Some Free Advice

You can tell it was a slow news day yesterday when the big news story was that Kevin O’Leary had put together an exploratory team and that he likes waving a spatula around. Talk about free news coverage!

I was asked if O’Leary could beat Trudeau and my answer was “possibly”. But, so could three or four other leadership candidates. The way the Liberals have handled the “cash for access” scandal is symptomatic of what is wrong with both their leader and the party. There is plenty of time for many more such incidents to catch up to them.

Trudeau and the Liberals have promised so much, to so many people that it will be impossible to meet all of those expectations. That will make for a large unhappy voter pool. Added to that will be all of the economic issues that we will be facing by 2019.

This includes the amount of our country’s debt, all of which he will be leaving for our kids and grandchildren to pay off.  Don’t forget, by the time 2019 rolls around, we will all have been paying for his carbon tax long enough for us to know how much it hurts both our own pocketbooks and the economy. Trudeau is definitely beatable.

Obviously O’Leary’s action is interesting, but is only the first step to actually doing something. Hopefully it will force the leadership wannabes (whose egos exceed their abilities) to the sidelines, so that a genuine leadership race can start.

O’Leary says he wants to hear from Canadians, so I will offer him some free advice.

·  Believe only 10% of what you are being told about your ability to win

·  Assume most of what you hear is BS until proven otherwise

·  Remember that a lot of supporters are beside you for a reason and it will often benefit them more than you.

·  Start showing Canadians that you are focused on more than just the economy and money. You are one dimensional right now.

·  Find a couple of advisors who are not afraid to tell you the truth, no matter how much you might not like it.

·  Build a highly competent communications team and issues management team; if the last few months are an example of how you will operate, you will need every one of them.

·  Get rid of the spatula. It is a dumb idea which ranks right up there with the cash register we heard ringing with Harper in the last election.

·  Enjoy the ride, political life is like a roller coaster with more ups and downs than you can ever imagine.

There you go some free advice from someone who has been there. Take it or leave it.

Merry Christmas everyone!



Liberal Arrogance Is Back

It is interesting to see Prime Minister Justin Trudeau blame the media and opposition parties for the latest uproar over his and his party’s “cash for access” issue.

Isn’t this the standard fallback position for every government that got caught doing something that they shouldn’t be doing? So what happened to Trudeau’s much promised and repeated new way of doing things? What happened to being open and accountable?

Trudeau set the guidelines for his ministers, IE avoid even the slightest hint of conflict of interest. His mutterings about following the guidelines are just a lot of hot air.

Let us not forget that he wrote the guidelines and he is the one who would therefore know the loopholes. Clearly he is exploiting a loophole that large numbers of Canadians, politicians of all political stripes and media types find distasteful. Rather than a new way of doing things this is a return to the old way of doing things.

Trudeau had a choice to demonstrate some leadership and he blew it big time. He could have admitted the guidelines that he wrote needed to be toughened up to prevent these “cash for access” situations from arising. He could have walked away from the issue and salvaged something from it. Instead he fell back on the standard talking point followed by many a politician before him when caught doing something he shouldn’t be doing.

His arrogant response was to blame the media and blame the opposition parties instead of looking in the mirror and admitting that he screwed up!

In just over a year the old Liberal arrogance is back; proof positive for the Conservatives and NDP that this guy can be beaten in 2019.


A Week Is A Long time In politics

Since Justin Trudeau’s election last year, there has been a general consensus that he would be unbeatable in the next election. Trudeau was such a contrast to Harper that he was the darling of the media and he could do no wrong. Even the simple act of taking a selfie with refugees rated front page coverage. “Sunny ways” was the motto for the future.

I am sure some potential Conservative leadership candidates took that into consideration when evaluating whether or not to run. As I pointed out back then, leadership candidates should be aiming to win the next election and they should be offering up policies that appeal to both the rural parts of the country and the urban areas where it is necessary to win if they want to form the next government. The Conservatives shouldn’t be even thinking about giving him a pass on 2019.

As we all know, a week can be a long time in politics. A year in a political mandate can feel like a lifetime. No government can control the issues that it will face either at home or on the world stage.

History has taught us that no one is unbeatable in the political arena. Surprises happen all the time. This was recently demonstrated south of our border. A few months ago who would have thought that Prime Minister Trudeau would be dealing with President Trump and not President Clinton. All governments have to face an on-going series of issues. All governments have to make decisions on these issues and each decision leaves part of the population feeling betrayed over a broken promise or disillusioned with the decision.

There are plenty of storm clouds on the horizon for the Trudeau government. There are issues requiring tough decisions that a few selfies will not provide him with enough cover nor will they help him to change the channel to better issues or allow for better optics.

