06.19.2015 09:46 AM


Here, amusingly (amusing because I have to use Google to find an example from one of my own books), is the etymology of the What Would Chretien Do? thing:


Others have written about the high regard in which the Harper Conservatives hold my former boss, here and here and here. But, as with most things in Ottawa, folks assume that what was once true is no longer true – i.e.., Harper couldn’t possibly be running the 2015 campaign like he ran the 2006 and 2008 campaigns, could he?

Of course he could. And he will.  These guys don’t abandon winning strategies very easily.

Thus, Michael Den Tandt writes this, in this morning’s papers:

“But to return to the crux, which from a Tory standpoint is the PM himself: The perception among Conservatives I hear from is that his brand is more broadly appealing than coverage from the Ottawa bubble would indicate, for the simple reason that he scores solidly, in his own way, on both the key image-based markers referred to above.

On TV Harper typically looks and sounds measured, solid, as he did Thursday in Toronto, with enough white in his hair to denote experience; and everyone knows he has the wherewithal to run a Group of Seven country because he’s been doing it for nearly a decade. Conservatives will also point to the fact that, despite the controversies stemming from the PM’s take-no-prisoners partisanship, despite the unfolding mess in the Senate, he has managed 10 years in power without being tainted with a perception of either personal dishonesty, or stupidity.

All of which may explain why, even now, 10 years in, with the Orange Wave supposedly poised to crest and the Liberals storming the Bastille to restore democracy, Harper is projected, based on current polls, to win this fall, albeit with a minority. He long ago tore a leaf from Jean Chrétien’s book — stability, no surprises, keep out of people’s faces — and made it his own. It still works.”

Indeed it does, indeed it does. There’s a reason why Harper wins all the time, and why – in my view – he is going to win again in the Fall. It’s because he a student of Chretien, as Den Tandt writes. I know, for a fact, that Harper and his inner circle have studied Chretien’s moves in the way that Raptor DeMar Derozan studies game tapes, over and over. The Harper guys tell me, still, how much they admire Jean Chretien. They’re not telling me that because they want to suck up to me – I have nothing to give them that they don’t already have.

There’s another Canada, you see, one that is South of the Queensway and North of Steeles. This is the Canada – a significantly larger and more powerful Canada – in which Stephen Harper (like Jean Chretien before him) remains the favourite. Yes, yes, I know: this renders apoplectic the progressive folks who live in the Annex or the Glebe, who have once again convinced themselves that Stephen Harper is a goner, and that the citizens of Carp or Stittsville or Malton or Stouffville are mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging hicks. I know.

Well, the only connection those latte-sipping, Volvo-driving, C-51-hating One World Government types have to those aforementioned rural and suburban communities is that “they drive through them on the way to the cottage every weekend,” as my pal Darrel Bricker memorably put it recently. They don’t get all of Canada, in other words. They only know the Canada in which they live and work. It’s a smaller Canada.

Chretien and Harper understand the other Canada, because they come from it, and because they never forgot it. In 2005, accordingly, I wrote that the ballot question would be Starbucks versus Tim Horton’s. Amazingly, a decade later, it still is. Chretien and Harper represent the latter constituency – and Messrs. Martin, Dion, Ignatieff and now Trudeau represent the first one.

What Would Chretien Do? Well, for starters, he wouldn’t play footsie with nationalism, as someone else – appallingly – did just yesterday (i.e., refusing to “impose” policies on the provinces, sounding like a pequiste as he decries “centralization” in the most decentralized federation in the world). He wouldn’t flip then flop on an issue that has become a symbol of something much, much larger (i.e., promising to vote for a law before he had read it, and then saying he’d repeal it after reading it). He wouldn’t needlessly require his caucus to vote a certain way – when the issue in question had long ago been settled before our highest court (i.e., abortion, like gay marriage, are properly the law of the land, whether SoCon Grit or Tory backbench troglodytes like it or not).

And so on, and so on. You get the picture.

Stephen Harper went to the Jean Chretien School. Justin Trudeau went to the Paul Martin School.

You tell me who is going to end up top of the class, when October rolls around.




  1. Alex says:

    Serious question: Did Mulcair go to the Chretien school or the Martin school? I like to think the former, but would be curious to know what others think.

