, 09.09.2021 12:33 PM

My latest: what’s at stake tonight

The English-language leaders’ debate is hours away. So think about this: A light switch.

That’s what Justin Trudeau kind of was, a Conservative pollster has said. A light switch.

“Other politicians are like dimmer switches: They lose popularity gradually,” the pollster said. “Our polling showed Justin Trudeau is like a light switch. People like him until they suddenly don’t. It’s on or off. A light switch.”

All of us having had our fill of sports metaphors to explain political phenomena — and the crucial English debate about to happen — the light switch explanation is compelling. It might be wildly wrong, but it was at least novel.

Because, tonight, it’s make it or break it time for Justin Trudeau. He needs to bring his best game.

Just a few short weeks ago, it was all going to be so simple, wasn’t it? Trudeau and his Liberals were way ahead of the alternatives in the polls. The alternatives were unknown, or making lots of mistakes, or both. The Liberal universe had unfolded as it should.

The pollsters, the politicos, the punditocracy all agreed: The Boy Wonder would be rewarded with a majority. Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy. He’s good-looking. The Conservatives are cross-burners. Justin had kept most of us alive during the pandemic, or something like that. Vote Liberal.

And then: Click.

Kabul falling on the first day of the campaign didn’t help, to be sure. Wildfires raging in three provinces, ditto. Early election call: Really, really dumb. And the fourth wave, of course, which the experts all said was heading our way, and about which Trudeau gave a Trudeauesque shrug.

It was all that, yes. But mainly it’s him. Him, him, him: Justin Trudeau.


If you now say you saw it coming, you’re fibbing. I didn’t see it coming, and neither did just about anyone else. Apart from a gaggle of true-blue, true-believer Tories who worked in the office of Erin O’Toole, all of us are slack-jawed, a bit, about what has taken place.

The polls reflect what is now going on, but they sure as hell didn’t foresee it. More revealing is the anecdotal stuff. Because — per my Daisy Group’s political catechism — facts tell, but stories sell.

Stories from a pollster pal that his call centre workers are getting angry earfuls about Trudeau: It’s deep and it’s undeniable. They loathe the Liberal leader.

So, too, stories from Liberal candidates and MPs and senators who still dare to speak with Yours Truly (anonymity guaranteed, natch). Some are chiselling Trudeau’s name off their literature and signs.

One told me about his kids. “My kids hate Trudeau,” this Grit Parliamentarian said. “They hate him for lying to Indigenous people. They hate him.”

“Desperation,” said one longtime Liberal and senator. “It’s desperation when Trudeau is now calling it ‘the Trudeau team’ because his popularity has turned negative. What team is he talking about? He made them all into water carriers.”

The signs of decay and defeat are everywhere. Trudeau campaigning in previously safe Liberal seats. Liberal cabinet ministers — the aforementioned water-carriers — being nudged into the media glare. The flinging of every possible smear at O’Toole — no matter how false, no matter how absurd — in the hope that something will stick.

As in life, in politics: The causes of defeat and victory are multiple and myriad. It’s never just one thing that sinks you.

But mostly, it’s him — Justin Trudeau. A country that once loved him now loathes him. So he needs to win tonight’s debate. Or he’s done.


— Warren Kinsella was chairman of the federal Liberal war rooms in 1993 and 2000


  1. Kevin T. says:

    Trudeau’s main problem is that, no matter what, he can’t talk his way out of anything anymore, because we’ve learned over the 6 years of his optics-only governing is that he’s all talk, no action. Thus his words mean less than nothing. And I am saying this as someone who was excited for him stating that he would be a “transformational Prime Minister”, and who now believes Trudeau is unfit to govern and undeserving of reelection. At this point, I don’t care if other guy wins. I just don’t care. The Pretty Boy and his Pretty Words need a reality check, taxpayers are footing the bill.

  2. Sean says:

    The Leader’s Debates Commission should be ashamed of themselves…. for letting Justin participate.

