Friday, October 9, 2015

I voted Liberal today

I voted Liberal in advanced polls today.  Wholeheartedly.

My reasons: I'm ready for the kind of leadership that Justin Trudeau is offering the country.  He's a positive, progressive leader who will do right for Canada and for Canadians.

Should the Liberals form the government after Oct 19th, I look forward to feeling good about my federal government and good about my country again, after so many years of being ashamed of Stephen Harper's regressive leadership, not only in this country but in the world.

I had my doubts about Trudeau at the start of this campaign, no doubt influenced by the Conservatives' propaganda machine and the critical opinions of friends and family.

But once the campaign began, Trudeau came alive with passion and inspiration that had been missing earlier and policy clarity that spoke perfectly to the mood of the country in these dire economic times.  Trudeau's positions in favour of more spending now on infrastructure, cutting middle class taxes, and legalizing and regulating marijuana all won me over.  On top of that, Trudeau's longtime promotion of diversity is the perfect antidote to the disturbing xenophobia from the Harper campaign. 

Now polls show the Liberals inching into a clear lead in most polls.  On October 19th, I'm predicting the Liberals will pull off a win.  

It's been a bit of a roller coaster this year politically, with the Liberals down and then back up, the NDP up and then back down, and the Tories still in the game but deservedly stuck around 30 percent.

Last December, I made a bold, early prediction about this federal election that the Liberals would win.  I had a feeling that Justin Trudeau would bring it in a big way once the election started. But as the months went on, I felt more and more stupid for having done so as circumstances changed.

In the future, when I look ahead at future elections and assess chances, I will remind myself I'm a pretty good prognosticator! 

Here is my prediction from last December again.  It's not completely correct, but it now seems surprisingly prescient: 

"If Stephen Harper runs again as Conservative leader (which I think he will), I'm predicting he'll at best be reduced to a minority government. But there is an excellent chance Harper will lose outright to a Liberal minority government.  If Justin Trudeau performs near perfectly and coalesces the anti-Conservative vote behind the Liberals, including in Quebec, he'll win a majority. 

We've already seen the polls change a bit in Harper's favour this fall.  He's been in full re-election mode, doing everything he can to get his numbers up, acting the conservative statesman on the international scene, the tough guy taking on ISIS and standing up to Vladimir Putin, while also stepping up against homegrown terrorists and in favour of working parents.  It's a cunning, toxic caricature that Harper has perfected after years in power.  He's come a long way from his days as head of the National Citizens Coalition.

By re-taking a narrow lead in the polls of late, making the 2015 election a real race, the dynamics of the pre-campaign will change.   Instead of focusing on Justin Trudeau, voters will instead contemplate the question: "Do we really want another four years of Stephen Harper?" 

This is actually good for Trudeau's Liberals, in my mind.  They'll continue to unveil their own compare-and-contrast campaign, focusing on Harper's considerable weak spots, which have been glaring ever since he cleared out the truly talented people from the PMO thanks to the Mike Duffy scandal.   If the Liberals are smart, they'll also soon start describing themselves as the "underdogs" in this federal election, reminding everyone that they are the humbled third party, that they've done their time in the penalty box, that they've learned the hard lessons of defeat and have developed a fresh new team with a clear, progressive vision for the country courtesy of a lot of "hope and hard work." 


Trudeau has succeeded on numerous crucial fronts since winning the Liberal leadership in the spring of 2013.  He's managed to replace Tom Mulcair's NDP as the unofficial opposition in the minds of Canadians, despite the fact the Libs have only one third the seats.  Repeated by-election results have confirmed that trend and most of the media now believe only Trudeau's Liberals can knock out Harper's Cons.  And they're right.

One of Trudeau's most senior advisors, Gerald Butts, previously worked wonders for Dalton McGuinty in 2003, helping to design a platform at the time that perfectly spoke to the concerns of Ontarians after 8 years of provincial PC rule.  It was an unabashedly progressive agenda and would set up the themes that would win power for the Ontario Liberals.  Those themes - ensuring quality public education, health care and other public services including infrastructure - continue to resonate and keep the Ontario Liberals in power today.  I'm seeing many echos of that successful strategy in many of Justin Trudeau's pronouncements, including on infrastructure, the middle class, tax fairness and even marijuana.  Trudeau's also talking about banning government advertising that is clearly partisan, which was another major plank in the 2003 Ontario Liberal platform.   And Trudeau lately has been criticizing Harper's penchant for secrecy and centralization of power and control.

