06.26.2017 02:42 PM

This week’s column: ten reasons Trudeau is going to win again

[And also on HuffPo, here.]

Justin Trudeau is going to win the next federal election.

Now, we know, we know. The election is far away. He’s broken some promises. His legislative achievements are modest. The Tories and the Dippers are getting shiny new leaders. Commenters are commenting that he’s slipping. And, in the post-Trump/Brexit era, the “sunny ways” stuff seems as culturally relevant as, say, Kardsahian reruns.

But he’s still going to win. And it’s not just because Andrew Scheer is Stock Day redux with a perma-smirk – or because Scheer’s most-influential advisor helped found the alt-Right hate site, The Rebel, whose most-recent oeuvre includes an essay titled “Ten Things I Hate About Jews.”

Nor is it because the NDP leadership candidate this space invented, Jagmeet Singh, has turned out to be a bit of a letdown, uncertain on his feet in debate, and inspiring few – or because the incorrigible rageaholic Tom Mulcair is still around, chewing up headlines and scenery, and reminding everyone why they abandoned the NDP in the Fall of 2015.

No, Justin Trudeau is going to win because of him. Also, in spite of him.

As part of my ongoing effort to make Conservative and New Democratic heads explode, and because I love Top Ten lists, herewith and hereupon are The Top Ten Reasons Trudeau Is Going To Win Again, You’re Welcome.

  1. He’s doing the right things.  Spending more on daycare, for example, but also on defence.  Trudeau has had the right instincts on the policy front. To the ongoing irritation of his Opposition, he’s not bad at nudging Right, shimmying Left, and then ending up in the Centre – which is where most Canadians generally are, too.  Triangulation isn’t a new strategy, but it’s an effective one.  Trudeau is good at it.
  2. He’s not doing the wrong things. Re-opening the Constitution, for instance: he’s not doing that. With the Trump regime busily tearing up vital trade treaties – with Agent Orange pulling out the Paris Accord, the agreement that could prevent the extinction of all species – what does Quebec’s Premier want to do? Why, he wants to kick start divisive, corrosive negotiations about the Constitution, naturally. The politically-tone-deaf NDP promptly agreed with him, but Trudeau sure didn’t. The Liberal leader immediately slammed the door on that policy Vietnam, thereby earning the gratitude of the mutlitude.
  3. Staying out of the papers.  That’s what Messrs. Chretien and Harper did, and they both knew a thing or two about political survival. Trudeau’s figured out that overexposure leads inevitably tounderwhelming election results. So he’s being seen and heard a lot less. Canadians, like most voters everywhere, believe politics is improved by silence. Trudeau, at long last, is doing more by being seen less.
  4. Cooling it with the selfie stuff.  Praise the Lord! Yes, he’s a rather good-looking fellow. Yes, he has a boyish grin and an impressive mane. Yes, his family looks like it stepped out of a J. Crew catalogue. Yes, he makes Donald Trump recall Jabba the Hutt on a bad day. But Trudeau has evidently surmised that the endless stream of selfies suggested to Canadians – even Liberal Canadians – that he was a bit egotistical and a bit shallow. So he’s doing it a lot less. We’ve all noticed. We’re all grateful.
  5. Opposing Trump’s manifest destiny. At the start of Trump’s corrupt, chaotic reign, Trudeau and Team too often resembled latter-day Neville Chamberlains, labouring to if not defend then deny the indefensible. They were proud progressives at home, condemning racism and bullies and Kellie Leitch. But when Stateside, they became ostrich-like, and didn’t condemn (much less critique) the Racist Bully-in-Chief – not once. What did all that cheek-turning get them? Well, Trump-led attacks on the Canadian softwood and dairy sectors, among other things. So, they changed course.  They’ve mapped out a foreign policy that goes around Trump. This week, no less than the New York Timesnoticed and approved.  About time.
  6. No scandals of significance – no real scandals, even. The Aga Khan Saga? Elbowgate? So-called cash for access? A boastful minister, and a couple underwhelming ones?  No one South of the Queensway cares, folks.  They just don’t. One solitary ministerial resignation, in the time it took Brian Mulroney to rack up a dozen: that’s it. For a caucus and cabinet so replete with rookies, Trudeau has experienced shockingly few big scandals. And, when contrasted with the slime oozing out of the White House, Trudeau continues to look positively angelic.
  7. No nasty fights with the provinces.  At all. Sure, Brad Wall has been angry, a couple times, but such disputes typically work with Wall’s core vote –  and, coincidentally, Trudeau’s. Sure, some provinces were briefly upset about health transfers – but they all had no choice but to sign on, and they all eventually did. Apart from Couillard’s short-lived constitutional gambit (see above), all is decidedly quiet on the provincial front. That’s what Trudeau promised, that’s what he’s delivered.
  8. He’s got luck to spare.  Unlike just about every other centrist you can name – in the U.S., in Europe, at the sub-national level – Justin Trudeau wasn’t just born with a silver shovel in his mouth.  He came into being with multiple horseshoes in his nether regions, too.  All of the things that have felled his progressive contemporaries – a global populist surge, terror attacks, hackers and fake news, clumsy campaign strategies – haven’t hurt him one bit.  For the most part, it’s because he’s the luckiest guy to ever run for office.
  9. He’s hard to hate.  Tom Mulcair and assorted Tories try, certainly, but they usually just come off sounding bitter and/or jealous.  Trudeau (unlike his Dad, unlike Stephen Harper) is the Lloyd Dobler of politics:  like that immortal character in 1989’s Say Anything, Trudeau is the guy in high school who gets invited to every party, breaks up fights, and makes sure no one drives home drunk.  He isn’t a straight-A student or the valedictorian, but that’s also why you don’t hate him.
  10. He’s likeable.  Justin Trudeau is an anomaly.  He grew up surrounded by wealth and privilege, but he personally embodies neither, somehow pulling off the middle-class artifice.  For older voters who adored Trudeau Senior, he offers the occasional Trudeau-esque pirouette – but he avoids his father’s imperial inclinations.  For younger voters, seeking an Obama-like outsider, Trudeau will do the unexpected and unconventional – but he still knows how to get the billionaires at Davos to do his bidding.  And so on, and so on.  In some ways, he is more of an enigma than his Dad: just when you think you know him, you don’t.  Either way, as noted, what remains is a guy who is kind of impossible to hate.

