08.05.2015 06:00 AM

KCCCC Day 4: master debaters

  • I can always tell when it’s an election, because reporters call guys like me, and pretend that we have insights to offer. Here’s a sampling.
  • On so-called negative ads: Former Alberta Wildrose leader Danielle Smith interviewed me on Calgary radio, here, and she did a pretty good job. Me: “They may not like it, but it is the advertising they remember. It is the advertising that motivates them, and it’s the advertising that changes their minds.” So why won’t Trudeau do any? Beats me.
  • On what to watch Thursday night: The GOP freak show or the Canadian leaders’ debate? Me: “I’ll be doing what everyone else will be doing — jumping back and forth and then when I get sick of Donald Trump I’ll stick to Canadian programming exclusively.” Others polled here.
  • Debate stories: There are a lot of them today, the debate being tomorrow. So, let’s interview folks who lost debates, like in  this one! Interview those who won their respective debates? Don’t be silly. Now, where’s that beer and popcorn?
  • Line of the campaign so far: Hands down, it’s this. Since they’re nothing but consistent, watch for Team Trudeau to speak about nothing else for two full days, and to issue an ad featuring  Justin saying: “I’m Justin Trudeau, and the Conservatives want to talk about my pants. But I want to talk about your pants.”
  • Premier opponent: It’s a proud Canadian tradition: when all else fails, attack another level of government! Does it work? Of course it does. When your opponent is insufficiently cloaked in sin, go after a Premier/Prime Minister of another stripe who is.  It’s an all-Canadian pastime!


  1. bobbie says:

    This is pretty funny stuff for an election campaign. Are we supposed to be laughing at candidates this early into the race? What else it there to do?

  2. BillyB says:

    Harper attacking Notley and Wynne is a great move because it will look like Mulcair and Trudeau are hiding behind the Premier’s skirts if they try to chime in. Wynne has defended Justin so she is a legitimate target but Notley is being sucked in by Harper because she is saying nothing about Mulcair.

    If Mulcair and Justin don’t defend their respective premiers it looks like they are abandoning AB and ON. They lose if they do and they lose if they don’t… and Harper is saying I want to debate the Premiers too, not only their pet male leaders. It’s going to be an election brawl in AB and ON!

    In a sense, Harper in AB is like Duceppe in PQ. AB went NDP just like QC, and that is the underlying political landscape in both provinces. I luv it!

    • reader says:

      Trudeau defended Notley and I suspect if there are more attacks by Harper, he will continue to.

      As you said, Notley is staying out of this so it makes Harper look petty and desperate to attack her. I don’t see the Notley attack as a great move on Harper’s part. Makes Trudeau look more statesman-like as he’d obviously work with her. I don’t think you’ll see Trudeau attacking any Premiers, although on specific issues he may disagree with some.

      • Joe says:

        Defending Notley won’t win any votes in Alberta. The accidental premier has been in hiding ever since she won the election. Her minister was a week late getting to an oil spill. About the only thing the NDP has done in Alberta has been to delay the PC budget and increase (deficit) spending and taxes with no real plan on what to do. Oh and lest we forget she has brought in a royalty review which, when Special Ed did the same shut down the oil industry which resulted in massive layoffs and eventually a re-review which reversed the first review. Harper is right to attack Notley when it looks like Notley is about to sink the oil industry even farther than the depressed price of oil already has.

        • Purple Library Guy says:

          Attacking Notley for delaying the budget amid worries about oil revenues looks pretty stupid on the Cons’ part considering they just finished delaying their budget ostensibly due to worries about oil revenues.

        • The Doctor says:

          It’s clear to anyone who has been following politics in Alberta closely that Notley punted the budget at the request of the federal NDP so that the federal Dippers wouldn’t be stuck having to defend her budget during this campaign. Because when that budget finally arrives, it will prove that Notley’s numbers were way too rosy, and that her promises come at a huge price. One of the myths that it will explode is this continuing (and completely discredited) Dipper-prog myth that you can balance a budget by eating the rich instead of taxing the middle class. Note that she hasn’t dared raise the spectre of a provincial sales tax, which all responsible economists know is the best and most efficient way to raise revenue.

        • smelter rat says:

          Good grief, you’re really spinning today. 44 years of Conservative mismanagement, and you think all of Alberta’s problems started in May? For a allegedly smart guy, that’s pretty dense.

          • Ray says:

            44 years of mismanagement? I’ll give you the last nine and a few years in the late 1980’s.

          • Elisabeth Lindsay says:

            Smelter!…..are you implying that Peter Lougheed mis-managed the Alberta economy? Wow.

          • Joe says:

            As usual smelter rat misses the obvious. Except for a few years early in the Klein regime Alberta has been governed by the Progressives not the Conservatives during the 44 years of PROGRESSIVE conservatives.