    On another note, I think there is one big huge difference between Chretien and Harper: While Chretien was strong and decisive, he did not throw people under the bus the way Harper does. I could be wrong, but my gut tells me that the current PM has made a lot of internal enemies, and that this may cost him come election time.

    • RogerX says:

      Jean Chretien was a principled politician of the people and that’s why he got elected and decisively reelected. Mulcair was a Quebec Liberal defrocked, a wannabe Conservative and now just an opportunistic lawyer in Dipper drag. If Canadians stupidly elect him as their next PM then they get what they deserve.

      As for “internal enemies”, I just heard that James Moore will NOT be running in the next election again for “family” reasons. What it looks like is that potential future Con leadership hopefuls are anticipating (a)Harper’s defeat soon or (b)his success and retirement in 2017 after Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations. By sitting out the election they are free to campaign freely for the leadership without being constrained in government. If Harper loses then they will be on the leadership campaign trail immediately. Some may genuinely be out of politics for family reasons but we shall see.

    • Matt says:

      Maybe not as much in public as Harper, but I have no doubt Chretien had an iron fist and wasn’t afraid to take people out behind the wood shed.

  2. RogerX says:

    Many years ago in a SW Ontario city, Chretien was visiting for the inauguration of a new ethanol plant and I was there too. It was a nice sunny summer day and Jean stood on a small outdoor stage above the crowd and spoke glowingly about the new plant and the city. Then he got personal about his visit and then jokingly called himself a visiting “frog” from Quebec ! The crowd laughed with him as he won them over with his personal touch. Harper will not reach this level of conviviality but I know he certainly tries when speaking to smaller local groups. Justin just struts on the political stage for adulation by the audience.

    Now we watch Justin tanking while his Martinite backroom goons are trying to rescue him from getting Orange Crushed!!

    Torontonian Jack sold his l’Orange Crushez pisse to Quebecers and now we see Montrealer Mulcair peddling his version of Jack’s Orange Crush koolaid to Ontarians and the ROC. Go figure….

  3. gyor says:

    Mulcair went to his own school, that’s what makes him the unpredictable factor here. He’s not like Paul or Jean.

    I think on the Prime Ministers Canada has had and I can’t think of one that is like Mulcair.

    I think a mixture between Prime Minister Diefinbaker and American President Lyndon B Johnson, with a pinch of Jack Layton, but just a pinch.

    If I had to pick between Jean and Paul I’d say Jean, Mulcair doesn’t panick, he’s scrappy, and its hard to makes negatives stick to him. I mean look at how Mulcair handled being called before the board of internal review and imagine how Jean Chretien would have handled it.

    I mean the Liberals, Bloc, and Tories have tried to smear him and it doesn’t stick.

    • MPAVictoria says:

      This kinda “real” Canada stuff really leaves me cold Warren. And Harper is way down in the polls. I wouldn’t be so confident that he is going to win.

    • RogerX says:

      Muclair is a “socialist-by-convenience” and that’s because a lawyer will sell himself for any cause if it benefits him too. I’m not saying it’s all lawyers, just lawyers who enter politics and flipflop.

      Mulcair was essentially drummed out of the Quebec Liberal government and then he approached the federal Conservatives for a deal but only if he was awarded a ministry. He was rebuffed… no deal here.

      Then in desperation, Mulcair went to equally desperate Layton who needed high profile Quebec representation, and the two of them got into political bed together! (Mulcair later claimed HE was the architect of the Quebec Orange Wave… not dearly departed Jack!).

      Post-Layton, Mulcair, (who ascended to leadership only because the NDP executive feared he would sever off the Quebec NPD MPs to form a Quebec-Premier party and still be OOP)… he had the word “socialist” removed from the NDP Constitution which exposed Dipper weakness.

      Is this the kind of politically devious and opportunistic person we want as PM of all of Canada, and likely backed up by a ragtag bunch of incompetent and dangerous Dipper MPs and the corrupt Big Union Bosses?!

      I think not!

      • davie says:

        I thought Mulcair became leader because enough members of the NDP voted for him on a preferential ballot. I had him 2nd or 3rd on my choice. But you say the party exec did it? Mmh…maybe…maybe not!
        I am biased about he quality of the NDP MP’s…Boivin, Harris, Cullen, Scott, Leslie, Nash, Freeman, Toone, Turmel, Christopherson, Angus, Ashton, Sims, Duncan, Rankin,…not bad, pal, not bad.
        I used to chip in for my union, held some table officer positions, and always regarded myself as A BIG UNION BOSS. Boy, did we BIG UNION BOSSES ever hate Canada and their fellow Canadians.

