Conservative Attack Ads - A Fundraising Ploy

The political culture in Canada is peculiar. For example, when attack ads are released, they are covered on the news. This makes the attack ads even more visible than they would otherwise be. This is especially true if those ads are released online, or in another fashion that makes them easy for the media to embed into their websites or to put onto a newscast. 

We all claim to hate attack ads. But it’s clear they work. Michael Ignatieff? Just visiting. Adrian Dix? Flip flopper. Mitt Romney? 47%. The key to these ads has been to define the target of the ad before they have a solid chance to define themselves.

That just won’t work with Justin Trudeau.

The latest attack ads put out by the Conservatives against Justin Trudeau aren’t the usual type of attack ads we’re used to seeing. Canadians already know Justin Trudeau. They don’t need to be introduced to him.

The thing about that latest crop of attack ads from Stephen Harper’s Conservatives is that they’re not meant to discourage you from voting for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. If they are, they do a terrible job of that. They’re also not meant to encourage you to vote for Mr. Harper — they don’t even mention him.

No, the main viewing audience for the current Conservative ads is the membership and donor base of the Conservative Party of Canada. 

The Conservatives are well-organized. And they stay this well-organized by having a large number of paid organizers who do a lot of the groundwork to win elections. That all costs money, but it doesn’t look like a whole lot is actually going on.

That’s the point of the ads. The whole point of them is for the Conservatives to point their donors to them and go “see?! We’re doing something with your money! Give us more and we’ll do more things!”

Instead of uniting Canadians behind any kind of a cohesive vision, the Conservatives are dividing them, and then begging the ones they’ve got the support of for money. We should demand better.

The aftermath of a week of resignations

Yesterday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty resigned. I speculated on which political players that the Mr. Harper might appoint to replace him, and I was flat-out wrong. Stephen Harper’s choice for Finance was former Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver. No offence to Joe Oliver, but this was ultimately a boring choice on Mr. Harper’s part.

Joe Oliver has the kind of resume that Bay Street will like. But Mr. Oliver isn’t the kind of Minister that could give the Conservatives an electoral push in 2015. But what this does for Stephen Harper is it allows him to keep the leadership contestants of the 2015 Conservative Party of Canada Leadership Race away from, arguably, the second most powerful position in the Government.

The political media had already declared this a big week, but it got even bigger once Alberta Premier Alison Redford announced her resignation. She had been dealing with infighting within her party which, ultimately, got in the way of governing. 

At the beginning of the year, 83% of Canadians were governed by a female Premier. With Alison Redford, Eva Aariak, and Kathy Dunderdale no longer First Ministers, this number has dropped to three. Once Pauline Marois loses (*fingers crossed for federalism!*) the Quebec election, this number will be down to two. Kathleen Wynne and Christy Clark will be the only women at the table of the Council of the Federation. This is something that I hope all of those involved in politics consider when choosing which candidates to support.

I sincerely hope that in the coming elections, at any level of government, we, as a society, elect more women. 

Who will replace Deficit, err, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty?

Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has announced that he’s resigning from Cabinet, and leaving politics to work in the private sector. 

Considering Flaherty has been in politics for nearly two decades, it would be fairly reasonable that he’d want to leave. However, it is peculiar, considering how strongly he lobbied to be kept on as Finance Minister during the last Cabinet shuffle, when the rumours that he was on his way out were making their way around. He has also previous stated, in no uncertain terms, that he intended on staying on until “the budget was balanced in 2015”. 

With one of the key players of his Cabinet gone, and the recent resignations of several of his MPs, Stephen Harper’s “strong, stable, majority government” is looking less so by the day.

Stephen Harper is going to appoint one of his strongest MPs to be Finance Minister. The Minister will have to be perceived as a steady economic hand, and be a strong political operator as we move toward the 2015 election. My guesses are on Tony Clement, Michelle Rempel, or Jason Kenney.

But the speculation on social media is equally amusing. 

Reflections on a Year of Politics: 2013

For me as a Liberal, 2013 has been a fantastic year. The Liberal Party of Canada has truly been rebuilt, as evident by the fact that over 100 000 Canadians were engaged in the most open leadership race of any political party in Canadian history.

Our accomplishments in 2013 are vast: we elected a fantastic leader, we grew the party, and all of this rebuilding was done by the grassroots members of the party. Without them, the LPC wouldn’t have won several byelections this year, putting us in a good position for 2014, and the next general election.

But 2013 has also been a bad year for Canadians, who have been sidelined by a federal government that lacks ambition. This visionless government has gutted environmental regulations, restricted debate on a multitude of legislation, ignored climate change, and represented our federation foolishly on the world stage.

2013 was the year of #IdleNoMore, and the year of the Daniels Case, along with the government’s decision to appeal the Daniels decisions. Aboriginal peoples across Canada are demonstrating that they aren’t happy with the current relationship between themselves and the Canadian state. 

With Stephen Harper’s announcement that he will not be resigning or calling an early election, 2014 likely won’t be a federal election year. Even if it were, these messes couldn’t easily be cleaned up. They require a long-term commitment from Canadians in general, and their elected leaders at all levels.