    • John from Saskatoon says:

      NDP win in Alberta was solely a protest vote against PCs. Latest polls in Alberta show Wildrose would win an election if held today. Many regret voting NDP. Did it because 1. They were angry and 2. They didn’t think their neighbour would so felt safe. As well the right vote was split in AB. It’s not federally.If NDP are banking on riding that provincial election wave they’re gonna be very sorry come Election Day.

      • doconnor says:

        The reason the Alberta election was important is not the few seats the Federal NDP may win, but that it inspired people across Canada into believing that if the NDP could win in Alberta, they could win across Canada.

      • Scotian says:

        As I recall the NDP were also the only other party than the Alberta PCs to have candidates in all ridings so they were the only other viable option (since the Alberta Liberal Party was/is far less popular than even the LPC currently is in those Alberta ridings) for the protest vote to go. The Wildrose because of how destabilized they had been over the prior year had nowhere near enough candidates for ridings in that election, if they had I suspect there would never have been the NDP majority win and possibly not even a minority NDP win, although that part I do believe to be more problematic. That failure to keep in mind the actual options for voters in the ridings in the Alberta election is something I think people discussing the meaning of that result in terms of what the voters themselves were doing bothers me a bit. The real message of the Alberta result IMHO was that it was a massive protest/rejection vote and the voters went with whatever they had available, even a choice that normally they would never have been willing to consider, they were that angered and disgusted.

        How that will translate for the federal campaign remains to be seen. That it aided the federal NDP for a time is indisputable, but I also believe too many within the NDP side are reading more into that then they should, but then they do that a lot in a lot of things from my perspective, positive and negative alike. It is a part of why I am not all that enamoured of them.

    • Melrose Munch says:

      Please. Attack the two female premiers looks bad to women.

      • MississaugaPeter says:

        Unfortunately you are the first that I know to have tied it up this way.

        MSM, NDP & Lib War Rooms. Consider this for Thursday!

  3. Alex says:

    Regarding negative ads, like a lot of people I make a big effort to avoid commercials. For instance, I primarily watch Netflix that is ad free, have ad blockers on my web browser, and when I am in the car I tend to stick to CDs and radio programs with limited commercials (actually, when an ad comes on I normally switch to another station immediately).

    This got me thinking how this repulsion towards ads in general is impacting political campaigns. I agree with you Warren that ads are effective when people see or hear them. But what happens in a world when a lot of people — perhaps even a large majority — go out of their way to avoid ads, whether political or not, at all costs? If a political advertisement appears on a TV, radio and/or newspaper, but there is nobody there to hear or see it, does it really exist?

  4. P. Brenn says:

    Premier Wynne ..could you focus on making sure teachers are back in my kids classrooms in september , also maybe get some of small busness guys the plan on how this NEW pension is going to work and less focus on trying to defeat Harper govt – I think its not your fight but maybe its just me …gheesh …

    • Eric M says:

      Agree with you P Brenn. It is as much a deflection tactic on Premier Wynne’s part. Seeking out someone to blame rather that focusing on leading.

      • Ridiculosity says:

        Bullshit. Wynne’s trying to lead – but she can’t when Harper has her arm twisted behind her back and flat out refuses to talk to her.

  5. Tiger says:

    Premier Wynne decided, when her polls looked bleak during last year’s writ period, to attack the federal government.

    It worked well for her.

    If she can return the favour and be an effective foil for PM Harper, well, that’s life. 🙂

  6. CM says:

    1. That is a good line but my sense is that they’re starting to beat up on the young guy just a little bit too much. The glee they take in putting him down is starting to look a bit like they’re bullying the new kid. I think that Canadians by and large believe in fair play and decency and will start getting turned off by this. Making Justin Trudeau look like a victim will not go over well. Of course it will cycle out of control. If they keep picking on Justin and his poll numbers improve, they’ll keep up the personal attacks out for desperation and because the Conservatives have no other strategy all while JT’s numbers improve.

    2. The NDP have taken a page out of Ignatieff’s playbook and keep repeating that the Liberals can’t win and it is a two way race. Remember in the 2011 debate when Ignatieff kept braying to Jack Layton “you just can’t win, you just can’t win!” Well how’d that work out. Again my sense is that voters resent being told that they can’t vote for a party (much like they were told for years the NDP wasn’t a real option).

    3. The last candidate who was hit this hard repeatedly about his inexperience was Barack Obama. Dismissing Trudeau as a failed drama teacher has shades of the community organizer theme of 2008. In the end I believe voters get turned off by that type of belittling.

    4. Experience: The funny thing is that Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau have pretty much the same level of experience. Here’s how things looked in 2006 for Harper and 2015 for Trudeau:

    Stephen Harper Justin Trudeau

    B.A. Economics B.A. Literature
    M.A. Economics Bachelor of Education

    Age when PM: 46 Age if Elected PM: 43

    Parliamentary Experience
    7 years 2 months 7 years

    Ministerial Experience:
    0 days 0 days

    One more thing, although I’m no big fan of Brian Mulroney I never underestimated his political chops. His comments on Justin Trudeau could turn out top be prophetic:

    “Anybody who … treats Justin Trudeau with scorn or derision or underestimates him, does so at his own peril”

    Anyway just my 2 cents (feel free to round up to 5 cents or down to 0 cents!)