      • P Brennan says:

        who knows I guess…all depends on how competition performs … his people are trying to soften him up …he comes across as pompous , knowing it all and angry – NDP have their own issues – lots of green MPS, tx payer monies used to fund NDP activities and that unpaid liability to us as tax payers, he told business folks in toronto he was going to cut small business taxes – nice but what he gives certainly the provincial governments of alberta and Ontario willl taketh away… hes no Jack Layton

        • doconnor says:

          If the Liberals for a government, they’ll have lots of new MPs. At this right, so will the Conservatives. No one every says what the new NDP MP have done wrong.

          The accusations of the NDP pale compared to what the Conservatives have done with their ad campaigns and 1%ers.

          Layton promised to lower small business taxes, too. The Alberta NDP isn’t raising small business tax.

          • Matt says:

            The Alberta NDP just announced $682 million in new spending. When asked where the money would come from, the finance ministers response was “debt financing”. In other words borrow, borrow, borrow.

      • Priyesh says:

        If it were as obvious as you think it is, you wouldn’t have to go around bullshit rumours 2-3 times per thread.

        Slow down, bro.

    • Simon says:

      One other thing to say about Mulcair, is he really knows how to milk NDP history. (Even better than Jack as a matter of fact).

      There are the predictable lines about Tommy, balanced budgets blah, blah, blah. But there is also the old populist, anti-bank, “Mouseland” vein he tapped into during the board of inquiry thing. He blamed it on the “old line” parties, and so far it hasn’t stuck.

      I don’t know if Jack (God bless) was as successful in doing that, perhaps because he was from downtown Toronto. But when Mulcair says it, it just seems to resonate. Maybe because of his typical Canadian/Quebecois background, and the fact that his politics were forged in the rough and tumble of Quebec City, as he likes to say.

      On the other hand, just thinking about Jack, in Quebec he was Le Bonne Jack, like JC was le petit gars in the ROC. If Mulcair can be “Hoag” in both places, he comes off looking very good.

  4. davie says:

    Are chretienites and martineros in the Liberal Party still causing a rift in their ranks? Sometimes I see stuff that says so, and the animosity toward each other seems to take over.

    • Warren says:

      When they are running arounf telling people not to use my firm, yeah, that gets my attention. And I believe in payback.

      • davie says:

        That’s unfortunate. I have been in that at a local level in another party, and it does do so much damage to the party and to other members.

        • Warren says:

          They’re idiots. If they want to have a fight, they’ll get one they won’t forget.

          • Tired of it All says:

            Isn’t the fight on already? Remember when the Conservatives were the party of back-biting? Incredible. And you’re right, btw. Real Canada doesn’t care squat about public service sick leave, what Schwartz is thinking, or anything of the sort. They want sports tax credits and an OK job.

          • sezme says:

            Think the Conservatives are no longer the party of back-biting? Just wait till Harper gets around to retiring. It’ll be like Yugoslavia.

  5. torontonian says:

    Every time I read that Harper is going to win with a minority, I ask: alright, and where’s he going to get the support to pass legislation? Nobody ever answers that.

    • Matt says:

      Same places he got it from during 2006 to 2011 minorities.

      • Torontonian says:

        My point was rhetorical. If the combined totals of the Liberals and the NDP are significantly above the CPC total, there will be a huge clamor for them to bury their differences and work out an arrangement between them. The model will be Ontario between 1987 and 1990. For either Trudeau or Mulcair to support Harper would be to instantly throw away their credibility.

        Yes, I know, they both say they’re not interested. They’ll quickly get interested if the numbers warrant it.

  6. Northern PoV says:

    imho: Lester Pearson: best PM ever. Pierre Trudeau towers over Chretien.

    Canadians were lucky for a while.
    The goofy folks around Manning then Day and the split they caused on the Right gave Canadians a nice delay before the Thacher-ite neo-liberals (really neo-cons) took over. Sure Chretien’s political instincts served him well but he did not face a united CPC.

