“Warren Kinsella's book, ‘Fight the Right: A Manual for Surviving the Coming Conservative Apocalypse,’ is of vital importance for American conservatives and other right-leaning individuals to read, learn and understand.”
- The Washington Times
“One of the best books of the year.”
- The Hill Times
“Justin Trudeau’s speech followed Mr. Kinsella’s playbook on beating conservatives chapter and verse...[He followed] the central theme of the Kinsella narrative: “Take back values. That’s what progressives need to do.”
- National Post
“[Kinsella] is a master when it comes to spinning and political planning...”
- George Stroumboulopoulos, CBC TV
“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.”
- Elizabeth Thompson, iPolitics
“[Kinsella] deserves credit for writing this book, period... he is absolutely on the money...[Fight The Right] is well worth picking up.”
- Huffington Post
“Run, don't walk, to get this amazing book.”
- Mike Duncan, Classical 96 radio
“Fight the Right is very interesting and - for conservatives - very provocative.”
- Former Ontario Conservative leader John Tory
“His new book is great! All of his books are great!”
- Tommy Schnurmacher, CJAD
“I absolutely recommend this book.”
- Paul Wells, Maclean’s
“Kinsella puts the Left on the right track with new book!”
- Calgary Herald
I haven’t seen the film, but Ashley Csanady (I love her name, it’s like a Pynchon character’s name) and she has a hilarious review of it, here.
Personally, I think the Trudeau-Brazeau match was really, really important. Inspired by Csanady, here are my numbered reasons why:
- Boxing is what all sports are, stripped down to base elements. It is perfect because it doesn’t hide what it is.
- Boxing is used by writers all the time as a metaphor for other things, because it lends itself to that. Here, Trudeau turned it into a metaphor for politics, and I don’t know if anyone has ever done that before.
- Politics, when stripped down to its base elements, is really a struggle of symbols. Conservatives have always understood this, as I wrote in one of my books. Trudeau, I think, is one of the first progressives to understand it.
- Everything about that fight was replete with symbolism: red versus blue, conservative versus progressive, new versus old, insider versus outsider, elected versus unelected, change versus more of the same, and so on.
- At great risk to himself, Trudeau used that charity boxing match to re-order the political zeitgeist. Everything changed after that.
Me? I couldn’t even watch the fight, when it happened. I was at Sun News that day, where various on-air people were eagerly anticipating Trudeau’s demise. It was an utterly bizarre environment to be in, at that moment.
So, because I knew him and liked him, I wouldn’t watch it. If he failed, it would be like Stanfield’s fumbled football, or Dukakis’ tank, or whatever. It would be all over – and the last, great hope of the Liberal Party of Canada would be forever remembered for that loss.
But he won. He took the risk, and he won, and he changed the alchemy of Canadian politics forever.
I rather suspect he is getting ready to it again.
Conservative folks are sounding pretty cocky, this morning, but they shouldn’t be. They are, after all, the folks who:
- Saw a two-term Whitby mayor in a tough fight with a total newcomer to politics
- Were in a pitched battle in a Con stronghold (in which they took 60 per cent of the vote last time, to the Liberals’ 14 per cent)
- Sent virtually every member of cabinet through to promise everything but the kitchen sink
- Were whining about “dirty tricks” on the eve of the vote
- Sent in their national campaign boss, Ms. Byrne, because they were in deep shit and they knew it
Still don’t believe it, Team Blue? Then take a gander at this Pundits Guide chart. My super-duper expert analysis tells me that only one coloured line (the red one) went up last night, and every other coloured line (the blue, orange and green ones) went down.
Spin it any way you want, kids. The factoids and chart don’t lie, this cold November morn.
From Gatsby, natch.
Less figuratively, I have been told it will be “very, very vigorous” in my case.
Literally, I am told that’s where my story will end. We shall see.
Everyone knows that (a) election outcomes are notoriously difficult to predict, these days, and that (b) by-election outcomes don’t mean much, if anything.
However, those caveats aside, let’s have some fun and (a) recklessly predict some election outcomes and (b) rashly suggest that yesterday’s Whitby-Oshawa by-election – and the one in Yellowhead – portend big, big changes.
The one in Whitby-Oshawa by-election, for starters. Whoever actually won the thing – and, at press time, that crucial bit of information remained stubbornly elusive – one thing is for certain: the Conservatives and the New Democrats lost it.
Whitby-Oshawa, you see, was the riding held for many years by former Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. Provincially, the riding is held by Flaherty’s widow, Christine Elliott.
Flaherty died suddenly in April. At the time, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said it was a “terrible shock,” and it was. At the time, nobody could conceive, seven months hence, that the Conservatives would be contemplating actually losing the Flaherty stronghold.
But, at press time Monday night, they were. For Conservatives, Whitby-Oshawa had become a nightmare.
Consider the numbers. In 2006, Flaherty beat the much-liked Liberal incumbent handily, 44 to 39 per cent. In 2008, Flaherty improved his standing, pulling in double the vote of the Liberal challenger – 50 to 25 per cent. And, in 2011, he did even better – stealing 58 per cent of the popular vote in the riding, while his nearest challenger cobbled together only 22 per cent.
Oh, and his nearest challenger wasn’t a Liberal. It was a New Democrat. The Liberals finished third that year, capturing only 14 per cent of the votes. Ouch.
