I was going to write a long post on Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau request for more money and the opposition to it but I’ll keep it short.
Some really quick thoughts
- She has not been elected to anything and this makes it complicated when it comes to public money.
- I totally disagree with Heather Mallick. I don’t think the opposition is bullying, I think it is politics which to be honest relies on bullying and coercion so maybe she is right. So maybe I disagree that it is a personal attack on her rather than a partisan attack.
- This Neil MacDonald piece is weird as well. I could be wrong but I don’t think think it’s because she is attractive or effective, it is because it involves public money people are freaking out.
- No comparison to Mila Mulroney is a good one. Both Brian and Mila’s excesses were over the top for a Prime Minister and that has been a legacy that has hurt the stature of the Prime Minister since then.
In short my opinion is that the PMO should give her an office with enough staff to handle correspondence and arrangements. Keep it transparent and accountable to Parliament with how much she is spending and staff and travel. If the demands subside, cut it back. If correspondence and demands go up, revisit each budget period like most government departments. [update: a few elected officials let me know they felt that it will keep growing and that’s okay. Effectiveness often will lead to more demands.]
Years ago I brought in a prominent speaker into Saskatoon. He booked his flights around clumps of arrangements so he would maximize his time and lower the cost for the orgs bringing him in. Have someone do this for her. I somehow figure that there are bureaucrats who have trained their entire lives for this job.
I am not talking about cargo class tickets and red eyes to save a couple of dollars (my brother was once put on a 8 or 9 stopover flight from San Francisco to save like $100 dollars, he actually flew into JFK Airport on his trip before heading back west to Saskatoon. He looked like a zombie when I picked him up at the airport) but showing some good planning and an eye on keeping costs down. This isn’t about Gregoire-Trudeau, travel stories about politicians are rampant and often lazily written without context. Being transparent and cost effective comes with the territory.
Transparency is key because it won’t be cheap. She will need RCMP protection and she will fly first class. That’s totally okay but with Canadian media’s obsession with travel cost stories, it will be a big deal. Use that transparency to show the value the public gets from her events and bill the Liberal Party for events that are political. I also have a feeling that an effective communications plan would do a great deal to amplify the work she is doing by helping to promote the work she is doing.
Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau is in demand because of the crowd she can draw and therefore the good work she can do for organizations that are asking for her. That’s not a bad thing and in the end, the good she will do will far outweigh the cost of a couple of assistants will cost. She isn’t asking for a salary, she is asking for some help to help with her correspondence and scheduling. That is worth providing.
Fundraising note from the Conservatives…
Here are my feelings on travel pieces like this. Both sides put them out and if they don’t journalists basically do the same thing. They used to do these all of the time whenever Stephen Harper went to watch a hockey game and a piece would be written about the costs for the flight, security, and even what he paid for out of his own pocket. It was like it was un-Canadian for a Prime Minister to watch a hockey game.
Now we see it done with the Liberals and it’s just as ridiculous. It’s almost as if no Canadian Prime Minister should ever travel again for any purpose and it is the most Canadian mindset ever. It is almost as if we should be ashamed that our Prime Minister travels and takes in meetings or is asked to events.
Chantal Hebert is suggesting this in her latest column.
I guess because I have always assumed that Mulcair would not win this election and that the Orange Wave was a one off election result, that he would hold on. Then again, I am not a partisan New Democrat and kind of missed this.
If — as the polls are suggesting — he leads the NDP back to third place, Mulcair is unlikely to get another kick at the election can.
The New Democrats have a long and unbroken record of federal defeats and almost as long a history of giving their leaders a second or even a third chance. But a defeat this time would feel different to many party loyalists for they were asked to put quite a bit of water in their ideological wine on the way to their latest bid for government.
To make matters worse, if the NDP ends up back in third place, it will not be because it stood against the Conservative anti-terrorism act or opposed Canada’s military role in its mission against Islamic extremists in the Middle East, or even because it stood against a niqab ban.
From the New Democrat perspective, those would all be good hills to die on.
What has really ailed the Mulcair campaign has been an excess of prudence and a failure to cast the party as a compelling, convincing agent of change. On that score, the Liberals did not steal the ground from under the feet of the New Democrats. The latter left it vacant for Trudeau to occupy.
