07.29.2015 09:22 AM

Reuters takes note of Mr. Trudeau’s predicament

One of their genial guys contacted me when I was up in Whitehorse to talk politics. This being the new era and all, I responded via text: 


The resulting story, which includes the far-more-noteworthy comments of my friend Dennis Mills, is here.

What thinkest thou, O Readers? Can the good ship Liberal be righted? Is it too late? What does Trudeau need to do?


  1. Christian says:

    I think if this keeps up its going to turn from a struggle to get back to Official Opposition to a ‘Save the Furniture’ campaign. There is not a lot of time to turn this around. it may already be too late.

    • Matt says:

      Dennis Mills seems to agree it’s too late:

      “Former Liberal legislator Dennis Mills, who worked for Trudeau’s father – prime minister for 15 years ending in 1984 – took aim at Trudeau’s team, saying his handlers needed to be more aggressive.”

      Not they need to be more agressive, but they NEEDED to be more agressive.

      NEEDED. Past tense.

  2. Windsurfer says:

    My only guess is that they’re saving their meagre war-chest for the formal campaign to reach people when they’re actually listening. In my dreams, they’d lead off every ad with Harper’s famous statement which went something like ‘You won’t recognize Canada when I get finished with it.”

    As for Trudeau’s flubs, as bad as they may seem to the cognoscienti – i.e. the 50 political pundits who will hyper-analyze ever word he says 50 ways from Sunday, I’m not sure the J6P crowd has noticed yet. GOTV – get out the vote, will be key to how much anger there is against Harper. That seems to be growing from the plebs who I talk to.

    • RDH says:

      This is the typical Liberal arrogance. When Liberals are down, it’s because they assume no one is paying any attention. It couldn’t possibly be because Liberal policies aren’t resonating. Liberals also make the inaccurate assumption that there is this palpable anger against Harper. Sure, from Liberals. But if Liberals want to win they need to reach out to the millions of voters who voted for Harper in the past, not treat their votes like mistakes they are ashamed of. Running ads that say “you won’t recognize Canada when I’m done with it” or whatever is laughable. Ask Martin, Dion and Ignatieff how successful the “Harper hidden agenda” strategy was.

      Liberals need a new strategy and policies that resonate with Canadians. There is plenty of time to come up with that and win an election – nobody should count anyone out right now. However, crossing your fingers that everyone hates Harper as much as you do is not a winning plan.

  3. MississaugaPeter says:

    Trudeau has to do what he did with Brazeau, not get knocked out early on August 6.

    All the CON ads in the world that he is not ready are worthless if he bests Harper.

    All the Liberal strategy in the world is worthless if he has a poor performance on August 6.

    Serious momentum for the rest of the summer will occur next Thursday.

    • fan590 says:

      Justin won’t have a bad performance.

      The question is how the media and the parties will spin it.

      Liberal team needs to be ALL OVER THIS. Get AGGRESSIVE.

  4. Matt says:


    All those who come to Trudeau’s defence in that article are Montreal area Liberals.

  5. Christian says:

    Just to add to my previous comment. Mills noted that no one has seen Trudeaus ‘inner strength” and “passion”. That gets back to your earlier point Warren about not knowing what Trudeau’s motivation is. Why does he want to be PM? he needs to answer that. Also this was interesting:

    “Asked to respond to the criticisms of his handlers, Trudeau’s chief spokeswoman said he and his team “have a clear vision and plan for a better government, not just a different government, and on how we get there.”

    OK. You say you have a plan – so lets see it! And have Trudeau deliver it, and then constantly talk about it. This “keeping-your-powder-dry” tactic they are using may have worked in 1993, but I don’t think it works today with 24/7 media and internet access and an governing party that is in constant campaign mode. By waiting for “the right” moment (and then hurridly responding with sporadic policy pronouncements with no overall linking narrative)Team Trudeau is creating the impression that they don’t know what they’re doing, don’t have anything to offer and are making it up as they go or as the polls go. Not good.

    Can they turn it around? As I said in my last comment; nope. I don’t think so. I think impressions, once established are hard to change. People are simply too busy to be listenting. You need a huge event to grab their attention (i.e.: NDP win Alberta). Right now I don’t see anything like that, that’ll work in the Liberals favour.

