08.26.2015 12:00 AM

KCCCC day 24: the strategists strategize 


  • A nice young fellow from iPolitics got in touch with me this week. Some of my friends in other parties, too: Robin Sears, Will Stewart and Tim Powers. We were all asked what the parties should do post-Duffy and post-Labour Day. Here.
  • Those guys are smarter than me. Heed what they say. And here’s what they have to say. 
  • Robin Sears: “I think this long campaign was a very foolish mistake by the Tories.”
  • Will Stewart: With Duffy now adjourned until November, his Conservatives need to “start driving their own message again so they can stop addressing [Duffy] at every campaign stop.”
  • Tim Powers: “If part of [the NDP and Liberal] narrative is the government is old, it’s crooked, it’s gone against its core raison d’être, you’re going to keep [Duffy] going.”
  • Me? As you guys know too well, I think the only people who care about scandal stuff work in Ottawa or in the nation’s news rooms. They don’t care about Duffy nearly as much as politicos or journos do. They – living in the real world, as they do – think it’s still only about the economy, stupid. And, so far, no one has come up with the winning economic story, have they? Nope. 


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    DJ says:

    The NDP and Liberals are attracting (spontaneous) crowds to their events. The Conservatives get just the usual (vetted) core supporters — everything scripted, no genuine excitement. This tells me that change is in the air. It doesn’t look like any party is even close to a majority. My bet is on Mulcair winning a minority government. NDP events seem to have the most excitement and the biggest crowds. Mulcair is loosening up and beginning to ditch the teleprompter. His Sarnia rally was especially impressive! Trudeau is doing better than expected — he may even beat the Tories and become leader of the opposition against an NDP minority. The “not ready” job interview ads have not been so brilliant after all. (Actually, they’re pretty bad with really lame actors.) The Conservatives have been really off their game. Watch them to become desperate with a barrage of ads. A lot of voters are tuning them out and are determined to get rid of them. The long campaign is just plain annoying!

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    The Doctor says:

    The thing I find interesting today is Mulcair’s assertion that the NDP would balance the budget in its very first term — while of course keeping all of those gold-plated promises of theirs. He asserts that he’d be able to fill the fiscal gap by not bringing in income-splitting and by (relatively modest, remember) increases in the corporate tax rate. Anybody who’s not a Kool-Aid drinking NDP partisan knows that’s a bunch of reeking bullshit. Every credible economist knows, and has pointed out, that the fiscal bang from corporate tax hikes (especially modest ones) is really quite limited.

    The interesting question is why is Mulcair taking this tack. I think for one thing, he realizes that most people who vote NDP don’t really care THAT much about balancing budgets. But they feel more comfy if Tommy pays lip service to the concept — even when the math doesn’t remotely add up. Also, left-wing people congenitally want to believe that you really can run an economy by soaking rich people and corporations — despite the overwhelming economic evidence that in order to raise significant amounts of revenue, you have to get it from the middle class (translation: GST, the biggest and most efficient revenue-raiser).

    Another very important thing going on, though, is that the NDP and the Liberals both (rightly, I think) see this as a “throw the bums out” campaign dynamic. And when that’s going on, really the people considering voting for you as an opposition party don’t care a helluva lot about your platform. Exhibit A: the recent Alberta election. The NDP want this campaign to be an anti-Harper referendum/witch-burning, with the NDP seen as the viable Harper-slayer. In that context, the NDP’s platform becomes next to irrelevant, akin to an afterthought.

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      doconnor says:

      If you look at the child care promise the evidence suggests that in increased taxes from the increase participation rate of women in the workforce means it will be a net revenue source for the government.

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        The Doctor says:

        I’m sorry, but an opinion piece from a left-wing website does not = “The Evidence”. And nobody in the real world budgets on a blue sky theory like that anyway, however viable that theory may be. AND you conveniently failed to mention all of the NDP’s other (rather generous) promises besides child care. There are quite a few of them, you know . . .

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        Bill says:

        This assumes that there will be a significant increase in the participation of women in the work force and that there are job posting now that are going unfilled because there are no suitable candidates but that will be filled by this increased supply of labour. I think that is a bit of a stretch.

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        The Doctor says:

        Umm, an opinion piece on a partisan left-wing website does not = “the evidence”. Especially an opinion piece by notorious, bought-and-paid-for CLC/NDP mouthpiece Jim Stanford. Jesus Christ.

