TORONTO - If you are a fan of Justin Trudeau, then you would probably agree with a friend of mine who maintains that the electoral woes experienced so far by the Liberal Leader are all induced by the questionable tactics employed by his advisors.
In a cynical political world where political Parties feast on ignorance and indifference, even the most ardent partisans must be wondering where his strategists have misplaced their political compass. It seems that they are determined to shine a light on the Leader’s real or perceived shortcomings – and in his own backyard in Montreal no less.
Whoever is orchestrating the campaign in Quebec seems determined to soil the Party linen by o ending every traditional supporter: youth, women and the ethnic vote. In St. Leonard – St. Michel (SLSM), a constituency traditional represented by an Italian Canadian, their preferred candidate, Imam Hassan Guillet, is now presenting himself as an independent, after having been unceremoniously dumped for perceived egregious views and injudicious language.
The manoeuvrings to highlight “strength in diversity” is beginning to backfire. The Arab, Muslim, community cannot have seen this in a good light. Especially since another Middle Eastern candidate (now former MP), Eva Nussef, was denied her candidacy for obscure reasons in nearby Vimy. She is a Coptic Christian and her expressions of unsavoury behaviour on the part of her colleagues, sanctioned by the Leader, will not resonate positively.
In happier days, the public might have ignored the internal squabbles in the districts of Vimy and SLSM as simply “school-yard spats”. It may still do so, but the missteps are awaking critical observations on the part of the large Italian Canadian community in SLSM, adjacent Honore’ Mercier and Papineau districts, where they comprise 52%, 25.5% and 8% of the voting public.
All this while an overtly anti-Immigrant Premier Legault and a resurgent, xenophobic, Bloc Quebecois, are drawing Francophone voters away from the Liberal fold and from Trudeau personally. The Conservatives countered with an Italian-Canadian candidate, Ilario Maiolo, in SLSM, who has hosted his Leader, Andrew Scheer, twice, in the constituency.
In what appears to be a helter-skelter, “choose-the-flavourof-the-day-strategy” to campaigning, the generals in the Liberal campaign decided last week that it would be a brilliant idea to put the Leader in a canoe and paddle the shoreline. It worked for Stockwell Day of the Alliance Party – not.
Then they opted to grant a Prime Ministerial meeting to Greta Thunberg. The optics were cringe-worthy. The young lady has been dubbed, by some, as the Modern Day St. Joan of Arc of the Climate Change Movement. Of course, he had to participate in the March, the largest collection of people for a specific purpose since the pro-Canada rally in 1995.
There he was, Justin Trudeau, in the now classic pose as the leader in Pride Parades, with all the determination of participants in the hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers”. Protesters stole the show. Greta said he hadn’t done enough in government as if to suggest he should not have been there.
Andrew Scheer expressed the irony inherent in the scene: a Prime Minister leading a march against the inaction of his own government. Ouch.
Pollsters produced data suggesting the public may not be as impressed as they once were. By the weekend they released the entire Liberal Party platform, along with some salacious tidbit about Scheer’s C.V. – 15 years ago. It was akin to suggesting that after 15 years of marriage and love-making with one’s spouse, and four children to show for it, one of the partners had misrepresented the first occasion of entry into adulthood.
It’s become that type of election campaign. Yesterday, those strategists sent Mr. Trudeau into friendlier territory: the Sikh redoubt of Mississauga and Brampton where ever more insistent allegations claim his lieutenant is readying for a run at the Leadership.