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The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.


This content is restricted to subscribers

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.


This content is restricted to subscribers

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.


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The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.


Welcome back to the real world, as we start the first full work week of 2024. Happy New Year!

For the three main federal party leaders, they have different imperatives to address.

For the prime minister, he needs to continue to get his government into gear to address the very real economic anxieties Canadians are facing.

Global inflation, fuelled by post-pandemic realities, is putting a real strain on family budgets. In particular, interest rates, raised to help cool that global inflation, are now one of the most acute cost pressures on families. With inflation itself cooling in the latter half of 2023, it is perhaps worth asking why the Bank of Canada’s inflation target is far lower than actual global inflation; we may well be in a scenario where the cure is worse than the disease if high interest rates continue to erode take-home pay.

More specifically, the PM needs to have every Minister reaching for the standard Housing Minister Sean Fraser has set.

In a matter of weeks, Fraser completely reset narratives, at least in expert and activist circles, on housing policy. Leveraging federal funding to incentivize — if not outright prod — municipalities to build more housing, to liberalize zoning and reject NIMBYism has been an absolute sea change for this government, and will pay real dividends over time to help increase supply and hopefully lower the cost of homes.

We can only wish every cabinet minister was this effective on policy and — critically — on communication.

There’s a scene in Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom where the Jane Fonda character tells a young executive, “You have a PR problem because you have an actual problem.” Truer words have never been spoken when it comes to the Trudeau government seeking a fourth mandate less than two years’ time. They have the runway to be competitive come October 2025, if they deal with the actual problems. Yes, they have messaging issues, but they first have to solve the policy challenges they’re facing.

For Pierre Poilievre, his New Year’s resolutions are in reverse order: his comms are crisp and effective, but sometimes way too self-indulgent. There really seem to be two Poilievre characters: there’s the really effective, YouTube or TED Talk-style explainer dude who breaks complicated issues down to understandable, visceral messaging, and then there’s the geeky jerk who shows up like he’s set to disrupt a first-year economics seminar to show off his own self-assumed brilliance.

To put it bluntly, the first Poilievre could well win. The Liberal hope is that Canadians see far more of the second Poilievre, and find him weird and off putting.

Eventually, with this general comms diagnostic in mind, Poilievre will need to put a bit more meat on the bones of a policy offering. He probably does not need to get too detailed, but a bit more than slogans, particularly to show some credibility on climate change, is advisable.

For Jagmeet Singh, it sort of is what it is. He’s a governing partner for the Liberals, his NDP is enjoying more power than it’s had since at least the early 1960s and yet he constantly critiques the government as if he’s not a de facto part of it (yes, I know, a confidence-and-supply agreement is not a coalition, but let’s be real about the machinations of how the deal works day by day).

He’s gambled on making a difference and delivering some key NDP policy goals, and we will see if that works come the 2025 election for his party. I suspect what won’t work is opposing the government you played a role in running, while also claiming responsibility for the parts of the governing agenda you like, but we shall see.

The election may be about two years away, but it’s pre-election season already.

(Finally, a note to regular readers: I’m back. Since December 2020, I’ve been serving as a ward councillor in my hometown of Bradford, a rapidly growing agricultural community and northern suburb of the Greater Toronto Area. That’s kept me busy, and perhaps a little less blunt in political opining. But, as we start a New Year, I’m happy to be back with this column, offering some hot takes and observations on #cdnpoli.)

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.