, 08.07.2020 07:45 AM

My latest: suck it up, Opposition whiners, and get to work

The metastasizing WE scandal has many tendrils, like a noxious weed.  It is spreading, inexorably, into the centre of the Trudeau government.  

It may kill it.

The fundamentals are well-known.  Justin Trudeau’s immediate family received hundreds of thousands in secret payments – after he became Prime Minister.  Trudeau thereafter handed a billion-dollar contract to WE, and no one else was permitted to compete for it.

WE spied on Canadian journalists and their families.  It hired Republican operatives to attack its enemies.  It spent hundreds of thousands on lobbyists in the US.  And, late last week, its staff were photographed carrying boxes of files out of its Toronto headquarters – to be taken where, we do not know.

Trudeau’s government has dropped precipitously in the polls, even against the leaderless Conservatives.  Its caucus are anonymously communicating their disgust to journalists, and there is talk of leadership change all over Ottawa.

So WE could topple Trudeau’s minority government.  How can the Opposition ensure that it does?  Ten ways.

1. Voters aren’t as motivated by scandal as journalists and politicos are. They’ve heard cries of “scandal” too often. Leaders and policies matter more, to them. But.

2. …but the role of every war room this writer has run is not to win the election. Our role is always to knock the other side off their agenda, so they can’t showcase their leadership and ideas. You can’t score when you are constantly trying to keep pucks out of the net.

3. That’s the political value of #WEscandal to the opposition. It gives them an opportunity to totally dismantle the Liberal Party’s leadership (the Trudeau brand, which is massive in Canadian politics) and the party’s policies (their response to the pandemic, which has been popular.)

4. The WE scandal is lethal to the Trudeau brand not just because it hurts Justin Trudeau. This seamy, sordid affair also touches his wife, his brother and (critically) his mother. This scandal reaches back in time. It muddies the name of PET and the family’s public service. That is a scandal without precedent.

5. The defining political event of our lives is the pandemic, and how governments respond to it. It’s why Trump will lose – and why Trudeau still could. Kickbacks to Trudeaus? A sole-sourced billion-dollar contract for friends? That means they used the pandemic – their key strength! – to line their pockets. That is unforgiveable and therefore politically deadly.

6. The Liberal Party is dropping in the polls because this scandal is damaging personally (to the Trudeaus) and politically (vis-a-vis the pandemic). Those are gaping wounds. The opposition need to keep picking at them until they’re infected. Make those the ballot questions; nothing else.

7. The smarmy, smug, smirking Keilburgers aren’t on the ballot.  The Trudeau brand, and his response to the pandemic: those are. The Opposition parties need to focus only on those. They need to use every means at their disposal to do so, but not with prosecutors who turn people off (Poilievre, et al.). They need to be disciplined –  which is easier said than done in the Twitter era.

8. Political reputations aren’t shredded in a single day. It takes many days to build one up, and many days to take one down. The Tories, NDP and Bloc need to commit to prosecuting this scandal over the long term.  They need to use their best people, and never let up, even when the media claim to be bored. They must be relentless.

9. The fact that the House isn’t really sitting is completely irrelevant. Political and media hacks love Question Period, but voters do not. They see it as what is wrong with the system, not what’s right. The Opposition must be creative: they need to prosecute the scandal in every possible venue, and not just in the cloistered confines of Parliament Hill. They need to make it ubiquitous.

10. In any war room I’ve led, I tell the young people who work for me the same thing, every day: if we force the other side to play defence 24/7, they can’t score and we can. The Opposition parties need to use this time to showcase their own leadership and policies. Because scandals don’t win elections – but they do create opportunity.

Use it.

22 Comments

  1. the real Sean says:

    Justin is hard at work with Kanye’s transition team to engineer a multifaceted, multi sector trade / stimulus package which many leading economic theorists agree will simultaneously calm the markets, re-assure investors, save the environment, stop the virus, end racism and rebuild consumer confidence all while striking a cohesive balance between the vested long term interests of big business, big labor, big pharma and the pornographic industrial complex, thus paving the way for the North American continental trade zone for entry into the 22nd century and beyond.

