05.20.2015 08:44 AM

I rise to oppose the motion by my honourable colleague from Den Tandt

Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Member from the riding of Den Tandt has caused to be published the following:

“There is one obvious way for Trudeau to leap this ditch, though it carries risk…He could speak repeatedly and off the cuff with authenticity and wit, scrumming until reporters are tired of the sound of his voice. All summer long, he could wade into town halls and other unscripted settings, giving the lie to the most damaging point in the narrative prepared for him by his opponents, which is that he’s in over his head.”

Mr. Speaker, with the greatest of respect to the Honourable Member, that is a proven formula for disaster.  The only people who will approve of this strategy, Mr. Speaker, are the esteemed members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, who (a) are forever telling politicians to speak without notes (b) so that said politician will say something unhelpful, and the esteemed members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery will have more to write about.

Instead, the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada needs to do ten things.  Here, Mr. Speaker, are those ten things.

1. Stop talking about the “middle class.” No one knows who the middle class is, but everyone knows Mr. Trudeau has never been part of the middle class.

2. Start talking about ideas.  Don’t wait until the writ period. The Tories and the Dippers repeatedly insist Mr. Trudeau has none, that he is an empty vessel.  Show voters that the Grit’s detractors are wrong.

3. The ideas need not be big.  They should, instead, be small.  No one believes anymore that government can solve big problems – so talk about smart, solid, smallish ideas that seem do-able.  Talk about things we can and should change.

4. Look, and sound, older.  Mr. Trudeau looks and sounds too young to be Prime Minister. His voice needs to be deeper; his style of dress, less stylish; his deportment, more statesmanlike.

5. We re-emphasize point 4. Barack Obama knew that what middle America fears most is the Angry Black Man – so he built a successful political career on never being the Angry Black Man.  Canadian voters, similarly, wonder if Mr. Trudeau is Richie Rich – too young, too callow, too well-off, etc. Mr. Trudeau needs to play against type.

6. Undersell and over perform: it is the Chretien maxim.  Whenever Team Trudeau come up with a good idea, senior staff rush to claim credit for it in anonymous insider stories.  Whenever something bad happens, they whisper to the media that their boss had “gone off the script.” These things need to be reversed: if something bad happens, it is staff’s fault.  Something good? Mr. Trudeau thought of it.

7. Stop answering hypothetical questions.

8. Stop advertising strategy in the newspapers, too, Mr. Speaker. If you do that, your opponent will read all about your strategy in the morning paper, gratis, and use it to beat you on Election Day.

9. Reach out to Liberals who are past the age of 40.  The Liberal Party of Canada used to be the most successful political machine in Western democracy – and those older folks were the principal reason for that.  Reach out to them.  They have some useful perspectives to offer.

10. Don’t throw away the script. Don’t, Mr. Speaker.  The Prime Minister taunted Mr. Trudeau about “the script” because he, along with the Press Gallery, want the Liberal leader to talk first, and think later.  Don’t do it.

Simply talk about smart, do-able ideas, over and over. Don’t talk about the hypothetical things that the media and the Tories and the Dippers want you to talk about. Talk about ideas, and how to make a great country even greater. Sound and look a grown-up when you do it.  Fire any staff who appear in “strategist” profile stories: those staffers don’t have their names on the ballot, Mr. Trudeau does.

Be humble.  Be sincere. Always tell the truth, and only talk about what you know.  In that way, you can never go wrong.

And prepare, prepare, prepare – but make it sound like it all comes effortlessly from your heart, and your head.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  Vive le Canada.


  1. toph says:

    Yes. 110% Yes.

    If he does this.. he could win me back. He actually had me in his camp until I went to an event where he tried to be everything and ended up coming across as nothing. It would have been better for him to just not have held the event (as far as winning my vote). It’s possible the event helped him win over others.. and in the long run.. he gained 10 but lost 1. But.. thinking probably not.