In politics, all of that is a winning formulation.  And it’s why Justin Trudeau – he alone – is going to win for Liberals again in 2019.

(Oh, and happy Canada Day, Trudeau.  Something tells me you are going to have a good one.)




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    Warren says:

    Where has Scheer gone, by the by? Totally disappeared since the leadership. It’s bizarre.

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    James Smith says:

    May I add a Number 11? Quebec – I suspect both Tory & NDP votes will slip to make Quebec an offset to any Liberal slippage in other regions.

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    Gyor says:

    Not a Tory, I’m an NDPer, but I find I actually like Scheer and I find his smile far less phony then Trudeau’s. And no it’s not hard to hate Trudeau, I find it very easy. I like Andrew standing up for freedom of speech, I think Trudeau could easily lose and without Trudeau there really is no reason for the Liberal party to exist anymore.

    And most of that list is minor stuff, not as many selfies will not win him an election and his mistakes and scandals are bigger then you think.

    Guy Caron will expose Trudeau during debates.

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    Howard says:

    You forgot two other reasons that have nothing to do with Trudeau personally:

    1) Ontario alternation. The OLP is on track for a massive defeat next year. Conservatives at Queens Park are good for Liberals in Ottawa and vice versa.

    2) First-term majority. It is exceptionally rare in Canada for a first-term majority government to be defeated in its first reelection campaign. The last time it happened at the federal level was Bennett in 1935. PET was almost defeated in 1972 but not quite. The Harper Tories were defeated after one majority but it wasn’t a first-term majority as they had already won two minorities previously.

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    Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Motive teaches much about a leader and here in Quebec it’s being used not because it’s noble and the right thing to do for long-term Canadian unity.