Whether Mulcair himself would want to stay on for very long if he is defeated in the election is an open question.
Over the campaign, the NDP leader has sometimes been hard-pressed to conceal his contempt for the skills of his Liberal rival. It is hardly a given that he would want to play second fiddle to Trudeau in opposition to another Conservative government or that he could be a happy camper propping up a minority Liberal government.
Also, if you are Harper or Mulcair, columns like these are the worst thing you want to read anytime but especially this close to the election.
As I am at most times early in a campaign, I am struggling with who to vote for. Here are my thoughts so far after watching the Maclean’s Leader’s Debate and the first week of the campaign.
- Stephen Harper lies a lot. An incredible amount. I actually can’t think of a Prime Minister that lies has much as he does about his record. My only comparison might be Tony Blair (who lied over crazy things). Is what they mean by “absolute power corrupts absolutely”?
- C-51 really bothers me. I don’t believe it makes Canadians even safer and it takes away important oversight over our CSIS and the RCMP. It also creates silos which is the kind of organizational mess that allowed the attacks of 9-11 to begin. What is even worse, is that this isn’t just my thoughts on security but have been written about extensively but top US intelligence leaders. Harper could have learned from others but chose not to.
- The shenanigans over the campaign stops. I need to be invited to a campaign event to attend? It’s weird. I like to take the kids out to see leaders as they pass through town but now I have to be a committed Conservative supporter to see the Prime Minister in an election campaign? And I can’t post photos on social media? What kind of thinking leads to that.
- Stephen Harper’s big promise today? A travel ban on travelling to tourist areas! So what happens if I want to do humanitarian work there (I had friends working in Afghanistan long before 9/11 and they were doing good work with local farmers). What happens if I have friends and family there that are not terrorists? Since when has any Canadian government told it’s citizens where they can travel. How does that make Canada safer? Also since when does where I travel decide if I am innocent or guilty. This is going down a dark path.
- Whoever gave Harper the advice that he could just not appoint senators is an idiot. Again, is he being serious or is he going after uneducated voters that this appeals to. I just don’t know.
- Okay, I’ll just call this now, Stephen Harper is a deeply paranoid Prime Minister.
- Of course his promise to never have a Netflix tax. Also, anyone else find it a little weird that a law and order Prime Minister likes Breaking Bad. Anyone think that he actually watches or knows what Breaking Bad is? I thought so.
New Democratic Party
- The Sherbrook Declaration which says that the country can be broken up with a vote of 50% plus one goes against my core beliefs and the Supreme Court of Canada.
- The NDP plan to abolish the senate sounds great (well actually it sounds stupid) when said on a campaign trail but why are we making, “re-opening the constitution” a campaign platform. Did we have so much fun at Meech Lake, Charlottetown and the subsequent Quebec referendum that we want to do this again?
- I am not impressed with the $15 an hour national wage. I think it is poorly thought out policy. Actually it was the kind of poorly thought out but populist policies that the NDP were known for and I had hoped they had left behind.
- Tom Mulcair talking about climate change is a little like hearing Stephen Harper talk about the economy. A lot of bravado but not much of a plan.
- I have always been disgusted that the NDP opened those satellite offices across the country in clear violation of the rules and won’t pay back the money. Apparently the Liberal Party and the Conservatives aren’t the only one that feel entitled to imaginary entitlements.
- Linda McQuaig’s comments on the oilsands. Really the NDP are going to shut down the oilsands and plunge Alberta and probably Saskatchewan into a depression for years? This is why it is hard to take the NDP seriously most elections. I don’t trust them to manage the economy. Of course it’s hard to beat Harper’s economic record but the NDP seem to be trying.
- I hate the NDP stance of deferring to the United Nations on military actions. In theory that sounds great but in practice it gives Russia a veto on whether or not you act. In case the NDP haven’t noticed, there is a madman in charge of Russia and that seat on the UN Security Council.
- Hate that Trudeau voted for C-51. Just hate it. Either Liberal Party advisors are playing politics with an important issue or are idiots. Or both.
- I know I am the outlier on this but I thought Trudeau was poor in the debates. I thought it was weird he didn’t tell me what he believed, only what the Liberal Party believed. It’s not a big thing but I thought it was strange. According to the polls, I was wrong about this anyways, most thought he won.
