good war room.

      • sezme says:

        I agree not quite dirty. The reason I said “almost” was that it was printed on orange paper with the word Liberal spelled out nowhere as the distributer which will (maybe!) mislead some voters into believing it was printed by the NDP themselves. Yeah, it’s good war room, but I get uncomfortable when there’s a whiff of deception.

        • Coelocanth_Jones says:

          For what it’s worth, she could’ve come down a little harder on the letter writers, at the very least for sabotaging the party in the midst of a compaign, and should be spinning the Liberal stunt in Chatham and what I’m just reading about in Trinity-Spadina, but good on her for not being baited into saying anything that would validate them

  16. rude boy says:

    I disagree with the writer but I enjoyed the column – particularly the sensational quote attributed to Mr Harper that ends the piece.

  17. Al in Cranbrook says:

    Speaking of Martin’s campaign crew, this headline kinda reminded me of “beer and popcorn”…


  18. Matt says:

    Funny to see Horwath’s performance today. Look out, it’s Angry Andrea. Suddenly she’s angry about Liberal corruption.

    They were just as corrupt in 2012 when it was Apathetic Andrea propping the Liberals up.

    Apathetic Andrea made another appearance when she again propped up the corrupt Liberals in 2013.

  19. Matt says:


    Wynne was asked yesterday how she plans to reduce the deficit by $4 billion in each of the next 2 years. Will that include public sector layoffs?

    Wynne’s response: There isn’t a yes or no answer

    Today she was asked again.

    Wynne’s response: There is only one party TALKING about public sector cuts, and that’s the Progressive Conservatives. The public sector will be AT LEAST AS BIG AS IT IS NOW at the end of our 4 years term.

  20. david ray says:

    Oh Dear. Ontario pols. They pretend to tell the truth and we pretend to believe them. In other news, have you guys heard about global warming?

    my captcha was 4FUU 🙂

  21. Paul Brennan says:

    who knows but many are calling for another economic meltdown – deeper than 2008 – Ontario will be in a very poor position to deal with that…this 15,000,000,000 annual deficit could easily double as tax base erodes and more pressure is exerted on social services….

  22. smelter rat says:

    What a stupid thing to say, but you’re a Conservative, so I repeat myself.

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