    O’Toole, Singh, Blanchet and Paul are trying to have serious discussion about how to repair the damage he has caused over the past 6 years and he should not be allowed in the room.

    • Gyor says:

      Having watched the English translation of last night’s French debate it really seemed like that, especially for example when everyone was roasting Trudeau for failing to meet his climate change targets every…single…year…, to which Trudeau responded with transparent lies and saying experts alot without naming even one.

      If Trudeau doesn’t do better in this debate then he did last night, then the Debate Commission would have done him a favour keeping him out of it. I’m honestly not sure what he can do to salvage his campaign during the debate, he’s hamstring by his own record.

  3. J.Ph. Brunet says:

    Ekos 8 Sept. Bernier’s mob:
    PPC 13% Alberta, 11% ON, 12% Atlantic.
    Women: CPC + PPC > LPC.
    PPC 14% among the 35-49s; 16% for 18-34s.
    So right-of-Trudeau = ~45% nationally.

    • Gyor says:

      It’s more complicated then that, some folks who vote PPC are leftwing, but sick of woke censorship and woke creating Beaverton worthy headlines, and this is their rebellion (not constructive one IMHO, I’m voting NDP).

  4. Andy Whittaker says:

    I like the line about the Liberal’s kids who hate Trudeau for lying to indigenous people… It can’t be just that. It’s impossible.

    On the indigenous lies… I work in a STEM field. For just a few million, I assisted in the design and implementation of a purification system for water for a gated community for water being drawn from a lake. We designed it to fit into a shipping container, and, if anyone had a half brain in Ottawa, they could figure out that we could air lift it and place it anywhere, but nobody has a brain there and nobody cares… Not really, anyway.

    I’m not the designer–I’m the guy that wanted a “plug and play” solution and if I could figure it out, why then, can’t the government make it work?

    If we could make it work in a rural setting where no city water or services exist why can’t our illustrious government? Bueller? Buellllerrrr?

    If anyone is reading this that actually gives a damn, reach out and let me explain how easily I think the team of people I collaborated with could provide clean drinking water. I have no monetary stake in this, I don’t do water. It’s not even in my professional scope but I did it with the help of some really good people and they could do it again.

    If anyone knows a politician that actually wants to do it, send a contact because I’m so sick of the capitulating and whining and red tape that I think it could be crowd funded ——so that a massive thumb could be placed into Ottawa’s already black eye. Then again, the government probably wouldn’t allow good people to do good work, for good reasons because they’re not government employees or the WE Foundation or SNC Lavalin or, or, or… It’s all so frustrating…

  5. A. Voter says:

    The popular premier of Quebec came out against the Trudeau Liberals today. That could be a game changer. O’Toole needs to use the debate to let people know a vote for the PPC is likely to put Trudeau back in power.

    • AV,

      Got to love the predictability of this Prime Minister: he gave the usual amount of attention and concern to our constitutional demands as he does with anything and everything else. So now it’s shaft time à la Legault. Somewhere, Couillard is also beaming.

  6. Robert White says:

    I was the biggest sucker of the Liberal political rhetoric on the last electoral round and even bought into Trudeau’s fake ‘Marxism’, but upon examination of his 2021 Budget, and his salary I, for one, soon realized what a hollow character he really is.

    When I realized that the Parliamentary precinct was budgeted over $5 billion for maintenance for the next Trudeau term of office, I quickly realized that the Liberal Party was merely buying off every contractor within the region as they structurally introduced the highest level of structural inflation ever evidenced in the entire history of Canada as a sovereign nation bar none.

    Is Trudeau worth $368,000.00 per year with a free car and driver plus a free house, servants, and security details?

    Trudeau is now under leadership review. I have reviewed his lackluster inputs politically & economically. I am left wanting politically and economically.

    Geopolitically, he is an embarrassment.

    It’s a toss up for me now that I have to choose between O’Toole and Singh.

    I really didn’t think O’Toole had a chance entering into this electoral round. His effort garners an A+ so far, but tonight’s debate will seal it for me between Singh & O’Toole.

