It is hard to believe, but back on this day in 2005, we were all involved in an election that was forced on November 28th when the Martin government lost a confidence vote. Part of what made that election possible was the success the then opposition Conservatives had in Question Period. Today, the best you can say about Question Period is that it is pathetic and a great opportunity to take a nap.
The point Justin Trudeau, and largely the rest of Canada, has missed is the role British Columbia will play moving forward in Canada. If it's not obvious, it should be by now. With Vancouver MP Joyce Murray announcing her run for leader of the Liberal Party today, it's slowly setting the pace to which B.C. politicians will begin to take a more active role in shaping the country's policy.
The "Justin Trudeau story" is of course the recent Sun News revelation that everyone's favourite pretender to the Liberal tiara had some rather disparaging things to say about Albertans back back in 2010. 'Course, in the end, regardless of your allegiances, the question is how little thinking a future prime minister deserves to get away with.
Why do political handlers confuse contrarianism with "substance"? The Justin Trudeau campaign, keen to put to bed allegations of its candidate being a lightweight, just put out an opinion piece embracing the takeover of Nexen by China's state owned CNOOC. Unexpected, eh? It must therefore be substantive. Who knows, a real debate about Canada with real options beyond the current narrow bandwidth may open up and engage Canadians in politics again. Goodness knows that what's currently on offer isn't exactly inspiring.
Avid news junkies know there's really five other folks "running," but c'mon folks, this is the leadership of the Liberal Party you're running for, a job only the most eminently experienced children of dead prime ministers are qualified to fill. In reality, of course, Wednesday was a date like any other for a nation that's already been toiling under the weight of a Liberal leadership tournament ever since Bob Rae stepped down last June, or at latest since that crisp October evening when Justin Trudeau threw his shimmering locks into the ring.
I am not an MP, and I do not come from the Ottawa bubble, and I do not believe that Canadians think the job criteria for a politician is being a politician. I want to bring a fresh and new approach to politics, one that is welcoming, inclusive, and values each individual for their contribution. I have recently driven across the country, not flown over it as many politicians tend to do. I have stopped in smaller towns and cities and talked to folks, and actually listened to them. When you do that, you hear what it is that actually concerns Canadians, and it also gives me a chance to share my vision of Canada with them.
Martha Hall Findlay has jumped into the federal Liberal leadership race, good for her. It will be a nice counter balance to Trudeau's charisma and offer a chance to flush him out in the one area that he is considered to be a light weight -- policy issues. Whether or not she wins or whether or not people think she is a good candidate, one thing is certain: finally the federal Liberal leadership race is getting interesting and offering up some substance. As they say in horse racing "they are off and running."
I liked what Justin Trudeau had to say at my campus this week. He found a way to make a pitch for his Liberal-leadership candidacy, in between very direct and open answers to the audience's questions. Youth need to be engaged in politics in a way like never before. And the issues we care about are what animate his campaign for Liberal leader.
Our Canadian promise has never been too complicated. Work hard, we tell our kids, and you will have a better future than we did. Today, for too many, that promise rings hollow. Our task now is to give voice to young people's aspirations, to summon a new generation of leaders to give life to the Canadian promise, and to make the Liberal Party of Canada the vehicle for fresh new ideas and bold new dreams. That is the party that I want to lead.
Here's some counsel to the Harper minions: Don't undertake your historic practice of negative ads against Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau. Election time is fine (everybody does it), but in this space between mandates, permit the next generation to continue moving forward into the political spectrum. Should you practice your usual and fill the Canadian airwaves with vitriol among a younger politician seeking to make a difference, you will likely turn off the next generation altogether.
Dalton McGuinty's decision to prorogue parliament doesn't pass the sniff test. He claims the government needed to hit the pause button on negotiations with public sector unions on a wage freeze. Well, Mr. Premier, governments of all political stripes have negotiated with unions while the Legislature sits for years.
In his new book Fight the Right, Warren Kinsella gets some big things correct while leaving some big things out. Yes, progressive politicians should take Kinsella's advice about authenticity, simplicity and speaking to the heart. Yes, we need a new progressive narrative as a counterweight to the one that is currently trashing our country and our planet. But, we shouldn't fool ourselves into thinking that we don't have a lot of hard work to do
A bright outcome of Dalton McGuinty's decision to retire could be that he's persuaded to run for the leader of the federal Liberals. In my view, only a McGuinty candidacy could halt the Justin Trudeau bandwagon in an election next spring open to anyone in Canada. Like him or not, McGuinty has actually managed a huge enterprise, Canada's biggest province, whereas the biggest thing Mr. Trudeau has managed is a high school drama class and -- or so he insists -- a Twitter site with some 160,000 fans.
What Justin Trudeau brings to politics is a charismatic, genuine, energetic and trustworthy face. He can work a crowd like no other MP. Since announcing his candidacy, he has had no problems drawing full crowds at appearances ranging from rallies to talks on the role of social media in politics. Don't underestimate these traits. What the Liberal party of Canada needs is a young energetic leader who can reclaim the centre and encourage people who don't usually vote to do so.
One can certainly understand why Trudeau and his supporters might prefer a coronation to a true leadership contest. Leadership races can be brutal and very costly in time, effort and money. With a coronation Trudeau will have the added bonus of not having to present a lot of policy options Everyone likes to win, but Trudeau should welcome a tough leadership race and that is what his talk points should be saying. Should he win such a political challenge, then he will have put to rest the whispers that he is a policy light weight, or just a pretty face or just living on his father's name.
The Liberals are trying to argue that they are the party which is really consulting people and casting both the Conservatives and the NDP as unreasonable ideologues. If the Liberals want to really distinguish themselves from the other parties one really good way could be by making the party very open. We're talking more than a couple polls by email but a collaborative, ongoing discussion with party supporters. A discussion which explicitly guides party policy in a very detailed way, day to day.