The federal Liberal caucus is in London, this week, planning for the coming Parliamentary session – but also to wave the Grit flag, a bit, and try and recapture the Southwest Ontario strength the party once had under Jean Chretien.
As such, Trudeau has done a lot of local media. And, as is always the case in these kinds of encounters, the local media approach the political leaders in a way that is quite different that the Parliamentary Press Gallery, who see the national leaders all the time.
As a war room guy, I always find these local-reporter-questions-national-leader sessions very valuable – because something often goes wrong. The leaders let their guards down, or they don’t sufficiently prepare, and the local guy delivers a punch that neither the leader nor his/her staff was expecting. The infamous Stephane Dion-CTV Atlantic debacle is an example of what I’m talking about.
Which brings us to Justin Trudeau sitting down yesterday with AM 980’s Andrew Lawton, the full tape of which is found here.
Mostly, I think Trudeau did fine. But it was in this segment about ISIS and military action that things got a bit dicey:
LAWTON: So under what circumstances as prime minister would that be warranted in your eyes?
TRUDEAU: 7:41: I think it’s warranted if there is a reasonable chance of success, if there’s a way that Canada can offer expertise the rest of the world is unable to provide…
LAWTON: 7:52: Just to clarify, are you saying there’s no chance of success with the fight against ISIS?
TRUDEAU: 7:57: Oh, I’m saying, this is going to be a very long, long challenge against ISIS, and Canada’s role in engaging with that needs to be a best suited to…
Everyone can see the problems here, I think. There are two that jumped out at me. One: is Trudeau already saying – while we have men and women over there on the battlefield, risking their lives – we are going to lose the fight? Two: is he saying that we should only ever fight when we know we can win?
You could run a winning national campaign on either question.
I could be missing the point here, of course. But as I listened to the lesser-known local radio guy interview the famous national leader, yesterday, I found myself getting increasingly uncomfortable. I suspect I’m not alone, in that regard.