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“Kinsella pulls no punches in Fight The Right...Fight the Right accomplishes what it sets out to do – provide readers with a glimpse into the kinds of strategies that have made Conservatives successful and lay out a credible roadmap for progressive forces to regain power.”
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“[Kinsella] deserves credit for writing this book, period... he is absolutely on the money...[Fight The Right] is well worth picking up.”
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- Former Ontario Conservative leader John Tory
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© 2016 Kinsella, Kinsella, Yeomanson
All rights SOCAN
HE HATES that Mexican
Donald Trump is an asshole
HE HATES that Muslim
At the risk of stating the obvious
HE HATES all refugees
[For info, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org]
Growing up in Calgary, as I did, there were certain things you just didn’t do. If you didn’t you were just asking for trouble.
You didn’t, for instance, ever offer or accept two dollar bills (because those were bad luck, and sometimes even called “whore notes”). You didn’t ever try and raise a rat as a pet (because rats were illegal in Alberta). And you didn’t ever say, out loud, you were a Liberal (even if you were one, like I was).
Circa 1979-1980, being a Liberal in Alberta was worse than being a rat, actually. The reason for this was Pierre Trudeau’s National Energy program, or the NEP.
The NEP was part of the Liberal Party’s first budget, after it won back power from poor old Joe Clark. On paper, it didn’t seem too bad. The NEP professed to be about three main things. One, it was preoccupied with security of the oil supply, and independence from the vagaries of the world oil market. Fine. No problem.
Two, it wanted to boost Canadian ownership and participation in the oil and gas business. In those days, when every single oil company CEO was an American, that one wasn’t so bad, either.
Hmmm. That last one was a big problem, turns out. In response, oil companies stopped investing in Canada, and they started closing up shop, too. In Alberta, the bankruptcy rate went up by about 150 per cent from the year before. The real estate market crashed, and food banks started to open up in places like Edmonton and Red Deer.
In my Calgary high school, kids I had hung out with would be there one day, and gone the next. Where’d they go, I asked my friends. “Their parents lost their jobs and they had to sell their house and move away,” I was told. Heard that a lot.
That was what happened to Albertans, pretty much: misery, ruin, disaster. For Liberals, the NEP eventually led to misery, ruin and disaster, too. By the time the 1984 election took place, the NEP helped to wipe out the Liberal Party of Canada in the West, reducing it to a rump. Thirty-five years would go by before any Liberal would be elected to the House of Commons out of Calgary.
Ironically enough, it would be Pierre Trudeau’s son, Justin, who would lead that Liberal renaissance in Calgary and other parts of Alberta. He did so, in large measure, by avoiding his father’s mistakes.
Over and over, he said the NEP had been the wrong thing to do. Over and over, he said Alberta’s energy industry was an important part of Canada’s economy. Over and over, he’d travelled to Calgary – like he did right after declaring his candidacy for the Liberal Party leadership in 2012 – to pledge allegiance.
Well, 35 years after the NEP, and – per the muse, Yogi Berra – it’s déjà vu, all over again.
Alberta is in big economic trouble, just as it was in 1980. Oil prices are down. Investments are way down. Bankruptcies are way up. Joblessness, up.
Justin Trudeau’s political enemies, consequently, giddily see opportunity. In yesterday walks tomorrow, to them. There’s another tin-eared Trudeau in the Prime Minister’s chair, and he doesn’t give the aforementioned rat’s ass about Alberta. We in the West propped up the economy of Central Canada for years, they say. Now, when we need help, all we get is rhetoric and re-announcements of infrastructure monies.
There is great, great peril in all of this for Justin Trudeau. There’s a trap. But this Alberta Liberal, for one, doesn’t believe he will fall into it.
Justin Trudeau may represent a Quebec riding, but he spent much of his pre-politics years in the West. He seems to understand the West in a way that his father never, ever did. And, in particular, he knows that NEP-style politics will only assist the Conservative Party, which is now busily banging away at the drum of Western alienation, looking for an audience.