        In any event, the piece you link to does not go directly to the matter of constructing or balancing budgets. It’s concerned with the more macro, blue-sky theory of whether government-funded childcare will ultimately be a net benefit to society. Personally I have no issue with that. But that does not go to the issue at hand, which is whether in the next 1 to 5 budgetary cycles the NDP platform would balance or not. So thanks for coming out.

        Plus there’s the little wee fact that you only mentioned the child care promise, and conveniently ignored all of the other promises the Dippers have made. Care to deal with them?

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    MississaugaPeter says:

    Is Trudeau really acknowledging that there was a Liberal Party before he became leader? Is he and his cabal acknowledging that the Liberal Party elder statespeople have done some good? What the heck is happening? I guess desperate times require desperate measures.

    What I don’t get, and suspect will happen, Trudeau will be called out for praising the previous Liberal government that made annual deficits a thing of the past, and then acknowledging he will run deficits. I suspect the Trudeau cabal is just too lazy to cost things out so it is just easier to just say that they will run deficits and not need to bother to figure out where the money is coming from.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. Mulcair claiming that there would be no deficit is hilarious, but like Harper, he realizes you tell the people what they want to hear and stay consistent.

    Point is: All three leaders are just one-upping each other with what they are promising to give us which will be paid by our money and our children’s and grandchildren’s money. Another two months of crazy promises that will take us into deep deficits. Obviously not all, if very few of the promises will be able to be fulfilled once the Canada’s government’s real economic circumstance is revealed. But why would Trudeau differentiate himself from the others by being honest about running a deficit?

    I guess he is running away from his quote that goes along the line of “budgets will balance themselves” to “I will just not bother to balance any budget.” I guess wise Conservatives who have had enough of Harper and rightly feel they must exercise their vote will just skip over the Liberals to the NDP.

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      MississaugaPeter says:

      Point about deficits.

      The problem with deficits is that taxpayer money in future years goes toward paying for interest on those deficits. We are just lucky interest rates are so low now.

      In 2013/2014, $29.3B of taxpayer money went to pay interest on previous government’s inabilities to spend within their means. That is over 5 Kelowna Accords in one year.

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        Maps Onburt says:

        Yes, $29B is a lot of money but as a percentage of Canada’s budget it is only about 10%… so if we underwent draconian (say 20%) spending reductions we could pay off the debt in 12 years assuming our economy still managed to grow as fast as the interest payments on the remaining debt (doubtful if they cut that much spending out of the economy).

        I think most economists recognize that a certain amount of Net Debt isn’t a bad thing as long as the ratio of NetDebt to GDP doesn’t get out of whack. Canada’s is currently at 52% (including provincial debt) where as our G7 competitors are at US-96%, UK-97%, France-101%, Italy-127%, Japan-196% and even Germany at 55%). If you take away the province’s debt Canada looks absolutely amazing (32%) in comparison – Canada’s debt/GDP ratio is better than every province except BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Ontario and Quebec are sitting at 40% and 51% respectively.

        The prudent thing for us to do is to try to maintain a balanced budget so we don’t add to the debt, use a contingency to protect against deficit and then apply most of the unused contingency towards debt repayment. Let our economy grow the GDP so the actual debt shrinks as a percentage of the GDP… we can cut it by a third just by keeping a balanced budget over the next 10 years. There is NO developed country in the world that doesn’t have any debt – even the United Arab Emirates has a GDP/Debt ratio bigger than the Federal government.

        All the lefty whinging about how poor Harper has done with the debt is ridiculous. When he took over in 2006 our Net Debt/GDP was 31.4%, it’s 31.2% now – despite going through the worst worldwide recession since the second world war. Even at the absolute worst during the Chretien/Martin years of 1995-1996 we only got to 67% (to be fair, it dropped pretty rapidly down to 31% ten years later). Contrast that with the Liberals in Ontario – 27% when they took over to 40% now… Canada’s record is the envy of the developed world.

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      Christian says:

      Agree with your point about Trudeau bringing out Martin – presumably to remind Canadians which party got rid f the deficit and brought in surpluses. Ok fine. But then he stomped all over his own intended message by not ruling out running deficits. Personally I don’t think deficits are entirely evil, especially if you are in an economic downturn, but that was some seriously inconsistent messaging on the part of Team Trudeau. Guess thats par for the course.