- Trudeau’s faith in the ability of the senate to be restored is noble. For all of the NDP and the Conservatives rhetoric that it can not, in truth, no one has ever tried. At least Trudeau is going to try.
- Trudeau’s foreign policy isn’t so much a thought out foreign policy but just plain naïve. While Harper’s doesn’t make sense, doing the opposite of craziness doesn’t make it sane. It is just stupid in another direction. His views on Syria and ISIS are naïve and goes against any form of common sense. Of course the US and Harper’s plan aren’t that effective right now either.
This is separate from all three parties but in the U.S. in both the GOP and the Democratic party, they have adults who spend their lives on making careful and well thought out policy decisions. In Canada, we seem to leave those decisions to political hacks which is why we get these half baked policy ideas that make no sense to anyone other than pollsters. When talking about foreign policy, defense, or the economy, those wise voices creating policy, tend to be important and we really lack that here.
I don’t know how I am going to vote but none of the three campaigns get me that excited and to be honest, seem to be doing what Allan Gregg said after the 1988 campaign. The Tories went after the really stupid voters. Sadly that worked and it seems like all three parties are targeting that demographic right now.
There is nothing noble about Eve Adams floor crossing according to Murray Mandryk
If you are looking for the slightest bit of nobility in Eve Adams’ decision to abandon Stephen Harper’s Conservatives and move to Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, you would be well advised to quickly move on.
About the kindest thing to be said is that it represents just the latest episode of self indulgence that has defined the soap opera political career of the Mississauga-Brampton South MP.
Far worse, however, is that it’s this kind of cynical manoeuvre that feeds the public’s appetite to stay as far away from politics – and polling booths – as possible.
Coincidentally, Adams’ sudden conversion to Liberalism comes after her failed bid to win a Conservative nomination in the newly redistributed Oakville-North Burlington seat. Adams wanted the seat not necessarily for reasons of having represented the people there. She has been in Oakville for only two years, but had lived in Mississauga for 14 years – seven of which she served on its city council. Oakville, however, is a much easier seat for a Conservative candidate to win.
We are now supposed to believe that after a nasty nomination battle – in which Adams either started or gleefully engaged in the many skirmishes – she suddenly has recognized her problems with the Harper government over matters such as income splitting or, less specifically, its "values" and the PM’s "mean-spirited" leadership.
"The values of the Conservative Party are not the values of the original Progressive Conservative Party and they are not the values that I hold," Adams said Monday, adding she now prefers Trudeau’s kinder, more optimistic style. "I want to work with someone who inspires, not with fear-mongers and bullies."
What sheer and utter nonsense.
Of course Mark Critch has some thoughts
Mr. Trudeau just accepted somebody that Harper thought was too tainted to touch. Think about that for a second. Harper thought she was too dirty. That’s like Rex Murphy accusing someone of "loquaciously rambling in their discourse."
The low point came when Adams met with the prime minister to beg him to spare her. Harper also said that Adams told him she had broken up with his former communications director, Dimitri Soudas. Harper then leaned forward and told her that he knew Mr. Soudas was sitting in the lobby waiting for her.
Can you imagine that conversation? "Oh, did I say we broke up? Yeah, well, we’re not, like ‘BROKEN UP’ over. We’re more like ‘taking a break’ over. I mean, like, he thinks we go out but I’m so over him and, well, my Facebook status says ‘it’s complicated.’ You can totally check that."
I’m actually relieved that the PM knew. When the Prime Minister’s Office was surprised that John Baird was leaving cabinet, I thought "What’s the good of having CSIS spy on everyone if Frank Magazine knows your foreign affairs minister is leaving before you do?"
So Justin Trudeau and the Liberals have a new ad out. Â Canadian politicians since the days of John G. Diefenbaker have been loving the north. Â John Turner, Jean Chretien, Stephen Harper all love the north. Â Itâ€™s expected that Justin Trudeau loves the north as wellâ€¦ and wants to make it better! Â Thatâ€™s it. Â
As a voter, I want to hear how. Â What is the big strategy. Â There is some political room for him to maneveur as Harper has really accomplished nothing as part of his northern agenda. Â The Department of National Defence canâ€™t even procure rifles for the Rangers (who arguably donâ€™t need replacements for their bolt action rifles that work really well in the winter). Â Plans for a deepwater port? Â Umm that has gone nowhere. Â
Instead of just matching Harperâ€™s unfulfilled and broken promises with real ideas, Trudeau just floated out some cliches and feel good statements. Â In other words, not much has changed.
