Can the Liberals survive as a third party? Liberals can no longer claim to be the natural governing party, nor to have the same ability to garner wealthy donors or those seeking connections. Liberals cannot coast by on "we win elections," "we're not Harper," or be the "everything to everyone" party. The Liberals face a tough political environment, with the NDP trying to crowd them out, and with their own return to power far from certain. A compelling message and clear ideals to attract support is key. Liberals cannot pine for a messiah.
Does Justin Trudeau have what it takes to lead the Liberal party out of third party status and into the light, back to "natural governing party" success? "While he has impressive achievements, they don't add up to a successful leader of a major Canadian political party. The missteps he's made will make an easy bullseye for a Conservative party that has been unafraid to stretch the truth to absurd lengths in the past. The NDP is not likely to give up the gains they have made without a fight, so attack ads from both camps are likely. In sum, Trudeau may indeed be the biggest liability the Liberal leadership contest has.
Somehow, the media have already decided that the race for the Liberal Party of Canada's leadership is over before it has even started, with Justin Trudeau the clear frontrunner. The one issue most often cited by the media as being Trudeau's decisive advantage is his army of Twitter followers. How Twitter followers necessarily translate into votes on convention day has yet to be explained. Let there be no mistake: Important elements within the media are attempting to create reality rather than report it. Whether this race is up for grabs or not should be dependent upon the views of Liberals, not the media.
If there is any basis to the speculation that Liberals and other Canadians are calling on Mark Carney to enter the public arena by seeking the leadership of the party, count me among them. I believe in talent and the power of ideas. Carney has both. This guy would be a game-changer in all the right ways, not only for the Liberal Party, but also for Canadian democracy.
In the years since the departure of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, the Liberal Party of Canada has been trapped in a political Groundhog Day. Three times across a decade, the party has risen at what it expected to be the dawn of its charismatic leader. A similar destiny might seem improbable for the young Trudeau, but he'll very soon have gone as far under the steam of his famous name as that fuel can deliver him.
There's an aura growing around Trudeau, or perhaps there has always been one, that gives liberals (I use the small "l" intentionally) hope for the future. Especially in the face of Stephen Harper's quietly draconian governing style rising up again in the form of a new omnibus bill as the fall session starts. "Can Trudeau reignite the flame of the centre-left?" Canadians wonder. Trudeau's aura brings with it a halo effect to liberal/Liberal politics that's been missing since, well, I don't know when. Yesterday, for example, I got an accidental phone call from a disaffected NDP supporter in Montreal (which is odd, since I'm based in the provincial Liberal office in Edmonton). She was upset that the NDP in Quebec were drifting toward what she termed "soft nationalism" and she didn't want to remain with a party that supported separation, no matter how softly. Toward the end of the conversation she asked whether I knew if Trudeau had officially declared his nomination. "Ah, there it is," I thought.
If ever it really did look like Québec was coming close to separation, I'd move back in a flash. There'd be no way I'd let the province secede and me be without my home and the Péquistes without the thorn of me in their side. I'd also be there because I like what Québeckers are demanding. But separation isn't going to happen. Québeckers want a better society, a better representation of their views. We could do worse than look for an example to a territory that, using whatever tools circumstances have placed in its reach, demands the change that elections can bring.
Late yesterday, the rumour mill revealed that the son of Canada's influential Prime Minister was quietly drawing the guidelines of his bid to lead the Liberal Party of Canada, and perhaps to lead Canada back to the values of equality, integrity, multiculturalism and federal unity that his famous father stood for so many moons ago.
Is the name "Trudeau" poisonous in Alberta and other parts of the country? No. While campaigning during the provincial election a few months ago roughly 1/100 of people I knocked on the door of had an anti-Liberal perspective, and it was directly linked to the NEP and Trudeau. Outside of this fringe minority most didn't care -- or, like myself, were born more than a decade after the NEP -- and many are simply indifferent to the Liberal brand in Alberta.
A poll by the Canadian polling company Environic and co-sponsored by the CBC found 15 per cent of Canadians would have given up their ballot in Canada's '08 federal election to vote in the U.S. election. I get it. I'm so uninspired by our Canadian political leaders it's not even funny.
The real question pundits should be asking is: Should the Liberals merge with the New Democrats? For his part, Justin Trudeau concedes that, if his party does not "shine" by the 2015 election, a merger may indeed be the only way to evict Stephen Harper from 24 Sussex Drive. A recent poll asked Liberals if they like the idea of a merger, a staggering 64 per cent said yes. This poll also found that 56 per cent of Canadians see the Liberals as a spent force. Doesn't seem so crazy now, does it?
Once we acknowledge that virtually all of us agree that the oil sands are vital to Canada, we recognize the absurdity of claims that this is in any way a nationally divisive issue. Even Justin Trudeau, the man poised to be the next Liberal leader, knows that developing the oil sands is the only choice for Canadians.
My vision for Canada's future is one that appeals to our higher aspirations and hopes for the future, rather than to our fears, distrust, and resentment. In running for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada, I want to appeal to all those Canadians who are uncertain where they fit into Canadian politics, but want to talk about the kind of nation we are building, and what it is that makes us Canadian.
The talk about Justin Trudeau taking the Liberal leadership always comes down to the same points: It's not his time, he's too young, his last name is poison in parts of the country, he hasn't run a successful business, he hasn't accomplished anything noteworthy. If any of these arguments sound familiar, it's because they were the same things said about senator Obama back in 2008. Can Trudeau, like Obama, incite some excitement into Canadian politics?
Deborah Coyne is running for the leadership of the (once) mighty Liberals. The media has been less than supportive, describing her as the illegitimate child of Pierre Trudeau. This is doing little to convince her opponents that her resume reads differently than that of a debutante. Would the same sentiment hold if the candidate was man?
The polls have spoken -- Stephen Harper is unpopular, and will surely be replaced in no time. But by whom? Thankfully the pundit brigade have lots of fun ideas -- Spoiler Alert: Probably Mulcair. That is, if the Tories' new attack ads against him don't get in the way. Although these televised attacks are a little lacklustre compared to the Conservatives' greatest hits.