Mr. Speaker, the Honourable Member from the riding of Den Tandt has caused to be published the following:
“There is one obvious way for Trudeau to leap this ditch, though it carries risk…He could speak repeatedly and off the cuff with authenticity and wit, scrumming until reporters are tired of the sound of his voice. All summer long, he could wade into town halls and other unscripted settings, giving the lie to the most damaging point in the narrative prepared for him by his opponents, which is that he’s in over his head.”
Mr. Speaker, with the greatest of respect to the Honourable Member, that is a proven formula for disaster. The only people who will approve of this strategy, Mr. Speaker, are the esteemed members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, who (a) are forever telling politicians to speak without notes (b) so that said politician will say something unhelpful, and the esteemed members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery will have more to write about.
Instead, the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada needs to do ten things. Here, Mr. Speaker, are those ten things.
1. Stop talking about the “middle class.” No one knows who the middle class is, but everyone knows Mr. Trudeau has never been part of the middle class.
2. Start talking about ideas. Don’t wait until the writ period. The Tories and the Dippers repeatedly insist Mr. Trudeau has none, that he is an empty vessel. Show voters that the Grit’s detractors are wrong.
3. The ideas need not be big. They should, instead, be small. No one believes anymore that government can solve big problems – so talk about smart, solid, smallish ideas that seem do-able. Talk about things we can and should change.
4. Look, and sound, older. Mr. Trudeau looks and sounds too young to be Prime Minister. His voice needs to be deeper; his style of dress, less stylish; his deportment, more statesmanlike.
5. We re-emphasize point 4. Barack Obama knew that what middle America fears most is the Angry Black Man – so he built a successful political career on never being the Angry Black Man. Canadian voters, similarly, wonder if Mr. Trudeau is Richie Rich – too young, too callow, too well-off, etc. Mr. Trudeau needs to play against type.
6. Undersell and over perform: it is the Chretien maxim. Whenever Team Trudeau come up with a good idea, senior staff rush to claim credit for it in anonymous insider stories. Whenever something bad happens, they whisper to the media that their boss had “gone off the script.” These things need to be reversed: if something bad happens, it is staff’s fault. Something good? Mr. Trudeau thought of it.
7. Stop answering hypothetical questions.
8. Stop advertising strategy in the newspapers, too, Mr. Speaker. If you do that, your opponent will read all about your strategy in the morning paper, gratis, and use it to beat you on Election Day.
9. Reach out to Liberals who are past the age of 40. The Liberal Party of Canada used to be the most successful political machine in Western democracy – and those older folks were the principal reason for that. Reach out to them. They have some useful perspectives to offer.
10. Don’t throw away the script. Don’t, Mr. Speaker. The Prime Minister taunted Mr. Trudeau about “the script” because he, along with the Press Gallery, want the Liberal leader to talk first, and think later. Don’t do it.
Simply talk about smart, do-able ideas, over and over. Don’t talk about the hypothetical things that the media and the Tories and the Dippers want you to talk about. Talk about ideas, and how to make a great country even greater. Sound and look a grown-up when you do it. Fire any staff who appear in “strategist” profile stories: those staffers don’t have their names on the ballot, Mr. Trudeau does.
Be humble. Be sincere. Always tell the truth, and only talk about what you know. In that way, you can never go wrong.
And prepare, prepare, prepare – but make it sound like it all comes effortlessly from your heart, and your head.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Vive le Canada.