Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Justin Trudeau must begin soon to build Liberal credibility with a solid policy book. His charisma needs substance to unseat the Harper Government.

Justin Trudeau rises in Question Period. 
It will be hard to dislodge the Harper Government in 2015.

What Justin Trudeau has to do.

by Tom Thorne

Justin Trudeau has been basking somewhat in a positive image since he became Leader of the Liberal Party.  Not that he has had nothing to say about Senate scandals and the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) debacle but really he has mostly remained sanitized and above the fray. Even his views on marijuana have given little ammunition to Conservatives or NDP opponents except a few sneers in attack advertisements.

As the PMO scandals develop and Prime Minister Stephen Harper begins his potential descent from power, it seems that tedium is setting in.  New Democrat (NDP) leader Thomas Mulcair, mounted scathing attacks in Question Period holding the Prime Minister's feet to the fire, but his jibes and jabs have not increased NDP popularity nor fully damaged the Harper Government.  

Justin Trudeau on the other hand has increased Liberal votes and popularity in the recent by-elections. So when Thomas Mulcair tried his jabs and jibes on Justin Trudeau they also have had little effect. Justin Trudeau just keeps positively rolling along without really doing or saying too much. Both the Conservatives and the NDP can't really touch Trudeau's current political mojo. He seems to be surrounded by an invisible shield.

This is all very nice for Trudeau but now to really build on his positive image Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party have to come up with more substance about how they can present an alternative to the Conservatives while at the same time knocking the NDP off Official Opposition status in the House of Commons.

It is my contention that the NDP seats in Quebec are soft and that they will not go in 2015 to the NDP as easily as they did last time. In addition, the current Parti Quebecois polls indicate that the public has no appetite for nationalism or separatism.  

It's bread and butter economic issues that matter in Quebec as they do in the rest of the country. Conservatives even with a decent economic record show no promise in Quebec when the party remains in the hands of right wingers following the Stephen Harper brand.

Therefore it can be time for a Liberal resurgence in Quebec and with a good performance in Ontario and British Columbia the worst outcome is that Liberals form the Official Opposition in 2015 to a minority Conservative Government. 

If something happens to take Stephen Harper off the Canadian political stage (the Senate Scandal, PMO implosion with RCMP charges leading to the PM, a Conservative caucus rebellion, or a run in with party big wigs) then the gloves are off in 2015 because the Conservatives could be rudderless even if Stephen Harper went another round because there would no time to replace him in time. Of course I could be wrong on this one if the Conservative Party brass see a longer future for Stephen Harper as leader.

There will be an general election on 19 October 2015 no matter what happens. To utilize the time leading up to the election what should Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party be doing? First Justin Trudeau has to stop giving the Conservative propaganda machine fodder for its work. You know that in 2015 Trudeau will be in attack ads for his marijuana statements and his comments (out of context) about the Chinese government. 

And although Trudeau gave his seat on the VIP plane for Nelson Mandela’s funeral to Liberal MP Irwin Kotler, who worked as a lawyer to get Mandela freed, I can see  Conservative attack ads in the 2015 election using this as further Trudeau destruct fodder.

The Conservatives will try to show that Justin Trudeau is a lightweight unworthy to become Prime Minister or even the Leader of the Opposition. How do the Liberals counter this stuff? 

A sample of Harper attack ads to discredit Justin Trudeau. 
The Trudeau name and charisma will not be enough to counter this stuff.

One strategy is to ignore it and let it happen hoping that the vitriolic content of such attacks blows back on the Conservatives. Sadly however, these type of attack ads seem to work. With their current record in the PMO and the Senate, the Conservatives must go on the offensive attacking Justin Trudeau’s considerable threat. 

Trudeau now needs to break out with policies for the next election that create hope of for youth unemployment and education debts. He needs to court the vote of disenfranchised youth and marshal them for the Liberal cause.  

They need policy to stem the industrial decline of Ontario and Quebec and get a more entrepreneurial set of policies that will encourage private pent up capital to start working again to build business. That will require confidence in the business world that seems to be fence sitting for the moment concerning new investment. 

Harper has not been able to get business to increase investment in new plant and machinery or start hiring for real jobs. The Ontario loss of the Heinz plant in Lemington and today the Kellogg factory in London sadly demonstrate that Central Canada's economy is not robust even with a lower dollar and continuing low interest rates. We could well ask what Harper is doing to stem this decline in Ontario.

A Liberal government must also show how they would get Canada back on the International stage as an honest broker and country that can be relied on to look after the global environment. We should be showing leadership on all international forums on these issues. At the moment we have lost any initiative on climate, pollution or convincing the world that we can move tar sand oil safely to markets.

The Liberals have an opportunity at this time to really provide alternatives to Conservative Party right wing notions about prison reform, gun control, and law and order issues.Judges are beside themselves deciding how they can implement mandatory surcharges of $100 per sentence on miscreants who have been found guilty even a first offence for minor crime. This is the result of Harper's tough on crime views in legislation. Poor people pay.

The Liberals need to fully articulate how they intend to give a fiscal break to middle class people. They need to have a war on poverty in Canada and especially among native people. Seniors need to be addressed with how they can preserve retirement savings and make a decent return on their investments.

If Justin Trudeau's Liberals articulate a bright future for Canada then they have an excellent chance to form a government in 2015. The status quo we now have is a downer with secretive leadership. It is full of obscuring of facts, tight controls of the Harper PMO over parliament, cabinet ministers and their ministries. 

Trudeau and the Liberals can contrast a better more positive way for Canada but they need to announce this very soon knowing the fight will be tough countering Conservative promotions featuring distain, ridicule and contempt. The recent attack ads concerning Justin Trudeau as a lightweight even before the election begins, demonstrate the anxiety the Harper Government has about Justin Trudeau.

The Conservatives have the funds to do this negative campaign before the election. Liberal spending should not try to counter these ads. It should take a higher road and show Canadians that there is light at the end of the Harper tunnel. The Liberals have this advantage to counter the Harper view of Canada. 

The Liberals are far enough away from their own peccadilloes to break out. It will be a hard test of whether Justin Trudeau has the right stuff to weather negative attacks while putting forth a positive political that Canadians need to hear.

© Copyright 2013, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved

1 comment:

  1. Interesting, though I'm not convinced Trudeau has it in him to bring real policy to the table. He still seems like desperate attempt by a party who's role in elections is sharing the non conservative vote with the NDP.

    To my eyes he's still playing popularity games with voters, and historically popularity has little effect on voting in this country. At least...in my recent and short memory.