This got ugly quickly
"That Justin Trudeau would use Jack Layton’s dying words as a political tool says everything that needs to be said about Justin Trudeau’s judgment and character," Mulcair said.
New Democrat MP Olivia Chow, Layton’s widow, focused her reaction on Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
"I’m quite surprised that the leader of the Liberals used my late husband’s words, but at the end of the day Stephen Harper is the prime minister," Chow said.
"If we are to have a better country, and certainly Canadians deserve a lot better, we need to focus on Stephen Harper. Yes, we are the party of love, hope and optimism and let’s be hopeful. Let’s not be fearful of each other, but let’s train our eyes on the real problem, which is Stephen Harper’s government."
Trudeau, however, was unapologetic, accusing the NDP of being nasty and divisive in the hard-fought campaigns, which saw all three major parties use aggressive tactics.
In other words, it is okay for the NDP to use Laytonâ€™s dying words as a political tool but not Justin Trudeau. I am glad we got that straight.
Doesn’t this mean that the Liberals are doing a better job than the NDP?
OTTAWA – The NDP is steamed about media attention lathered on Justin Trudeau and a party that fell out of public favour over the sponsorship scandal while the official opposition struggles to get ink.
The Liberal leader puts a bong in the window and stumps to tax pot and he’s suddenly prime ministerial after the last guy behind the wheel drove the party into the history books with the worst electoral showing ever, they say.
New Democrats can point to a summer tweet by Trudeau about his wife’s pregnancy that made the front page as another example of adoration.
The Liberals are betting the farm on their leader’s popularity.
Privately, New Democrats grumble about the media love-in and why news outlets don’t press the third-place party and expose its weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
The NDP spent the summer often being the only opposition party to challenge the Conservatives – its news releases flooding media inboxes and its critics standing before microphones.
Thomas Mulcair spent the better part of the House recess rolling out ideas and initiatives and teeing off on Senate spending abuses.
“When you go into a scrum and look at the body language of the reporters there, they act like groupies. It’s fascinating to watch,” a party official said about Trudeau’s extended honeymoon since his anointment in April.
Other New Democrats are optimistic that interest in Trudeau is waning and that next week’s resumption of Parliament after a month-long prorogation will remind Canadians why the Grits sit in a corner in the Commons.
Pro tip: Winning political parties also don’t allow process stories like this to be written.
Why Harperâ€™s foes need to get off the potÂ by Paul Wells
Liberals, you see, are quite sure every Canadian is a Liberal whose vote was stolen by Conservative skullduggery in the elections of 2006, 2008 and 2011. Canadians, in this view, think marijuana use is harmless fun, and they will blame politicians who want to harsh the national buzz. So a Liberal friend of mine was genuinely surprised when she plunked herself down behind the Liberal party table at a local community event and got her ear bent by voters, many of them from immigrant communities, asking why Trudeau was soft on drugs.Ja
The realization that many Canadians believe illegal drugs should stay illegal is one surprise awaiting the Liberals. Another is that a lot more Canadians have complex, conflicting or frankly hypocritical views on drug policyâ€” but that itâ€™s not drug policy that will determine their next vote. Millions will vote based on their best guess about which party will best ensure a strong economy whose bounties improve their own life and their familyâ€™s. And Justin Trudeau just spent a month talking about something else.
This is something else that Liberals cannot understand: the notion that most Canadians are no longer properly grateful for the work Jean ChrÃ©tien and Paul Martin did to clean up deficits in the 1990s. In fact, a growing number of Canadians, even the ones who donâ€™t smoke a lot of pot, have dim memories of the 1990s or none at all.
This helps explain a Harris-Decima poll from the end of August that inquired about respondentsâ€™ opinions of the national political parties. Trudeauâ€™s net favourable impression is way higher than Harperâ€™s and a fair bit higher than NDP Leader Tom Mulcairâ€™s. Respondents were likelier to believe Trudeau â€œshares your values.â€ Heâ€™s having a strong year in the polls. But Harper still has a slight edge over both Trudeau and Mulcair on â€œjudgment,â€ and on â€œeconomic managementâ€ it was a blowout: 39 per cent prefer Harper to only 20 per cent for Trudeau and 15 per cent for Mulcair.
