Hat tip to Kinsella for alerting us to the latest book (Power Trap etc.) by Professor Paul Adams of Carleton U.
Adams worked on CBC’s The National as well as CBC Radio and for the Globe & Mail. Before that he worked for EKOS Research, managing political polling conducted for the Toronto Star and CBC.
The Power Trap:
The Power Trap:
Barbara Yaffee describes Adams’ latest book this way:
Justin Trudeau and the Power Trap:A new book that advocates a Liberal-NDP merger blames partisan pettiness and personal rivalries for the two parties’ refusal to play footsie.“New Democrats and Liberals are caught in a power trap in which they seek to reach government, not by defeating the Conservatives, but by destroying their progressive rival,” writes Paul Adams, an associate professor of journalism at Ottawa’s Carleton University.In Power Trap: How Fear and Loathing Between the Liberals and NDP Keep Harper in Power, he predicts the two parties will keep duelling for at least another three elections before one or the other establishes supremacy.In other words, opposition stubbornness will enable Stephen Harper to join the five-member club of Canadian prime ministers who’ve each ruled for a decade or more.
Justin Trudeau has mused that as the next election approaches, if it becomes apparent (presumably through polling) that neither the NDP nor the Liberal Party will gain a majority of seats in Parliament, resulting in the re-election of the Harper new Tories, there will be moves by both parties to seriously consider some kind of cooperation to remove the Harper Conservatives from power.
He has not commented in detail on what this means for candidates for leadership of the LPC.
Nor has he gone into detail as to the types of cooperation which might be on the table as the election approaches.
A valid question that the media could put to Trudeau is whether he, too, is caught in the Power Trap that Adams writes about. Nathan Cullen, during his run for leadership of the NDP, realized the dreadful consequences of Power Trap thinking by the NDP and LPC, and advocated The Cullen Plan of pre-election cooperation to increase the number of non-Tory MPs.
Lessons from Obama?
As Yaffee mentions, Adams believes the NDP and LPC could learn from the Obama Democrats:
Size of the Progressive Camp in Canada:If the three parties were to undertake a campaign of outreach, using social media as Barack Obama did in his 2008 “Yes We Can” presidential campaign, young people who previously haven’t voted could help put a merged Opposition force over the top in a vote expected in 2015.While it’s true some right-leaning Liberals likely go over to the Conservatives in such a scenario, “blue Liberals” probably already have left the party, Adams writes.At the moment, however, so-called progressives have “no agreed-upon platform or unifying vision, no leader who can claim undisputed primacy in the fight to dislodge the Conservatives.”
Adams mentioned in an earlier article that there are relatively more progressives in Canada than in the USA:
The Boomer Trap:I do think that, as the polls strongly suggest, a clear majority of Canadians believe that the Harper government’s path of lower corporate taxes, less generous support for the unemployed and for health care, a more unequal society, and indifference to the dangers of climate change is the wrong one.This progressive majority is much clearer and stronger in Canada than it is in the United States, which is much more evenly divided on these central issues.Unfortunately for them, at the next election they will have three parties (or four if you count the Bloc Québécois) competing for their votes. And the conservative minority of Canadians who do support the policies of the current government may well be handed victory once again.
Adams also rues the decision of the NDP and LPC to chase Boomers and neglect the significant number of non-voting younger voters:
The problem is that large numbers of Canadians have become disengaged. The political media are as much the victims of that phenomenon as they are a contributing cause.Back to Justin Trudeau:
Political disengagement is essentially a generational phenomenon, with young people having lost interest in both politics and the news. But this is not principally a media story.
When Pierre Trudeau was elected prime minister, the median age in Canada was mid-twenties; today it is early forties and rising. The median voter, of course, is considerably older than that. Just as Willie Sutton robbed banks because that’s where the money was, politicians have chased the Baby Boom generation because that’s where the votes are.
As a consequence, we have a politics that has failed over two decades to do much meaningful about the climate change that will fundamentally compromise the lives of today’s young. When politicians talk about post-secondary education, it is all about helping Baby Boomers save to support their kids, and very little about helping those kids avoid student debt, or helping them to pay it off in an increasingly uncertain job market.
And that brings us back to Justin Trudeau, the ‘next-generation’ contender for Liberal Party leadership.
Is he, too, trapped in the Power Trap?
And will he too, simply focus on the older voters ‘because they are the ones who turn out to vote’, instead of doing what Paul Adams advocates, and also targeting the non-voting younger generations by reaching out to them and giving them reasons for voting?