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Sunday
Feb192017

Plenty of shame to go around

You have to wonder how much fake news impacts a party’s decision. In this case the Conservatives have thrown up a huge smoke screen over a Liberal MPs motion around Islamophobia. The realty is once the smoke clears the Conservatives will be left blowing smoke as they try to convince voters, especially new Canadians that they are an inclusive party.

Some of this is just so foolish that it simply leaves you shaking your head. I have seen leadership candidates express concern that this simple motion could lead to Sharia law or that it would be the end of free speech. I have seen constant reference to this motion being a “Bill” which it most definitely is not.

Every party and that includes the Liberals, NDP, and Green parties has its fringe elements and we have seen some of the Conservative fringe in action around this motion.

The sad thing for the party is that a few of the leadership candidates have bought into this nonsense, potentially self-inflicting injuries on themselves for years to come if one of them happens to win the leadership vote. Some of us have been there when motions are drafted and we know that they are always crafted to inflict the maximum damage and cause the maximum frustration and division in other parties. Hours can be spent on the wording to get it just right. And don’t kid yourself the top brass usually know what is going on and play and active part. Pretty well every motion will be checked over by the Whip’s office and an MP can rarely say the upper echelons IE PMO or Leader’s Office wasn’t aware of what their MP was proposing. Why wasn't an attempt made to get all party agreement on the wording before it was introduced? This could have been done by the MP or party brass. Clearly playing politics with the motion was part of the Liberal game plan.

With this motion the Liberals scored a bullseye and the Conservatives are left looking nasty and out of touch. Thus it is no surprise that the provincial Liberals will introduce a similar motion in a desperate attempt to rattle the Ontario Conservatives.

What is concerning is not only that the federal Conservatives fell into the trap, but that the Liberals on such an important and delicate issue set the trap in the first place.

The shame should be spread equally over both parties.

Thursday
Feb022017

The Sharks Should be Circling

As O’Leary or his team commits another blunder by posting a video of him having fun at a shooting range just as the funerals for the Mosque victims in Quebec starts, sharks of every colour- blue, red, orange and green should be circling around him.

The blue sharks for the obvious reason that he is running for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, and I stress the “Canada” part of the name. All the other sharks should be circling too because as we all know; nothing is ever forgotten in politics and everything comes back to bite you at one time or another- especially through political attack ads. Just ask Ignatieff, the other Canadian who came back home to run the country. Come to think of it he was at Harvard, also from the Boston area.

First we had O’Leary’s comments about our vets, but, with a bit of fancy footwork they managed to dig him out of that one. Then we had his asinine comments about selling seats in the Senate to the highest bidder. He might be able to explain that one as sarcasm, although a great many people wouldn’t believe that answer.

Now we have the inability of O’Leary and his team to answer some pretty easy questions, every one of which should have been anticipated. If you can’t tell people if you will move to Canada and live here full time if elected leader of the Conservative Party of CANADA- you have a problem. If he can’t give a straight answer on whether or not he will run in 2019 if not elected leader- he has another problem.

In the same vein, if O’Leary can’t give a straight forward answer about whether or not he will continue on the American TV show “Shark Tank” if he is elected the leader, then the problems keep adding up. If he every attends a debate, I am sure he will be asked why he thinks being the leader of a national political party and Leader of the Official Opposition is a part-time job? It is a fair question if you won’t tell people what you will do.

These are very basic questions that his team should have grilled him on before he announced he was running. He is the candidate who brags that he tells the truth no matter how much it hurts- tucking straight forward questions doesn’t wear well. By ducking the questions and not answering, he has allowed the other candidates, other political parties and the media to frame his answers for him- that is just plain dumb.

The latest head shaking moment came today with a post to his campaign Face Book page of a video of O’Leary at a shooting range. The fact that this was done on the same day as the Quebec funerals is stunning for its ineptitude. It doesn’t matter when the video was taken. All campaigns have a script book and a roll out plan for communications that is prepared weeks in advance. We get that part, but, doesn’t his team realize that it has to be adjusted daily based on what is happening in the real world, not just inside their campaign bubble? Where was the vetting process? Did the candidate sign off on the posting of that video? That is another question the media will be asking. Hopefully O’Leary has an answer for it.

I was there when we plotted the attacks on Ignatieff and Dion; everything gets used against you-every action, every word, and every mistake. Politics is a brutal game with no quarter given. O’Leary has opened the door to the circling sharks. The only question remaining is whether or not he can jump back into the shark proof cage before it is too late.

Thursday
Jan192017

IS IT TIME?

The Conservative leadership race is finally attracting attention. Kevin O’Leary’s entrance into the campaign has finally achieved what has been missing to date- IE interest.

With fourteen in the race, is it time for a few to take “a walk in the snow?” Is it time for a number of the contenders to set aside egos and throw their support behind a serious candidate; of which there are some very good ones. O’Leary was right on one point, why have a debate when the so called policy discussion is limited to 20 second sound bites. Debates of the size that we have seen to date virtually eliminate the need for anyone to defend their policies in detail. Once the debate thankfully comes to an end, neither the public nor party members have any further understanding of what a candidate is proposing or the implications of those policies. Instead it is left up to the media to offer their explanation of a candidate’s position and after watching the mess in the USA, do party members really want to leave it to the media to explain Conservative policy positions?

If we use O’Leary’s entrance as an example, there have been media comments that the Conservatives might elect a reality TV star. This is supposed to be a major knock on O’Leary, but if we stop and think about it, Canadians elected a drama teacher and that drama teacher is now running the country. The media seem desperate to create another Donald Trump, but they are two different individuals in two different countries. O’Leary gets knocked for being a business man with no political experience. Canadians elected a drama teacher whose only experience was managing a classroom and whose claim to fame was his hair and his father’s name. It will be policies that count and we need O’Leary, Raitt, O’Toole, Leitch, Chong, Bernier, Alexander, Scheer and Blaney to start putting them forward for both scrutiny and debate.

I have also seen mention that party members might fall into the trap of electing someone simply because they can win and beat Trudeau. One would hope they do elect som eone who can win. Unfortunately politics is about winning. With few exceptions such as Pierre Trudeau’s implementation of wage and price controls (Anti-Inflation Act 1975), coming second in an election doesn’t see your policies implemented by the winner. All of the above names have the potential to beat Trudeau and excluding O’Leary there is a lot of political experience in that group. Party members will have an opportunity to look and judge.

It is time now for all of the contenders to step up their game and show party members and the public what they stand for. It is also time to focus on constructive debate and leave the name calling and insults out of it. History has shown that more than one leadership vote has come down to who is everyone’s second choice. It pays to play nice if you want to win. Let us remember that when this leadership race is over Conservatives have to unite to work together to win in 2019; otherwise it is four more years of Justin Trudeau. Can we really afford to let that happen?

Sunday
Jan082017

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.

 

Saturday
Dec242016

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!

 

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