Trudeau hasnâ€™t the faintest intention of campaigning in the 2015 election with pot legalization as his main plank. But changing deep-seated attitudes toward a party takes time. And because the Liberals took two years to pick a leader after the 2011 elections, Trudeau only has three summers to define himself before facing voters, and he pretty much just blew one.
For much the same reason, Iâ€™m not sure Tom Mulcair picked the right issue when he used part of his summer to travel coast-to-coast campaigning for Senate abolition. For reasons explained elsewhere in this issue, Canadians are angry at the Senate right now. Thatâ€™s not the same as believing any party has the ability, once in power, to do much about it. His Senate tour illustrates a little-noticed difference between Mulcair and his predecessor Jack Layton. Layton came from Toronto city politics. He hadnâ€™t the faintest interest in constitutional tinkering. The NDP stood for abolishing the Senate, as it always had, and Layton never talked about it. Mulcair comes from Quebec provincial politics, where a generation grew up believing that if you have no constitutional scheme to peddle you cannot be serious.
Laytonâ€™s prosaic fascination with votersâ€™ kitchen-table preoccupations helped him supplant the Liberals as the first choice for voters eager to block the Conservatives. Next time around that vote will be up for grabs again. Mulcair and Trudeau both plan to try to take Harperâ€™s economic credibility away from him. They havenâ€™t gotten around to it yet, but they believe they have time. Harperâ€™s opponents always believe they have plenty of time.
All you have is image
His body is his temple: no pollutants shall enter. When the Trudeau family wants some kicks, they all crowd into a canoe and go floating down the nearest river (where photographers just happen to pop up to record the occasion). Between family outings he installs dimmer switches in their typically suburban home, wearing his typical weekend garb of T-shirt and cargo shorts, (carefully recording it on Twitter, if a video crew doesnâ€™t happen by.)
Raising the question: is this guy really one of us? He has no vices. He never enters the sort of places most average Canadians hang out. If he was somehow forced to visit a Timmies, heâ€™d order a dry multigrain bagel and a small green tea. Remember when Stephane Dion was accused of eating a hot dog with a knife and fork? He never did connect with voters.
Seriously, the core of the emerging Liberal strategy is to position Justin Trudeau as a representative of a younger generation of middle class Canadians, in tune with their needs, concerns and aspirations. But, four months into his leadership, he seems about as middle class as Michael Bloomberg. Heâ€™s the millionaire son of a famous Canadian, who grew up with a trust fund and earned $277,000 in four years just giving speeches. Heâ€™s been in the public eye since birth. His wife is a model and TV host. You couldnâ€™t sit down with him to discuss the issues over a beer or a coffee. Does he really understand what it is to deal with student debt, a hefty mortgage, maxed-out credit cards, an obnoxious boss or the simple, excruciating struggle to find a job?
Of course Bloomberg became a pretty good mayor of New York City and the same could be said about Trudeau’s father who ran on the idea of a just society.
Michael Den Tendt doesnâ€™t think so
Which leads us back to this: Be it resolved, there is now a single homogeneous Canadian political culture, expressed via the three main party shadings. How long until platforms themselves become irrelevant? Partisans will argue their own beloved expression of Canadian liberal democracy is not only best, but distinct â€“ as the Tories, Grits and NDP were a generation or two ago, when they disagreed about country-changing issues such as North American free trade, in 1988, or membership in NATO, in 1968.
But tick through the list of assumptions at the heart of the state today â€“ from socialized health care to capital punishment, abortion or free trade, deficits or tax rates â€“ and you find unanimity. The Conservatives must be for gay rights, or be written off as reactionary by the majority. The New Democrats must be for industry and thrift, or be written off as loopy dreamers by that same majority.
