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A Lost Generation Of Liberals


Sir Wilfrid Laurie
Liberal Prime Minster 1896-1919
Expanded confederation

There’s an easy way to tell when the sheen is starting to dull a little on a political candidate or campaign; supporters switch from promotion to defending. We’re starting to see some defending going on in the leadership campaign of Justin Trudeau.

It’s not all that surprising; his campaign’s lack of substance and his penchant for shooting from the lip were bound to catch up with him sooner or later. I imagine that those who put him forward as savior of the party were hoping it would be later rather than sooner.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.

Mr. Trudeau has shown a remarkable lack of depth in his public pronouncements which border on what Lorne Gunter called “greeting card” sentiments and he’s right. Much of what Justin Trudeau is saying is about as deep and visionary as those pictures of cute animals with quotations that people insist on posting on their Facebook pages.

While it is all nicely packaged and even sounds promising, the fact is that the cracks are showing.

A few years back, Mr. Trudeau made the statement that he never reads the news because he figures if something is important, someone will tell him. His supporters have already started to defend that statement as being a brash comment from a younger man but the truth is he has made somewhat similar statements during this leadership race.


Lester Pearson
Liberal Prime Minister 1954-1968
Won The Nobel Peace Prize

It isn’t just that he has made somewhat inconsistent and divisive statements in the past on everything from the gun registry to Alberta undermining Quebec’s economy. It isn’t even that his ethics are flexible enough to help him rationalize that charging taxpayers and charities  thousands of dollars to hear him speak when he should be in The House attending to the job Canadians are paying him to do.

He is on the record in this campaign as saying that he thinks it is premature to talk about solutions prior to being elected leader and that it should wait until after he is elected so that he can confer with Canadians. It begs the question, what’s he being doing for the past year as he crisscrossed the country if not conferring with Canadians? Does anybody remember Kim Campbell’s famous stumble when she said she didn’t believe election campaigns were the appropriate time to discuss serious issues?

I can’t think of a better time to present solutions a candidate intends to implement than prior to them being elected to office or to lead a political party. What does it say about a political party that is prepared to anoint a leader that hasn’t revealed  the specifics of what he or she plans to do?.

The Liberals have opened up the election of their new party leader to all Canadians but how  does the electorate get to make an informed decision as to whether or not they are the appropriate person for the job if the candidates offer nothing but bromides and fatuous speeches about the middle class?

But then, this leadership campaign has nothing to do with the Liberal Party of Canada looking for a visionary leader who has a firm plan to deal with whatever issues this country is facing. It is about selecting the candidate they think can win an election and get them back into power and that candidate was identified before this pretense of a leadership race was even announced.


Pierre Trudeau
Liberal Prime Minister
1968-1969 & 1980-1984
Charter of Rights

The problem is that the Liberals don’t really have a valid reason for wanting to form the government except for the fact that they want it or if they do, they’re keeping it a secret until later.

It is an unbelievable lack of foresight and understanding.

In 2010, the Liberals were reduced to third party status in Parliament, whipped badly by the New Democratic Party in Quebec and the Conservative Party  in Ontario.

It was a fairly strong message that was being sent by the people of Canada but it appears the Liberals learned nothing from it.

They’ve had two years to reinvent themselves; two years in which to reconsider their purpose and their policies. They did neither. Instead, they poured more energy into designing the travelling stage  for their leadership debates than they did into developing policy initiatives and reconsidering and learning from the mistakes they had made in the recent past.

The result is that they have, as Andrew Coyne pointed out in a recent column, reduced themselves to little more than a personality cult although to be honest, I think that does a disservice to personality cults. Usually in a cult, there is a strong leader with a strong idea of what he or she wants and intends to do once they have obtained power.

The same can’t be said of the Liberals.

It’s all stuff an nonsense; legalize marijuana (there’s an innovative new initiative for you), eliminate supply management (they don’t agree on this but even if they did, the Conservatives are already working on it) and, of course, Justin Trudeau’s bold initiative of ‘conferring with Canadians’.

At what point don’t they get it? Liberals are in trouble across the country. At both the federal and provincial levels Liberal parties have  betrayed their own stated values; substituting expediency for governance.  They are bankrupt of vision beyond trying to win or to maintain power and Canadians not only expect better — they deserve better.

It is a lost generation with few ideas and little sense of purpose.

Quebec’s Liberal government of Jean Charest was somewhat rudely replaced by the PQ because the people of Quebec were tired of a government that was devoid of ideas and soft on corruption. The Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty in Ontario which is now the Liberal Government of Kathleen Wynne is clinging to power by one seat in the legislature and the corruption scandals are threatening to topple them. In British Columbia, the Liberal Government of Christy Clark is going into an election this spring facing the news that her much vaunted jobs program has been an unmitigated failure.

And that brings us back to the federal Liberals; a lovely red debate stage full of red backdrops and Liberal logos but empty of any good reason to support them in the future.

