POLITICS

Political Traction: Trudeau a shoe-in for Liberal Leader

03/12/2013 11:16 EDT | Updated 05/12/2013 05:12 EDT
Jaime Watt joins CBC News Network's Power & Politics host Evan Solomon each week to look at how issues making waves in Ottawa resonate with Canadians.

Monitoring the House of Commons' question period, mainstream media and the conversation on social media, Watt and his team at Navigator Ltd. determine which issues gained the most attention in official Ottawa, and then measure how much traction those issues managed to find with Canadians outside the nation's capital.

This week: Justin Trudeau is a shoe-in to become the next Liberal leader, according to Ottawa pundits and Canadians on social media across the country.

"Mr. Trudeau has won. They don't even need to have a convention and count the ballots. It's pretty much a done deal as far as Canadians and Ottawa [are] concerned," Watt told Power & Politics guest host Hannah Thibedeau.

Even though Ottawa and Canadians agree that Trudeau will be crowned Liberal leader next month, the focus of the two conversations differs.

Canadians are still concerned with the race — the Liberal supporter numbers and the rivalries between candidates. The Liberal party announced last week that 294,000 Canadians have signed up to vote for the next Liberal leader. Trudeau's campaign says his team recruited around 150,000 supporters, or just over half the people who are signed up to vote in the leadership contest.

Meanwhile, Ottawa is already looking ahead to the challenges Trudeau would face on Parliament Hill, and the dynamic between Prime Minister Stephen Harper, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Trudeau.

Watt points out that Trudeau has run a strong campaign, but cautions that past Liberal leaders have won by coronation, which has hurt the party. The more challenges and real competition Trudeau faces, the better Liberals will fare, Watt says.

Canadians note Chavez's death, Ottawa says good riddance

Last week, Hugo Chavez's death sparked a diplomatic spat when Harper's office released a statement calling on the Venezuelan government to build a better, brighter and more democratic future. But the Venezuelans condemned Harper's response to their leader's death as insensitive.

Overall, Watt says Ottawa pundits aren't sad to see Chavez go. But many Canadians are expressing sympathy for Chavez's battle with Cancer.

Foreign affairs issues often don't make the Political Traction radar. But the death of one of the most controversial world leaders gained the most attention across Canada this week.

Venezuelans will choose their new leader on April 14. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles will run against Venezuela's former vice-president, Nicolas Maduro.

Watt predicts that the elections won't gain major traction unless there's widespread electoral fraud.