12.29.2014 04:00 PM

In Tuesday’s Sun: 2015 isn’t a year – it’s a lifetime

NEW YORK – It’s a cliché‎, but like a lot of clichés it’s true: a week is a long time in politics.

British politician Harold Wilson said that, or something like that. In political life, Wilson’s axiom is the only universal truth: everything can change, dramatically, in the blink of an eye.

Ask New York City mayor Bill de Blasio. A year ago, the first Democratic New York mayor in a generation was sworn in outside City Hall. The many attendees were brimming with sunny optimism. The Clintons were there, Governor Andrew Cuomo was there, former mayor David Dinkins was there, even Harry Belafonte was there.

Everything seemed progressive and possible, on that day. Everyone was smiling. Hundreds lined up in the bitter cold for hours, to shake the new mayor’s hand, and offer their best wishes.

What a difference a year makes, as they say. Almost a year to the day, hundreds of New York police officers lined up to do something else – to turn their backs on de Blasio, as he spoke about two murdered officers. It was an extraordinary display of contempt, and it signaled that – for de Blasio – everything can change in no time at all.

Similarly, de Blasio has been criticized for everything from fumbling snow removal to regularly arriving late at events. He even dropped the star of the city’s annual Groundhog Day event. (The groundhog later died.)

In the unlikely event that he ever casts an eye northward‎, a weary de Blasio might have some advice for another star in the progressive firmament, Justin Trudeau: not only is a week in politics a long time, sonny, it’s even longer for politicians of the progressive variety.

Consider, too, the year that Trudeau has had. A year ago, the Trudeau-led Liberal Party was atop every poll, and every pundit (including this one) was ‎compiling lists about who would make up that first Liberal cabinet. Stephen Harper was destined to return to Calgary in ignominious defeat, and Thomas Mulcair’s social democrats would be reduced to their traditional role, a rump in the House of Commons.

No longer. Not a single pundit now believes that Harper’s demise is a forgone conclusion. In fact, the bulk of them have lately taken to predicting a Conservative minority‎, or even a slim Conservative majority. Not all of them believe Mulcair is undone, either: the NDP leader remains competitive in key provinces, like BC and Quebec.

As they contemplate the year that is ahead – brimming with Tory attack ads and Tory war room‎ missives, as it will be – Liberals may well wonder how so much has changed in a year. The answer, as with most things in Canadian politics nowadays, lies with Justin Trudeau.

His youthfulness, his optimism, his newness – and the change that all of those things foretold – propelled Trudeau and his party to the heights of popularity. He seemed unbeatable.

A year later, his verbal gaffes, his policy void, his inexperienced inner circle – who have rendered his open nominations pledge a farcical joke, among other things – have taken a toll. What once seemed unbeatable now looks, well, quite beatable.

The “week in politics is a long time” cliché cuts both ways, of course. What now looks promising to Harper and Mulcair can easily melt away in the Spring. Trudeau could surge back.

But, for now, Justin Trudeau would do well to ponder the cautionary tale of Bill de Blasio: at the start, they will line up to shake your hand.

And, in no time at all, they may be lining up to turn their backs on you.


  1. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Not a single human being can be taken on blind faith — and that includes law enforcement.

    Well excuse me, de Blasio has bi-racial children. That makes him at the very least sensitive to the plight of the everyday black man. Good on him. Police need to watch and learn rather than automatically erect a blue-line of defiance and disrespect.

  2. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    As for Justin, whether he wins — or loses, will be because of Justin. Retool quickly and innovate or risk further serious erosion in generic party support.

  3. Ridiculosity says:

    Trudeau needs to lay down some big policies and some even bigger ideas for our country. Before the writ is dropped.

    36 days isn’t enough time to win over the hearts (and minds) of Canadians. Especially when you’re going up against hundreds of millions of dollars in Canada Action Plan propaganda that has been pummelling citizens for almost a decade.

  4. Bill Templeman says:

    Warren, Your 3 words — “his policy void”–nailed it. Trudeau has to tell us what he will do if he gets power. Running on “Harper is evil” didn’t work for Martin, Dion or Ignatieff. It won’t work for Trudeau. True, JT has added “I love Canada” to “Harper is evil”. Big deal. I get gigs of fund raising notes from all the usual LPC luminaries, trying to motivate me to out-fundraise the Cons, without telling me what for. Platform please, LPC War Room. It’s time.

  5. MississaugaPeter says:

    2015 should be a tough economic year for Canadians thanks to the sudden collapse in oil price…pink slips flying out soon.

    For some, it will be o.k….those 40% the governing party needs to get re-elected…they will be successfully bribed by our children’s money.

    No chance Harper holds out for 10 months…just can’t think of excuse he will give to drop the writ…blew chance prior to sending token aircraft to fight ISIS/ISIL.

  6. Terence Quinn says:

    Agreed and I think harper’s bump is temporary as no one has called him out on anything for a little while. That will change in January when things get really serious. Harper’s polls are up from Tory leaning pollsters.

  7. Mary says:

    He’ll issue a feel good budget in March/April, and as part of the usual kitchen sink omnibus budget bill, will be a repeal of the fixed-date election law. Problem solved!

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