If I was a Liberal, I would be embarrassed by this sorry excuse for rejuvenation of the party. I’m surprised that more of them aren’t.

If things don't work our for Justin Trudeau in politics, he definitely has the look to become a male fashion model -  photo: Vancouver Sun

Justin Trudeau
Liberal Leadership Candidate
Great hair.

While I don’t support his politics, I have a fair degree of respect for people like Ralph Goodale, a former Liberal Cabinet Minister, but I am disappointed to see him reduce himself to being little more than a cheerleader for vacuity.

As I watch this leadership campaign and listen to the candidates speak, I find it difficult to remember that this is the party of Laurier and Pearson; a party that expanded Confederation, which repatriated the Canadian Constitution from Britain and that established the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Now, it is a party without  much vision other than how to get elected to form a government and that, my friends, is hardly a good enough reason to want to form a government.

As for Justin Trudeau – well – even Justin Bieber can draw large crowds, say things his supporters will swoon over but that doesn’t mean he’s qualified to run the country and neither is Mr. Trudeau. Conferring with Canadians is all well and good before you get elected but once you’re elected, you’re expected to lead and you can’t lead by following public opinion or waiting until you’re in office to ask people what you should do.

It ain’t how it works. People vote for those they think have the ideas and the qualifications to deal with the complex issues we face today.

So far, neither Justin Trudeau nor the Liberal Party of Canada have presented either.


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  • Thucydides

    I would suggest the LPC was out of ideas more than a decade ago. They have run every election since 1993 using the same Liberal “Red Book” of campaign promises as their policy platform (really, how many times can you promise universal daycare before people catch on that it isn’t going to happen?).

    The lack of any identifiable Liberal policy or philosophy is their true weak point, even leadership candidates like Marc Garneau or Martha Hall Findley cannot really point out how their policy proposals are in any way “Liberal”. Indeed Mr Garneau’s policies would not sound out of place coming from Thomas Mulcair, and Martha Hall Findley’s policies (especially on marketing boards) are pure CPC!

    So while the LPC may be able to ride a wave of public enthusiasm for a short while after electing the Young Dauphin, in short order people are going to wonder what he or the party really stand for, or what they might actually do if they are in a position of power.

    The collapse of provincial Liberal parties is alsoa very bad sign. How will the LPC find volunteers,money and recruit aspiring senior politicians if their provincial counterparts have been decimated?

  • LynnS

    The Trudeau liberals aren’t looking for support from thinking Canadians. They are looking for support from immature people “who don’t read the news”.

    People who think sound bites and “hot” words are substitutes for ideas because their intellectual capacity doesn’t extend past adolescent narcissism or their need to rebel against their parents. You know “you old folks are past your prime and it’s our turn”. We’re young and that automatically makes us right. Except that even Trudeau knows he can’t make it without experienced people around him.

    Hence, the twitter campaign because that’s a marketing venue that gives you direct access to plugged in reactivists who are most susceptible to celebrity culture with the added bonus that they are already conditioned to push the “like” button.

    The liberals are fostering a groupie mentality among the section of population so inclined. The Pied Piper wants the occupy crowd and the student union crowd chanting Justin “Obama” Trudeau, banging pots and pans in the streets. But what they really want is to reproduce the orange wave. It just requires an appeal to vanity.

    Are the cracks really showing? I’m not so sure. They would be if the Trudeau party hadn’t set up the entire leadership campaign and so-called leaders debate to show case Trudeau and shut down everyone else.

    I was also appalled by the exchange with Martha Hall Findlay (whom I support). I couldn’t believe that she was actually booed. Is the audience packed with Trudeau troglodytes for that purpose? When he walked off stage in a tiff; I could have smacked him for his immaturity and lack of grace. Since he believes that he is already the leader is he a sore winner to use Elizabeth May’s turn of phrase?

    Never shy of putting himself in front of a camera lense even when the camera isn’t pointed in his directed; he shamelessly uses his opponents as photo of props. It wasn’t lost on me that he was given center podium with Hall Findlay and Debra Coyne flanking him in the “support” positions.

  • Rich

    Off topic; Regards to the different pipelines being promoted in Canada, the Gateway by Enbridge, Trans Mountain by Kinder Morgan and the Keystone by Trans Canada plus the proposed west to east pipeline to New Brunswick and Montreal: Are these lines considered Interprovincial transportation as are the Interprovincial highways? If they are can these lines be then approved without approval from the provinces, because of the Benefit to Canada?

  • Rich

    I thought that the Liberal Party on their year long searc h for a new leader, were going to reconnect with Canadians , and not automatically anoint a new leader as they did with Michael Ignatieff, Paul Martin, Stephan Dion but seek a leader with substance . But it seems that they have resorted to the same old tired candidates. Course with the help of Craig Oliver, Robert Fife shilling for them it seems that once again we will get an anointed Liberal leader.