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:


      Harper sure managed to ditch his 2004 first impression when the next election came around.

      • Ridiculosity says:

        “Impressions, once established, are hard to change,” you say?

        My first impression of Harper was that he was both an asshole and dangerous.

        And that definitely hasn’t changed.

      • Christian says:

        Harper had almost 2 years between the 04 and 06 elections to change voters impresssions and was the Official Opposition Leader at the time (he was also being helped by a less than impressive Martin government and the Gomery drama). Trudeau doesn’t have two years he has at most 2 months to try and get back what he had before squandering it. And unlike Harper, he won’t get a second chance UNLESS he gets Official Opposition. If the party stays in 3rd – he’s gone.

        • terry quinn says:

          Mulcair’s numbers changed very quickly and could change again as he has been virtually untouched by either of his opponents and I think he may have peaked too early. he has even less money than the Libs.

  6. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    IMHO, the debate on August 6th could be a turning point. Let’s see what the severely underestimated Justin can do. It could turn out to be a swing moment.

    • billg says:

      I just cant see how the debates can help him now. He has to explain how he’s against a pipeline but will build a pipeline if elected. He has to explain how he’s against C-51 but supported C-51. He has to explain how he’s against the war with ISIS but he feels a war is necessary. I have no idea if he’s all in for a National Daycare program or not. Does he really believe the best PM’s come from Quebec? I’m sure the man is deeper then what the NDP and the Conservatives want you to believe he is, but, the fact is, he will be responding to questions and he will be having to clarify his statements more then he should be. You don’t win people over being on the defensive all the time. If he pulls it off he can win, but, that’s asking a lot of a first timer.

    • John from Saskatoon says:

      Ya because we’ve seen how great Trudeau does when speaking when he’s not under pressure. He can’t stop saying stupid things when he’s in front of partisan crowds. You really think with Harper and Mulcair all over his ass all of a sudden he’ll become clear, concise, and be able to remove his foot from his mouth. These debates will be fun to watch. Trudeau’s parts might even make a good montage to be played on the Comedy Network.

      • fan590 says:

        Your comment is from the Comedy network. The ridiculous personal hate for Justin by some is so over the top.

        He’s richer, better looking, has a great looking wife, and his Dad was PM. Deal with it.

        • Bill says:

          “He’s richer, better looking, has a great looking wife, and his Dad was PM”

          You forgot to mention the nice hair.

        • lance says:

          fan590 said, “He’s richer, better looking, has a great looking wife, and his Dad was PM. Deal with it.”

          Oh! Well.

          Obviously PM material, then.

          • Lance says:

            Hey don’t laugh, this is probably EXACTLY what many of the backroom sycophants were thinking.

          • Ridiculosity says:

            Yes, actually.

            He is.

            But you wouldn’t know that if you’re taking all of your information in :30 second sound bites between segments of “The Bachelor”.

          • fan590 says:

            I stated this is one of the reasons why there is so much personal venom against Justin. A lot of it is jealousy.

  7. dean says:

    i am skeptical about a – wait until the last minute and dominate the airwaves – strategy. it lets the other parties set the ballot question and leads to more desperate ads.. soldiers in the streets types of ads.

    they should run harper’s “5 promises” campaign that got him first elected PM. simple, straightforward, friendly.

    but that’s just a disillusioned grass-roots liberal view for you.

  8. Kev says:

    “Missing in action”?

    Um, check out the tour itinerary since the new year.

    Whatever other criticisms might be, MIA ain’t one of them.

  9. Greg from Calgary says:

    I want Harper gone. That means I will place my vote with the most likely party to accomplish that. If libs think their “brand” has some magic allure that is going to cause me to go “oh yes, they are sooooo wise, Canada is better if I let them rule” they are wrong. They need to PROVE to me they are the superior party and doing stuff like accepting Eve into the party, supporting Bill C51, dipshit comments like “whipping out our CF-18s” does not win my vote.

    Until the LPC realizes it must compete for my vote, not just be entitled to it then they won’t get it. And I don’t think I am alone in that.

    • John from Saskatoon says:

      You want Harper gone? What a great reason to vote. What are the alternatives offering that you like? Do you know or you just think Harpers a big meanie so it doesn’t matter what the others want to do? Vote FOR something. Not Against.

      • Michael Bluth says:

        Right on John!