    But Trudeau & Freeland are no go politicians for me now that I can see the mess they have made of things.

    O’Toole is better organized via personality, and professionalism. Trudeau should go back to Drama & theater. Freeland should go back to Oxford and ask for her tuition money back.


    • Robert,

      With respect, there is only one possible choice if you want Trudeau out and kicked to the curb and thy name is Erin O’Toole.

      • Robert White says:

        Warren was right all along when he asserted that the Liberals would win minority governance. The seat count is easily dominated by the Liberals and their campaign team staff. The Liberal War Room will win this by a nose.

        Four more potential years of Trudeau leads me to go with Singh all due to the fact that Singh will be the only party leader that the Trudeau Liberals will listen to post electoral victory with a minority government.

        If I’m right about the outcome I will still be able to bitch & moan at Jagmeet Singh who will likely listen more than Trudeau or Freeland ever listened to me prior to this election.

        My concern is always with which leader is likely to listen to my complaints. Trudeau is just all hat and no cattle. Singh is pragmatic and would likely listen to Liberal defectors like myself.

        O’Toole n’ Cons know I have nothing but contempt for the Harper era takeover of the Federal Progressive Conservatives.

        I was a federal Progressive Conservative before Harper’s Alliance Party swooped in on an aggressive predatory take over bait & switch.

        Like an elephant I never forget what happens on the political savanna.


  7. Peter Williams says:

    The Trudeau Team? Trudeau, Telford, Butts, and the rest of the PMO.

    The Liberal cabinet and MPs exist to vote the way the PMO tells them, and to shut down embarrassing committee investigations.

  8. Douglas W says:

    It was bound to happen: voters, having enough of the guy. In their faces, every day, since 2015.

    When folks grew tired of Chretien, there was a stellar front bench: Manley, Martin, McLellan, Graham, etc.

    This current bunch of Libs: absolutely zero bench strength.
    They’re in trouble. Big trouble, for a long time to come.

    • Pedant says:

      Marc Garneau could’ve been a decent choice, but he’s probably too old by now (no disrespect intended) and a second consecutive Quebec leader is likely not in the cards.

      Dominic Leblanc could do it, but he’s too close to Trudeau.

      Mark Carney is an absolute no. A rich, hypocritical central banker is not the man for an era of extreme inequality and rapidly rising cost of living. I think he’d be crushed.

      It’s hard to imagine who else. Sandra Pupatello could be a compelling leadership candidate but she didn’t win her Windsor seat in 2019 (she’s trying again but likely won’t win this time either). A Western leader for the Liberals would be refreshing, but there’s nobody – meanwhile they’re wasting one of their few safe Western seats, Vancouver-Centre, on Hedy Fry who refuses to retire.

      • Pedant,

        The monied and influential movers and shakers are already discreetly with Carney. I’m told there are already “closed” meetings underway.

        • Pedant says:

          Good. I hope the Davos shill who inflated massive housing bubbles in two countries, crushing young people and savers, ends up leading the Liberals. Unfortunately for Carney, the working class is larger than the monied class.

    • Obvious Sock Puppet #12 says:

      I agree.

  9. Pedant says:

    But what does “done” mean? Anything less than a majority?

    Because based on current polling, the likeliest outcome is a Liberal minority victory. The Libs and CPC roughly even in the popular vote translates to at least a 20-seat gap in favour of the Liberals. And that’s even with the CPC vote being more efficient this time compared to 2019 (down a bit on Alberta, up a bit in Ontario and Atlantic).

    • Pedant,

      Maybe I’m full of shit but when Liberals notice how so much of their personal entourage despise Trudeau, that quite literally tends to soften Liberal turnout and sends it on a rapidly downward trajectory. IMHO, expect plenty of that this time.

      • Obvious Sock Puppet #12 says:

        To supplement Ronald’s point, Pedant, I think you are making a linear extrapolation, but it’s a non-linear decline: this is the sort of collapse that happens “in two ways: at first gradually, then suddenly.” It accelerates. Downwards.