    • Adam Goydos says:

      Mulcair will mulch Justin in debate, in Quebec and the RoC…. because Mulcair will be riding the Notley National Wave!

      • Curt says:

        The Notley wave will end when she presents her first budget. With the introduction of higher taxes.

        • Elisabeth Lindsay says:

          Except that when Jim Prentice raised taxes and fees, he lost the election. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place. Good luck to Ms. Notley.

          • doconnor says:

            Wasn’t his problem that he raise taxes and fees on everyone but corporations. The NDP platform included tax increases that are probably on top of Prentice’s increases.

          • Pat says:


            Corporations don’t pay taxes; only people pay taxes.
            Premier Notely, Layton, Mulcair or any other NDP politician du jour is apt to ride in on a white horse with the sophistry that they’ll stick it to big business and save the common man. But they’re full of shit.

        • Zing says:

          Even if so, don’t you think they’ll hold the budget until after October??

  2. Matt from Ottawa says:

    You make some extremely valid points. For me, he’s a lost cause. To me, it seems like he’s faking it and to others saying “he’s practicing for debates, hes doing this and that, etc” thats great. But its comng clear hes just not ready and theyre trying to teach him how to be PM while faking it.

    Here are a few things that bother me the most about JT that cross into many of your points.
    – In media scrums – 1) STOP WITH THE “UH’s, its the brains way of buffering and 2. He needs to focus his eyes. He looks like hes not focused on the cameras and more looking over them.
    – I agree fully with the middle class – Just stop it, noone believes him. He has no idea what hes talking about and he cant empathise. Which is fine, just cut the BS
    – Hes no Obama- Being youthful is great, but Obama was a) self made on his own merits and b) Black. Alot of people voted Obama for a change in the country as a whole, in my honest opinion, policy aside JT comes off more like George Bush Jr – riding on dads coat tails and a bit of a flake.
    – He really needs to address what makes him suitable for the highest job in Canada. Like it or not, he will be questioned on his own merits and he brings very little on the conventional educational front and work experience. He needs to address this. Many wont vote for him just bc hes liberal, Pierre’s son and change of guard just cause
    – Get rid of Butts and team. They are not helping at all.

    It seems lately the LPC is kind of in a scramble. Like when youre doing a home reno and contractors screw up and put the sink in the wrong place. You can either start from scratch or just deal with it hope for the best. I think many in the LPC camp are getting very nervous, but are too far into it theyre just hoping for the best

    • Adam Goydos says:

      Which raises the question: “Why did the LPC select him as their leader while rejecting somebody of the stature of Marc Garneau and even worthy Martha H-F?”
      I still remember at the Liberal Montreal leadership convention when both Garneau and Martha H-F tried to challenge Justin on the issue of “competency” to lead the party and the nation… and both were greeted with loud BOOs while Justin fled the stage. Garneau had to recant and apologize openly for his attack on Justin’s thin resumé; how humiliating and degrading of a fine Canadian hero and a well educated man.
      Justin is a fake, a fraud, a failure….. and for the LPC to offer him as their best to lead Canada deserves a severe slapdown in the election. Of course, people can be deceived with crass celebrity and romantic popularity.

    • G. Babbitt says:

      Great insights Matt. I think there was hope that he would mature while leader but if anything he seems more egotistical. I think back to the JT’s second exposure to a national (English speaking) audience which was on Canada Reads on CBC. Just a reminder, JT championed the Colony of Unrequited Dreams and then when it would have won he changed his vote to give voice to a Quebec writer. Wayne Johnston was pissed, the Host was pissed, the other debaters were pissed. It was fun literary game that helped sell books and was popular, but Trudeau ran roughshod over the conceit of fans vigorously debating their favorite book so that HE could tell Canadians what to read. I wouldn’t pillory him for this now and would blame it on youth if only he seemed to move away from the incredible egomania it illustrates.

