View From the Hill by Keith Beardsley – It’s Harpertime! Prepare for Battle! – April 12, 2013

dr evil 2CFN – Today we have another poll, this one from Nanos, which shows the Liberals on the upswing. When looked at with other recent polls, the trend shows an upward movement for the Liberals, with a slight downward trend for the Conservatives and NDP.

It’s an interesting trend and one that shouldn’t surprise anyone considering the saturation coverage the media have given Justin Trudeau. I don’t recall any other recent Canadian political figure receiving that amount of coverage while basically saying and doing nothing.

Bonus points to Trudeau if he can capitalize on the media’s fascination with him. In politics you use every angle that you can to market yourself and get ahead. If being charming while saying nothing works- go for it.

While always nice to get a lot of media coverage, Trudeau should be concerned that in the long run all the hype could hurt more than help him. Expectations are so high for him that I wonder if anyone could live up to them. Remember all the media hype around the previous savior of the Liberal Party, a gentleman by the name of Michael Ignatieff. It didn’t help him.

When you don’t live up to your party’s or the public’s expectations of you it can be a rapid and often nasty descent for you. Trudeau runs that risk. The key in politics is always under promise and over deliver. The media have pretty much guaranteed that Trudeau won’t be able to do that.

Certainly Trudeau is a threat to the Conservatives, possibly more so to the NDP. He can’t be taken lightly and as former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney has warned, ignore him at your peril. He is a very marketable individual which was summed up by Mulroney when he said “He’s young, articulate, attractive – a flawlessly bilingual young man. What’s not to like with this picture?”

It is true at this point in time that Trudeau is a bit of a policy light weight, but you have a team and advisors and a party to help you prepare your policies and an election platform. Setting policy isn’t a one man show. You don’t have to be a policy heavy weight to win votes, your team (assuming you have a good one) can pick up some of that slack.

While Conservatives point to his lack of political experience it’s not fatal. It might be a drawback, but I can think of a few cabinet ministers since 2006 who stepped into their posts with virtually no experience in either politics or senior level management experience in the private sector. In politics there is a lot of on the job learning and you either adapt and grow into the position or fail.

This weekend will see the battle lines drawn and the stage set for the 2015 election. While possibly in the fall of 2015, there is some talk about it being moved up to the spring of 2015 to accommodate provincial election dates. If that’s the case, still plenty of time for Trudeau to prep himself for a campaign and work on his House of Commons performance which so far isn’t very good and hasn’t amounted to much. Plenty of time for him to learn on the job.

Also, lots of time for Trudeau to make a mistake and as we all know the Conservative attack machine is one of the best at capitalizing on them and they will be waiting.

For the Conservatives, the key will be to never under estimate your opponent. Politics can be full of surprises and upset victories. I can recall one such election when Joe Clark beat a long serving prime minister by the name of Pierre Elliot Trudeau. You never underestimate your opponent.

Keith Beardsley is a senior strategist for True North Public Affairs in Ottawa, as well as a blogger and political analyst. He can often be found running or cycling on his favorite bike trails.

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Cornwall Free News


  1. Mr. Beardsley just described Justin Trudeau as having no policies (not even a ‘vision-thing’?), that he’s been unimpressive in the House of Commons, yet DUH, he’ll be crowned Leader of the Grits.

    I suspect his coronation was fate decided by the characteristics Brian Mulroney described of him: “He’s young, articulate, attractive – a flawlessly bilingual young man. What’s not to like with this picture?” Folks, that’s a deep understanding of ‘low-information-voter’ politics.

    Sadly, Beardsley’s advice is similar: “If being charming while saying nothing works- go for it.” I hope Mr. Beardsley was speaking as a campaign manager, not as a voter hoping to have qualified candidates to choose from for the most important job in the country.

    How utterly depressing that Liberals would pass over a highly successful candidate with a stellar track record of high personal achievement; Marc Garneau, a PhD Engineer, a military officer and a Space Shuttle astronaut for a pretty face who is only trained to teach Drama to high school students, who, were it not for the coat-tails of his father wouldn’t even be in Parliament.

    If Canadians elect a Liberal government because of Trudeau’s media-hyped ‘glamour’ I pray to God that it will be the bottom for Canadian politics rather than just a sharp drop on the way further down a rat hole.

  2. Anything would be better then what we have now. The corruption alone is enough for the Conservatives to take a nose dive come election time. Don’t underestimate Justin’s capabilities. This country may be in for a shock when all is said and done.

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