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    Liam Young says:

    The scandal is VERY important because it exposes just how much Harper lies. All. The. Time. About. Anything.
    Canadians are finally starting to understand this and are questioning the lies about the economy, security and every other promise he makes. They are realizing that they are empty because he is lying.

    By the way, did you know your random ad on the left is playing Conservative attack ads on Justin Trudeau? Do you have it there just to drive clicks at the cost of the Cons?
    They redirect here:

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      BillBC says:

      I. Wish. This. One. Word. At. A. Time. Thing. Would. Go. Away.
      It’s. Old….

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        Ian Howard says:

        Its not about Duffy. It’s about the bald face lying fuckers who can’t read an entire email.

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    Joe says:

    Of the two Trudeau is only slightly more honest than Mulcair. Mulcair promises a balanced budget all the while promising spending the nation can not sustain. Trudeau is likewise promising more spending but at least admitting he will let our kids and grandkids pay for our play.

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      Mike says:

      Wasn’t it Harper’s finance minister Joe Oliver who said ” why don’t we leave that to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s granddaughter to solve that problem.” when asked if his government’s policies would saddle future generations with revenue shortfalls?

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    bobbie says:

    “I think the only people who care about scandal stuff work in Ottawa or in the nation’s news rooms. They don’t care about Duffy nearly as much as politicos or journos do. They – living in the real world, as they do – think it’s still only about the economy, stupid. And, so far, no one has come up with the winning economic story, have they? Nope.”

    Bang-on Warren! Exactly correct!

    The NDP campaign office isn’t even open yet in our riding, no one is talking Duffy at the door – zip! We’re getting more complaints about Kathleen Wynne and the provincial gov’t than anything else. Economy, jobs, health care top three. Environment? Nope not a peep. Not in Wind Turbine Alley Ontario.

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    Kaplan says:

    Due respect, Warren, more people are starting to tune in. My dad and his coffee buddies talk about this every morning down in Lethbridge, and then they talk about it in a wider group at their after-church lunch on Sundays. And it’s a prime lunch time topic at work here in Edmonton.

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    Ronald O'Dowd says:


    My view is closest to Powers. However, I would add this: when parties push the narrative, more often than not, it goes nowhere. That’s why our useful ally, namely, the PPG will keep it going and deliberately pressure Harper at every election stop about Duffy. They want Harper gone so bad, they are practically salivating over the prospect.

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      Pat says:

      Like his contempt of parliament in the last election. Didn’t work so well. When that fell on deaf ears it was the Helena Guergis “mistreatment”.

      Only in Canada is $90k repayment to the taxpayer a scandal.

      Is anybody listening to the media elites any more?

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    Kelly says:

    I dunno, the trial has long ceased to be about Duffy; it’s now about the brats in the PMO, their boss and the contempt they have for our institutions and the intelligence of Canadians. They don’t trust us, so why should we trust them

    Also, I think someone in the civil service is going get brave and sandbag Harper with some kind of leak a week before e-day.

    Oh and one more thing, the Carson trial starts September 8th providing more evidence of the conservative culture of criminality. Carson will be mentioned with Duffy and enable the opposition to drag out the steaming entrails all the way to October.

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    Christian says:

    Both you and Sears are right about this. The decision to go for an unnecessarily long campaign was stupid and it is about the economy.

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      ralphonso says:

      That’s short term thinking.

      The long campaign is only stupid for the Conservatives if it results in a majority NDP or Liberal government.

      If this election results in a short-lived minority of any persuasion it is a big win for the Conservatives because the long election will have bled the other parties dry of funds.

      A minority Conservative government will last longer as none of the parties will have the money for a snap election.

      A minority NDP or Liberal government is inherently unstable, because Mulcair will not play second fiddle to Trudeau and Trudeau has ruled out a coalition. There would be an election within 18 months, and the only funded party will be the Conservatives.

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    e.a.f. says:

    some of us care more about the integrity of government than economics. we may not be the majority, but we are out there. If you don’t have integrity in government you eventually won’t have much of an economy.

    There is still the small matter of Steve wanting to cut $38 Billion out of health care. That scares the “shit” out of me. Our health care system is hanging on by a thread. If it gets any worse, the U.S.A might be a choice.

    the Duffy trial may be in recess but don’t we have a Bruce Carson trial coming up soon? that should keep some entertained.

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