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A Cheesy Adventure

I must admit that our visit to the St Albert’s Cheese Factory yesterday started out as a bit of a lark.

After reading David Akin’s post on Twitter that Justin Trudeau would be visiting the cheese factory, we decided to go over and see him. The original intention was to try to get a selfie with him which we could then post on Facebook and horrify all of our friends, former Conservative staff etc. Now don’t get me wrong, we love St Albert’s cheese and as it is roughly 20 minutes from our home, we often drop by there to restock our cheese supplies.

Once there it became more interesting. With more years than I like to think about in politics, old habits kicked in and I became a political observer once again. Checking over the crowd, it was quite a mixed group of seniors, tourists and locals from the town and surrounding farms. There was no strong Liberal cheering club present. As with most leaders and Prime Ministers, he arrived a little late; security was adequate, and not over bearing and Conservatives take note, anyone who wanted to be there could be there. There was no vetting of people in the crowd, or previous sign in approval, no necessity to have a Liberal membership etc.

For those that caught a glimpse on TV, the place was packed. While he did speak a few words there was no sound system, so except for a few reporters and folks at the front, no one else heard anything.




Having spent almost 50 years being involved in politics in one way or another I have been to several hundred functions with MPs, ministers, party leaders and Prime Ministers, each has a different way of working a room. You also learn how to read a crowd and the most likely route that he might follow if you want to shake a hand, get a photo etc. We picked our spot (and yes Bev got a selfie) and waited and more importantly watched him in action. What you see in person is always very different from the few seconds shown on TV.

This guy knows how to work a crowd. He is fearless at plunging into the midst of it (that must drive his security detail nuts). He has a way of greeting people in a very friendly and informal manner and everyone within a short distance of him gets a few words, a handshake, or a selfie. He is exceptionally patient and when he has a few seconds with you, you have his undivided attention. Trudeau made a point of working the entire crowd, from the front of the room to the back and then went outside to do the same with those who couldn’t fit into the building. Not too many Prime Ministers or party leaders like to do that, most just want to get out of there and on to the next function.

It was impressive to watch. I would say Mulroney’s ability to work a crowd stands out in my mind, but Trudeau would be a close match and might even have an edge.

The point of all of this is that it so obvious how badly the Conservatives underestimated this guy.

In politics you have to study and know your opponent, both their weaknesses and their strengths. Think back to all of the pre-election negative advertising. The Conservatives always focused on his weaknesses- inexperience, his showmanship, lack of policies, his hair. I said back then that it was a foolish line of attack and I am more convinced of that now. I never saw any indication that the Conservatives really understood his strengths; they were just too dismissive of him. They paid a price for that miscalculation.

No one will ever say that Trudeau will turn into a policy wonk; we all know who calls the shots in PMO and who designs the Liberal strategy, but as the front man for the government and the party he is good at what he does and that makes him a formidable opponent.

Attack Trudeau (IE PMO staff) for poor Liberal policies and attack his personal blunders (such as his island holiday), when he makes them, but personal attacks on him will largely wash off. Never make the mistake of under estimating his impact and the impression he leaves with voters when he makes this type of feel good excursion. The Liberal brain trust would be wise to keep him on the road all summer and as often as possible when the House is sitting. It certainly explains their desire to only have him in the House one day a week.

By the way the security detail had what looked like a lot of new and interesting vehicles. The press used to like going after Harper’s detail and their vehicles, costs etc., perhaps someone might want to check out the costs of Trudeau’s- just a thought.

In conclusion, the Conservatives need to go back to the drawing board, study him all over again and find a strategy that works if they hope to defeat him in 2019.


Know When To Put A Leash On It

There is a point with every political attack on an opponent when you have to put a leash on it and move on to another issue. Staying on an issue too long gives your opponent time to get organized and counter attack, thereby limiting your impact. Both the Khadr and Rolling Stone issues are good examples of this.

In the Khadr case the Conservatives did exceptionally well when they went on the attack against Trudeau’s decision to pay off a terrorist. The public outcry which they helped stoke made their point that it was a bad deal and taxpayers got hosed again by a Prime Minister who is soft on terrorists and who shows no concern for our hard earned tax dollars.