    Rather, it’s a sad attempt to save a floundering ship. Since Trudeau won’t play, PLQ strategy will move to aggressively take on Ottawa, not realizing that by doing that you are slowly killing federalism in Quebec. Couillard doesn’t see that, and Trudeau certainly doesn’t.

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    Simon says:

    Not so fast WK :). What about this weekend’s Ekos poll which shows populism rising in Canada:


    Which explains this (note in the EKOS poll support for populism in the BQ is exactly, *exactly* equal to that of the Tories):


    Which means perhaps this selfie (also occurring on the weekend), was unwise?


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    Leftcoaster says:

    Yeah, Trudeau is really great at staying out of the papers. Good point.

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    Charlie says:

    Reasons Trudeau will win:

    1) Andrew Scheer was a shit-choice for the CPC leader and will drive that party into the ground before it can actually re-invent itself. That party clearly hasn’t moved on and will ruin itself before it fixes itself.

    2) The NDP isn’t a real thing anymore. Plus, they’re pretty much a caricature of Bernie supporters minus the relevance.

    3) Canadians aren’t going to turn on Trudeau and his Liberals that fast after giving him a massive majority in 2015. [Caveat: Doesn’t mean Liberals couldn’t lose a chunk of their seats and have a weaker majority]. Voters tend to be forgiving and forgetful. The Liberals are in for the long-haul.

    4) Again, he’s got personality and likability. These are qualities hard to come by in politics.

    Beyond that, many of the other reasons are debatable.

    1) He’s doing things; good things — but he’s not remotely doing all the right things. Liberals have spent 2 years now self-congratulating for consultations, they need to start producing now. Way, way too much high-talk on Indigenous issues and too little activity. Too much talk about the “innovative economy”, followed up with shit-poor budget [Bill Morneau is a terrible Finance Minister, btw].

    2) Sure. But I guess it depends on who you ask

    3) He’s definitely in the papers, but just not for all the bad bring-down-your-government stuff — yet.

    4) Not even remotely. I’m not gonna knock his PR strategy because thats what makes him the kind of leader he is, but he’s gotta back it up with some substantive legislation.

    5) Other than unsatisfiable and obnoxious Dippers, no one can legitimately criticize Trudeau’s approach to Trump. He’s doing what we’d all expect the leader of a G7 nation, who shares the biggest border in the world, to do.

    6) Depends on who you ask; the media seems to think the Aga Khan issue was a Mulroney Air-bus redux. The Liberals have successfully avoided real scandals but they’re getting sucked into media concocted scandals because of bad comms.

    7) Not yet, anyway. With whats happening in the Western provinces over political instability, pipeline issues and so on, Trudeau’s Liberals will become the first target for provincial leaders feeling the squeeze. [Side note: Jane Philpott is so bad ass for taking down the province’s “united front” during the healthcare talks. She deserves as much recognition as Freeland currently gets as a political force].

    8, 9 & 10) No arguments here.

    Apologies for the long post; I too like lists.

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      Matt says:

      The Liberals “massive majority” as you put it is basically equal to Harper’s majority.

      Majority in 2011 was 155. Harper had 166 of 308, or an 11 seat majority.

      Majority in 2015 is 170. Trudeau has 184 of 338, or a 14 seat majority.

      He is trending down in popularity, losing over 10% in the last year. The number of Canadians who feel the government is moving in the wrong direction is way up from this time last year. The two most recent polls have the from Nanos and EKOS have the Liberals down significantly from their last polling cycle – Nanos has them up 37% to 32% on the CPC, a drop of 5%, and EKOS has them up about 35% to 33%, a drop of 7%.

      Of course, the election is two years away and these are merely a snapshot in time, but Trudeau isn’t as invincible as some like to think.

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        Charlie says:

        You’re comparison doesn’t hold water.

        Harper gained his majority in the latter end of his career and accumulated age, baggage and opponents on the way. Trudeau is starting a mandate with a personal popularity Harper only could have dreamed of.

        Yes, Trudeau is not invincible; yes, there’s only down to go from here.