    Some of Chretien’s political tactics and strategy may have been taken up by Harper – but the reason he continues to “win” is due to the corporate control of the media, the wilful ignorance of (~38%) of voters and the goofy contest between Mulcair and Trudeau.

    The court system is the only real functional part of our democracy at the moment .. give Harper 4 more years and he’ll “Nadon” the courts too.

  7. Matt says:

    Isn’t it common knowledge that to this day Harper, from time to time still seeks advise/opinion on things from Mr. Chretien?

    I’m a Conservative voter now, but I did vote Liberal in 1993 and 1997 mostly because of Chretien

  8. S. Maldon says:

    An important post for Liberals and NDP to read and take heed. I don’t know why this is so hard for some people to understand: if you want to win, you study what the winners have done and do the same thing.

    • davie says:

      On the other hand, I am wondering if maybe there is a volatility in us voters the past year or so, and a growing desire for change. Maybe old style will not sell this time the way it has in the past couple of decades.

  9. Thomas Folkestone says:

    I only started paying attention to politics after shaking Mulroney’s hand as a teen, and then I remember telling my mom about it, and she made a face of absolute disgust and basically equated him with an oily used car salesman (this was before he was PM).

    Around the time of Airbus, while Mulroney was busy stashing brown paper bags of cash while setting up Kim Campbell as his Fall Guy, there was a popular visceral hatred for Mulroney and his PMO who were largely seen as “on the take”.

    It feels like the hatred for Harper is even greater now than during the Mulroney end-of-life, what with the daily Senate scandals, ongoing court cases, and 70% of Canadians being on his “enemies list”. I respect your assessment, but wonder if you predicted the post-Mulroney Conservatives would be reduced to 2 seats? From what I can sense in the current political climate, Harper could do worse.

    • doconnor says:

      The Conservative where reduced to two seats largely because of the right-wing vote splitting which doesn’t apply this time. They where in third by total number of votes.

    • Mark says:

      We are not at late-Mulroney-era level of hate.

      I think the hatred Libs and Dippers currently have for Harper is about as strong, and just as blind, as the hatred Cons had for Chretien in his 2nd and 3rd terms. Conservatives despised Chretien intensely, and could not understand how the rest of the populace could not “see what they saw” and continue to vote for him. For a long time this hatred blinded them to the aspects of both his nature and his strategies that made him a winner with Canadians. I think many of the Libs and Dippers who seethe with hatred for Harper now are also now blind, or at least dismissive, of his real strengths and appeal (to their own peril). To poorly paraphrase Sun Tzu, you have to understand your enemy as well as you understand yourself. And in this case that means understanding the enemy’s voters as well as you own, which I don’t think has happened yet.

      So I still think we’ll end up with a Harper minority.

      • Warren says:

        The key in politics is not to hate anybody, but to understand them.

        • davie says:

          What struck me right away in 2006 was that no Conservative could sit down in the House of Commons without praising the decisive leadership of the PM. They have always gone out of their way to display him as a man among men. The Conservative attack ads seemed to me to support this propping up of the image, depicting the opponent as ‘dithering,’ the next opponent as an ‘ineffectual intellectual,’ the last opponent as a ‘visiting aesthete.’

          Altho JT has been attacked for the F 18 comment, to me it has been the most accurate metaphor describing what the Conservatives are up to. We have already been getting the ‘father knows best’ ads, and I am sure the foreign warrior photo ops are going to be everywhere as October gets closer.

          It might be a strategy worked out by the Conservative brain trust, or it might be a reflection of SH’s needs, but it seems to be the approach they will continue with.

          ‘JT is not yet ready, a child. Angry Tom is a cynical, opportunistic lawyer. Steven is the only man in the room.’

  10. Priyesh says:

    The tough news for Harper isn’t just that he can’t break 30% in most polls these days. It’s that when you give him the benefit of second-choice voters, he can’t break 40%. Some polls can’t even break 35%.

    If the best case scenario for the Cons is a minority government, you’d think the NDP and Liberals would be more open to a coalition than ever. But alas…

    • RogerX says:

      If it’s another Harper minority government, and Liberals dropped further down under Trudeau, look for two things to happen:

      1. Justin either relinquishes or is forced out of Liberal leadership thus dispersing the LPC, and,
      2. Blue Grit Liberals will vote with the Conservative minority to keep out their real enemy, the Dipper hordes!

