By: James Di Fiore
Canadian conservatives are in a tizzy right now. Justin Trudeau told the press that the Liberal Party of Canada is a pro-choice party and that pro-life candidates need not apply to a Trudeau led LPC.
Reaction was swift and relentless. Trudeau had gone too far! It was as if he had aborted baby Jesus with his bare hands, then ate the placenta on national television.
But is this really much of a newsflash? No, not really. Not at all, actually.
The Liberals had declared themselves to be a pro-choice party in 2012 at their federal convention. All Trudeau was doing was reiterating this factoid to a few reporters on Parliament Hill. What Trudeau did incorrectly was answer a question directly instead of drenching his response in public relations flim-flam. Confused yet?
Justin Trudeau’s error has nothing to do with his party’s position on abortion or the position of only wanting candidates to run if they first pass the litmus test of being pro-choice. All that is fine. His mistake was not to anticipate the operatives on the right who will use the sound bite to fan the flames of rage among the conservative base.
But what damage has Trudeau really done to himself or his party? The vast majority of Canadians are pro-choice. The vast majority of anyone who isn’t a conservative is pro-choice. In relative terms, being pro-choice is like being pro-gay marriage in 2014. And don’t forget, being pro-choice does not mean being pro-abortion. It means a woman’s right to choose life or abortion should not be challenged. Many of these women, obviously, choose life.
So desperate are the Harper conservatives to squish Trudeau into the “in over his head” tag line that they’ve watered down their own message by arbitrarily pasting it on every last thing the Liberal leader utters in public. It’s cringe worthy to watch, truly. They believe if they just show Canadians the clip of Trudeau taking off his shirt at a fundraiser a million more times, accompanied by random quotes about marijuana, terrorism and the economy, that we will all eventually have our Eureka moment and agree with the ad agency who pretended the gimmick was a good idea in the first place.
But the entire campaign is a dismal failure. Canadians never bought into it, and it became political porn for the conservative base, and the subject of relentless ridiculing by everyone else in the country. After all, politics is serious business. People care about taxes and the big issues affecting their lives. If your party’s main advertising dollars go to a singular campaign where an attempt to ridicule your main opponent is the only strategy, you better make sure it resonates with more than just the party loyalists. Trudeau’s comment on abortion will no doubt make the next version of the campaign. Once again we will see the clip of Trudeau taking his shirt off with his quote hastily inserted. The claim of him being way over his head will be declared once again, and the collective yawn of a nation, minus the conservative base, will do nothing to convince the Harper government to change course. They’re all in…it’s Trudeau taking off his shirt from now until the next election.
The most savvy conservatives are probably thinking only one thing these days: Abort….abort.