    • Mark says:

      Good analysis.

      • Jason says:

        I find it frustrating that the tories call Harper an ‘economist’ when all he has done is take a 12 month course based masters, which is as useless as it sounds.

        • Ridiculosity says:

          Harper’s first job was in the mail room at Imperial Oil.

          He’s been working for Big Oil ever since – including the last 10 years, when he was supposed to be working for Canadians.

  7. Ridiculosity says:

    Speaking of Masters…

    He’s 81 years of age – and still has more vitality in him than Harper ever will.


  8. davie says:

    Conservatives will likely continue to bounce from trivialities to scary foreigners and media will continue to focus on just that and just the responses to that. We don’t want the voters getting confused by too many other issues.

    Teneyke and cronies will od okay as long as May doesn’t start by making small talk about the weather.

  9. JH says:

    I think the strategy is a good one. Drive Trudeau as low in the polls as possible, in the belief that some of the antsy types now in the NDP column will shift in the closing days to the Liberals. Thus possibly producing that split the Tories need to win.

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:

      Come on JH. If Trudeau is pushed so low as to be out of contention, the exact opposite of what you described will happen. Liberals will desert him in droves to stop Harper.

      Personally, I expect a good Justin rebound. But if not, I’ll take a new government of any stripe: hopefully red but if absolutely necessary orange. For the moment, my vote is parked with orange but I will come home before the vote if Justin can effect a turn around.

  10. Felipe Morales says:

    I was born in Mexico and moved to Canada when I was 15. Before moving to Canada, my family lived in Texas. I loved my time there but I realized that there was then a latent hatred of Mexicans that goes back centuries for Americans. Many people are outraged and angered by Trump’s comments. I am genuinely scared. He has stoked the hatred button and once the genie is out of the bottle. In 1920’s Germany Anton Drexler (the actual founder of the Nationalsozialistiche Deutscher Arbeiters Partei) was dismissed as an anti-semitic millionaire krank…but he was replaced by a true believer who took the rhetoric seriously.
    That rhetoric crossed borders from Germany to Austria.
    The Harper Conservatives have now politically and philosophically merged with the GOP stateside. Should I start looking to move to New Zealand?

    • Ridiculosity says:

      Don’t move, Felipe.

      Harper may not have your back – but the rest of the country does.

    • DougM says:

      Filipe, the CPC are nothing like the GOP. All three parties are left of the Democrats. As for immigration the Conservative government has brought in far more non-Europeans than the previous Liberal government. I haven’t heard any anti-immigration rhetoric coming from this government.

    • davie says:

      For the past 2 or 3 elections high tech has allowed more and more targeted campaigning. A party or candidate can target and isolate just the base and the possible voters, and forget everyone else. This could exacerbate what our ‘first past the post’ system does in dividing us into exclusive campaigning markets. Right now we have a party that received about votes from 20% of age eligible people in Canada, and have 100% of the power. A party or candidate can talk to, and work for only a small group, and not listen to or even appeal to anyone else. A party or candidate who listens to and appeals to all of us would have a difficult time bringing us all together when the high tech targeting works the way it does so successfully.
      The leader debates issue is an illustration of one aspect of this breaking us into small groups, of insiders and excluded.

    • Brahma Bull says:

      Hey Filipe:

      You’d do well to park the hyperbole. Harper is to the left of a lot of the Democratic Party, never mind the GOP.

      Trump is a buffoon. You should be cheering his success. When he eventually deflates and gets passed over for the GOP nomination he’ll go it alone and run as an Independent, all but insuring that Hillary is the next POTUS, the same way Ross Perot put her husband in office twice.

      And the fact that his numbers are as high as they are would indicate he’s tapped into a vein of discontent, much the same way Rob Ford did. You can’t just dismiss his support as racist boobs, the same way people dismissed Ford’s supporters as redneck simpletons. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Who created Donald Trump the candidate and Rob Ford the Mayor? The left did.

      • cgh says:

        I suspect you are right. But let’s not crown Hillary just yet. She’s the first candidate for POTUS I know of who did so under an FBI investigation. GOP aren’t the only ones with splits. It remains to be seen as the FBI investigation and assorted other Hillary scandals proceed just how much Bernie Sanders can eat into her support. Particularly with a White House dishing out as much Hillary dirt as it can. Trump may indeed be a buffoon, but it’s not clear he’s going to deflate any time soon.

    • Doris says:

      And you believe that report? How can you after watching the HarperCons denigrate and minimise the influence of StatsCan for the past ten years. A wonderful report – how bloody convenient!

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