      The remnants of the LPC will be politically free, but if any Liberal MP tries to go over to the NDP, they will be expelled from the Liberal party. There is more in common politically with the Tories than the Dippers, and Liberals under Iggy did prop up the Harper minority government. For Liberals to prop up hated ex-Liberal Mulcair would be tantamount to political suicide/assasination.

      • Torontonian says:

        Disagree. For the Liberals to *not* support an NDP minority would spell the end of the Liberal party.

  11. Meh says:

    A tale of two Canadas I guess. One where the majority of the population lives and works, where most of our tax dollars emerge from. And another that has fewer people, fewer social issues to grapple with but because of our system of government a riding of ten thousand people is equal to a riding with one hundred thousand people. At the end of the day a minority will once again dictate to the majority, we will have a government/opposition parties filled to the brim with politicians clutching and grabbing at money and power but no leaders.

    But remember ladies and gentlemen supposedly every vote counts……….I guess.

  12. Al in Cranbrook says:

    I remember when Ed Broadbent topped the polls…and on election day about a year later the NDP scored the usual number of seats.

    Anyway…the mood in Canada in no way compares to the situation in Alberta that led to an NDP government. 43 years, Danielle Smith’s titanic blunder, and massive voter fatigue with all of it. That said, the melt down in Alberta has already begun in earnest, and is going to get a helluva lot worse in short order. Chat with a neighbor couple days ago, mentioned a family member who works in the Alberta oil patch. Used to put in up to 30 days a month. Last month he booked four…count ’em…four days. Same stories confirmed by members of my own family living in Alberta, layoffs and/or slowdowns across the board. What’s telling is, this is not the case in Saskatchewan. There’s a big chill rippling through the Alberta energy sector, and they’re bracing for the worst. And given the Notley government’s moves thus far, the worst is definitely on its way. They’re out to throttle the goose that’s been laying golden eggs since the ’50s, and do so in no uncertain terms. Ideologically inspired hell is about to be let loose, and four years from now nobody is going to recognize that province. By the October election, unemployment and business shutdowns in Alberta could be approaching highs not seen since the days of the NEP.

    I’m betting just in time to cool a lot of voters’ heels with the federal NDP.

    It took a mere 30 day campaign here in BC to refresh voters’ minds regarding the hell the NDP once wrought upon this province…memories jogged in large part by the NDP’s own anti-everything that creates wealth and jobs rhetoric. And Clark won an even greater majority.

    Even if Mulcair had half a clue himself about economics, which he doesn’t, unless he somehow completely muzzles everyone else’s socialistic bent blathering in his party, a level of self-control which is virtually impossible with leftists, Harper will cruise to an even larger majority on election day.

    And Blue Liberals will make it happen.

    • RogerX says:

      Even so, if it’s only a Harper minority government, the decimated Liberals will prefer to prop up the Cons rather than going over to the hated ex-Liberal Mulcair to support a minority NDP government. The Couillard Quebec Liberal government would be livid if Mulcair ascended to PM of Canada and the fearful consequences!

      The Liberal remnants will most certainly NOT want to go into another snap election if a Harper minority government is defeated… so Harper will be able to govern as if he had a majority. In the meantime the LPC will likely be looking for another leader or just decide to fold the tattered and torn lil’ Red Tent and melt into the remaining federal political landscape. Of course the latter would be bad for provincial Liberals who would have to unite to reform the federal Liberals. Grim picture… eh?!

    • davie says:

      What scares me about a socialist NDP government is that they have a secret agenda item to limit metaphor use.

    • torontonian says:

      Wow, so you’re saying Notley has ruined the Alberta economy and she’s only been in power for two weeks? That’s some aggressive governing!

    • !o! says:

      I think people realize that the slowdown is due to the price of oil, since it started well before the election. Y’know when the price of oil kinda crashed? You must’ve seen the headlines.

      I’m sure there will be a degree of revisionism, and some people will buy it, but people in general aren’t as dumb as you think.

      • doconnor says:

        People still blame the Ontario NDP for the 1990s rescission caused by Free Trade.

      • Al in Cranbrook says:

        C’mon, people. READ my post before commenting.

