Maybe He Doesn’t Really Want to be Prime Minister

1297489107186_ORIGINALJustin Trudeau–Liberal leader, charmer, philosopher prince–isn’t having such a good go of it. The Grits just wrapped up their policy convention, which (since it was in the middle of the Olympics*) I didn’t really pay attention to**. It sounded like there might have been a good idea or two floated, but it seemed destined to be more embarrassment than victory train. The capper appeared to be Mr. Trudeau’s unwillingness have a post-convention press conference, but no, the was still more.

Mr. Trudeau pre-taped an interview for Radio-Canada’s Tout le monde en parle. The interview was to serve as a finale for the convention. He was asked about the events in Ukraine.

His response was, perhpas, not exactly what one would expect from a potential Prime Minister:

“President Yanukovych has been made illegitimate. It’s very worrying, especially because Russia lost in hockey, they’ll be in a bad mood. We fear Russia’s involvement in Ukraine,” Trudeau said.

“Just because of hockey?” asked Guy Lepage, the show’s host.

“No. That’s trying to bring a light view in a situation that’s extremely serious,” Trudeau said.

Remember, this is the guy who at “Ladies’ Night” expressed his admiration for China. I’m starting to get the sense that Mr. Trudeau might not really want to win the next election.

Actually, my impression is worse than that. I get the sense that Mr. Trudeau is used to charming his way into and out of any situation he wants. No doubt, the man is charming, the man is well-spoken and the man is intelligent, but there seems to be an out-sized ego wrapped around an underlying vapidity. He seems like he can grasp the necessary concepts to capture the PMO, but he seems severely incurious and completely out of his comfort zone.

I hope I’m wrong. Stephen Harper and the Tories deserve a better challenger. Canada deserves a better challenger. This is a government that has wrecked our finances, condoned torture, lied to Canadians and appointed liars to the Senate, yet I have no confidence the Grits can challenge them. The Tories deserved to lose in 2011, but the Liberals just couldn’t mount a respectable campaign.

Fix this thing, Mr. Trudeau, and do it fast. Save us from a Prime Minister Kenney.

*Seriously, what the hell, Liberals?

**Also, it was the Liberals.

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20 thoughts on “Maybe He Doesn’t Really Want to be Prime Minister

  1. It’s karmic and it makes me want to drink heavily. The right was divided between Refoooorm and the Tories through much of the 90’s and early aughts. The left led by the center left (the Liberals) made productive use of this division and put the country on sound footing. Now the left is split between a strong NDP and a weakened Liberal party (with the abominable PQ doing their abominable thing) and the united right is running the nation to seed.

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    • The thing that drives me mental (OK, there are a few of them. A thing.) is that both the NDP and Liberals have come out in favour of electoral reform so the first-past-the-post nonsense that keeps giving the Tories a majority of seats with barely 35% of the votes will stop – but both parties’ leadership appear terrified of acknowledging or even discussing the fact that they’ll never get a chance to put those principles in action if they don’t cooperate on at least one election.

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    • I doubt they can, God(ess?) love em. They have too much of a reputation for not being adults on economics (earned or unearned I dunno). The Liberals are too much of a refuge for centrist liberals and then there’s the Bloq (may they roast in hell) sitting like a bloated toad soaking up some of the (otherwise most) liberal parts of the electorate.

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    • I tend to agree with North.

      If we look at the massive breakthrough that the NDP made last time there were two main factors:

      1. Jack Layton
      By sheer force of will and charisma, Layton changed the way people were willing to look at the NDP, and it was really catching lightning in a bottle. It took a long time for Layton to get past looking kind of Used Car Salesman-y and actually appearing like Prime Minister material. Without Layton, they have an automatic setback.

      Mulcair is no Layton. Layton displayed joy and love and hope in the last election (yeah, cliches all, but he came off as positive even when he was being as negative as the other leaders). Mulcair is an attack dog. He seems regularly angry and that’s not a great look (especially for the NDP, who are at a natural disadvantage as, historically, the third party).