        But lets be real:

        Andrew Scheer isn’t any kind of a threat to Trudeau in 2019, the NDP will be picking up the pieces of their party for years yet, and Trudeau is still largely supported by the majority of voters in key battlegrounds and communities (not to mention he’s a great campaigner). I think its safe to say this guy has another successful election in him.

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    Doug says:

    I’ll vote Conservative and continue to hate all things Trudeau, but admit that the Liberals have little to fear. Their weakest spot is the deficit about nothing. They campaigned on $10B borrowed for infrastructure but delivered $30B borrowed to fund nothing of substance. So far, an electorate comfortable with engorging itself in household debt doesn’t seem to care. Unless the housing market unravels by 2019, it will likely continue to ignore government finances.

    I disagree with some of the points mentioned, mainly that Trudeau has backed off on media whoring. The tide may turn, but Canadians seem to like the attention from foreign media and the “don’t worry be happy” messaging.

    I’m working an exit plan to the US or Australia as I’m unwilling to tolerate economic stagnation similar to the 90’s. I finish my first three degrees in 91, 93 and 94 in the middle of horrible job market. I truly believe that government austerity was key to the economic turnaround then and the only path forward now.

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    Gyor says:

    Andrew is going to use freedom of speech as the issue that unifies he’s party and reach beyond.

    Look also at Patrick Brown, seriously a no name backbencher, took the leadership of the PCs from someone everyone thought would, easily crush him, and is now leading the race to be the next Premier Ontario by a large margin.

    And that old chest but of alternating in Ontario is superstitution, it’s just chance.

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    Matthew says:

    There is no way the Conservatives are going to win the next election. Look at two polls Abacus published last week: http://abacusdata.ca/trump-and-canadians-its-not-going-well/ and http://abacusdata.ca/floods-caused-by-climate-change-say-most-canadians/ . The Liberals do not need to associate the Conservatives with Trump, they have, and will continue to do so themselves, not as a matter of policy (DEFINITELY NOT!) but through the usual process of Bozo Eruptions. Climate naysaying is going to come back and bite them hard. As the second Abacus poll demonstrates, Canadians truly believe that global warming is gonna hurt them. So every major flood, drought, glacier shrinkage, snowfall in June, report on wildlife will weigh on the Conservative fortunes. The Conservatives are soooo screwed. A fair proportion of their ‘base’ is in the small tranche of remaining climate deniers. It will be quite a trick to keep them happy without alienating everybody else in the country, and it will take a lot more than 3 years for Conservatives to shed their past. The dippers? Maybe. A new leader, a compelling message, it is not inconceivable. Wait and see what they get up to with leadership and policies. They would need to be exceptional though, to win an election. Trudeau is popular, Canadians feel very insecure about our place in the World right now, we seem to be under attack. If Canadians do feel threatened, they will not change horses for any amount of partisanship or electioneering. BIG difference between arguing about the deficit, or selfies, and worrying about invasions or economic collapse.

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      Doug Brown says:

      Except what are the Liberals doing to prevent “economic collapse”? Climate change may or may not present economic challenges decades from now. Canada may actually be a winner from a warmer climate. Deficits that do not encourage economic growth, stagnant productivity and lack of private sector wage gains present near term economic challenges. Climate change is the ultimate distraction. It is nebulous, resistant to measuring progress and easy to point finders at others.

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      Matt says:

      Umm, the Conservatives recently voted unanimously to reaffirm Canada’s support for the Paris Accord.

      Abacus data needs to be viewed very carefully.

      One of it’s principles, Bruce Anderson has a daughter working for Trudeau in the PMO.

      Realistically he should recuse himself from all federal polling like he did from appearing on the CBC panels.

      And you neglect to mention several recent polls showing Trudeau’s personal support numbers down 10%, more people thinking Canada is now moving in the wrong direction, and the gap between the Liberals and CPC is narrowing significantly to between 2.3% and 5%.

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        Matt says:

        Should have been principal, not principle.

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    Dork in East York says:

    “4. Cooling it with the selfie stuff.”

    Really, Warren? The selfies are still trending every day.

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    Matt says:

    You may want to rethink numbers 3 & 4:




    463 major media mentions of Trudeau and his bloody socks in the last 6 months.

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