What a difference three years and a new leader make! On the eve of the by-election, public opinion surveys were showing a double-digit plummet in the Harper Conservatives’ popularity in Ontario. One poll, conducted six days before the by-election, actually placed the Liberal and Conservative candidates in Whitby-Oshawa in a dead heat – and the New Democrat, who came second in 2011, in a distant third place.
The fact that this could be happening in Jim Flaherty’s redoubt was extraordinary. The fact that the Conservative candidate had been Whitby’s two-term mayor – and the fact that Liberal challenger was a newcomer to politics – made it more so.
Whatever happened last night, then, the Liberals won Whitby-Oshawa. Despite the Flaherty family’s hold on the riding – despite the relative experience of the candidates – the Conservatives and the New Democrats have some soul-searching to do.
Out in Yellowhead, Alberta, the results aren’t likely to be as dramatic. But for the Conservatives and the New Democrats, there is more evidence that the Trudeau phenomenon has national implications.
Yellowhead, a vast riding located West of Edmonton, has been conservative – or Conservative – since it was created in 1979. Joe Clark, the Progressive Conservative leader, held it without interruption from 1979 to 1993. Cliff Breitkreuz then represented the area for three successive elections, as a Reform or Alliance candidate. Since 2000, Rob Merrifield has made Yellowhead his kingdom – pulling in an astonishing 77 per cent of the vote in 2011. The Liberals were reduced to two per cent, and a distant fourth place, behind the New Democrats and Greens.
This time around, as in Ontario, Team Harper have experienced a double-digit plummet in popularity in their Alberta heartland. In Yellowhead, some small-sample polling has seen Merrifield’s Tory successor slide significantly – and the Grit challenger add more than 23 points to the party’s 2011 showing. The NDP, meanwhile, was far back in the pack, in third place.
Make no mistake: for the Liberals to do so well in Yellowhead – and for the Conservatives and the New Democrats to do so poorly in Jim Flaherty’s Whitby-Oshawa – is simply amazing.
The seat standings may not have changed, last night.
But Canadian politics did.
We had a great chat, too. Interesting fellow.
Brilliantly done. Kudos, HuffPo.
And why is this so important? Because her name is all that she had left. By saying her name, by remembering her, we can – hopefully, maybe – ensure that something like this never, ever happens again.
Have the hunted become the hunters?
This week, I spoke at a well-attended fundraiser for the Mississauga-Lakeshore federal Liberal association. Their impressive candidate Sven Spengemann was there, along with about 30 Grits. They were a great bunch – in part, because they didn’t throw any finger foods at me.
But there was another reason, too. They had that lean, hungry look about them – the look of political people who have grown tired of being the hunted, and were turning on the hunter.
Let us explain. For too long, progressives – and Liberals in particular – did not take Stephen Harper seriously. They underestimated him.
I cannot tell you how often I heard from Liberals – in 2005-6, 2008 and 2011 – that Stephen Harper was heading towards humiliating defeat. That he had a secret agenda to destroy Canada, and that he was going to lose because of it.
They’d say that Harper is a socially-conservative extremist who would ban abortion or gay marriage (he didn’t). Or that he would privatize health care and social programs (he didn’t). Or that he was a crypto-fascist with creepy eyes (he isn’t – and don’t be an idiot).
But Harper won the elections in each of those years. Creepy eyes notwithstanding, Harper’s political agenda wasn’t so secret – it was, in fact, right out there in the open, easily seen. It had two parts.
One, bring together the warring factions in the Reform Party and the Progressive Conservatives, and create a single, winning conservative force. He did that.
Two, drive the Liberal Party out of existence – with election law changes, with wedge politics, with whatever it takes.
But he didn’t do that.
The good Grits in Mississauga-Lakeshore are living proof. For one thing, they are still there, united, and election-ready. I therefore fully expect Spengemann will roll over the do-nothing Conservative MP who currently holds the riding.
For another, I didn’t detect the faintest whiff of arrogance or contempt in the hall at the beautiful Holcim Waterfront Estate. That is, none of them underestimate Stephen Harper’s political cunning. None of them hated him.
Liberals, instead, have acquired a grudging respect for Harper’s political skills. They have learned, the hard way, that you underestimate Stephen Harper at your peril.
And, as such, they are no longer the prey. They instead have Harper in their sights – and they had plenty of questions for me about what makes Harper tick, and what he is likely to do in the coming months.
For Harper, the weeks and months ahead loom large. For him, there is history to be made.
As my colleague David Akin has noted, Harper has – as of today – become the sixth longest-serving Prime Minister. As of today, he has surpassed Brian Mulroney’s tenure. If he makes it to the Spring of 2016, he will have bested the record of my former boss Jean Chretien – and become the fifth longest-serving Prime Minister.
Will he make it? Will he win the election that is supposed to happen in October 2015, but could come much sooner than that?
No one knows. But one thing is certain: the smart Liberals in places like Mississauga-Lakeshore don’t underestimate Stephen Harper. And they don’t hate him, either – they respect his smarts, as you should respect any political adversary who has survived for this long.
This much will become known, too: the Liberals, for so long the hunted, are now turning on the hunter.
And Stephen Harper shouldn’t underestimate them.