, 11.06.2018 10:14 AM

Revealed: what the LPC and CPC war rooms will be using in 2019

Justin Trudeau and Andrew Scheer are agreed on one thing, at least: the next election is going to be plenty nasty.

The 2019 election will be decided less than a year from now. So, the two main party leaders say it’s going to be down and dirty. Should we believe them?

Not really. If you think criticizing the public record of someone seeking high public office is “dirty“ – well, yes, it’s going to be dirty. But criticizing the public record of your opponent during an election – their quotes, their votes, their use of our tax dollars – is in no way dirty. It’s democracy, in fact.

But Blandy Scheer and Petit Justin still insist elbows will go up as the play moves into the corners. So, what can either leader expect? What are the vulnerabilities that the Liberal and Conservative war rooms can be expected to exploit?

Herewith, a helpful list from an old war roomer for staffers to clip and pin to the war room fridge door.

Trudeau’s Inner Drama Teacher: For three months in the Spring, the Prime Minister and his party dropped precipitously in the polls. If an election had been called at the time, they would have lost it. What happened? In a word, India. The Liberal leader’s trip to India was an unmitigated disaster. When he played dress-up – when he danced like an extra in a bad Bollywood flick – Justin Trudeau enraged and embarrassed Canadians. It suggested to them that he was not ready for prime time, still. Expect the Conservatives to make full and frequent use of the Indian imbroglio.

Scheer’s Disunited Right: Andrew Scheer’s biggest problem isn’t just Justin. Since the Summer, it’s been Mad Max Bernier. Without a party name, without a party logo, without any party fundraising, Bernier became a major factor when he broke away from Scheer’s Conservative Party. In the intervening months, the problem has grown only worse. Bernie is polling in the double digits, and he hasn’t even really done anything yet. Expect Trudeau to fight to have Bernier included in the leader’s debates, and to draw attention to him at every stop on the campaign trail.

Trudeau’s Scandal Rap Sheet: Trudeau hasn’t racked up nearly as many scandals as Brian Mulroney – who he speaks to more than any other former Prime Minister, coincidentally enough – but he is no longer as lily-white as he once was. He’s lost ministers to scandal and #MeToo allegations – and Trudeau himself is the first sitting Prime Minister to have ever been found to have violated a federal statute. Expect to hear plenty about the Agha Khan and Bill Morneau’s French villa in the coming months.

Scheer’s Almost Alt-Right: With Mad Max in his rearview mirror, and anti-immigrant sentiment surging across Western democracy, Andrew Scheer has decided to go Trump-lite. As a result, he has come perilously close to embracing the very anti-migrant bigots he professes to oppose. It is not a good look. Of late, Scheer has been running a pre-campaign that would be a winner in rural Mississippi – but not so much in modern Canada. Watch for Justin Trudeau to shine a spotlight on Scheer’s Almost-Alt-Right tendencies.

Trudeau’s Less-Than-Stellar Legislative record: Despite a string of achievements in his first majority term – with progressive and historic changes to the Criminal Code, social policy and governance generally – Justin Trudeau’s father was reduced to a Parliamentary minority in 1972. Will Justin Trudeau – whose only significant legislative achievement has been the legalization of cannabis – do likewise in 2019? Scheer’s Conservative war room will almost certainly remind voters that Trudeau’s legislative record has been exceedingly thin gruel.

Blandy Scheer is just that: Bland. And the Conservative brain trust knows it, too. Canadians don’t know who Andrew Scheer is – and those who do, find him remarkably unremarkable. The Tories have therefore been running ads in prime time – and even during the cherished ad breaks during Hockey Night in Canada – to raise Andrew Scheer’s profile. It hasn’t worked. Scheer continues to resemble a man who is highly uncomfortable in the role in occupies. The Grits will waste no opportunity reminding Canadians that the Conservative leader is a charisma-free zone.

Which leader is most vulnerable? Which war room has the most with which to work?

It’s a mixed bag, as noted. But, on balance, the election remains Justin Trudeau’s to lose.

16 Comments

  1. Cory Arsenault says:

    Bernier is in double digits? Does 1.4% count as two digits?

  2. Matt says:

    Bland sometimes works. See John Tory.

    As for Bernier, did you see the “No Embarrassment” pledge he’s asking candidates and EDA’s to sign?

    There is also a clause in there saying that the party’s policies are Bernier’s policies and the members of his party have no say in them and promise never to challenge them.

    He’s a fraud. He left the CPC supposedly because they were no longer listening to the CPC members and Conservative voters.

