OT­TAWA

The Lib­er­als sur­vived a ter­ri­ble au­tumn in Par­lia­ment. Yet, they ap­pear en­trenched in power

Investment Executive - - FRONT PAGE - BY GORD MCIN­TOSH IE

The Lib­er­als have sur­vived a ter­ri­ble au­tumn in Par­lia­ment.

as i write this col­umn, the 2018 fed­eral bud­get is at the print­ers. Ot­tawa is in pre-bud­get lull, with Par­lia­ment off for a week. The prime min­is­ter is off on an­other rock star tour: this time, to In­dia.

This is a good time for po­lit­i­cal nerds to take stock of the gov­ern­ment’s po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal. The Lib­er­als sur­vived a ter­ri­ble au­tumn in the House of Com­mons. Most fi­nance min­is­ters would not have been able to with­stand the con­stant pound­ing Bill Morneau had to en­dure for three months.

There are a cou­ple of sure signs that the Lib­er­als are firmly en­trenched in power.

First, Kelly Knight Craft, the U.S. am­bas­sador to Canada, re­cently de­fended her pres­i­dent by claim­ing he was a de­fender of the mid­dle class — just like Justin Trudeau. When was the last time an emis­sary of the most pow­er­ful politi­cian on earth tried to ride on the coat­tails of Canada’s prime min­is­ter?

Sec­ond, the par­lia­men­tary press gallery has ap­pointed it­self as the un­of­fi­cial Op­po­si­tion. The rea­son: the Con­ser­va­tives still are hung up on the Trudeaus’ fam­ily va­ca­tion dur­ing Christ­mas 2016. In the fi­nal ques­tion pe­riod just be­fore the pre­bud­get break, what were the Con­ser­va­tives go­ing af­ter the gov­ern­ment about? Ref­er­ences by Ger­ald Butts, Trudeau’s prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary, to Nazism in a tweet.

Mean­time, the British Columbia gov­ern­ment is try­ing to hold the na­tion hostage just to please a hand­ful of Green Party mem­bers of the B.C. leg­isla­tive assem­bly who keep the pro­vin­cial New Demo­cratic Party (NDP) in power.

Also in mid-Fe­bru­ary, Do­minic Bar­ton, the Lib­er­als’ eco­nomic guru, warned that ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence will take 40% of the jobs in Canada over the next decade.

A savvy Op­po­si­tion would have de­manded to know what the gov­ern­ment planned to do about eco­nomic dis­rup­tion. But nei­ther Op­po­si­tion party seems to give a hoot.

The Con­ser­va­tives are go­ing through what the Lib­er­als did af­ter the lat­ter were kicked out of power in 2006. Con­ser­va­tive leader An­drew Scheer, who seems to be a cross be­tween Stephen Harper and Chuck­les the Clown, might as well have “care­taker” stamped on his fore­head.

The Lib­er­als needed two care­tak­ers and an in­terim leader be­fore they got their mojo back af­ter their 2006 fall from grace. His­tor­i­cally, the Con­ser­va­tives have spent more time in the po­lit­i­cal wilderness than the Lib­er­als be­fore re­gain­ing power.

What the Con­ser­va­tives need now is some­one like Bob Stan­field or Pre­ston Man­ning to be­come the gov­ern­ment-in­wait­ing’s leader. Nei­ther man tasted power in Ot­tawa. But their in­flu­ence was vi­tal for the Con­ser­va­tives to re­sume gov­ern­ing.

As for the NDP, there was some ex­cite­ment from the me­dia when Jag­meet Singh was run­ning for party leader. But, so far, he has turned out to be part of a long run of un­suc­cess­ful NDP lead­ers, save for Jack Lay­ton and Ed Broad­bent.

But, then again, lead­er­ship is just one of the NDP’s prob­lems. What was this party think­ing when it in­vited Tamika Mal­lory, a sup­porter of ho­mo­pho­bic and an­tiSemitic re­li­gious leader Louis Far­rakhan, to speak at the NDP’s bi­en­nial con­ven­tion last month? And why would the party al­low its rad­i­cal LEAP fringe, led by Avi Lewis, to up­stage that con­ven­tion with a con­ven­tion of its own in Ot­tawa the same week?

That was not the first time the loony Left has tried to take over the NDP. Re­mem­ber the rad­i­cal Waf­fle wing? Iron­i­cally, it was Lewis’ fa­ther, former On­tario NDP leader Stephen Lewis, who was mostly re­spon­si­ble for kick­ing the Waf­fle out of party ranks in 1972. Singh has ac­com­plished one thing by mak­ing phar­ma­care his party’s sig­na­ture pol­icy, for which the Lib­er­als will be grate­ful. They will let the NDP beta-test that pol­icy, then steal phar­ma­care for the Lib­er­als’ cam­paign in 2019. Steal­ing NDP poli­cies has been part of the Lib­er­als’ modus operandi for years.

There is a par­al­lel for those of us old enough to re­mem­ber: de­spite how much New Coke was a colos­sal mar­ket­ing screwup, Coca-Cola con­tin­ued to dom­i­nate be­cause its of enor­mous “mind share.”

The Lib­er­als un­der Trudeau have that kind of mind share among vot­ers, par­tic­u­larly mil­len­ni­als. The Op­po­si­tion needs to be think­ing long-term in­stead of look­ing for easy head­lines.

Un­til then, it’s miss­ing in ac­tion.

A savvy Op­po­si­tion would have de­manded to know what the gov­ern­ment planned to do

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