Scheer could learn from Trudeau’s cri­sis-man­age­ment for­mula

Edmonton Sun - - COMMENT - Tom MUL­CAIR Mul­cair is a lawyer and uni­ver­sity pro­fes­sor and the former leader of the fed­eral NDP @Thomas­mul­cair

This trundling cam­paign turned a cor­ner on Wed­nes­day night and sud­denly found a new gear.

We’d just com­pleted the two hour pre-game show on TVA. We walked to the other end of the build­ing and sat down to watch the de­bate which was just start­ing. It was also just end­ing for An­drew Scheer.

Af­ter nail­ing his en­gag­ing and well-scripted en­trance in­ter­view, Scheer showed up to the ac­tual de­bate un­pre­pared to an­swer the most ob­vi­ous ques­tion on abor­tion. In the brief min­utes it’d taken us to un-mic and make it down the hall­way, we turned on our screen to see a Justin Trudeau who was in full rhetor­i­cal flight and a ner­vous and sput­ter­ing An­drew Scheer.

Trudeau’s smug smile af­ter his per­for­mance spoke vol­umes. He’d un­masked his ri­val, who’d re­fused or other­wise failed to say what his per­sonal view was on a woman’s right to choose.

The prob­lem for Trudeau, as we learned 36 hours later, is that he’s stated ex­actly the same po­si­tion as Scheer in the re­cent past. His spi­ralling ex­pla­na­tion was sim­i­lar to the one he gave when the black­face scan­dal erupted: “That was the old Justin, now I get it.” Then he planted a tree to save the planet... ex­cept there was still a lit­tle splainin’ to do about his two cam­paign planes.

Scheer had scored an un­ex­pected suc­cess with his reve­la­tion that Trudeau uses two planes. In ad­di­tion to the cli­mate-change con­tra­dic­tion from the guy who’d just emoted with Greta Thun­berg in front of the cam­eras, it was the rea­son for the sec­ond plane that left vot­ers scratch­ing their heads. It turns out our Prime Min­is­ter needs a sec­ond plane for his cos­tumes, wardrobe and ac­ces­sories in­clud­ing, as Scheer joked, his ca­noes.

The story had re­ally caught on the morn­ing af­ter the de­bate but Scheer’s ad­vi­sors were ap­par­ently un­aware of it. He stepped off the plane in New Brunswick and promptly ad­mit­ted some­thing ev­ery­one knew: he’s pro-life. He stomped on the “Justin Two planes” story and brought the jour­nal­ists back to his prob­lems!

That, un­for­tu­nately for him, wasn’t the end of Scheer’s two days of woes. Not will­ing to be out­done by Trudeau on the hypocrisy front, it also turns out that Scheer is an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen. Not that there’s any­thing wrong with that, as Se­in­feld might’ve said.

What is prob­lem­atic is that Scheer per­son­ally and, the Con­ser­va­tive Party it­self, have in the past slagged po­lit­i­cal fig­ures who held dual ci­ti­zen­ship in­clud­ing Michaelle Jean, Stéphane Dion and, oh, yeah, me!

What could’ve and should’ve been an easy bandaid to pull off prior to the cam­paign be­came an­other ex­am­ple of do-as-i-say... no­tas-i-do from one of the key can­di­dates to be­come our next Prime Min­is­ter.

As we’ve learned re­peat­edly from Trudeau, there’s a for­mula to get away with it. Get a committee of cri­sis-man­age­ment ex­perts to craft a sin­cere act of con­tri­tion and move on. Not Scheer. He looked Nixo­nian as he de­liv­ered his cringe­wor­thy pre­pared line: 'not my fault if I didn’t tell you’, he said to jour­nal­ists, ‘it’s your fault; you never asked’.

If Scheer were to win, the Prime Min­is­ter of Canada would still have to file his U.S. in­come tax re­turn for this year. And he didn’t think he had to tell us?

Trudeau tried to keep up. On Fri­day, the man who re­cently wept be­fore the United Na­tions about Canada’s un­fair treat­ment of First Na­tions, de­cided to ask the courts to over­turn the com­pen­sa­tion re­cently awarded First Na­tions chil­dren by the Cana­dian Hu­man Rights Tri­bunal. The mind bog­gles.

Singh and May are still slug­ging it out rather per­son­ally, split­ting the nearly 25% of pro­gres­sive vot­ers. Scheer’s cam­paign has now been holed be­low the wa­ter line in ru­ral Que­bec where he’d hoped to make break­throughs. Trudeau still can’t move clear of the pack and the one per­son smil­ing amid this train wreck is Bloc Leader Yves-fran­cois Blanchet, who used his home-ice ad­van­tage to very good ef­fect.

The other par­ties have started to pay at­ten­tion to him. On Fri­day Trudeau Tweeted out a litany of sub­par de­ci­sions by Blanchet when he was en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter. Too lit­tle, too late. The Bloc will likely rise from the ashes of the last two elec­tions and may even hold the bal­ance of power in Ottawa once it’s done.

That will be the ob­ject of Lib­eral fo­cus groups and deep polling this week­end. Don’t be sur­prised if Trudeau tries to reprise the Lib­eral clas­sic role of “Cap­tain Canada, Sep­a­ratist Fighter” dur­ing Mon­day’s English-lan­guage de­bate.

He might even find a way to say he’ll fight for re­li­gious free­doms in Canada and chal­lenge Que­bec’s dis­crim­i­na­tory Bill 21. None of the other Lead­ers will.


Con­ser­va­tive Leader An­drew Scheer was un­pre­pared for a ques­tion on abor­tion dur­ing the French-lan­guage de­bate.

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