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.
Justin is exactly what our country needs right now. For too long we've been starved for inspiration, for passion, for real engagement in the business of our beautiful nation. We've been on a slow and steady decline towards complete apathy. We have so tuned out as a nation -- and we really need to hit the "reset" button.
There is the possibility that Justin Trudeau will galvanize young voters, but I have my doubts, and it has nothing to do with his political acumen or even his ability to one day to be prime minister. It has to do with the very young people he is aiming to woo. They will destroy Trudeau and there likely isn't a thing he can do about it. Today's youth are not programmed to believe in politicians, much less honour them -- political movements, yes, but not the men and women who sit in government, who travel across the land shaking hands and kissing babies. To say politicians don't resonate with young people is an epic understatement; the practice of being a politician seems completely nuts to them. It makes no sense at all.
Justin Trudeau is dangerous because he can be easily caricatured by the Conservatives and the NDP. The Liberal party will have to be incredibly careful in shaping his narrative -- his story, because if they're not, if they allow his opponents to define him, he will do horrible damage to the Liberal brand.
Justin Trudeau launched his campaign this week and did it as well as any one I've seen in a long time. Much of the commentary -- including commentary from some Liberals -- has taken on a decidedly personal character. This is uncalled for, cheap, and I think tinged with more than a bit of envy. It's as if they think that somehow Trudeau is in control of the attention he has received.
Political dynasties relying on the father-and-son passing of the crown are no good for democracy. Our American cousins proved that when George Bush Sr. engineered the presidential election of George Bush Jr. Witness the American economic ship run hard aground and who was at the helm. It's no accident the British no longer let royal families lead their governments.
It's taken weeks -- no, years -- of frustrated waiting, but the other day anxious Canadians finally got an answer: he's in. Lefties have been swooning and right-wingers have been fuming, but the young dude with the famous name and rock-star reputation is now officially set for the long-haul. Now if only we knew what he actually believed. We're talking, of course, about Omar Khadr.
Liberals made a pledge to focus on rebuilding the party from the ground up. It is essential, now that the Grit leadership race is getting underway, that Liberals honour this promise. Liberals should select their next leader keeping in mind the following difficult but unavoidable truth: The Liberal Party of Canada will not win the 2015 federal election. The worst thing the Grits could do right now is to rally en masse around any one candidate for leader early in the race and not give this candidate a chance to prove his or her worth. Better to have Grits unite around a common vision as a result of debate than to unite around a personality hoping for a Hail Mary.
Today, Justin Trudeau launches his campaign to become the next leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. As he does, there is concern that the hyperventilation surrounding Trudeau's candidacy and his status as a bona fide celebrity and political rock star is sucking all life out of this "wide open" race. The hypocrisy of pouncing on Justin Trudeau's "thin" professional record is nauseating. Arguably, Trudeau has a more substantive and varied background and education in the real world than Joe Clark, Stockwell Day, and Stephen Harper combined before they became leaders.
The Liberal Party may not be formally electing their next leader till April of 2013, but providing you got wind of Justin's announcement-to-announce last Wednesday, you've already heard the only story that matters. Feel free to take the next seven months off. The Rafiki-lifting-baby-Simba-over-Pride-Rock narrative is so strong at this point, in fact, that even the Trudeau-bashers seem bored and resigned. They can whine, but it's a whine of irritation, not impact.
I gather from all the media hype that Canadians are supposed to be waiting with bated breath and pounding heart for the "Second Coming" i.e. Justin Trudeau's non-announcement this week that he will enter the Liberal Party's leadership race. I say non-announcement as I don't know anyone who pays attention to politics who actually thought Trudeau would sit this one out.
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.