  3. doconnor says:

    Are there examples of a politician who talked openly and honestly about things and then presumably failed?

    The only one I can think of is Rob Ford and he is an… unique person.

  4. Matt says:

    Well, we’ve now seen two polls since Trudeau announced his tax plan for the middle class. EKOS has the Liberals in third (CPC 31%, NDP 29%, Libs 27%) and Nanos has the Liberals in second (CPC 33%, Libs 31%, NDP 25%). While both polls disagree on numbers, the both show gains for the NDP. That should worry Team Trudeau.

    His grand plan for the middle class seems, at this point, to be a bit of a flop.

    As for Den Tandt saying Trudeau needs to be out there every day holding media scrums until the press gallery is sick of seeing his face and hearing his voice? VOTERS will also get sick of seeing his face and hearing his voice

  5. smelter rat says:

    Especially #9. I’ve worked at a polling station. 90% of the voters are over 50.

    • Michael says:

      There is/was this whole misconception that Trudeau brought youth to the party. To a small extent he has, but really the reason he is leader today is because a lot of aging baby boomer Liberals were seized with nostalgia for the good old days of Trudeaumania.

  6. John says:

    Justin used to live next door to my parents in the middle-class area of New Edinburgh, so either he was slumming for a number of years or he does know middle class.

    • ian turnbull says:

      The guys drives around Rockcliffe in his father’s jag convertable. I have seen him multiple times. It is an amazing car, with the top down on a sunny summer day there is probably nothing better. I’m no political expert but shouldn’t one of his strategic advisors let him know that he might want to leave his dad’s car in the garage..at least until after the election?

      Alternatively, maybe he should focus his attention on the entitled rich kid class versus the middle class.

      “The fact is, Canadians who have done well have always been willing to help out in meaningful ways. Take for instance the Jag and trust fund my Dad set up for me. We need to make sure all wealthy Canadian parents setup trust funds for their children…”

      • Raymond says:

        If I’m not mistaken, it’s a Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster – not as expensive as the highly-desirable Gull Wing, but still likely worth $500k – $1.25m (Hemmings).

  7. sezme says:

    If he needs to follow these 10 rules (10 rules that would completely change his persona, personality, and even his speaking voice) to avoid electoral disaster, then it’s already a lost cause.

    • Warren says:

      Hey, I didn’t say it would work.

    • Harold in Halifax says:

      Everything Justin Trudeau says in public has been scripted and comes from the mind of Gerald Butts. Justin is just an actor strutting on the political stage and enjoying the adulation he receives from live audiences. Once he is thrown into the debate cage with Harper and Mulcair, he, Justin, will not be able to punch his way out with flubbed lines. The stress will seize his mind and his tongue will not respond and his immaturity will be revealed. Liberals live in fear while trying to build him up before the debates in the hope he will survive the beating.

      • PatC says:

        LOL….. Looks like the Butt’s strategy is one of “fluff and bluff” to shield his politically adolescent charge — Justin Trudeau.

  8. Lance says:

    “He could speak repeatedly and off the cuff…………….”

    What, did a Conservative war-room doppelganger replace him or something? Wow LOL.

  9. Adam Goydos says:

    Sorry, Warren….. it’s too late for Justin to change his stripes/spots/smell…. he’s just Justin, the boy politician and that impression will persist right into the voting booth.
    Justin is truly “in over his head”, and nothing will change that perception of a rookie who is just a political construct of little sagacity and even less chops.
    He’s a façade for others and any attempt to “sell the sizzle” and cover up the “raw steak” will fail. It’s over because the media is now entranced with the NDP a la AB.

  10. Derek Pearce says:

    I think we all know that generally, following a script is a recipe for success, even if it is bad for genuine debate. Harper is the most scripted Prime Minister we’ve ever had, and Layton used to stick to a script ad nauseum. I still can hear him saying “that’s like paying off the mortgage when the roof is leaking.”