        As Warren said, right now the LPC has a barf bag of policies. Other than not being the party of Harper, why should someone vote for the party in this election? Right or wrong, the NDP are putting forward a social democratic vision for the country.

        It’s not out of the realm of possibility at this time for the Liberal party to fall below it’s 19% vote share in 2011.

        Coherent messaging and a dramatic turnaround in Trudeau’s performance are needed at this point. With the current team in place I don’t know if there is a lot of confidence that is remotely possible, never mind likely, to happen.

  10. gyor says:

    I think we’ll have your answer on August 6th.

  11. Vancouverois says:

    It’s still far, far too premature to say what will happen. There are over two and a half months to go until the expected voting date. The election itself hasn’t even been called yet.

    Given that things do have to change, however. The attempted strategy to win over Red Tories seems so far to have had the effect of only alienating Orange Liberals instead — it’s time to let it go. Instead, Trudeau has to win back those votes and more. He has to make the Liberal party the natural home for the anti-Conservative vote. And that means focussing primarily on the NDP from now until October.

  12. JH says:

    Quebec looks like it may be becoming more interesting, especially for the NDP, as Nanos now shows the Bloc at 33% thanks to Duceppes’ popularity. Word is he and PKP are now on a biking tour of the province.

    • Matt says:

      Well, others have the Bloc around 21% to 24%.

      • fan590 says:

        Bloc has all the momentum right now. Which is why the NDP can’t win.

        It’s just not a sexy headline in English Canada right now.

    • Priyesh says:

      Not 33%.

      33 “points” on the “Nanos index”, whatever the hell that is.

      Bloc is still way back in the polls around 20%. The sovereignty movement is dead.

      • Vancouverois says:

        For heaven’s sake.

        No, it is not dead. It’s on a downswing, one that could easily turn around under the right conditions.

        • JH says:

          Lots of Quebec observers and pundits (French) say Bloc is on the upswing and will gain seats. Most think they will come from the NDP, some Liberal. English media in the province is mostly a joke and they don’t like to report this kind of news anyway.
          The national press is too lazy to get off their arses and really go after the regional news. They might have to get out of Ottawa and leave the bars for a while.

  13. John from Saskatoon says:

    He’s done. He rode high when he was the fresh face. People see now what he’s about and unfortunately for him he’s about nothing. They will be trounced in the election and once again the Liberals will deservedly eat another leader. The Liberals have too many inner factions fighting to ever be able to come together again as a force. Liberal should split either right or left and Canada should become a 2 party system. I myself hope the Liberals stay strong enough this election to split the left vote allowing another Conservative majority. Polls not withstanding I think the Conservative vote is efficient enough to give them another majority. My biggest joy will be on Election Day when we get to hear the lefty losers complaint that somehow Harper once again subverted democracy.

  14. Tony Miller says:

    My guess is that non-partisan progressives are waiting to see who emerges (right now, it’s the NDP) as the most viable alternative to Harper. Such is their loathing of the PM that they will back the horse in their riding – be it NDP or Liberal – who has the best shot in that riding. Call it strategic voting if you will, but when a good 63% of the population has had it with the government, anyone but Harper will do. If the NDP pulls further away from the Liberals, it could be very grim indeed for Trudeau, as support stampedes to the most credible alternative.

  15. Kevin T. says:

    I don’t think it is too late, but a constant A-game will be required when he does show himself. The biggest weakness in Lib strategy is that no one ever considered the NDP to be able to de-throne Harper, they apparently can and many who just want a new leader and direction for the country no longer have just one viable party to vote for.

  16. Don Wilson says:

    We can only hope that the woefully inept inner circle under the control of Commandant Butts will be disappeared immediately without a trace. We can only hope that the many voices of experience in the Liberal camp will move the party back to the centre. We can only hope that Trudeau will step down after losing and will be replaced by a leader of substance. His campaign is over. Sad that so many first-class Liberal candidates will be taken down when the ship goes belly up an sinks.

    • Ridiculosity says:

      Just for the record, his campaign isn’t over. Far from it.

      Moreover, in case you didn’t know, the election has yet to be called.

  17. Kaiser Helmets 'n Motorbikes says:

    Harper’s strategy is also becoming clearer.