        • Pedant says:

          Hate to burst your bubble but CPC support is bleeding badly. Peaked 2 weeks ago and hasn’t stopped trickling down since then. If this doesn’t stop we’re looking at a Liberal majority – and subsequently the biggest brain drain ever witnessed as productive, talented people under 50 leave in droves.

    • Vancouverois says:

      I no longer put any great faith in polls, myself. They *may* still be useful for detecting general trends; but when it comes to seat projections they’ve been wrong so often that I just don’t trust them any more.

  10. Joe Mistereigie says:

    NDP supporter here, coming in peace. I was sort of tolerant of Justin’s first election to the PM’s office, as I simply, in good conscience, cannot ever vote Conservative. But the blackface incident(s), the WE scandal, etc, wore out my tolerance for JT. My only hope is a two-fold outcome:

    1) The Liberals win a minority government, COMBINED with…

    2) Immediately after that victory is announced, Justin immediately announces that he’s stepping down as PM and that, at the same time, openly acknowledging the fact that he’s a devisive figure and that, for the good of our increasingly fractured nation, he’ll step aside and let someone less controversial (i.e. less hated) take over, to help calm the angry fires that will otherwise consume our country (and, as an added interest to Liberal Party supporters, it’ll help save their party in the long run).

    Just my $0.02 worth.

    • Vancouverois says:

      The minority government is still within the realm of possibility – or even likely, depending which polls you believe.

      Trudeau stepping down for the good of the nation? Not a chance.

  11. Pedant says:

    Btw Warren, your opinion on Legault’s near-endorsement of O’Toole today? He is a very popular Premier, I’m thinking that could well sway a few voters. Maybe not a massive number, but many Quebec seats outside Montreal (Lib strength) or Quebec City (Con strength) are close three-way races. Trois-Rivières is practically a FOUR-way race.

    • Warren says:

      Voters don’t care. Singh might. Blanchet will.

      • Warren has it right especially if a wave is a coming. People will be like carp and saying nothing publicly except to their nearest and dearest and then out of nowhere there comes an unexpected wave. I expect a CPC mini-wave in this province but nothing of the sort that Jack was able to pull off. My sense of it is that the Liberals are relatively standing pat, the Bloc is dropping and the Conservatives will be in for a bounce. However, won’t bet the farm on it.

    • A. Voter says:

      Looking at 338Canada, there are 12 sitting Liberals who could lose to a BQ surge in their ridings.

    • Phil in London says:

      There was another endorsement of O’Toole over the past couple hours. Sing clearly went after trudeau and made it clear he does not want to see him hanging around the lunch room and eating his lunch.

      Singh was critical of O’Toole but so much more was directed at the liberal leader. The same can be said of the Bloc and Green leaders. They did not come out and say O’Toole is our guy but they sure as hell did say trudeau was not.

      Warren notes the libs needed their boy to be a 10 and he was more like a 6. That is being charitable to him. Outside of being petulant to Annamae Paul he did nothing noteworthy in the debate.

      He is starting to look like that other famous son of a liberal stalwart Paul Martin. When Martin was going down he looked near delirious in the closing days. Little Fidel is showing signs of desperation and bewildered desparation. He sure as fuck did not win this debate, Not sure who did but as was said after TVA maybe O’Toole won by not losing?

  12. Gilbert says:

    I’m surprised the Liberals believed they could win a majority. Did they think they’d get 75 seats in Ontario and 55 in Quebec? Did they think they’d take nearly every seat in Atlantic Canada?

    I knew Erin O’Toole’s centrist policies might appeal to Canadians who don’t usually vote conservative. I also know his qualifications are far better than Justin Trudeau’s.

    Many are tired of Justin Trudeau. He’s artificial, arrogant and irritating. He only cares about himself, and people want a change.