        The new NDP government, their rhetoric, and their stated political aims have Alberta’s energy sector putting future investments on hold, or cancelling outright. As I also pointed out, such is not the case in Saskatchewan…you know, where oil sells for the same price as Alberta’s? This isn’t about the price of oil, which has been enough of a headache already, for both enterprise and governments in Canada. It’s about a bunch of ideologically hell bent socialists whom despise oil, while touting economic policies predicated upon unicorns and fairy dust, holding the reins of government for the next four years.

        Now, imagine that happening in Ottawa.

        Traditional Liberals have absolutely nothing in common with the NDP or their bankrupt notions about governance. Many of them may not like Harper too much, either, but push comes to shove, they’ll take a CPC government over a socialist one in a heartbeat.

        • lance says:

          “Traditional Liberals have absolutely nothing in common with the NDP or their bankrupt notions about governance. Many of them may not like Harper too much, either, but push comes to shove, they’ll take a CPC government over a socialist one in a heartbeat.”

          ^ QFT.

          You ask why JT supported C-51? That’s why. Trudeau and his advisers aren’t complete idiots.

        • Torontonian says:

          Let them run on that admission and see what happens.

        • Alex says:

          You are wrong Al. The energy sector in Alberta was doomed well before the NDP came to power. It has been estimated that oil must be around $80 a barrel for the oil sands to be profitable. Goldman Sachs recently predicted that oil would be at $55 in 2020; it was trading at a little under $60 this past week.

          If you want to know why projects are being cancelled or postponed look at the price of oil, not NDP policies. Even Ralph Klein could not have fought the reality of international oil markets. The lesson here is not what the NDP may or may not do, but rather that PM Harper’s vision of Canada being an oil superpower turned out to be a dud.

          • cgh says:

            The drivel and misunderstandings about the energy sector just never stop.

            “The energy sector in Alberta was doomed well before the NDP came to power. It has been estimated that oil must be around $80 a barrel…”

            Like all natural resource sectors, oil and gas moves in a price cycle. What goes up must come down, and vice versa. As for the $80, that applies to NEW projects, not continuing to operate existing ones through a full business cycle.

    • Don Wilson says:

      Save me from profanity, Al. Please, do facts not matter at all as you write? Ask any smart high school kid why there is less work now in the Alberta oil patch than three years ago. The kid will say:
      – OPEC is too dysfunctional and undisciplined to cut production
      – the world is awash with oil. Jeffrey Rubin was world (we are no where near peak oil)
      – there is a new kid on the oil block named FRACKING

      Then the kid would say: “Mr. Al in Cranbrook, these 3 factors caused the price of oil to tank like a lead balloon. Donald Trump could be in charge of Alberta and the employment situation in the oil patch would still suck”. Notley and her NDP are not responsible for the slowdown in Alberta’s oil business. Sorry, facts don’t lie.

  13. Kelly says:

    NDP minority. Mulcair will pick up Tories and the leftwing of the Liberal party. Harper will pick up some blue Liberals and cancel the red Tories (who really have more in common with the NDP than they do with the Regirm Party.

    Mulcair is able to remind people that Harper’s party really isn’t conservative. A conservative party wouldn’t cut safety inspections a meat packing plants (meat has killed more people in this country since Harper took power than terrorists have). A real conservative party wouldn’t sens kids into an unwinnable war (by Harpers own admission) then nickel and dime vets when they come home after battle, a real conservative government wouldn’t wouldn’t pretend to be run by a “trained economist”(TM) then wreck the census that real trained economists use in their work.

    Mulcair will remind people that the NDP has the highest percentage of balanced budgets while in government — even when you include Bob Rae who is actually a Liberal. They will remind Canadians that conservatives have run more deficits at all levels than any other party. They even ran them in Alberta. And they created one after inheriting one in 2006.

    In other words the Conservatives are phonies. They win phony majorities because of our phony electoral system, they claim phony balanced budgets after selling billions in GM stock at a loss, they pledge phony support to troops then abuse them when they cone home and they appoint phonies to the senate.

    Remember…nobody likes a phony. Which in my opinion is why the cons and libs will lose.

  14. gyor says:

    Mulcair was not drummed out, he refused to do a morally questionable favour for the Quebec Liberal Party, got demoted to lesser portofilio, but was still a minister, and quit because he felt it wasn’t right to punish someone for refusing to particapate in corruption, and sat the rest of the term as an independant.

