Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Liberal leadership race is between Trudeau and Murray, with a 2014 early election

I decide when ...

The third debate is over. No-one blew their brains out. No-one surprised the audience. The race will be decided by March 4, when each of the candidates will be able to compare the number of supporters they signed up in each of the 308 ridings, calculate that number as a percentage of the total members and supporters signed up in each such riding, multiply that percentage by 100 to get their probable share of the riding's vote, and add these all together.

So by the afternoon of March 4 rumours will be sweeping the country about vote counts come the official election day in April.

But between now and March 4 are a few more debates, lots of signup steps, media interviews, journalist comments, and bloggers waxing eloquent.

Daniel D. Veniez, a former LPC candidate for the House in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country in the disasterous 2011 election, gives his tuppence worth in today's Huff Post Canada Politics:

While I may differ with Joyce Murray on some of the content of her program, she has proven herself to be one tough cookie and a very serious candidate. Besides her track record of actually winning contested nominations and close elections, she has positioned herself squarely as an important voice on the "progressive" wing of the party.
Murray has a thoughtful, comprehensive, and cohesive set of ideas. And whether I like it or not, Murray has shown a lot of guts to be the lone voice and intelligent advocate for "cooperation" with other parties. 

I agree with Daniel. The race is now between Justin Trudeau and Joyce Murray.

The others should be commended for running, should all run in one of the 300 or so ridings that do not have a sitting Liberal MP, but stand no chance come March 4.

In the two-person race between Justin Trudeau versus the reformer, Joyce Murray, the usual measure of the amount of money raised is no surefire predictor of success.

The tens of thousands of Canadians who might be signing up right now to become Supporters and to vote, will not all be sending in dollops of money to any candidates. But they might well be listening to their peers in the Leadnow and other electoral reform organizations, and stepping up to the plate to swing their bats for meaningful electoral reform.

And in this ballpark, Justin Trudeau comes off wanting.

He has been underwhelming in coming to grips with the massive democratic deficit we suffer due to our system of electing our MPs, which makes millions of votes worthless by only giving weight to the FPTP system of counting. Changing the tone of Parliament is just plain nonsense, when votes are sent to the trash heap because of FPTP.

Joyce Murray  has struck a chord with her fierce fight for significant electoral reform.

There were dubious efforts by some of the other candidates during the third debate to misrepresent her pre-election call for an electoral ceasefire.

It is not by any stretch of the imagination a proposal for a merger with  the NDP or for policy cooperation between the Liberal and NDP parties in the 2015 parliament. To suggest otherwise is to deliberately decei ve Canadians, not a pretty sight to behold in people who aspire to be prime minister of our democracy.

Simply mistating her proposal, as Trudeau, Garneau and others did, does not change her realistic assessment that most Canadians, for good reason, want Harper to lose his majority government status come the next election.

Go back to the third debate: the most applause, that seemed to come from many in the audience, broke out when Murray said forcibly that Canada needs to oust Harper and his new Tories.

That is what the polls have shown consistently for over 3 years now, and voters know that cooperation pre-election and post-election to bring about electoral reform is essential.

Justin Trudeau has been light on policy, promising to engage party members and supporters in the formulation of the election plank after the leadership race is over. The problem is this, from Tim Naumetz in the Hill Times Online:

The federal government has asked the Supreme Court of Canada to fast-track its request for a decisive opinion on whether Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s plan to limit Senate terms and establish a nominee election system for Senate appointments without provincial consent is constitutional...

The motion filed at the Supreme Court on Feb. 6 also asks the court to put the federal constitutional reference on a list of cases being set to be heard by the court, which at the current time is scheduling cases into the court’s fall sessions this year...

“The Government of Canada has brought this reference to settle any perceived legal uncertainty concerning proposals to reform or abolish the Senate,” says the motion filed by Justice Department lawyers Robert Frater, Christopher Rupar, and Warren Newman.

“It is highly desirable that the reference proceed in the near future to permit the court’s opinion to inform this important debate,” the motion says.


Harper knows that Trudeau is the likely leader of the Liberals, and that polls have shown a resurgence of support for the Liberals if that happens. He knows that he would be facing the next generation of leaders if that happens, having lost his own mantle of being the young lion fighting toothless older ones for leadership of the country.

He also knows that if Joyce Murray pulls off an upset, the prospects of even a minority Conservative government in the next Parliament, and of a Royal Commission being called to examine meaningful electoral reform followed by a new election using a new system of voting, spells doom to his neoconservative movement.

So what is he going to do? Get rid of some older, tired cabinet ministers, with a bunch of new faces in new portfolios taking over in a few months' time. Then, as the press have reported, prorogue Parliament to deliver a new Throne Speech in the next session, spelling out his election policies, as John Ivison reports:

Politics is set to make a comeback in Ottawa this summer, with a Cabinet shuffle, followed in the fall by a prorogation of Parliament, a Throne Speech and a brand new pre-election agenda from the Conservative Party.
In minority government, the Tories knew they could be 36 days from an election at any given time. “Every single day was spent deciding which message to drive,” said one former senior Conservative insider. “Majority government is a different mode of operating – it is an opportunity to govern.”

