Complacency is Justin Trudeau’s enemy.

With a federal election ten months away, we can ignore all polls. They tell us little. It reminds me of the first party campaign in which I was involved. It was in 1964. My friend Charles Templeton was working for the Toronto Star and agreed when I and others asked him to make the jump into provincial politics to enter the contest to choose a new leader for the Ontario Liberal Party.

Along with the work we were doing at the time on the province-wide leadership campaign, we were advised to show some electoral strength by running in a by-election in Toronto-Broadview. It had been liberal but the main opponent was the new democrat. To this day, I remember the statement an old hand made to the candidate early on election day: “Chuck, you have run a strong, traditional campaign. Now it is up to the voters.” We lost and I made a vow to never again take part in a traditional campaign.

Campaigns are about the images created by candidates and leaders. They are about the concerns and hopes of the voters. The winning campaign in that by-election matched the concerns and hopes of the voters with their party’s direction.

And I think that will be Justin Trudeau’s failure next fall. In 2015, the liberals offered the change that the voters wanted. They can hardly offer the same change in 2019.

What Trudeau desperately needs to run on is a coherent vision of Canada’s future. His feminism has become annoying. His dress-up trip to India was an embarrassment. He has not stood up to Donald Trump. What are the benefits to Canadians of all these meetings with world leaders? And why is an environmentalist buying an old pipeline to move that stuff from the Alberta tar sands to ocean tankers?

Justin Trudeau can hardly count on the weakness of his opposition. Both the conservative’s Andrew Scheer and the new democrat’s Jagmeet Singh might be hard to visualize in the prime minister’s office but we have been surprised before.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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