How To Prepare for 2019

I figure two months is enough time for everyone to get used to the idea of Prime Minister Trudeau 2.0. (How do you know you’re used to it? When you’re not constantly thinking about how Stephen Harper would’ve done things differently.)

The punditocracy has been making noises about how long the Prime Minister’s “honeymoon” looks to be extended, but already we’re seeing signs that it’s wearing off. Specifically, the Globe and Mail’s liberal TV critic, John Doyle, getting into a hissy-fit with the Prime Minister’s secretary Gerald Butts over the wardrobe of a Liberal junior minister. No, it’s not quite the sponsorship scandal, but even the most Grit-minded folks of the Toronto press corps know their job will involve carving up the government, no matter how charming the government tries to be. (Down south, Barack Obama’s pretty much gone through the same thing.)

In the meantime, the Tories, high and low, have four years to turn themselves into a viable, electable alternative to the government. And unlike the Liberal opposition of the Harper years, we do have a few things going in our favor.

The big one is our baseline assumptions. The Dion and Ignatieff Liberals had to assume that they could resume their natural roles as the government pretty much at any time, thanks to minority situations and a natural reluctance to admit that there was anything wrong with their mindset. (And here, we should at least give the PM some credit: by firing the Liberal Senate from his caucus and recruiting younger candidates, he showed he was at least willing to address the ossification of Liberal thinking.)

Conservatives, by contrast, have never made the assumption that power would be theirs by default — at least, not the ones who want to prove politics to be an honorable calling. That’s the kind of thinking that leads to the attitude of entitlement that everyone these days is working to discourage.

Another advantage? Fundraising. Generally speaking, during the Harper years overall contributions may have dropped, but the fundamental mechanisms and infrastructure are still pretty sound. True, the other major parties have managed to catch up, finally getting used to the “no corporate donations” policy, but everyone’s got the message that the old ways aren’t going to come back, and woe betide any government that tries to change that. And for the Tories, individual fundraising experience and longevity is still an advantage.

If there’s one thing that needs to be improved (and it’s going to be a tough one, because it involves a change in contemporary mindset), it’s a very simple, yet very difficult thing: learning to defend.

The past four years of majority government may have given the Tories opportunity to wage a constant attack on the Liberals in general and Justin Trudeau in particular, but it’s also allowed them to forget the art of defense: how to justify and explain our policies in terms the voter can accept. It’s the sort of thing that has to be done constantly, and with conviction, otherwise people don’t pay attention and public attitude changes from “understandable” to “inexplicable.” Withdrawing the mandatory long-form census is one example. Citizenship rules are another.

Now that the Tories are in opposition, it’s time to relearn the three fundamental functions of the role:

  • questioning the need for a policy
  • showing why a policy won’t work unless changed
  • proposing alternatives to the policy

In recent years, of course, it’s been more fashionable to attack individual ministers and others for decisions perceived to be of personal benefit, but if politics needs to be taken seriously, the public needs to see a lot less of that sort of thing. Believe it or not, it is most certainly not a bad thing for Justin Trudeau to do a photoshoot with his wife; part of the job of a national leader is to improve the morale of his people, and if the people like the glamour associated with his charming the world, so what? It’d be a different thing if he were doing the shot during Question Period or in the middle of a disaster zone, but Justin has learned not to let his critics dictate his actions, which is a sure sign of weak leadership.

In 2016, there are plenty of opportunities to fuel the fire for Prime Minister Trudeau’s baptism. There’s a budget coming up, as well as the Speech from the Throne. Actions in Syria haven’t been fully addressed yet. A lower dollar means some hard decisions will need to be made on program spending, and the provinces are sensing their own opportunities. Plenty of time to end the honeymoon, but never make the mistake of thinking the Tories will automatically benefit. It took ten years for the Liberals to earn their way back to power. Let’s hope the Tories don’t take that much time.

