KCCCC Day 44: anatomy of a bad, bad day

 

  • Justin Trudeau had a bad, bad day yesterday.  It came to my attention late, around bed time, and from only one media source.  As such, he may have dodged a bullet – most of the media didn’t notice, or it was too late to file anything about it.  But have a bad day he did.
  • David Akin’s report details why, and (if you’re a Liberal), it’s unpleasant to read.  The whole thing is right here.  Below, however, we will break David’s report down into digestible bits, for ease of consumption.  At the end of it, let the rest of us know in comments if you think Day 43 will hurt the Liberal leader, or if no one cares/notices.
  • Trudeau: “Mr. Harper has put us in deficit this year.” Akin: “Absolutely false. So far this year — FY16 — we have data from three months or the first quarter. After three months, we are in surplus to the tune of $5 billion.”
  • Trudeau: “As for last year’s numbers, we know—and we saw Mr. Harper under-spending and making cuts to veterans affairs.” Akin: “Nope. Wrong. Look to the table at page 16 of the Consolidated Financial Statements of the Government of Canada — a document which the Auditor General has verified — and you’ll see that the Department of Veterans Affairs spent $121 million more in FY15 than FY14, an increase of 13.5%.”
  • Trudeau: “[Cuts] to aboriginal affairs.” Akin: “Wrong again. Page 16 again. Aboriginal Affairs spent a whopping $1.986 billion — billion, with a ‘b’ — more in FY15 than it spent in FY14. That was an increase of nearly 30%.”
  • Trudeau: “[Cuts] to seniors.” Akin: “Strike three. I’ll quote from the AFR (p. 19): “Elderly benefits consist of Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement and Allowance payments. Total benefits were up $2.3 billion, or 5.5 per cent, in 2014–15, reflecting growth in the elderly population and changes in consumer prices, to which benefits are fully indexed. The increase in elderly benefits also reflects the accrual of retroactive payments.”
  • Trudeau: “It was a political goal that actually has helped us slide into the recession.” Akin: “There is no economist anywhere that has concluded the actions or inactions of the federal government caused two successive quarters of negative GDP growth, the narrowest of definitions of recession. Moreover, as consumer demand remained strong in the first half of the year and employment growth was also strong in the first half, the consensus view of most economists is that Canada was never in a recession. In any event: A sitting prime minister puts the country in recession so he can get credit for balancing the budget? After running six deficits that were incurred to pull us out of recession? Does that even make sense?”
  • Trudeau:  “Canada is the only G7 country in [recession] right now.” Akin: “While only a handful [of economists] would say we were in a shallow technical recession earlier this year, there ain’t any I know of to say we’re still in recession.”
  • Sigh.  At the start and end of his column, David writes that Trudeau’s war room failed him.  But I beg to differ.  I know some of the folks in that war room.  They know all of the stuff above.  They would have advised this: “Mr. Trudeau, if you don’t know, don’t wing it.  Say to the media you will get back to them with a reaction.” Or: “Don’t stomp all over your own event.  Let that happen, get it covered, then come back to the news about the budgetary surplus later in the day.” Or: “Whatever you do, don’t provide evidence in support of the main CPC/NDP criticism of you – that you just aren’t ready, that you’re not up to the job.  Don’t do that.”
  • But he did that.  The coming days will tell us whether Justin Trudeau’s bad day will show up in attack ads, or the next leaders’ debate, or Messr. Harper and Mulcair’s talking points.  But – in a race as tight as this one – I think all of those things are going to happen.  In an election where the economy is the issue, you had better know your economic facts.


In this week’s Hill Times: is it time to forgive and forget in politics?

Campaign 2015 has been noteworthy for plenty of things. There’s been the fact that all three of our main political parties—the Conservatives, the Liberals but also the New Democrats — have a shot at forming a government. That’s something that hasn’t really happened before.

The length of the thing is a first, too. It hasn’t been one election campaign: it’s been two election campaigns stitched together, with Labour Day in the middle.

Also unprecedented: big media — the so-called consortium — losing control of the leaders’ debates. The cost of covering Election 2015 is steeper than it has ever been. And the number of female candidates — highest it has ever been, and about time, too.

But if Campaign 2015 is remembered for any single thing, it is this: stupidity. As in, stupid statements, or stupid behaviour, by political candidates and political staffers alike.

There have been so many inane and insane utterances — by representatives of every political creed — it’s almost impossible to keep track of them. It’s practically been an idiocy epidemic.

CBC, as a public service, tried. Here are a few taken from their list.

The NDP’s most-senior communicator — that is, a guy who is supposed to know how to communicate—was found to have told the Pope to “go f**k yourself,” on Twitter, and called the Catholic church “misogynist, homophobic, childmolesting.” Nice.

The Conservatives lost two candidates on one day — one for urinating in a coffee cup at someone’s home, and the other for posing as a mentally disabled person, faking orgasms, then posting the results online. Want to be a CPC candidate? Urine!

The Liberals had a couple beauts, too. One B.C. Liberal candidate didn’t just counsel pregnant women to smoke — she counselled them to smoke weed while pregnant, too. And, before that, there was the Calgary Liberal candidate — now blessedly gone — who told someone on Twitter she wished they’d been aborted with a coat hanger, and another one to “go blow your brains out.” Oh, and she mocked lesbians, too, just so no one would feel left out.

Candidates forced to resign over sexist comments made in the online comments section of newspapers. Candidates resigning for suggesting that Israel, our ally, engages in “ethnic cleansing.” Candidates apologizing for comparing a party leader to the Nazi’s Joseph Goebbels. It goes on and on and on.