In 2016, unlike in 1980, rats are making an occasional appearance in Alberta. Two dollar bills are cherished as collector items, because two dollar bills aren’t being made anymore. And saying you are a Liberal from Alberta – well, that isn’t such a big deal anymore. My hunch is that Justin Trudeau aims to keep it that way.
Like the Akram Vignan’s Dada Baghwan once said: you are only worthy as a son when you remove all your father’s troubles.
Funny story: this morning I woke up, and Joan of Arc was gone.
You’ve got to understand: I have worn a (blessed) Joan of Arc medal around my neck every day, every minute, for just about 35 years. It was 1982 or so, and my roommate and great friend Chris Benner and I were out one night at our Bank Street watering hole, the Eldorado. The door opened.
This guy walks in and straight up to us. He hands me this Joan of Arc medal, then turns around and walks out into the night. Never saw him again.
I’ve accordingly worn her around my neck ever since. Until this morning, that is, when she disappeared. Lisa can tell you: I was pretty unhappy.
Tonight, she reappeared – in a place I had already scoured two, three times. Just like that.
Being a superstitious Irish Catholic, I naturally take that as a sign. On this day – on this awful, terrible day, when that creep looks almost certain to get away with it – here’s why I wear St. Joan, and what I want our two daughters to always remember:
If a man lays a hand on you, even once, cut him down where he stands. Make it so he can’t get up to do it again.
(St. Joan did.)
Winning campaign managers – John Rae, Don Guy, et al. – make the Sphinx look like a chatterbox. They don’t give interviews before, during or after campaigns. They don’t talk about campaign strategy in the media. Ever.
Sure: they will occasionally send out guys like me to say something that they, or the leader, can’t say. That’s true. But personally write chatty op-eds for newspapers about what went wrong, and what went right? They only do that if:
Jenni Byrne’s column in this morning’s Globe and Mail seems to fall into the third category. She isn’t working as a lobbyist, and she probably knows that nobody really buys books by political insiders anymore.
So, she’s conjuring up a here-is-what-really-happened tale in the Globe because she’s in an office somewhere on Bay Street, she’s bored, and she wants to get back into the game. Because exile kinda sucks.
So she puts together 850 words about what really went wrong. When you get past the preliminaries and the throat-clearing, this is why she says the Conservative Party lost its majority and the election:
“The decision during the campaign to turn our guns on the NDP was a mistake. They were never the party’s enemy. The final straw was when the party went after the NDP on the niqab issue. It crushed the NDP in Quebec, but it also removed them as a viable alternative in the rest of the country, something Conservatives needed them to be.”
Hmmm. I see.
There she was: the most powerful unelected person in Canada, “losing the argument” about the niqab and the NDP. Gotcha.
Except, you know, the Conservative Party had been in a spit-flecked fury about the niqab long, long before the 2015 election campaign, hadn’t it? Heck, just about everyone had been niqab-bashing – the Liberal Party of Canada included, about which (by the by) the current leader hadn’t said a whole lot – and for about a half a decade, too. Was in all the papers.
In other words, Ms. Byrne had had plenty of time to object to the niqab garbage (which, to some of us, it always was and always will be). She also had the authority to say: “No, we aren’t going to do our own version of the Southern Strategy, boys.”
Nope, she didn’t do that. Nope.
Look, I love post-campaign books as much as the next guy. I’ve written a couple myself, and they sold pretty good.
But if you have a political tale to tell, Ms. Byrne, try and make sure it’s, you know, true.
This is one such time. The emasculation of a puffed-up little prat, from an unlikely source.
It’s affecting me more than I thought it would. I predicted it, I wrote about it, I analyzed it. But it has hit me – that this big, bad thing is happening, and no one seems to give a damn.
(Oh, and if you want to post a comment about how Facebook is going to fill the void, and break the next Watergate, don’t bother. Go back to watching your panda bear videos and leave me to my misery.)