However, smelling a winning issue the Conservatives kept at it too long. Sending an MP to the United States to keep the issue going and in turn criticizing the Prime Minister while down there gave their opponents in PMO the opening they needed to push back. One can argue about how effective that pushback has been, but dragging the issue out for too long has allowed the Liberals to muddy the waters just enough that recent polls show the Khadr affair having little impact on the Liberals popularity. It will make a great attack ad for the Conservatives in 2019, remind Canadians then, right now they need to put a leash on it.

I would also add it is essential to check on your own party’s position on the very issue you are about to unleash. It is a dumb idea to attack a Canadian Prime Minister when you are in the United States if your own party had previously attacked their opponents for doing the same thing. It allows your opponents to completely muddy the water and switch the issue to one that they can capitalize on. In other words don't shoot yourself in your own foot. If you don’t know your own party’s record on an issue, you can bet your opponents political research staff do.

The Rolling Stone cover issue is another example. When the story came out, get in your attack and get out before your opponent recovers and pushes back. This type of fluff piece always offers an opportunity for some type of attack, both serious ones and humorous ones. Link it to almost anything you want (it is summer and not a lot of people are paying attention anyways) get your hit and get out. Staying on an issue such as this one for too long leads to absurd attacks such as the one that Trudeau gracing a magazine cover will somehow hurt Canada’s position in the NAFTA negotiations. That line of attack smacks of too much coffee in the OLO or staff drinking too much of thier own political Kool-Aid.

 Issues evolve every day, new ones come up and a good attack team can capitalize on them by constantly pivoting to a new issue just as your opponent figures out their counter attack. That is how the game is played. The Conservatives need to figure out when to put a leash on it and move on.


Interview on CTV National News on Khadr

A short clip from my interview on CTV National News on July 7th.

If it won't come up as a link, you can cut and  paste.







More of the Same From Justin

I see the Prime Minister’s end of session press conference was the exact opposite of what he promised when running for election.

Remember his promise about doing things differently? Remember openness and accountability?

A lot of BS was thrown around at that press conference from his inability to put a timeline on paying down the deficit that he has racked up, to a continuation of the lie about the Conservatives leaving him a deficit.

Somehow Justin sees the Conservative senators as obstructive and the reason various bills were delayed. Hello Justin! That was a long standing policy when the Liberals were the majority in the Senate and Conservatives had a majority government. At that time the Liberals claimed they were just doing their job and that it was the role of the Senate to review bills, make amendments etc.

It was so bad that in the Mulroney years, the Prime Minister had to appoint additional senators in 1990 to get legislation through. They became known as the GST senators. Perhaps the Prime Minister needs a history lesson.

Let us not forget his absolute failure to bring in electoral reform. The PM claims that was a difficult decision- hogwash. The only thing difficult about it was the fact that PMO couldn’t get their way and have their vision of electoral reform adopted. Sorry Justin, but you can’t win them all.

Have no fear though while the Prime Minister’s popularity has taken a hit over the last year we can expect to see plenty of new socks and selfies over the next few months and unfortunately the media will be only too happy to write about it.


Enough About Trudeau's Socks!

Enough of the PM’s socks! Who cares what he wears. Media types moan the collapse of print media and wonder about where the journalism profession is going and they feed us crap about the colour or design of Trudeau’s socks.


Why was that something that Canadians needed to know about?

How about his inability to say no to foreign groups wanting Canadian dollars? What about taking care of some of our poor, our seniors, our homeless?

It was the summer solstice, how about an in-depth discussion about his government’s failure to deliver on its promises to our First Nations?

How about a discussion on the huge debt that he has racked up in less than two years in office? This is a debt so huge that my grandchildren and great grandchildren will have to pay it off.

But no, somehow we needed to be told about the colour of his socks. Another story and red herring as unimportant as the phony one about him photo bombing a group of prom students.

As long as the media get distracted by Liberal attempts to divert them from the real issues, we will get more photos and articles about his socks. I am not sure what is worse, the one wearing them or the media types who insist about writing about his socks.

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