    I know here in Alberta, the Libs will not do very well, because Albertans still have not forgotten the NEP and now they have JT’s comments regarding PMSH; the one where JT states that the problem with Canada is we have an Albertan running it and not a Quebecer

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The Liberals have learned nothing from their recent history.

  • Ted Campbell

    The “lost generation” of Liberals was, really, founded and then “lost” in the years 1965-1975 when Pierre Trudeau – who was not, in any meaningful sense, a Liberal – explicitly rejected everything for which Laurier, King, St Laurent (above all) and Pearson stood. Trudeau opened a deep and wide gulf in the Party and created two factions: one of which still bears his name and the other which is, today, usually referred to as the “Manley Liberals.”

    The Trudeau Liberals are NOT united around a policy base. They usually talk a ‘left wing’ line but that is only because they believe that Canada is a slightly left of centre country (as it may be on social issues). When in power, however, as they were from 1993 until 2003, the Trudeau Liberals under Jean Chrétien governed from a firm ‘right wing’ base. The Trudeau Liberals seek power for its own sake; they KNOW that they, alone, are “fit” to govern; issues and challenges don’t matter – that’s why there is a civil service.

    The Manley Liberals have some policy ideas but they are, at the moment, leaderless; Martha Hall Findlay may emerge – after the next leader who will be a Francophone – to lead a resurgent Laurier/St Laurent/Manley faction but it remains to be seen if that faction can accomplish anything much so long as the route to Liberal power is perceived to run through Quebec.

    Don’t get me wrong, Bear: I want the Liberal Party of Canada to succeed, to restore itself, to make itself ready to govern. I KNOW that the Conservatives will run out of steam, out of ideas and out of principles – they are only human, after all – and they will need to be thrown out of office and we will need a sound, competent government in waiting to replace them. I doubt the NDP, even with a sane leader like Thomas Mulcair, can give us sound, competent government; thus we need the Liberals.

    But the Liberals we need are St Laurent’s Liberals, believers in: a sound dollar; free trade; robust, values based foreign and defence policies; progressive social policies implemented through affordable and fiscally prudent social programmes; and equality of opportunity (bot NOT of outcomes) for all. The Trudeau Liberals are as emotionally and intellectually incapable of giving that to Canada as was their namesake.

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      You raise some very good points, particularly about the ideological division within the party since Pierre Trudeau’s first election. I agree with you opinion of Martha Hall Findlay .Her politics aren’t my politics but she has definite ideas and is a strong potential leader. I thought it was disgraceful that she was forced to apologize to Peter Pan for what was a particularly pointed but valid question. He didn’t handle it very well but compared to what Thomas Mulcair and Stephen Harper would do to him in an election debate, Ms Hall Findlay’s question was a softball lob.

      My point in this article is that the Liberals have moved from being a party of ideas to a party desperate for power. The problem is that they only want power for power’s sake. They have nothing to offer should they regain government and that says volumes about how little this party has learned in recent years.

      Thanks for the detailed comment.

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  • Nicola Timmerman

    When many voters believe Elvis is still alive, when the media continues to push the climate change fantasy such as in the CTV special this week, when gun owners are constantly vilified, why wouldn’t the Liberals think they have a good chance to be elected with Trudeau revisited. You really have to hate the west, though, all you big tent Liberals, to put another Trudeau in power.

  • Tim

    The Libs are most likely banking on short memories. I for one have not nor will forget AdScam and the millions in cash they stole from us only to hear them say we should consider ourselves fortunate they did so. Arrogant azzbags for sure. I’m willing to bet they’re still doing it- thru the Liberal-laden bureaucracy- with little schemes like the Elections Canada Robocall investigation.

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      Martial Law, Kyoto (which they signed but never implemented), cancelled helicopters, HRDC boondoggle, AdScam, RoboCalls, a Senator convicted of fraud, a former cabinet minister (now a mayor) charged with fraud, official bilingualism. The list is not pretty and overly long. Canada has lost billions to the party once led by people like Wilfrid Laurier and Lester Pearson but now led by the worst kind of cynical politicians.

  • Larry Corbett

    This is an eye opener to the liberals in Canada….I hope they do nothing……

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      I hope they elect Justin Trudeau. I’ve already invited friends over to watch the election debates. It will be like watching Bambi in between wolves.

      • NeilD

        Hair Hair

        • RunningWithTheWolves

          And gone but not forgotten is Liberal Jane Stewart, Human Resources Minister- when in 2000 it was discovered that 1 BILLION dollars was unaccounted for and was soposed to be used for job creation and employment programs for Canadians without jobs.
          12 RCMP investigations where launched, and in the end Stewart was not asked to resign and kept her job. Sigh….

          • http://abearsrant.com thebear

            And those same Liberals are all over the CPC for far less. It’s a strange little world progressives have created for us.