This convergence can create a mash-up, as political parties struggle to create differentiation amid their essential drab sameness. Thus, John Bairdâ€™s defence of gay rights in Russia doesnâ€™t go far enough, says the NDPâ€™s Paul Dewar. He must crank it up to 11, like the guitar amplifier in Rob Reinerâ€™s Spinal Tap. The Liberals, meantime, are beginning a two-year effort to implant the idea, by every means other than saying it, that they can be more conservative than the Conservatives when it comes to economics, and more new and democratic than the New Democrats when it comes to sex, drugs and rock â€˜nâ€™ roll. â€œTough on crimeâ€ is still exclusive Conservative territory â€“ but only because itâ€™s one of the few old planks they havenâ€™t ditched in the hunt for centrist votes. And, to be frank, itâ€™s not popular enough for the other parties to bother to steal.
Taken together, this still-unfolding spectrum collapse sets up a contest of almost pure personality in 2015. Through the next 24 months, Harper will seek to recast himself as more constructive; Mulcair, happier; and Trudeau, more solid. The ad war will be personal as never before, culminating in televised debates understood by all to be winner-take-all. And the pollsters, perhaps as never before, will be flying blind. Interesting times.
From the Toronto Star’s Chantal HÃ©bert
The fact is that, over the past three months, Harperâ€™s agenda has featured more so-called distractions than anything else.
Creaky wheels in the PMO and in the cabinet; cracks in caucus solidarity and public opinion turbulence have become hallmarks of the ongoing federal season.
Finance Minister Jim Flahertyâ€™s 2013 budget played to tepid reviews. He has been battling a painful illness. In the lead-up to a mid-term shuffle there has been unprecedented speculation as to his future role in the government.
For different reasons, outgoing Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney and former PMO chief of staff Nigel Wright â€” who both played strategic roles on Harperâ€™s economic watch â€” are simultaneously out of the picture.
For the first time since Harper became leader, some elements of the religious right have waged open war on his leadership. That comes on the heels of a public collision between the prime ministerâ€™s parliamentary lieutenants and the social conservative wing of his caucus over the abortion issue. That clash has morphed into a larger internal battle over the democratic rights of government MPs.
An early attempt to clip the wings of Justin Trudeau seems to have backfired. Polls suggest that the latest Liberal leader is less vulnerable to the black magic of Conservative spin doctors than his predecessors.
In yet another first, the prime minister lost a seat to a byelection earlier this month and, in the process, his only Newfoundland-and-Labrador minister. Peter Penashue had initially resigned over 2011 election spending violations.
On the same general theme, a federal court judge found that fraudulent phone calls to non-Conservative voters in the last election were part of a systemic attempt to prevent them from voting. While last weekâ€™s ruling did not point the finger at the Conservatives, it did conclude that whoever was behind the manoeuvre accessed the partyâ€™s data bank.
If there ever was a time when the government needed to change the channel it would be now, but Harper does not have a lot of alternative programming to offer.
Chris Selley is dead on right.
My colleague Andrew Coyne recently renewed his call for political advertising reform â€” specifically an end to anything even remotely resembling a public subsidy for it, which I could not possibly support more; and a requirement that party leaders voice their own ads, which somewhat offends my free-speech Spidey senses. But as the Conservatives prepare to roll out some Justin Trudeau attack-mailers, at taxpayer expense, featuring an outrageously misleading quotation, I keep coming back to a perplexing question: We wouldnâ€™t stand for the level of dishonesty and deception we routinely see in political advertising if it came from someone selling pickup trucks, hamburgers, underwear or shampoo. So why the hell do we put up with it from people trying to sell us the people who will run the country?
I have heard the justifications for the exemption of political advertising from Advertising Standards Canada standards any number of times, and at no time have they ever made much sense to me.
Itâ€™s impossible to evaluate the truthiness of an ad during an election campaign. So? Do it afterwards and report back. Political advertising isnâ€™t just a campaign phenomenon anymore anyway. Not hardly.
Voters understand and discount hyperbole. That doesnâ€™t seem to be what the parties think, or else they wouldnâ€™t constantly rub hyperbole in our faces.
We need unfettered dialogue and debate in politics. Amen, assuming equal right of rebuttal. But then why not afford people selling vastly less important products the same leeway? Iâ€™m reminded of an amusing scenario that Allan Gregg recently imagined: Burger King accusing McDonaldâ€™s of using beef rife with botulism, and McDonaldâ€™s firing back by claiming that Burger Kingâ€™s product is swimming in E. coli. And just wait until Wendyâ€™s gets in on the act! Why should politicians be afforded this absurd slanderous luxury if burger joints arenâ€™t?