His recent foot in mouth moment over his comments on Fidel Castro is just this past weekend’s storm cloud. We also have other storm clouds developing on the horizon:

·        Political donations and Trudeau’s “cash for access”

·        Decisions to be made on three pipeline proposals

·        Buying more CF-18s when the head of the air force says it is not necessary

·        Gag orders around the CF-18 purchase

·        UN peace-keeping missions

·        Our combat role against ISIL

·        Climate change negotiations with the provinces

·        Healthcare negotiations with the provinces

·        Electoral reform

·        Lack of action and funding on First Nations issues

·        How to deal with the new administration in Washington

·        The foolish comment about being willing to open up NAFTA

·        The unraveling of trade talks

·        The spiraling out of control debt, which eventually will have to be paid off by taxpayers including the middle class that Trudeau claims to be wanting to help

·        The economy also remains the number one issue of concern for Canadians

And the list goes on.

All of these issues (and there will be many more before the next election) will offer opportunities for the opposition Conservatives and NDP to damage both the Liberal brand and Trudeau’s personal brand.

There will be plenty of opportunity for this government to stumble, not once but many times before the next election. No administration or Prime Minister is ever unbeatable and that is something both the Conservatives and NDP must keep in mind as their leadership contests move towards a conclusion.


Short Term Gain, long Term Pain

When you hear that the KKK is planning a victory march to celebrate Donald Trump’s election win, it does make you wonder whether or not it was the right move for a candidate to align herself with some of his immigration policies even if there was an attempt to “Canadianize” them.

No doubt this was a move to gather support, donations and votes from individual members. In other words it looks like a short term attempt to position for a leadership vote, not for a future election campaign. Certainly there will be an element of the party that wants to see tighter screening of immigrants and there will be leadership votes to be gained with this whole Canadian values issue. While this might play well in some parts of the country, one only has to look at the urban results last election to see what happens when the multicultural vote walks to the other parties.

The problem with niche political marketing in a leadership campaign is that while you might win the contest, you haven’t won the war. The real battle takes place in the next election.

The other parties will have research teams dedicated to mining the media for every morsel of negative comment, they will be looking for every verbal mistake and watching how the media and population at large reacts to platform positions of leadership candidates. All of this information will be combined to help shape the political attacks of the next campaign. Every one of these items will find a use some time during the next campaign even if that campaign is a couple of years away.

Short term gain with long term pain can be the results. The Liberals must be enjoying this one.


The Dirty Dozen Plus...

So here we are in late fall with just 28 sitting days left for the House of Commons before the Christmas/New Year’s  break.

At last count we had 12 people who have entered the Conservative leadership race or who have said they will enter it, all believing in their own mind that they can be the next Prime Minister of Canada, assuming of course they win the next federal election. There are also a few who are supposedly/maybe/considering/possibly going to run from outside of the party and one other former minister, Lisa Raitt, who is said to be considering a bid. There are probably others out there as well.

When you look at all of those above, it’s an interesting bunch:

·        Some who insist on running on policies that cost us the election and helped to decimate the party in urban centers

·        some who feel they can win a national campaign when they couldn’t even win their own seat

·        some who think they can win a national election by refighting social policy issues of the 70s and 80s

·        and people who have never run for anything, but somehow feel they can win a national campaign.

If you believe all of their rhetoric every one of them is the only “true conservative” running.

Within the list of those declared or thinking about it, there are some serious candidates for party members to view, judge and cast their vote for, but right now much of what they say is buried in the media with some of the comments coming out of the mouths of other candidates.

Sadly the public (read voters) will eventually hear a lot more of these negative comments and in some cases stupid ones, as the days and weeks move forward towards May 27, 2017. Both the public and party members will eventually see some serious policy positions put forward and the party membership will have a chance to review and pronounce on them. Party members, the media and voters will also get a chance to judge the candidates and see which one has what it takes and also who has let their ego take them into this leadership campaign.

In the meantime there will be three primary factors which will limit who stays in the race and weed out the wannabees.

1. Money- who can raise it for a long campaign and who can’t. Tony Clement, who is a pretty decent guy, found that out the hard way that it will be a lot tougher than most think, as will a few others in the days ahead.

2. Their ground game. I agree with Georganne Burke that it can’t be just an air war; you need people on the ground in every riding to ensure that your candidate wins a significant percentage of the vote.

3. The team you can put in place, senior advisors, communication specialists, speech writers, policy wonks, advance people, issues management, rapid response teams and the list goes on. There are only so many talented people to go around and as things get serious, it will be interesting to see which candidate or candidates attracts the best and the brightest.

If you are presently a party member and on one of their email lists, you will be receiving press releases and letters from very few candidates at this time. If only a few in that large group above have received their lists from the party after paying up the needed funds to run, what does that say about their fundraising ability, their organization or lack of one, or their ability to attract staff capable of fundraising and putting a serious campaign in place?

Until the fundraising campaign, organizational work and staffing is completed the party membership will have to put up with this nonsense and all of these supposed candidates. Unfortunately so will the public who will be judging each candidate not only on their merits, but also on their comments and their policy positions. The public and many of them will be voters in the next election; will also be labeling the Conservative Party with all of them- both the good and the bad.

In the end that is where the damage will be done to the Conservative brand and its chances of winning the next election.

NOTE: a day after this article was published on this page, Lisa Raitt declared her intention to enter the Conservative Leadership race.