Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Trudeau Liberals emerge as undisputed main challengers to Harper Conservatives after June 30th byelections

Happy Canada Day to all!

To celebrate, here's another look at a glorious 2008 shot of Canadian actor Shawn Ashmore showing off his national pride (and some naked hip)! 

I took a break from blogging after the recent Ontario election to focus on the rest of my life.   

The majority re-election of Kathleen Wynne was a moment of pure political joy for me and I'm still basking in the afterglow of a smart and beautiful collective decision by Ontario voters.

But the political season is still hot.

After skipping Toronto's World Pride Day, Toronto's chief bigot Rob Ford returned to work at City Hall well after 1 pm yesterday to get up to his old tricks.   He excluded members of the media from his first media statement / infomercial and refused to take any questions.   Clearly, two months in cottage country didn't do much to change him except cut his waistline.  We'll see how long it takes for Ford to be caught drunk at some street festival this summer, muttering bigotries against one of Toronto's minority communities. 

There isn't much left to say about the bigoted buffoon we don't already know.  Rob Ford deserves a punishing humiliation at the polls this October and I have a strong feeling that is what's in store for him, perhaps at the hands of either Olivia Chow or John Tory.   Until then, the best articles I read today on Ford's return were Royson James' piece here and Daniel Dale's great list of urgent questions Ford refuses to answer.

But there was some great political news yesterday too with the four federal by-elections which saw Justin Trudeau's Liberals emerge as the undisputed main challengers to the Harper Conservatives. 

Liberal candidate Arnold Chan kicked Tory ass in Scarborough-Agincourt by garnering almost 60% of the vote, a big jump over the 2011 Liberal result.  A sleazy Tory attack in the riding which misrepresented Justin Trudeau's marijuana prohibition policy proved completely ineffective.  It's clear that the majority of Canadians believe our country's marijuana laws need major reform and Tory attacks are proving quite out of touch.   

Liberal candidate Adam Vaughan swept to an easy victory in Trinity-Spadina in downtown Toronto, taking the seat away from the NDP.  This win was largely predictable due mainly to Vaughan's amazing experience and reputation.  If the aim in politics is to be competitive and win, then Justin Trudeau is proving himself to be a master of it.

Meanwhile, Tom Mulcair's NDP is showing strong signs they will be returning to third party status after the 2015 election.  They goofed up anointing largely unknown party activist Joe Cressy as their successor to Olivia Chow in a crucial by-election.  It's true that had Cressy faced a no-name Liberal opponent, progressive tradition in the riding might've handed him the seat.  Clearly, Cressy believed he only needed win approval from the NDP inner circle in order to earn a ticket to Ottawa (kind of like Conservatives do in rural Alberta, as evidenced in Macleod riding last night.)  But they didn't anticipate Vaughan's candidacy and suffered terribly for it.

By-elections don't always act as harbingers of the next federal election.  I remember the Winnipeg North by-election in 2010 when Liberal candidate Kevin Lamoureux took a seat away from the NDP months before the Liberals collapsed in the 2011 election and the NDP formed the official opposition.

But the dynamics today are much different.  We're seeing the Liberals under Trudeau get stronger and stronger, building up their organization, attracting very strong candidates who can make a difference in tough ridings, and embarking on a message tract and policy plan designed to challenge the status quo Harper narrative quite effectively.   More Liberal work is needed, but so far the trend in unmistakeable.   Justin Trudeau is on a roll and building momentum fast, while Tom Mulcair is not resonating at all outside of Quebec.  Mulcair's leadership could at least save some NDP seats in Quebec in the next election.  But if Trudeau continues to do well and emerges as the only real challenger to Harper rule in Canada, it's highly likely Quebecers may surge behind the Liberals to finally defeat the Conservatives.

Interesting times, indeed! 

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