There isn’t enough column space, in fact, to cite all the examples of Campaign 2015 political stupidity. There are just too many.

So why is it happening? Is it something in the water, as noted?

Before you start blaming social media — like my firm’s client, Twitter — keep in mind that almost half of Election 42’s bimbo eruptions have taken place in old-fashioned ways, like in media interviews (e.g. pregnant women should smoke dope) or in the presence of a TV camera (e.g. relieving oneself in a coffee cup). Not everything that happens takes place on social media.

Social media is indeed a political problem, however. It gives politicos an immediate and global online platform — and, unhelpfully, without the benefit of editorial oversight. And it’s permanent, too. As I remind my four teenagers all the time: “The internet is forever. If you post it, someone will find it.”

Besides, blaming social media is scapegoating the medium, not the messenger. And, if we are looking to pin the blame on someone, it should be pinned on the messengers. Like a donkey’s tail. Because donkeys they all are, to a one.

You think deleting that photo of you, in flagrante delicto, won’t be found by war room guys like me, after you win your party’s nomination? You think that late-night chat room ran — in which, drunker than a frat house set loose in a distillery, you extolled the virtues of apartheid — won’t be located much later, when you are trying to present a fresh-faced and scrubbed version of yourself to the electorate?

Think again. If you did it, we will find it. Guaranteed.

Given that all of us have done stupid things over the years — and, rest assured, Your Humble Narrator has done more than most — perhaps we are collectively approaching these contretemps in the wrong way. Perhaps we in the chattering classes shouldn’t be treating every verbal misstep as a capital offence. After all, if Rob Ford and Donald Trump have shown us anything, it is that the people are far more forgiving about stupidity than the pious folks who ply a trade in the media or politics.

The public, in their wisdom, already know that people in public life aren’t as smart as they pretend to be.

So, maybe it’s time we just let most of this stuff go. And just, you know, talk about policies and plans and programs instead.

Sounds crazy, I know. But perhaps — just perhaps — it’s a bit more important than someone’s long-ago, ill-advised tweet.


Anyone still doubt my super-prescient prediction about a minority government?

Deadlock
Said prediction being here.

I have friends in the war rooms of all three parties – and I feel badly for them. After so many weeks of hard, hard work, this has to be frustrating as Hell.

That said, I still give the edge to Harper. Not because his campaign has more money than God.  Not because he’s the only leader to have done a national campaign before.  Not because he squeezed progressive third party advertisers out of the picture with a super-long writ.  Not because he just announced a multi-billion-dollar surplus.  Not because progressives are again splitting the progressive vote, in perfect halves.

No. No, here’s why, in helpful little bullets.

  • Horserace/top line numbers are useless, particularly in a race as close as this one.
  • It’s therefore better and smarter to look at seats in the regions.
  • By my count, Harper is going to sweep the prairies; he was always going to do so.  That’s nearly 60, right there.
  • He’s still on track to do well in Ontario – but let’s be (pun intended) conservative.  Let’s spot him only 55 seats.  That’s considerably less than half.
  • In B.C., let’s (again) be conservative.  Let’s only give him a third – 15 seats.
  • In Quebec, same deal.  Be mean! Just give him the ones he always wins, around Quebec City – just five.
  • Atlantic, ditto.  Mean, miserly.  Just five.
  • So, that gives him only about 140 seats. Respectable, but not enough in a Parliament of (now) 338 seats.
  • But – and here’s the big, er, but.  Those 30 new seats in the three provinces with the most growth – B.C., Alberta and Ontario – are all in places that disproportionately vote Conservative, i.e.. the burbs.
  • When you factor in him taking the majority of those new seats, as me and others do, it puts him pretty darn close to another majority.  And that’s with us being mean, miserly and conservative!

I know some of you will go psycho over this, and possibly leap off a ledge somewhere, but remember: it’s just politics on the Internet.  And, ipso facto, here’s another highly-scientific chart, showing the outcome of all political arguments on the Internet:

FacebookPolitics


KCCCC Day 43: the all-Hill Times edition

 


KCCCC Day 42: the return of JC

  

  • Le petit gars is back! Why? Well, you can’t call an election and expect him not to show up, can you?
  • So he’s swinging at the Tories: Right here.
  • And he’s swinging at the Dippers too: Right here.
  • He’s actually not saying anything he hasn’t said before. On these two criticisms, believe me – he means it. 
  • So how do the recipients of his criticisms react? Well, the Tories, I can tell you, secretly admire the old guy. They – from Harper down – have always admired his toughness and decisiveness. 
  • The Dippers, meanwhile, are like they always are. That is, they are sucky, whiny babies. They are, as I’ve written many times before, pious and humourless  windbags who always prefer talking to doing. Just watch how they react to any critique, no matter how merited: they can’t take it. When that idiot NDP candidate out in Alberta started enthusiastically courting the crucial Bloods and Crips vote, here, they didn’t ask themselves: Hey, should we keep this candidate? No, they excoriated anyone who even dared to raise the subject. 
  • Thus, JC today: The Cons are receiving his blasts with equanimity. The Dips? They’re pathetically digging up stuff from 15 years ago. Like I say: sucky, whiny babies. 


KCCCC Day 40: my advice for today, in 140 characters or less

 

  • Look, I don’t know about you.  But, personally, I am fed up to the teeth with a pile of polls that are completely contradictory, and obviously flawed, and are being offered up to us like they were the gospel.  Fed up.
  • So here’s my advice for the day.  Have a good one.