Trudeau is setting himself up to be the great antidote to 9 years of Harper rule.   If his platform is convincingly progressive enough, he may be able to win more NDP votes than previously thought. 

Still, Trudeau is just 43.  To many, he will appear green on the hustings.  He may even spit out some uninspiring or worrying nonsense in a scrum or two.   The media will have a field day over such moments, of course. 

At the same time, I predict NDP Leader Tom Mulcair will largely unimpress outside of Quebec.  When most Canadians get to know Mulcair better, they'll find him to be what I've always thought of him: generally unlikeable, even occasionally irritating.   He's certainly no Jack Layton.   We'll know Mulcair is merely trying to save the NDP furniture should his platform continue to tilt far left.  Then, he'll be able to credibly say to progressives: vote NDP to ensure you get the government you actually want, instead of a mushy centre-right-left government under Justin Trudeau.   Mulcair will get in his blows.  He'll be aided by conservative media commentators who will declare him victorious in the debates just to try to undermine Trudeau.  But ultimately, none of that noise will matter.

Harper's campaign will be impressive, but will for the first time take several major hits from his opponents.  His support will sag and the Conservatives will run neck-and-neck with the Grits in the polls throughout most of the campaign.  If Trudeau performs as well as he wants, the Grits will surge ahead.  The NDP will vacillate between the high teens and the low-20s and back to the teens again.  Quebec will consider abandoning the NDP to vote Liberal to beat the Tories once and for all.  

A lot of what may happen depends on how well Trudeau can perform, how clearly and succinctly he lays out a realistic and progressive agenda, and how well he dispels worries about his readiness to lead the country.  For Trudeau, there are many variables yet to be defined which make predictions extremely difficult.  I, like most fair-minded, progressive Canadians, believe Trudeau will eventually get there and lead a federal government that again makes us proud to be Canadian.  I'd love it to happen in 2015.   It's certainly possible.  

Will Trudeau perform when it matters most?  Or will he fall on his face and force Canadians again to choose Harper as the allegedly safer option?  My gut tells me we'll see something like what we saw when Trudeau took on then-Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau in the boxing ring in 2012.  Greatly underestimated, Trudeau will fight a disciplined battle and surprise everyone, especially the Conservatives. 

The end result: I think we'll be seeing a Liberal victory in 2015 in Canada, probably a minority government.  If Quebec swings hard behind the Liberals to stop the Conservatives, it will be a majority.  In answer to the ballot question, "Do you want another four years of Harper?," the answer will be, "No."   The country has had enough of the Harper show.  We're tired of him.   Efforts to soften his image and promise something slightly different will prove unconvincing.  After an inspiring campaign that hits all the right notes and, to the shock of the "commentariat," makes few mistakes, Canadians will give the younger Trudeau a chance to chart a path that actually reflects the realistic and progressive values of the majority of Canadians, not the conservative minority for whom Harper governs. 

That's what my gut is telling me.  I could be wrong.  We shall see"


Ben Burd said...

Be careful about what you wish for. The liberal platform is full of weasel words lets see if I am wrong, I doubt it.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

I voted today also and I voted liberal. I was very upset when the Liberals voted for bill-c-51
Actually I still don't like it. I think though that there is other things that I like about Trudeau.First of all he has showed strength and resilience with all of the crude attacks made about him. That impressed me. Also his inclusiveness. He has natural charisma, but he is the real deal, nothing fake. He has a fantastic personality and that will hold him in good stead in foreign affairs. He also has some excellent MPs. It will be a real change from the morose, deceitful dictator we've had for 9yrs, still, even during an election hiding from Canadians.Trudeau in social policy is very progressive. He may turn out to be our most progressive PM. My prediction, Liberals with a majority.Actually Trudeau has done an incredible job in resurrecting the Liberals. Culturally going from Harpers dark age to Trudeau, will be a breath of fresh air.