A few of you let me know that the Wizard – who was receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars a month, in the Wynne era – was sympathetic to the Keilburgers and critical of Yours Truly. So sad. So I thought I would provide this one from the archives. It suggests that, if you are looking for someone who knows how to win, you shouldn’t ever look to this guy – he’s advised three Liberal parties. And he’s wrecked all three.
A week to go, and I have already started to hear some of the excuses being road-tested by the Wizard and the Board. They know they are going to lose. So they are readying their rationalizations.
Here’s ten of them, which I may turn into a Hill Times column. Feel free to add more in comments.
- “We’ve been in power for more than a decade, we knew winning again was unlikely.” That so? Really? Except: the same excuse could’ve been trotted out in 2014, when it was also more than a decade in power. And: Stephen Harper didn’t drive his party in the ground. Christy Clark won a minority. Bill Davis ruled Ontario forever. And so on.
- “Female political leaders never get re-elected. Misogyny, etc.” Uh-huh. Except: Nancy Pelosi, Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel, Indira Gandhi, et al. They all did okay. Misogyny isn’t solely a Canadian problem.
- “Kathleen is gay. She was defeated by homophobia.” Gotcha. Explain: 2014.
- “This is the former Premier’s fault. Gas plants, blah blah blah. Wasn’t our fault.” This one drives me nuts. (I mean, Kathleen Wynne would still be a little-known school board trustee were it not for Dalton McGuinty.) Besides, it isn’t just disrespectful, it’s disingenuous: from the perspective of Joe and Jane Frontporch, folks, it’s all one Ontario Liberal Party, you know? Voters remember you worked for Dalton, Kathleen.
- “Hiding Kathleen wouldn’t have worked. She’s the leader, we needed to have her front and centre.” Gotcha. A former Ontario Liberal leader, Lyn McLeod, experienced precisely the same problem in 1995: she was dragging her party down. So, McLeod and her senior people made the (tough, principled) decision to take her off the air for the final two weeks. They held onto 30 seats as a result. Why didn’t Wynne do likewise?
- “We ran an ethical and scandal-free government. We were sunk by Dalton’s scandals.” Repeat after me: it’s never the break-in, it’s the cover up. Example One: Jean Chrétien resigned in December 2003, and the daily headlines were then still screaming about the so-called “sponsorship scandal.” Chrétien’s approval number? Sixty per cent. Example Two: five years earlier, in December 1998, Bill Clinton became the most popular president in the history of U.S. polling, at 73 per cent approval – all of which came after the Lewinsky scandal, and his impeachment in the House of Representatives. Scandal isn’t what sinks you: per Harry Truman, it’s trying to pass the buck about scandal.
- “After fifteen years, there was no way we were going to win again. We decided to take the hit so a new leader could start fresh.” Really? Seriously? Next week, I will be presenting y’all with quantitative evidence showing that this is hooey: the Ontario Liberal brand was popular, the Ontario Liberal record was popular, the Ontario Liberal caucus was popular. What wasn’t popular was the leader. She needed to talk a proverbial walk in the proverbial snow. She didn’t.
- “Our internal polling actually showed that we were going to do far worse. We are pleased where we ended up.” You are forgiven if that one in any way reminds you of this.
- “Trudeau has hurt the Liberal brand everywhere. He pulled down our numbers.” Did Trudeau take on water after India? Yes. Does he have both sides of the ideological spectrum (unfairly) mad at him after the decision to buy the Trans Mountain Pipeline? Yes. But the notion that Trudeau is in any way responsible for Wynne’s disastrous campaign is absurd. If anything, her numbers pulled down his.
- “We’ll be back.” Well, some of us will be. But Kathleen Wynne and the Wizard and the Board?
They won’t be.