    1. He will keep himself out of the spotlight as much as possible, not so much because his own personal negatives turn off more voters, but because his presence energizes the opposition and gives them something (anything) to rail passionately against. The less he shows up in the news discussing policy, and more he pops up like a real life wack-a-mole in the 2015 version of a home knit sweater, the better his chances of winning.

    2. Sooner or later, when he is convinced poor little rich boy is dead, he will turn his massively funded artillery on Professor Charles Kingsfield. By the time the election rolls into town the professor will be a babbling puddle of goo. Think Prof Kingsfield is too good for that? Good for you, glad you believe in something.

    • fan590 says:

      “Poor little rich boy.”

      If Justin actually had a team who knew what to do this election, they would use this over the top personal anger of Justin’s very existence as part of their strategy.

      Like the hatred by some to President Obama, a smart Lib campaign could push some buttons and the radicals in the Conservatives and NDP won’t be able to control themselves, showing their true feelings.

      His looks, his name, his province…I never saw the same type of anger (a personal kind) like this in Canada. It can be used.

      • Kaiser Helmets 'n Motorbikes says:

        You are sooooooo right, the Jesus T Brain Trust should definitely use the “victim” card.

        Everyone else does.

        Let’s see, what would his angle be? … I know, “White, Anglo-Saxon-Norman Christian Middle Aged Male who inherited millions of dollars and a free ride to the top”…. Yeah, that’s should work, what a sad, sad story. No wonder everyone hates the poor little rich boy.

  18. Kelly says:

    Let’s see what people are talking about around October 9th or so. The 24/7 news cycle guarantees we won’t be talking about whatever is in the news now. (Remember…Pussy Riot? The Ikea Monkey? The war in Ukraine? Rob Ford? Eugenie Bouchard?…see what I mean?)

    Actually if Trudeau takes the liberals down to about 15% of the popular vote, he might get closer to being PM than ever because he will then hold the balance of power in an NDP minority government. He won’t be going anywhere. Everyone remember that the ONLY reason Harper is PM is because of NDP, Liberal, Green and Bloc vote splitting. Period. Most of the country really doesn’t like the guy. They don’t like the direction he’s taking the country. They are happy to accept his family allowance cheques and his meal deductions for truck drivers, etc. but a large majority of Canadians won’t ever vote for Stephen Harper. Harper isn’t some genius, he’s just lucky. He’s had incredible political luck. The NDP has some more good attack ads ready in addition to the “had enough” ad — the one that features the Del Mastro perp walk — that’s already got over half a million views on Youtube. The cons haven’t really had anyone take a good swing at them before. This time they will, and they will fold like a cheap suit.

    Trudeau’s biggest asset is people like to be around him (HIM, not his handlers) and they basically trust him, generally speaking. Cons say “better of with Harper” and Trudeau says “Better off Together”. There’s the difference. Are you better off fending for yourself without a safety net in a hollowed out economy with a 65-cent dollar and a trillion dollar housing bubble that is about to burst thanks to low-dollar-induced inflation? Or are you better off in a Canada that provides a properly funded safety net, makes forward thinking investments in research and education and lessens your risk, right now? Trudeau has charisma. When he makes a speech you feel like you want to come along. Harper has no charisma; he keeps his hair in the fridge and when he makes a speech nobody is allowed to get anywhere near him. There’s the difference. There’s still time.

  19. Cecil Natridy says:

    There are two core assumptions behind Team Trudeau.

    Trudeau has the right stuff to win.

    Trudeau seems to have panned out to a kind of Prince Charles figure. That is, a well meaning, but often eccentric aristocrat with a grab-bag of pet causes. For example, Trudeau placed inordinate emphasis on Muslim issues – at best, 3% of the vote. In the process, he lost the remnants of the Jewish vote and alienated many “moderate” Muslims. In contrast, the big issue for Canadians, is not religion, Islam or otherwise, but their personal finances. It’s the economy stupid. Trudeau, who has never worked two jobs with the wolf at the door may just not grasp the reality on the street.

    Team Trudeau wants Trudeau win.

    Oddly, in light of the Martin cabal fiasco, it is assumed that there are not other Liberals who feel they should be leader of the Liberal Party and are far more competent to be Prime Minister. Is this a case of passive aggression to get Trudeau decisively out of the way? Power may drive men mad, especially in a culture lacking a healthy respect for the chain of command – this is the bailing wire that held the Reform-PC Conservatives together.

