A warning and a challenge

Liberal heavy-weight Scott Reid, in an article in the Globe and Mail that has been widely linked to and commented upon on social media, says that, as a result of the Jane Philpott/SNC-Lavalin/Jody Wilson- Raybould affair, “Mr. Trudeau has been remade into a mere mortal, a regular old politician – as someone concerned with the calculations and machinations that no office holder can actually afford to ignore, but which his most ardent admirers somehow imagined he was invulnerable to, at least partly because they had been encouraged in that belief.” But he says, and this is important, “This does not mean, as some excitable observers have insisted, that Mr. Trudeau is done. He’s not. But his relationship with voters has been irretrievably altered and, with only a few months before the campaign launches, that fact will reshape the coming election.

In fact, Justin Trudeau remains a formidable politician: he is immensely likeable and he and his equally formidable campaign team will paint themselves as being pure as the driven snow while their opponents are entitlement/benefit-cutting racists and white supremacists. He says that “In 2015, Mr. Trudeau had the luxury of campaigning as a symbol, as a cause. In 2019, he will have to campaign as a candidate. That will make for a different kind of election – and a different kind of Trudeau.” I have little doubt that he is a good enough actor (and shallow enough human being) to carry it off.

Mr Reid concludes, and I agree, that “For the opposition, there is an equally important caution to be observed. Many Conservative and NDP operatives, spurred on by a small number of peculiarly enraged columnists, wish to believe that Mr. Trudeau has been exposed as the phony they always imagined him to be. They flirt with the great risk of repeating past errors – of once again underestimating the Liberal leader and of assuming that non-partisans share their antipathy. They have to remember that just because Canadians might see him differently does not mean that voters will automatically prefer what they see when they look to Andrew Scheer and Jagmeet Singh.

But, this, above all, should serve a warning and a challenge:

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Tiger Woods, like Justin Trudeau, was on top, he was master of all he surveyed; then things went wrong; he made mistakes; his fans deserted him, just as voters deserted the CPC in 2015; he sank into the dumps; then he rebuilt and now he is the master once again. The warning is: if Tiger Woods can do it so can Justin Trudeau … but, equally, the challenge is: if Tiger Woods can do it then so can the Conservative Party of Canada.

The way for the Conservatives to win in 2019 is the same as it was before Lavscam‘ or the carbon tax, and before the Federal Court ordered the Lobbying Commissioner to redo the investigation into Prime Minister Trudeau’s vacation on the Aga Khan’s private island: it is to offer Canadians an attractive alternative to Justin Trudeau. Andrew Scheer is, I believe, a nice, honest, likeable man … but he simply does not have Justin Trudeau’s sex appeal. That’s just a fact and it is one that the Conservatives have to turn to their advantage … somehow. I think Canadians can see that Andrew Scheer has a better team …

… the CPC needs to use that team to convince Canadians that they have a better programme for the 21st century on topics ranging from agriculture through banking, commerce, defence, the environment, foreign affairs, health, immigration, industrial policy and all the way on to controlling zebra mussels. It is not good enough to just be against the carbon tax and to oppose a ‘get out of jail free card‘ for SNC-Lavalin; the Conservatives need to have reasonable solutions for a lot of things that worry Canadians … they especially need to convince female voters in the suburbs, who are equally worried about rising food and gas prices and the strength of the social safety net, that they are a better choice than Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.

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