I’m staying hopeful, and working hard to ensure that when a ballot is put in front of them, that Canadians have a valid choice in the Liberals.

Why I’m Supporting Brian Rice for President of the Liberal Party of Canada

Since getting involved in the Liberal Party, I’ve met a tremendous amount of active and passionate Liberals work to make Canada the best it can possibly be. From all corners of this country, Liberals are dedicated to building a better country by electing stellar Liberal candidates to Parliament. Of all of those I’ve had the privilege of meeting, Brian Rice embodies exactly the kind of person the Liberal Party of Canada needs for Party President.

I support Brian because:

  • he’s dedicated to the constant campaign.
  • he realizes that training our volunteers is of critical importance.
  • he understands the needs of riding associations, and the important role of commissions.

The Constant Campaign

I’ve written about this before: the Conservatives don’t win elections because Canada is somehow fundamentally right-wing. The Conservatives win because they’re well-organized, and spend the time between elections identifying their supporters. By the time the writ is dropped, they start their get-out-the-vote process. 

We’ve made massive strides. For Liberals to elect Justin Trudeau in the next election, we must reach out and connect with as many voters as possible from coast-to-coast-to-coast. And then when the election is over, we start again. Right away. 

Brian understands the importance of this and has already been hard at work, modernizing our campaigning from Whitehorse to St. John’s, and so many places in between. 

Training

In March, my friend Stewart McGillivray invited me to one of Brian’s courses in Vancouver. I enthusiastically attended, and during the course, realized that this is exactly the kind of training that the Liberal Party needs to embrace. Thankfully, under Brian’s leadership, the Liberal Party of Canada in British Columbia lead the charge on putting on the course, along with instituting a groundbreaking fieldworker program.

Since then, Brian has travelled the country training Liberals to organize and campaign more effectively. The attendees of his course regularly have extremely positive things to say about it. The nature of the course, and what makes it particularly spectacular, is that it builds capacity with the ridings who participate in it. Brian has made his campaign not about him, but about developing and training the grassroots of the Liberal Party.

After that course in Vancouver, Brian invited several of the Liberals in attendance over for dinner and drinks. We chatted about the importance of the constant campaign, the leadership race, and how our party was governed. On each of these subjects, Brian proved extraordinarily knowledgable, and it was then that many of us in the room encouraged him to run for National President.

Support for the commissions and riding associations

From cooking food for Young Liberals at Camp Wannabefree, to wearing a tu-tu to raise thousands of dollars for the Women’s Commission, to training riding executives across the country, Brian has been an advocate of the commissions and EDA that make up this party.

But of even more importance to me than his previous work is that he understands exactly what the role of those bodies should be: the commissions should focus gallantly on outreach to their constituencies, and riding associations need to focus on outreach to their riding.

Brian has encouraged these party associations to use micro-campaigns to build the party through everything they do: from holding events emphasizing the Victory Fund, to ensuring that riding associations maintain a constant goal of making contact with as many voters as possible.

I could not be more enthusiastically supporting Brian Rice for President of the Liberal Party of Canada, and I encourage you to as well. As Brian says regularly: Justin Trudeau is the Hope, and we are the Hard Work. Brian is exactly the leader we need to modernize our campaign and elect Justin Trudeau in the next election.

Sign the petition if you agree.

Michael Chong’s Reform Act Must Be Done Carefully

Michael Chong’s proposed Reform Act, the text of which isn’t yet public, is widely expected to change the wide Parliament works, mostly by taking power away from party leaders and giving it directly to party caucuses and riding associations.

The bill will allow 15% of a party caucus to trigger a vote among caucus to have a leadership review vote, with 50%+1 of a caucus removing a leader and causing a leadership review.

While I understand the reasoning behind this, preventing a leader from ruling his caucus, and perhaps Parliament, tyrannically and representing few actual Canadians and only representing a political elite. Though, I don’t believe that a Parliamentary Caucus should be the only body choosing a party leader.

As the Liberal Party proved in their last leadership race, thousands of Canadians can be engaged in a leadership election, resulting in a leader who represents a massive number of Canadians. With apathy to politics at an all-time high, I can’t see how involving more Canadians in politics could be a bad thing.

When Christy Clark ran for Leader of the BC Liberals, she only enjoyed the support of Harry Bloy. During her premiership, she faced several potential caucus revolts, however, as the members of the party elected her as leader, she maintained her leadership. Many of those who ran against her choose not to seek re-election, and the result in the end was a more centrist caucus. If her caucus had chosen the leader, she would likely have lost, despite being elected Premier by the people of the province.

The bill also seeks to remove the requirement for party leaders to sign off on the nomination forms of potential candidates, shifting that responsibility to riding associations. My concern about this is that white supremacists have hijacked parties in the past, and sought to run under their banner. Stacking a nomination can be more difficult than stacking a riding association executive, particularly depending on how active that particular riding association is.

There is, undoubtedly, too much power concentrated in leader’s offices and in the PMO, but we have to ensure our solution is well thought-out and not more harm than the status quo.