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Mac Headrick on Trudeau's recent senate decision

Sunday, February 02, 2014   by: Staff columnist Mac Headrick can be read weekly by clicking here.

To learn more about Mac, click here.


Trudeau's Senate Decision - Canadian Politics 101

With great knowledge also comes the obligation to share and help educate those less blessed.

No, the above is not some saying from a brilliant historical scholar. I actually just made it up.

I had to start today’s column somewhere.

Consider the following as a brief university quality course: Politics 101 - Professor Mac at your service. 

This past Wednesday, Justin Trudeau kicked 32 Liberal Senators out of the Liberal caucus.

This decision is a perfect example of typical Canadian politics in action. 

Now before I go any further I believe it is necessary to provide an extensive background about Canada’s political structure.

Normally this would be the material of a university political course. I am able to accomplish this in three sentences.

Are you ready?

I assume you have paper and pen in hand. 

There are those who stand for the right spectrum of political thought; they are Conservatives.

Some Canadians stand for the left spectrum of political philosophy; they are referred to as NDP supporters.

Then there are Canadians who stand for nothing; and these people are known as Liberals. 

Now before you dismiss the above analysis take a moment to reflect upon the advantages of standing for nothing.

Successful political parties have to be flexible.

Not that this has to do without any boundaries or specific beliefs.

But at some point you would have to outline policy or things you stand for.

That is easy to do… just steal ideas from your opponents, change them slightly, and present them as your own.

Now supporting the Conservative or NDP party’s is hard work.

You have to believe and support your point of view.

Frankly, it takes a lot of effort.

To support the Liberal Party well, you just have to believe in their message.

Immediately below I am going to present the Liberal campaign in the next federal election. 

“Canada is a great country; we feel your pain; we will solve all your problems; now time for a group hug”. 

Keep in mind the concept of “nothingness” and stealing of ideas while I break down Justin Trudeau’s expulsion of 32 Liberal Senators from the Liberal caucus.

At the start of the day this past Wednesday there were 32 Liberal Senators.

At the end of the day they had been replaced by 32 Senate Liberals. This idea had been proposed by the NDP back in October 2013.

The 32 Senate Liberals still are card carrying members of the Liberal Party.

They still keep their annual 130,000 dollar salary and benefits.

They publicly announced they would still support the Liberal Party. 

Well what has changed?

Do you remember the shock and amazement before Christmas when the Senate actually held meetings on a Friday?

Senators normally do not work Fridays.

They also take all the breaks elected Parliamentarians do.

Guess what?

Now they don’t have to show up on Wednesdays. Justin Trudeau accomplished something I didn’t think possible.

The Canadian Senate has always been a place were party supporters go to do little at a 90 – 100 million dollars a year.

Now the Liberal Senators…oh, excuse me, the Senate Liberals will have less to do. 

Justin Trudeau’s decision is all about taking an idea and turning it into nothing.

Now I could end my column here but I would be remiss in not explaining why Trudeau’s expulsion of the Liberal Senators was a very smart move.

In Canadian politics you can do nothing but benefit greatly if you create the impression of significant accomplishment.

Listed below are the four major benefits of Justin Trudeau’s political move.

1. The Senate scandal has dominated Canadian politics for the past year. The Liberal leader has been missing in action in parliament for two reasons. First, the Liberal Senators though not as vilified as the Conservative Senators haven’t escaped entirely. Also there is a reason the Liberal Party prefers their leader not to be in the House of Commons. You do not want Justin debating in the same room as Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair. Having a nice smile and wavy hair isn’t enough to sustain a leader in an unscripted environment as question period. On Wednesday Justin Trudeau became a player in the Senate debate. What did he actually accomplish? It doesn’t matter he is now a potential leader of substance to his followers.

2. There is a Senate audit of Liberal Senators, oh excuse me, and make that Senate Liberals to be released in the near future. What do you believe the results will show? It doesn’t matter now. If the report is bad news, well the Liberal leader has taken decisive action. How can any bad behaviour of Liberal Senators reflect badly on the elected Liberal Party when Liberal Senators do not exist?

3. Finally, as I stated above, supporting the Conservatives or the NDP takes far too much intellectual effort. I know there are many Liberal supporters out there that desperately want to believe in Justin Trudeau. They feel a little embarrassed because at the same they wish to present themselves as intelligent, substantial political thinkers. This dilemma has been solved. Justin Trudeau is no longer a political “lite”. He is now a decisive leader, not afraid to make tough decisions. Remember, think perception not reality.

4. The significance of Trudeau’s decision has special meaning in the province of Quebec. The day after the last federal election I wrote how fortunate the NDP were that the Conservatives got a majority. The NDP had at least four years to try to hang onto their seats. Quebec elected NDP candidates that, for example, did not show up in their respective riding during the campaign. They traveled to Las Vegas to party instead. They elected a teenager whose life experience at the time was working at McDonalds and having a part time job at a golf course. My point is Quebec didn’t like the Conservatives or the Liberal leadership then, thus they supported the NDP. How safe do you think the majority of the NDP seats in Quebec are? Justin Trudeau, Quebec’s favourite son traveled to Ottawa as a boy. Perhaps he has now become a man.

As I see it this past Wednesday’s announcement was all about nothing. That doesn’t matter in Canadian politics. This event was a perfect example of Canadian political reality. Perception matters more than substance. It also gave Liberal supporters a reason to believe.