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5 Responses to How To Prepare for 2019

  1. Robert Tripp says:

    The Junior love-in may last a while yet, but like all marriages of longevity, certain devices will have to be crafted to keep the flame alive. Canada has indeed changed globally, and we are more heavily engaged in the service sector than ever before. It makes one wonder what we could ever generate to qualify as a legitimate gross or net national product when we have such reduced manufacturing capacity. The Empty Suit does seem to have more substance than was originally thought, and even though there are a few drastic policy changes in the governance of this country, we still have to accentuate the positives and keep with the survival mode. The average citizen hasn’t exactly flourished under the old regime either, but ideologically we felt more in our comfort zone, in spite of a lack of prosperity and far-from-painless constraints in most sectors. So, the realism is setting in that being ‘at the helm’ isn’t as easy as it looks from across the floor. Power attained may someday be power forfeited, but it will take the Canadian public perhaps another cycle of 8 years or so to reach that realization for another change. We’ll be picking up the tab at the Liberal honeymoon suite very soon now, and then the relationship will require continual tune-ups.

  2. MaryLS says:

    I am pretty sure Trudeau Jr. will make a mess of things. Canadians may soon be looking for an alternative. Liberals are, however, very good at appealing to unthinking voters — and there are many. They also have the support if all those special interest groups (Natives, public sector unions, etc.) With the interests and needs of ordinary Canadians not being looked after, Libs may lose support and certainly would deserve to.

    • Don Morris says:

      It’s a faint hope that the Liberals will lose popularity soon. And conservatives have to quit thinking the LPC depends on “stupid” voters. They’re no more stupid than our side who keep waiting for the Great Epiphany in which the masses will come to realise they were wrong and vote in another Conservative government.

      Most liberals are doing quite well in this faltering economy, much of the civil service and taxpayer supported professions are a Liberal constituency, and they’re just fine,thank you.

      Whether Trudeau screws it up remains to be seen. The LPC’s backers are among the most entrenched wealthy elite of this Country, and they will make sure Justin doesn’t totally kill off the golden goose that keeps them so well off.

      Now, add to the mix a mainstream media that is completely infatuated with Trudeau,and it’s easy to see we’re in for a few terms with Justin at the helm.

      I’ve been saying it for 30 years, Canada is becoming Mexico North,and this was the plan all along. We will never see this Country return to the manufacturing powerhouse we were in the 1950’s.Those vital secondary industry jobs are gone forever.
      We will remain the “hewer and drawer” economy we have become, managed by our “betters” in the Laurentian Elite, from whatever Party happens to capture the imagination of the sheeple.

      Our middle class works for the government, and the rest of us will have to scramble for whatever remains.
      But expect to see Justin’s smiling face in front of it all for many years to come.

  3. old white guy says:

    There are too many people at the government trough to ever elect a true conservative. Canadians have been socialists all my life and I do not see that as changing. A conservative such as myself, small government, balanced budget and surplus revenue to pay down the debt, type of conservative no longer exists in Canada and if there are more out there than me we do not represent significant numbers. Those at the trough would sooner see the country fail before giving up their entitlements.

  4. Don Morris says:

    Unfortunately, we have entered a new era, one where critical thinking has been replaced by sloganeering and populism. I’ve been reading articles in the MSM stating that the best hope for the Conservatives is the election of Brian Mulroney’s daughter Caroline to lead the CPC.

    Of course the media would be comfortable with her as she’s another branch of the Laurentian Elite family that spawned Trudeau, so their suggestion has the ring of treachery to it, imo, we’d get either a liberal or a Liberal for PM,and the media knows that very well.

    If Trudeau is successful in bringing in Proportional Representation, we will never see another Conservative majority in Canada again. The CPC still believed in the Old Way of electioneering in the past election, trying to persuade voters with finances and other common sense agendas. It was far too obvious that THAT approach wasn’t going to win anything, but that fact seemed to pass right over the heads of the brain trust at the CPC.

    Barring an economic disaster of Great Depression proportions, the CPC, even under the current system of FPTP election, is going to sit out for at least two terms of Trudeau, and if the CPC doesn’t elect an equally charismatic Leader to battle JT, PM JT will be around as long as Mackenzie-King.

    There is NOT going to be an epiphany by the masses that brings them around to electing a conservative government, and as the Liberals grow the civil servant classes even more, that possibility will grow ever more remote.

    This Country isn’t The Dominion of Canada any more, it is a hodge podge of ethnic enclaves with a middle class of government employees, and a mass of working poor and permanently unemployed.

    The Liberals recognize this fact, and are prepared to continue to use their Alinsky handbook to retain power until Hell freezes over, and with the advent of Global Warming that isn’t likely.

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