  11. Adam says:

    Insightful piece and excellent comments, all.

    One thing I’ve noticed about Team Trudeau is how focused they are on all the wrong things. Butts cruises Twitter all day (no votes to be won there) and they go into overdrive to sell what Harper and Mulcair leave to their minions. The “Senior Strategist Syndrome” that plagues that party truly is a testament to how far its fallen since the Shawinigan Handshake was kicking ass and taking names. And while others in that party had it long before Team Trudeau, they’ve taken in to a whole new level. Its like they don’t know what they’re even playing for. It’s simple: Winner runs a G7 country. Loser asks questions and staffs up 100+ jobs in the OLO. Third-place gets some stories only read by those in the bubble?! (Personally, I’d just as soon have my mom leave the putting articles on the fridge to when I was a Boy Scout or a house-league Atom hockey player – never did win for the science fair volcano made of paper mache so no photo-op or media hit there)…

  12. Luke says:

    Seems it is just me, BUT…

    I found Trudeau much more appealing when he was being fairly open, off-the-cuff, and even brash. There was a sense that playing it safe and popular was less important than taking risks and stating what was on his mind/what he believed. There is principle in being oneself. Even if it means making the occasional ill-considered dick joke about military conflicts. I don’t expect perfection, but I was at least getting a sense that maybe we were getting someone honest, which would be something shocking.

    Harper is robotic. Trudeau was very different.

    However, pretty much disappointment for the last while. I can’t remember anything in particular Trudeau has said or done that really stands out or seems particularly principled, brave, or honest in the last several months. So naturally, the interesting things going on with the NDP are well worth my attention, despite that party’s unfortunate stance on national unity.

    I was hoping whatever policies were coming would reflect Trudeau’s early penchant for risk-taking; something interesting, distinctive, new, daring maybe. So far, it all sounds the same as everything else. A bunch of unimaginative blah blah blah that, while more appealing to me than the Connies’ stupid policies, don’t really scream ‘VOTE LIBERAL’ to me. NDP looks kinda good. Sigh.

  13. Priyesh says:

    Shorter version:

    If the script isn’t working, it isn’t time to go off script. It’s time to a better script.

    Some strategists need to be fired. Yesterday.

  14. Jim Walsh says:

    Ever shorter, shorter version.

    Can Justin Trudeau suddenly become someone he isn’t? Probable short answer: No

  15. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; [they] come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.”

    Really big mistake.

  16. Pat says:

    Does this mean he shouldn’t return to to the practice of speaking about himself in the third person?

  17. Harold in Halifax says:

    The only way to beat the Harper Conservatives is through “strategic voting”, but I question whether Canadians are smart enough to pull that off. What we saw in AB was the few Liberal voters flipping over to the NDP and that succeeded provincially. However, Canada is too large and too diverse for that to happen, unless Trudeau literally shits between the Liberal bedsheets between now and the election, and that’s why the leader debates will be crucial.

    No wonder the Cons are trying to control the debate venue and issues while Mulcair is going along with the changes. Harper and Mulcair are in cahoots to shatter fragile Justin’s veneer of competence and expose him as an actor, a beard, a front man for the old Liberal establishment. Justin will be another Liberal train wreck but this time it will be quite disastrous and he may be the last Liberal leader.

    • Matt says:

      Alberta had nothing to do with Liberal voters switching to the NDP. It wasn’t a result of strategic voting on the left.

      Alberta happened because the two right leaning parties split the vote.

      • doconnor says:

        The Liberals lost over half their voters compared to the previous election, but it was small factor compared to the combined drop of the PCs and Wild Rose which went from 78% to 52%. Before the PCs could win despite the split.

        The vote swings are on Wikipedia.

  18. JH says:

    JT took the Consortium’s debate, so did Mulcair. Harper will be the empty chair. That’ll suit him. Undecideds watching will choose between the two opposition leaders as to who wins and can handle the PM. To my mind at the moment that’s Mulcair. Suits the Tories – progressives split again, they come up the middle. Nothing so far contradicts this take.