    So he wasn’t drummed out, that’s a straight out lie.

    And he was offered a job by the Tories which he refused, that shows principles not a lack of them.

  15. bazie says:

    Warren, I just wanted to give a kudo’s on this post. I often fit the typical internet mode of commenting when I disagree, and not commenting when I agree, which can give a rather disagreeable impression. However, this piece stood out for me as touching on important chords that seem after the fact to have all been there in my head but not quite played out well enough to know it. And chords that should be played more often among the commentariat. Loved the starbucks vs timmies analogy.

  16. Peter says:

    This is a very insightful piece. The other similarity is that Chretien didn’t enjoy a lot of personal adulation. He didn’t inspire wonks and activists and as I recall, not too many people went around talking about how much they loved him and how they were going to vote for him. A lot of beautiful people professed to find him intellectually shallow and embarrassing. Plus there was no shortage of hand-wringing about arrogance during his tenure.

    The Tim’s/Starbucks symbolism with its patronizing stereotypes is getting a little hackneyed, but it still carries some truths from the perspective of understanding self-interest. When I hear Trudeau and Mulcair going on about all they are going to do for the middle class, I wonder whether they really have any sense of the mindset of suburban, small city and small town Canada–a huge demographic–or whether they are just parroting the image their urban core activists (who secretly disdain them) have. Do they really understand the importance of economic stability and not rocking the boat? They are by no means doctrinaire cons or libertarians and they don’t love Harper, but they aren’t yearning for more government benefits and they don’t see the federal government as their friend that will deliver a better life. Their priorities are their jobs, homes and families. Home postal delivery would be nice but not at the cost of a spike in inflation or unemployment. If either the Libs or Dippers had rolled up their sleeves and crafted a sound policy for reforming healthcare in the face of demographic shifts and technological advances they might have done very well, but they didn’t.

    It will be fascinating to see whether Mulcair can maintain his current standing through a campaign and not just because of his temper. He has a big segment of his party that is biting their tongues to stifle their radicalism and an Old Guard prone to take shots in the name of 1970s platforms and rhetoric. What is he going to do when one of his candidates calls for breaking relations with Israel or someone like the awful Stephen Lewis (or Broadbent, who seems to be in a time warp) calls for a doubling of the corporate tax? But assuming his bromides will be challenged during the campaign, how precisely is he going to woo the non-urban core vote in the ROC other than in his traditional union ridings and the Left Coast and avoid frightening them? And how is he going to prevent the slash and burn warfare between the Libs and Dippers in Quebec (with Duceppe fueling the flames) form making the front pages in the rest of the country? Can you spell S-H-E-R-B-R-O-O-K-E?

    And even leaving aside policy, what about image? Anyone with a finger on the pulse of non-urban Canada will know how important sports are from the professional level all the way down to children’s recreational leagues. In suburban and small town Canada, arenas have replaced churches as the focus of community life. Harper frequently attends hockey and football games and is smart enough not to try and make a big PR deal out of it. Have Trudeau or Mulcair ever done that? The FIFA Women’s World Cup of soccer is being played in Canada this month and Canada is making a challenge. I simply can’t believe their advisors are so clueless about the reality of “the middle class” not to frog march their guys into the stands.

    • cgh says:

      Right in every word, Peter, just as Warren’s headline piece here is. And it’s going to stay that way until the Liberals rediscover what it was that Chretien used to keep Blue Liberals supporting him and Harper retaining them. It should also be noted that the current government is the first majority government in Canada’s history with no significant representation from Quebec. And given national demographics, it won’t be the last. This is what so much of the press, particularly the Ottawa Press Gallery doesn’t get. The old Laurentian Axis paradigm is broken and gone.

  17. Don Wilson says:

    Another great post, Mr. Kinsella. As you were in the trenches during the Chretien-Martin War, what do you think it will take for the Liberal populists (the Tim’s folks) to finally ditch the Rosedale-Westmount cabal that runs the LPC now? How can the Chretien Liberals finally kill the beast that has brought us 4 elite losers (Martin, Dion, Iggy & soon JT) in a row? What is tragic is that a number of really good Liberal candidates are going to be trashed in October because of the elitist leadership of Mr. Butts, et. al.

  18. schizophrenia7 says:

    The Glebe IS south of the Queensway!

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