    • fan590 says:

      “It’s the economy stupid. Trudeau, who has never worked two jobs with the wolf at the door may just not grasp the reality on the street.”

      And Harper and Mulcair struggled in housing projects, born of single moms on welfare, worked 5 jobs to get through uni. with huge punishing student loans, avoided politics because they spent all their time working to put food on the table, living paycheck to paycheck…

      The reality is Justin certainly could have lived the Scott Disick lifestyle and did not.

  20. Michael says:

    There is plenty of time left, and many have come back from far greater deficits to achieve great things. Here’s how I think JT could do it:

    First, hit Harper hard on the economy and Mulcair hard on economic and social policy. No more of this soft-touch Mr. Nice Guy nonsense. Go for the throat on the perceived strengths of your opponents (shockingly the NDP are now seen as good for the economy). Adam Vaughan did a good job of this comparing the NDP/Olivia Chow to Ford as being good at slogans but short on details. If Trudeau wants to be viewed as credible he has to sound credible. To sound credible on the economy now, with Mulcair the seemingly preferred alternative, Trudeau has go hard on the offensive which does two things: First, it shows he is actually tough enough to take those guys on. After being the tough guy in the boxing ring, he ceded that ground to Mulcair and he needs to get it back. Second, it shows he has enough policy smarts to be able to go toe-to-toe with his perceived betters on policy. If the other two guys look ready to lead, then doing the opposite won’t make you look better; it will make you look stupid. Play the same game, just play it better. If you want to change the game, change it when you win. Until then, fight like hell. And I cannot stress enough, go after their perceived strengths. If a guy has a weapon, don’t go for the flying toe hold. Go for the weapon.

    Second, Trudeau needs to have a bigger presence in places Liberals need to win – the 905 for example. Trudeau can outperform Mulcair at any rally; his personal draw is still huge. If Mulcair gets 400 to a rally in Scarborough, Trudeau gets close to double. Compare donations, membership numbers, ground mobilization – the Liberals are now the best they’ve been, and the NDP are nowhere close. So use the ground strength to give the leader a boost. Go old school; do a whistle stop tour. Trudeau has been doing lots of announcements with candidates and speeches to Chambers of Commerce lately, but it’s a good time to get back to doing some old fashioned rallies (like Mulcair just did, and like JT did last year). The base is feeling demoralized from sustained crossfire without reply. Give them a shot of adrenaline before they flat-line.

    Third, have a real plan. “Barf bag” is a strong description (appreciate the alliteration, of course), but it’s a fair point too, not because the policies are bad (they’re quite good), but because the policies are lacking a cohesive and inspiring theme. The plan so far seems to be “Here’s a bunch a stuff we’d do better than those guys”. That’s a start – the minimum expectation. But “Real Change” is not a direction; it’s a promise to move off the current direction. That’s all well and good, but tell us where you’re going with this. Change as a plan works well if you’re the only credible alternative. When you’re not, you need to give the people more.

    Fourth, win the first debate. See point #1, add a dash of charming.

    Fifth, never let this devolve into a “save the furniture” campaign. At 35 or however many seats, Liberals don’t have that much furniture to begin with. If you’re going down, go down fighting. If the Grits only win 30-50 seats this time around, the party is dead anyway. Go for broke. At least you can be proud of the effort, and who knows – the people might appreciate it.

    Just my two cents, free of charge and worth every penny.

  21. Lance says:

    Warren, if you don’t copyright your “barfbag of policy” quip, and some war-room Conservative grabs it, I will be profoundly disappointed.

  22. terry quinn says:

    I wonder how any people thought Notley could take out Jim Prentice just before the writ was dropped.

    • Joe says:

      Not that its germane to this post but Prentice was beaten by a bobble head (Notely) and a cardboard cut out (Jean). However that had more to do with Prentice laying a giant stinking turd in the middle of Alberta and then asking for a new mandate. So far the bobble head has only added to the stinking pile and most likely won’t be back as premier. Harper has not laid a stinking turd and the bobble head (Trudeau) comes across as an empty head. I suspect that once Mulcair’s corrupt practices become more well known, as they have apparently in Quebec with the return of the Bloc his star will fade rather quickly.

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