Politics of Oligarchs.

In an interesting opinion piece, recently, the Toronto Star’s Susan Delacourt said that both Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau had to reinvent their respective parties to win election. Neither liked the parties they were taking over in their search for power.

Similar to Donald Trump in the United States, they changed the parties to their needs. Trump now has a slavish republican party to do his bidding. It would appear that Stephen Harper forgot to leave the keys for Andrew Scheer. Justin Trudeau is already reaping the results of his errors with the liberals.

Harper’s process of changing the conservatives was slower and more methodical. You can be sure that Harper wanted nothing to do with the former Mulroney party but he first had to be confident he had wrested the Reform Party from Preston Manning. He got his top-down party off the ground but still only won a minority in 2006. It took until 2011 for Harper to get the party he wanted and he was the oligarch. Power only went to those selected by Harper.

In the meantime, Justin Trudeau cashed in on the sentiments for his father in the liberal party—winning a seat in parliament in a tough Quebec riding and going on the road with his ‘Selfie’ tour. He found that a picture with him was more important to party members than the obligatory speech.

But after the party chose him leader in 2013, he started to put his seal on the party. He did away with party memberships and started the stream of e-mails requesting money from his followers. He also declared that there were no longer any liberal senators, cutting himself off from a depth of knowledge into the party, its fund raising, its functions and its history. He just milked his flock for money.

While Trudeau had to play catch-up with Harper’s conservatives, he made sure that the liberals also had the modern marketing plans, the technology and the more sophisticated ground game that was essential in a party that was losing adherents.

Harper paved the way for the power of the oligarchy based in the prime minister’s office. Trudeau showed how to abuse it. It works for a while, but leaves a bitter taste in the ridings.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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