  13. J.Ph. Brunet says:

    Sept 9, 6 pm. Ekos.
    PPC 19% [sic] in Alberta, ahead of NDP in QC, hurting Tories everywhere, competitive in several age demogs, up to 11% nationally.
    The burgers perhaps displeased PPC not in debates, irrelevant greenies and blocheads are. Grassroots rebellion.
    Is Max the Jack Layton of 2021?

  14. Warren,

    As usual, I shit on conventional wisdom from the get-go and predicted a CPC win. Mind you not necessarily categorizing its size. So, I’m a political strategic genius for one day: on September 20th. Course if the Liberals win, I’m a fucking I-M-B-E-C-I-L-E!!! LOL.

    • A. Voter says:

      Ronald, weren’t you predicting a manila envelope with material harmful to the Liberal party being leaked during the campaign? I thought you were a starry eyed partisan with your predictions. If the election had been held the first week of September, you would have been right. Now, we’ll see.

      • AV,

        Yes, I predicted that one but was full of shit. If PCO wanted to get even over the alleged “incompetence” of the public service to handle the student summer employment program, the manilas likely would have already flown by now. I seriously doubt we’ll see any of them in the remaining week or so.

  15. EKOS: Conservatives +3

    Mainstreet: Conservatives +1

    Nanos: Conservatives +2

  16. Ms. Kurl: one hell of a moderator and does she ever know how to take the leaders on, and properly cut them off when they get longwinded.

  17. Hey Prime Minister, our troop trainers left in 2014. Where were the flights to get our friendlies out in 2014…2015…2016…2017…2018…2019…2020…?

  18. Hey Prime Minister, why are the Two Michaels rotting in horrible prison conditions while Meng is living in two mansions, without any formal or informal objection from your government?

  19. Ms. Paul’s “invitation” to educate Mr. Blanchet on systemic racism came off far more as a cheap shot and condescending than anything else. It was somewhat of a low blow.

  20. It’s on Page 14 of your platform. Here we go again!

  21. Nigel says:

    Everyone I know is voting Conservative. People have had enough of the drama queen Trudeau. I am expecting a Conservative majority on Sept 20.

    • Nigel,

      Some people are notorious liars especially around acquaintances and strangers. But those closer and in a tighter set tend to be more honest. Translation: if most of the people you spoke with are only one or two rings out from you and your family, your prediction is not impossible. However, I’m not that brave — I’m going with a CPC minority.

  22. To be genuinely frank, my sense of it is that after three debates, no one seems to have been able to change the election dynamic which is two-fold: a desire to move on from the status quo and an appetite for change.

    The thirst for change is not necessarily a thirst for Conservative change but the reality of electoral politics nonetheless dictates that the main beneficiary of a change wave is almost inevitably the CPC and Erin O’Toole. So, IMHO, change is coming in government in Ottawa but only the voters will decide the magnitude of O’Toole’s future mandate.

  23. John Nelson says:

    Warren, I was blocked on Twitter by you and not sure why? Please consider unblocking me.
    Best Regards,
    @MarionRMorrison (John Wayne)

  24. Joe Mistereigie says:

    Well, my idea about my hope (actually, more of a pipe dream) that Justin would immediately step down after a Liberal minority win seemed to have gone over like the proverbial lead balloon! I guess Justin would only step down if the Liberals lost. If so (too early for this, perhaps) as a potential leadership candidate, what about Jody Wilson-Raybould? She, one could assume, holds political beliefs that are still in alignment with the party. And there could be enough sympathy for her being ousted to be let back into the Liberal tent (I’m sure not all the Liberal party members drank the JT kool-aid on that issue, and others). Plus, she could possibly win back some female voters disaffected by JT’s treatment of her and by JT’s “youthful indiscretions” re: treatment of women. Does Jody speak French? (my memory fails me right now) I recall that might’ve been an issue (or excuse used) when she was removed from Cabinet, so that could be a stumbling block. Long story short, she’s competent and has credentials (unlike JT). Just a thought. BTW, I’m an NDP guy, so I better stop giving the Liberals free political advice!

    Again, just my $0.02 worth.

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