Stephen Harper has spent the past two years focused on implementing his agenda – striking a free trade deal with Europe, reforming the public service, overhauling immigration, ensuring the sustainability of long-term programs like health transfers and Old Age Security and streamlining the review process for big resource projects.

But at some point he will switch back into constant campaign mode and all the signs suggest the reset button will be hit this summer.

So, lets put two and two together and see if they add up to four.

The Liberals choose a younger Trudeau who has promised to waltz around the country for the next two years or so, inviting Canadians to join in extra-Parliamentary discussions of where the country should go.  This means Harper has to share the limelight with Trudeau, and his tight-fisted control of the national political space (through the use of omnibus laws to ram through changes without debate in Parliament, to his continuous muzzling of his MPs, and his reducing the time for debate in the House) is gone.

Poof!  Suddenly he will face an uncontrollable national debate, with Trudeau introducing new ways for members and – worse still, supporters and other Canadians – to participate in debating and formulating new policies. Topped by a Liberal convention to pass policies. 

What a nightmare for a man who's political DNA consists of 90% control genes, 5% superiority, and 5% legacy dreams!

Or, perhaps, if those who want electoral reform walk their talk in the short time left until March 4, Joyce Murray wins.

An even worse nightmare for Harper.

A resurgent Liberal Party, campaigning in 2015 on giving Parliament back to Canadians, making votes actually count, changing the way our MPs work together in our House so that they have to consider all points of view, and working to prevent the vote splitting which is the major reason why Harper has been in power for so many long, depressing years.

So, let's look at the first thing (the chance to drive a wedge between the opposition parties, rattle the Bloc, throw red meat to his fiercest supporters, all through a platform for Senate reform or perhaps Senate abolishment).  In this framing, Stephen Harper suddenly becomes the reformer, while Trudeau, if he is Liberal leader, is the old-fashioned, the Senate is good enough as it is, out of date contender.

Now the second thing: timing. Why on earth would Harper wait until 2015 to hold the next election? Why not steal the time advantage from the Liberals and NDP, call an election in early 2014, leaving Trudeau scrambling to find candidates in 250  plus seats, without having stolen the limelight with his cross-country fireside talks?

One and One make Two.

My bet is on an early 2014 election.


  1. LOL! Murray couldn't even raise money, she'll be lucky to come fourth.

  2. Harper's too arrogant to feel threatened by Trudeau and Murray will never win, just as the NDP cooperation candidate came in last. Harper thinks he can do to Trudeau what he did to Dion and Ignatiff, so he will just ramp up his slime machine. Will it work? No.

    1. Kitt you should get your facts right before making an uneducated comment! The cooperation candidate forthe NDP, Natan Cullen finished a very respectable third with 25% of the vote!

  3. @Jordan, money does not matter. Signing up supporters does, and Glenn is correct that Leadnow and Fairvote Canada can potentially load a hundred thousand new supporters into Liberalist for Murray. Lol, money will suddenly stop being a problem for her. I do not find it terrbly likely that Murray win though, as Trudeau is running phone banks, and has orgainsations recruiting supporters the old fashioned way across the country. The Toronto phone bank alone must be recruiting a couple of hundred supporters every single day for Trudeaus campaign. Then there is the potential for thrid party supporter recruiting drives on behalf of Trudeau.

    1. Her proposal still doesn't make any sense and even if she could get these groups to rally around her what does it mean in the end? Members have been pretty opposed to the idea so unless she gets all these supporters to become members she won't even make headway with her Liberal-Green cooperation, and likely her hope of an entire merger of the left.

  4. I have been wondering myself whether or not an early election call might be in the cards. I think the risks outweigh the benefits for the CPC. They simply cannot afford an election before balancing the budget. They may re-evaluate, but it would have to be really compelling argument to go to the electorate early.

  5. BGB - winning power again, knocking out the LPC under its new leader, putting the kibosh on talk of pre-election ceasefires, gaining a mandate to reform or abolish the Senate, and having 5 more years in power with a majority: these are really, really compelling reasons for Harper to call an early election.

    As for the case he must make to voters to justify it, he can do to the Liberals what he did to Ignatieff: scare the pants off them during the campaign with talk of an "illegitimate" coalitions of the godless socialitists and tainted Liberals. It worked with Ignatieff, and we ended up with Harper in power for 7 years so far and likely another 5; we have a slate of Liberal candidates dead scared of really debating the merits of meaningful electoral reform; we have a party whose potential leaders are terrified of the C-word ...

    Believe me, Harper can find a reason to justify calling an early election. All be needs is a senate reform/abolish platform, some new anti-crime laws, a sop or two to the First Nations, a fight manufactured by the CPC with the separatist government in Quebec, and voila! He rides to the hustings garbed as Canada's saviour.