  2. Pedant says:

    Some of the recent messaging from Andrew Scheer somewhat falls flat. He is accusing Trudeau of “betrayal”. No argument here, as I consider Trudeau the most anti-Canadian PM in our history.

    However, I think it would be better for the Opposition to keep it simple and unemotional, and words like “betrayal” don’t really fit the bill. (btw, I like Poilievre for that very reason – he’s steely, calm, and gets to the point).

    While you, Joe and Jane Taxpayer, are coping with the financial fallout of Covid, senior Liberals are lining their pockets, and the pockets of their families, with YOUR tax dollars (or the money contributed by WE donors). That’s really all that needs to be said, calmly and without emotion. Btw, I actually like Poilievre for that very reason – he’s steely and gets to the point.

    This is an ideal time to dust off Harper’s 2006 campaign that appealed to Canadians who work and “play by the rules”. I hope the current Conservative war room includes some veterans from that campaign. It was effective, and contrasted well to the scandal-plagued Liberals of the era.

    The only downside is that if MacKay is leader, the Liberals will undoubtedly bring up his helicopter flights and their low-information voters will seize on it, even if the dollar value was pennies by comparison.

  3. Robin says:

    Trudeau owns the 18-40 voting block. The dynasty is secure for a generation, and by then, Trudeau’s children can be groomed to lead the cult.

    • joe long says:

      Wasn’t securing young voters one of the reasons Trudeau supported/supports WE?

      I predict WE will be back.

      Corruption? Trudeau is giving away so much money that most people won’t care about a few Liberals lining their own pockets.

    • Pedant says:

      “Trudeau owns the 18-40 voting block.”

      Only half of it. The half that votes based on hairdo.

  4. Robert White says:

    I read Conrad Black and Warren Kinsella for commentary on the Trudeau governance. This ensures dispassionate perspective which, if combined in the case of the Liberal future, leads to Conservative fortune in the next election. Both political pundits have almost the exact same perspective if one compares this article with Black’s Full Comment article in today’s National Post.

    After reading my favorite Canadian writers I am inclined to think that ‘governments destroy themselves’ as our host has insinuated myriad times over the last few years.

    As one that was raised by a CA I, for one, cannot accept any businessperson that would negotiate a multi-million dollar deal without any sort of due diligence whatsoever.

    Stuffing $900 million CDN into a shell company without any sort of accountability to Canadian taxpayers is unfathomable and downright abject incompetence that cannot be rewarded.

    RW

    • Terence says:

      You read a convicted and jailed corporate thief and upper class twit for guidance on Trudeau’s governance? Looking for how-to advice?

  5. joe long says:

    Team Trudeau is paying up to $84 million to a company to manage a program. Did you know Katie Telford’s husband has a senior position at said company.

    https://beta.canada.com/news/politics/trudeau-government-paying-84m-to-firm-employing-katie-telfords-husband-to-manage-rent-assistance-aid-program/wcm/51a746f9-45ba-48ac-b22c-4abdbfb9349f/amp/?

    Now Ms Telford says she recuses herself from any involvement in decisions concerning that company, due to real or perceived conflicts of interest.

    Ok, if this is true, why did Ms Telford not advise/insist her boss Justin Trudeau, do the same with WE? Remember Justin said HE was the one pushing back, not the people who report to him.

    • Nasty Bob says:

      So is the other shoe about to drop – anybody going to audit this company to see if the renters who got the assistance had landlords that just happened to be clients of said company who were perhaps in danger of defaulting on their mortgage if their tenants didn’t make rent….or at least look to see what sort of measures said company put in place to make sure they weren’t in a conflict . What was their “cut” for administration of this program?
      Wouldn’t have to worry about those questions if the civil service were tasked to do what they’ve been doing for 150 years or so.