    • Matt says:

      Technically, they’ve only agreed in principle to the consortium debate format. No guarantee they will actually take part.

      Mulcair is already on record saying, when the CPC rebuffed the consortium two weeks ago he wants to debate Harper, so if Harper isn’t there, he won’t be either.

      Interesting too, Harper has accepted 4 debates, Mulcair accepted those as well, while Trudeau has not accepted any of them. It appears all four are single issue debates – one on the economy, one on foreign policy ect.

      I suspect Team Trudeau doesn’t want him talking about a single subjectfor more than a few minutes.

      • doconnor says:

        Having a debate with everyone except Harper would be too powerful a symbol for Mulcair to pass up. So powerful, Harper pretty much has to go to the consortium debate. I don’t think Harper cleave strategy is working out how they hoped.

      • JH says:

        I agree Matt. Given his pronouncements and stances regarding terrorists, ISIL etc. I doubt very much his handlers will want him taking on Harper or Mulcair in an extended foreign policy debate. As for the economic topic, we’ve rarely seen him addressing it in a major way. Every time I turn on a political talk show I see Brison & sometimes Freeland. I’m not sure he’s trusted to go it alone there either for a couple of hours. He’d have to drill down deeper on these issues, than he has in the past. No doubt the Consortium’s format would suit him better. I suspect that’s what they’ve been rehearsing him all those hours on and the proposals for the ’boutique’ type of debates has caught his whole ‘brain’ trust off guard. I use the word brain with hesitation, as I am kind of in WK’s camp as regards their abilities. And I still urge them to get Alvaro off P & P. She’s not cutting it. I’m also getting a little tired of Silver’s sarcastic, smart ass bent, though at first I enjoyed it. Now not so much.

  19. Harold in Halifax says:

    Yup…. Mulcair will mulch Justin in a one-on-one debate with Harper absent and laughing as Justin is slapchopped to bits and then ground into dust…. provided the ‘consortium’ debate is an adversarial encounter and Justin is not protected by the consortium moderators.

    Such a debate would squelch attacks on the Harper government and Mulcair and Justin will have to duke it out manno e manno. The viewing audience will decide who wins their centre-left vote, and then the losing Liberals will try to cobble together some kind of emergency pre-election strategic voting coalition to stop their total annihilation!

    The Liberal vote will divide itself into the Red Grits going NDP and the Blue Grits voting CPC, or just going home. Justin Trudeau — the last Liberal leader?

  20. davie says:

    Ironic to me is that the party that has a reputation for its candidates not showing up for debates is now interested in the proper distribution of debates.

    Good idea for the debate on foreign policy to exclude Elizabeth May. A person articulate about climate change and foreign affairs record in that area would mess up the
    ‘I am Hagar going to war’ focus the Conservatives are using our armed forces for. (Since CETA and TTP are secrets, they will cause no problems.)

    • Harold in Halifax says:

      You don’t seem to remember the last 2011 election leader debates. All it was was a pile-on against Harper, except for Jack’s killer line against Iggy — “… if you want a promotion you should show up to work..” or about that. The Cons are smart in isolating the centre-left combatants and let the attack each other, rather than attacking Harper only. Also it would label the CBC/CTV/Global consortium as a Lib-Dip-Green propaganda organ who joined with the opposition parties to all attack the Harper Conservatives. It’s a good centre-left strategy but it failed dismally because Iggy and even Jack failed in the ROC and Harper mopped up and won his majority.

      If the major media consortium debate is without Harper, Mulcair will mop the floor with Justin …. and maybe Mulcair and Harper are in cahoots so this happens. Ever think of that?

      • davie says:

        You got me on all the things I do not remember, but hat you do…and on all the things that you think of, but that I failed to think of.

        Conservatives and their supporters are so cunning…devilishly cunning.

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