    Yet with his party, it’s his way or f–k off.

    Just more proof he left the CPC because he ego wouldn’t allow him to accept he lost the leadership.

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:

      Matt,

      I know a precious few of his organizers and they are to a man equally excessively-ego-challenged. Bingo!

  3. Robert White says:

    Finman Morneau purchased a pipeline project that Blandy has his sights on, and Steven Harper is still stumping for the guy with the least charisma which means that the respective War Rooms will be occupied by the Athabaska conundrum for the foreseeable future. The HarpyCONS will all claim that Mad Max is truly mad as a hatter and need not be taken seriously outside of Quebec.

    Mad Max will assail the bland man & HarpyCONS until they are ruined wholesale in Quebec and Alberta. Mad Max is much smarter than the HarpyCONS which is exactly why he ended up with his knickers-in-a-knot to prompt him to depart for better digs in his own party.

    Blandy & Harpy are far too short-termist thinkers to be taken seriously this electoral round. Mad Max will politically pummel the HarpyCONS for the BIG L Liberal win and a second term for the guy with all the votes.

    I watched your old boss on TVO a few days ago and must say that I admire him for his uniqueness & personality. There has been no better leadership than the Chretien Government gave us.

    JC gets points!

    RW

  4. Jack McLeod says:

    Scheer reminds me so much of Robert Stanfield and Joe Clark, bland is hardly the word!

    • The Doctor says:

      The Joe Clark comparison is bang-on, because in both cases the winner at the leadership convention won for being the least offensive person, not for having any particular positive virtues. Same goes for Stephane Dion. This happens all the time in leadership races, and usually ends in tears for the party in question.

  5. Mervyn Norton says:

    No shortage of wedge issues for the election, so I doubt whether mini-scandals and caucus embarassments will carry much weight in any of the parties.

    Trudeau did have the courage to allow medically assisted suicide (and legal cannabis), to withstand tough trade winds (in NAFTA 2.0, CPTPP, and CETA), to try to balance a Trans Mountain pipeline purchase with a modified carbon tax plan, and to work toward expanded drug coverage, to note some examples.

    His negatives lie mostly in failing to adequately explain several other initiatives, including business tax reform, immigration and refugee plans, electoral (and debate) reform decisions. Consultations need to be genuine to get a passing grade, and several opportunities have been wasted.

    • Matt says:

      Trudeau ALLOWED assisted death?

      He had no choice. The SCoC ORDERED assisted death be allowed. And the legislation they came up with is deeply flawed. The woman who won the case at the Supreme Court that struck down the ban wouldn’t have qualified for a doctor assisted death under the Liberals bill.

  6. Wayne McDonald III says:

    On the CBC, Andrew Scheer got crushed: https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1340332611618 Unless I’m taking crazy pills (possibly), he was getting ripped apart. The entire interview was remarkably partisan but he’s is way to tepid.

    Canadians are really hurting financially. The TSX for example looks awfully flat. Lots of ammunition contra Trudeau. I predict going after the embarrassing elements of Trudeau’s term is an after thought. VISION is what is needed.

    Oh and then on CTV, Andrew Scheer’s answers were also weak and Boring! No 1 cares about Parliamentary Inside Baseball, why is the media deciding what to talk about? The lack of vision is the doorway Maxine (this-is-not-Macron’s-France) Bernier will exploit….in order to give Trudeau another majority.

    Alt-Right aren’t going to stick for the PCs but definitely on Bernier.

    • The Doctor says:

      Scheer is also being totally reactive rather than proactive. Ironically, the same mistake a lot of Democrats have been making the US vis-a-vis Trump. When Harper finally won power, he did so because he had a platform that was easily recognizable and distinguished it from his opponent. Cut the GST and so on.

      No ordinary schmoe on the street can tell you what Scheer wants to do if he wins power. That’s a recipe for losing, even aside from the fact that most Canadians still can’t pick him out of a police lineup.

  7. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    If the then timid Harper could win, Scheer can theoretically do so.

    But Trudeau holds an edge unless affidavits fly in the campaign.

    Short of that, campaigns are king and Justin can’t be matched, much less surpassed, in a good campaign.

    • Chris says:

      Justin was an innocent, happy, floppy-haired young lad running in 2015. He now has a spotty record to defend and some baggage that weighs him down some. Affidavits have already flown (or should have) but the media in this country have shown an incredible and almost unbelievable disinterest in the matter. However, the economy is still good in most places and the many cracks showing will take time to spread so I agree with Warren that 2019 is still his to lose.

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