  6. the real Sean says:

    Who’s the next contestant to spin the Wheel of Corruption on on Justin’s Coronabuck$ Bonanza?! It’s Rob Silver! Sophie tell him what he’s won! Sponsored by Billy Jealousy Cashmere Coat Hair Strengthening & Volumizing Conditioner!

  7. lyn says:

    With all the money PM Trudeau has spent on other projects that we are finding out about these last couple years and days. Canadians could have had all the Infrastructure completed across Canada…It would be nice to have NO POT HOLES in main roads across Canada. Also would have provide jobs for many Canadians out of work but HEY Trudeau doesn’t care about US Canadians only himself, family and friends!!

  8. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    I was naive enough to think this narrative was all about WE. Well, quite obviously, it’s much more than that — with a well entrenched stakeholder ready to do anything and everything to see a Trudeau-led government gone. They know about every nook and cranny and they are systematically rolling it all out one after the other. This is way beyond impressive tactically speaking. This is akin to Kinsella Calibre.

    • Yet Another Calgarian says:

      This is actually starting to feel like the LPC has decided to do some house cleaning ahead of selecting new leadership isnt it.

  9. Douglas W says:

    “Opposition parties need to use this time to showcase their own leadership and policies.”

    Yes, Opposition parties need to showcase their leadership, but only if these individuals are good.

    NDP has Singh: he does little to move the needle.

    Conservatives offer MacKay, O’Toole and Dr. Lewis: none scare the Libs one bit.

    Policies: not quite sure what the Conservatives can offer that’s drastically different from the Liberals.

    There’s no real alternative.
    Which is why Liberals still sleep well at night.

  10. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Douglas,

    Liberals will try to make this all about 2004, Conservatives, 2006. Who do you think will win?

    In my book it’s MacKay, if he wins the leadership.

    • the real Sean says:

      Exactly… “voters have no choice” “no alternatives” “voters are cornered” “NDPers have to vote Liberal because abortion and gay rights” (which Tories consistently do nothing about)… these are the recipes for a Liberal defeat exactly like 2006.

    • Douglas W says:

      MacKay may win on the first ballot.
      Certainly, the second.

      Hope he has the strategic brains around him so he can deliver the knockout punch.

      Once you allow Justin to get up from the mat, the fight belongs to JT.
      Look how he recovered from blackface.
      Never looked back.

      • Ronald O'Dowd says:

        Douglas,

        Frankly, I’m no longer capable of calling the leadership race after everything I’ve heard over the past two months. But I will say that I will remain consistent: support the CPC as long as they don’t do something major that is completely unacceptable to me. Harper’s policy direction led to my departure in 2009, while Trudeau finished off my Liberal membership by the time we got to SNC.

        To Peter I say, hold the middle that puts Conservatives in power with crossover votes and to Erin I say, be yourself, not some kind of souped up True Blue Conservative, when we all know that you aren’t any more True Blue than Peter is.

        This is all about the long game and voters can’t abide a pretend anything. Remember that Erin IF you win.

        • Douglas W says:

          MacKay is a political pro.
          He’ll move fast to mend fences.

          O’Toole should be a concern for the party, win or lose. Doubt he knows how to break bread.
          Can see him pouting if he places second, or even third behind Dr. Lewis (a rising star).

          The “losers” need to tell their supporters to rally fast around the new leader.

          • Ronald O'Dowd says:

            Douglas,

            O’Toole is by nature a team player particularly with the training received during his years in the Canadian Forces. I’m confident that if he loses, he’ll quickly park his ego and concentrate on the prize of defeating this government. If MacKay loses, he’ll absolutely do the same.

  11. Pamela Ingold says:

    Personally, I love QP. I love how Andrew Scheer gets under Trudeau’s skin….

  12. Nasty Bob says:

    Then : “Just Visiting”
    Now: Justin it for the money

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