Friends In High Places

Canadians woke up in January and realized that they had to find a way to pay for all those Christmas presents bought on their credit cards. Others, especially seniors on fixed incomes, were struggling to figure out what items they would have to do without, because the cost of gas and hydro had just gone up yet again. This time the increase was to pay for Trudeau’s new carbon tax.

At the same time we also woke up to the fact that our Prime Minister had taken yet another vacation. This made for ten vacations in his first year in office- more time off than he would have had as a drama teacher. The struggling middle class that he pretends to want to help can only dream about that much vacation time.

Now most Canadians won’t begrudge a Prime Minister an occasional holiday providing they feel it is on the up and up. But his last one has a peculiar odor about it.

Canadians wonder about all of the secrecy. At first it was amusing, they could play “Where’s Waldo” and try and guess where Trudeau was holidaying. But then they found out and the questions haven’t stopped.

A vacation with a few close friends on a private, luxury island, hosted by a multi-millionaire (whose foundation receives funds from the Canadian government) raised a few eyebrows and quite a few unanswered questions.

For all of those Liberal/Trudeau apologists who think we should give him a break because he is new to the job, let me remind you that Prime Ministers and their staff are expected to measure up from day one. To those that say there was nothing wrong with him accepting a gift of hospitality on this private island, I will remind you that there are rules in place for that and looking back there was a lot of negative media coverage in February 2006 (shortly after the Conservatives won the election). The outcry then was not about the new Conservative Prime Minister taking a vacation; it was about a few MPS and staff being invited out for the night to watch a NHL Senators hockey game. PMO made every one of those individuals pay the full cost of their evening. Shouldn’t Trudeau being doing the same?

This brings us back to this last vacation. If I was still looking after Question Period I would be looking for answers from the Prime Minister for the following questions:

Name the “close friends” that were on this vacation with you.

Do any of them receive funds or do business with the Canadian government?

How did they get to the island? Were any of them flown there on Canadian government or military aircraft at taxpayers’ expense?

What was the size/cost of your protective detail compared to your last Caribbean vacation?

Were any of your “close friends” political staff, MPs or individuals who could discuss business with the host while giving you cover to say that you personally had no direct discussions.

Was there anyone with you who was involved with files for the Aga Khan’s Foundation?

Did you receive any briefing notes on any outstanding requests or decisions for funding for your host’s foundation? If so will you release them in their entirety, uncensored?

Will you reimburse the government for your trip?

Will your “close friends” do the same for any expense that they might have caused the government?

I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

There is an expression “You can run but you can’t hide.”

Trudeau can run from coffee shop to coffee shop over the next few weeks, but he can’t hide from the questions or from disillusioned Canadians paying their Christmas bills and those of us just managing to get by pay cheque to pay cheque.



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.

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