      2. Quebec
      No one thought the NDP had a chance in Quebec, since they’ve never had a chance there, but with Layton and general distaste for the Liberals, Bloc and Tories, Quebec was willing to give the NDP a try. There’s no reason to believe that success is sustainable (at least to that degree).

      The NDP didn’t even have particularly strong candidates in Quebec, and I doubt that the other parties really worried about them. Next time around, you can bet the Bloc will be targeting them.

      Also, it wasn’t just Layton’s charm that led to the breakthrough; it was his cynical, opportunistic and thoroughly disgusting embrace of Bill 101, which epitomizes all the xenophobia that exists in Quebec. If the NDP continue to hang their hat on that, it will hurt them in the rest of Canada.

      And keep in mind, with the NDP’s big breakthrough in 2011, they were still 63 seats behind the Tories. So with their breakthrough in Quebec, the Liberals imploding, the failings of the Bloc and a really strong leader, they still weren’t that close to taking power. To me, that says that they have a long way to go before they have a serious chance to win.

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      • I think the NDP have a shot. I’m amazed that we managed to win Québec, which I wouldn’t have thought would ever be possible. The NDP’s far closer to being able to form a government now than the Liberals are, in electoral terms; Mulcair’s done a far better job as Leader of the Official Opposition than any of the previous Liberal leaders, who were completely unsuccessful in trying to take on Harper; the NDP have clear policies that draw a distinction between their direction and the Conservatives, whereas Justin seems to have a shortage of concrete policies; and the NDP have a pre-existing support base.

        The Liberals don’t have any support base to start from. They had support in the Chrétien years due to a reputation for competent governance, plus support from corporations because they represented stability and continuity and there was no other prospective governing party. Now the corporations have ditched them for the conservatives, they haven’t been in government for a decade, and they’ve got nothing to inspire support except for a face and a name.

        I think Justin Trudeau is a decent guy, but he showed no interest in politics until recently, and said flat-out not too long ago that he never intended to go into politics. I get the sense he feels some kind of obligation to his father’s party now that they’re collapsing and have run out of other leadership candidates, but I don’t think he understands how big a job being prime minister really is.

        If the NDP can further expand their support base in Ontario and the West in the next election, they’ve got a good shot at forming a minority government with support from the Liberals. It’s a far better bet than expecting the Liberals to go from 30-some seats to being the governing party.

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  2. One thing I do envy about other systems compared to ours (in the US) is that there’s room for debate as to whether or not the future of liberalism is with the Liberals or the NDP. When I look at the problems that the GOP faces, I think that it could be a lot more fluid if there were a greater ability for another conservative or conservative-ish party to rise up and eat the GOP or alternately pose enough of a threat that the GOP responds to it. We got a bit of that with the Reform Party, but on the whole it’s just really tough for externally-pressured change.

    Of course, with Canada in particular, it’s a bit problematic because the NDP-Liberal divide gets you Prime Minister Harper (and the PC-Alliance gets you a Liberal government). So nothing is perfect. When I think of my ideal system, it actually involves a multiparty system with more firm coalitions (something to prevent the two liberal parties from getting a majority of the vote but a conservative prime minister).

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    • I think an ideal-ish system could happen in Canada with one simple change – approval voting instead of first past the post.

      Then the Tory-or-bust voters can vote that way, and the anything-but-conservative voters can vote that way, and the anything-right-of-the-NDP voters can vote that way and so forth, and we can stop with the silly strategic voting and second guessing and third guessing, and get a result that actually represents a result the majority of voters can at least live with – and we can all stop worrying about who is splitting whose vote.

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      • I like that system also – really anything would be better than first past the post.

        I personally like approval voting in part for its virtue of simplicity and simple counting – it retains the property of our current system that it can all be hand counted on election night, and non-expert members of the public can witness the counting and satisfy themselves that no cheating took place. That’s an extremely powerful security property of our current elections.

        (Well, almost anything would be better – there’s always electoral colleges)

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