    1. Yeah, but the CPC rely on low turnouts and a dedicated base to squeak out a win. A big fat defecit while going into an election will be very dangerous. I for one would happily pound the phones talking to the CPC 'base' about fiscally reckless Conservatives. A measly 2% of the 'base' staying at home spells the end for the CPC. An early election is possible if things go badly off the rails, but it would be an act of desperation methinks.

  6. As well the early election thing does not make any sense. First off Harper has vowed to balance the budget before the next election, he can't do that before next year. As well he'll only have probably 150 odd candidates out of 338 seeking re-election, how is he going to start nominating people by the end of this year or early next year without people catching on that he's gonna call an election a year early?

  7. Jordan, think back to the many things Harper promised to do only to do something else when elected. He is pretty good at inventing intervening events that supposedly require a different approach, so walking away from his budget balancing promise will be a piece of cake for this man.

    And believe me the Tories will run 338 candidates for election in 2014. They are the most professional political organization this country has seen for half a century at least.

    1. I never said they wouldnt. I'd like to know how you thiink the Conservatives could nominate candidates in most of the 338 ridings, likely starting by the end of this year or early next year, without anybody realizing that they may call an early election? you don't think that Justin Trudeau will think "hmmm.... maybe we should start nominating candidates now to because we're likely going to the polls early"?

  8. I don't think the new riding boundaries can be in place for early 2014.

  9. Jordan, my point is not that Harper can accelerate the 2015 election without anyone noticing, but that he will accelerate it to 2014. This will reduce the time open to the Liberal Party to get its act together on new policies, and raising funds for the election, and finding candidates for 308 seats.

    It will also reduce Mulcair's careful grooming of his sitting MPs, the NDP preparations for fund raising and organization building.

    Who gains by an earlier election? Clearly the Tories gain the most, by a wide margin. So that's why I expect a 2014 election.

    It is what I would do in Harper's shoes.

    1. The Conservatives need to get candidates in place in 338 ridings just like the Liberals, NDP and Greens do. The Liberals, NDP and Greens don't know how to fundraise so Harper will have the upper hand there. When it comes to policies the Conservatives also need to come up with new policy, plus figure out how to defend not balancing the budget and not delivering on the policies they didn't accomplish by not balancing the budget.

      The only benefit Harper will have is that he'll have enough money to fight the campaign, but he'd be we'll ahead in this area come 2015 anyways. If this was even a plan of his why has he already spoken to premiers about the scheduling conflict of the federal election with the numerous provincial elections, and asking them to change theirs?

  10. Jordan, smokescreen. Harper is a master of thinking four or five steps ahead. He relishes doing some solitary brainstorming about his strategies, those of the other parties, and testing out various alternatives. The man was born for politicking, like the Pitts of England, the Bismarks of Germany, and the Metternichs of Austria.

    We underestimate this man at our own peril.

    The proper response by the LPC would be to expect the unexpected from Harper, and to have a Plan B running parallel with our Plan A. That would let us fight whenever the fight comes.

    We blew it with the leadership race, because our party brass forgot to add plenty of time and requirements for detailed policy discussions before and during the race. So we are reduced to snippets, with red herrings taking over and trite sayings masquerading as deep discussion.

  11. I guess they should start nominating candidates then.

  12. I will support George Takach until Justin and the LPC adopt his vision and ideas for the party. We need a tech revolution.

    Ps. If George wins, even better!

  13. Wallace, vote with your heart. That's your right as a citizen!

  14. Joyce Murray is getting tremendous support from voter reform groups and climate groups and will surprise a lot of people with her results!Contrary to what somebody wrote the NDP cooperation candidate, Nathan Cullen did not finish last but finished third with a very respectable 25% of the vote!

  15. Very interesting to read all the comments

  16. Joyce Murray's electoral reform proposals are the most democratic of all candidates for leadership.

    Unlike the others who are simply practising old-style top-down command politics, Joyce is actually walking the talk of participatoty democracy in the party.

    Her pre-election cooperation idea leaves the decision up to the ridings involved; ALL the other candidates are denying the ridings a say in this decision. How does that square with regenerating the party, engaging Canadians?

    Her idea for a Royal Commission after the election to review electoral changes, is more democratic than Trudeau's decision to insist on the preferential vote option. Why not invite all Canadians to have a say in choosing a more democratic way to elect their MPs?

    Murry seems to practise what she preaches. A nice touch in a politician.

  17. A. How doesn't it make sense? It does to many people.

    B. Members have been pretty opposed to the idea. Members have also been pretty supportive of the idea.

    You seem to be speaking from the perspective of someone in the camp firmly opposed to her proposals, that's all.

  18. Is Harper allowed to break the fixed election date law again? Isn't the law that there is not supposed to be an election until 2015? Is Harper allowed to actually call one in 2014? And as someone else on this page asked, wouldn't that conflict with the re-districting of the new boundaries that the electoral commission is still working on?



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