Disclaimer: Content by columnists on do not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such content, statement, or opinions therein.
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
SJDEagle 2/3/2014 1:24:04 AM Report

A surprisingly long article to describe a party that believes in nothing and a non-event. Maybe cutback on the ad hominem attacks and focus on the real political problems here:

1. The Senate sucks. Full stop. It is not elected, and it does nothing, except perhaps waste taxpayer dollars and generate scandals. It's about as purposeful as our monarch. Who cares how many days per week they work if they accomplish nothing, professor Mac. Maybe severing the ties to the elected, sovereign legislature is a necessary move.

2. The mean between to extremes, as Aristotle taught us, is far from nothing. It's called temperance. Standing in the middle does not mean believing in nothing. On the contrary it means being open to all beliefs and then acting as the situation demands. We live in a complex ideological and economic world where leaders and their ideas must be adaptive.

3. The Liberals prefer their leaders not to be in the house of commons? Did you hibernate through all the proroguing when Prime Minister Harper shut down parliament to silence the Afgan detainee scandal, and other times?

4. I'm not sure why you're implying Quebec voters are immature. All voters are immature. Winston Churchill said the best argument against democracy was spending five minutes with the average voter. Probably five minutes with the average party leader would work too. Look how well we've done in Ontario, with the likes of Bob Rae, Mike Harris, Rob Ford, former Sault mayors appointing themselves permanent offices, Ottawa mayoral candidates, and so forth.
Eurodog 2/3/2014 5:10:04 AM Report

JT's surge in popularity - in my humble opinion - is largely due to a very well executed communication strategy. The decision about kicking the ladies and gentlemen out of the Liberal caucus is a safe one because it essentially hurts no one. The action also gave JT an "unexpected" amount of time in the spotlight as quite honestly no one had this on their radar screen. He is being seen as a proactive politician and not reactive (or in crisis mode), which is a clear opposite to PM Harper.

I agree the substance of the decision is minimal, but we have to give him a credit in that he did go "out of the box" and did something instead of nothing. The action also fits perfectly with his "positive" messaging and quite frankly will be seen by many as taking a leadership role.

I am curious to see how he intends to follow up this decision to stay in the headlines, because once this loses momentum it will become a "what have you done lately" situation.
BIG BROTHER 2/3/2014 7:07:46 AM Report

Well written Mac, but SJDEAGLE sure made a few good points. Somehow, being in the middle has morphed into a left wing stance. Quite contrary, actually. And, as pointed out, Trudeau's rather simplistic move has stirred up a necessary debate across the country. Further, if it has no immediate effect, then why wouldn't Harper follow suit?? Harper likes to mock the Trudeau decision in Parliament, but has made no mention of doing anything pro-active himself. Ad hominen attack for sure.
dadal 2/3/2014 7:14:38 AM Report

JT popularity has been there for a few years. He refused to run but the right people played on his ego. Plus the Libs need someone stronger and more modern to take advantage of the poor rating for Harper and his croonies. As many have analized, the statement on the senate that JT did was more hype than substance with no clear solution. But with Hatper being closed mouth in hopes people will forget the scandal, the media will gobble up anything any political leader has to say. I know the Soo is an NDP city but we must remember the next election will be between Harper and JT only. Do we really want Harper and his boys with NO interest in the North back in? I say give JT a chance. We can always vote him out if he doesn't live up to the hype.
timothyj84 2/3/2014 7:24:47 AM Report

Nice call Mr.Trudeau! Now the balls in your court! All Eye's on you,,
MarcHandthefunkybunch 2/3/2014 7:35:06 AM Report

You sir, have hit an all time low. It's no secret that you have your head shoved so far up the NDP's "postural region", but for you to clam that, "to be a liberal, you believe in nothing," is arrogant, unknowledgable and just plain ludicrous.
Again, you have proven that anyone with an education higher then grade 12 knows what a complete moron you are.
You have the nerve to question Trudeau, yet you think Tommy Boy is a great leader? Mind blowing to say the least.
There's another city election coming up, why don't you run and get humiliated again? You won't because the minority of people on here say how wonderful you are when the marjority know how ridiculous you sound.
None of this matters anyway, because like it or not, Harper's getting back in again unfortunately.
OnTheHill 2/3/2014 8:00:39 AM Report

Quite a convenient society we have here. Put everyone in their tidy little corner --- the rights, the lefts, and the irresponsible. Something's missing here. Oh yeah, the bottom line. The rich get richer (big time) while the middle-class and poor are put under the thumb to support them all. So, what do they do --- those wonderful, smart and fast talking politicians do --- they shuffle. Now you see it now you don't (you lose, more taxes please). What do the reporters do? Why they analyze how they did it to us this time.

Come on people. Smoke and mirrors have been used by every poor or bad leaders, in the past. Will we never learn? I guess not.
Twistinwrenches 2/3/2014 8:05:58 AM Report

Funky bunch uses name calling to attack someone he does not agree with. Thats all you intelligent liberals have to defend the manchild trudeau with. Thats comical.
MarcHandthefunkybunch 2/3/2014 8:23:48 AM Report

Name calling? Just stating facts sir. And who said I was a Liberal? Jumping to conclusions I see. Very, very immature making improper assumptions as I'm not a Liberal. However, I respect peoples political opinions and don't insult someone's beliefs unless they do it first. Saying liberals believe in "nothing" is as insulting as it gets. If one can toss out insults, one should be able to accept them back.
Wisenheimer 2/3/2014 8:48:05 AM Report

Current "communications" strategy for federal liberals.
Duct tape firmly placed over Justin's mouth, while adult Ralph Goodale, struggles to keep the lid on.
Phaedrus 2/3/2014 9:41:18 AM Report

The widespread panic and outrage that Trudeau inspires from both sides of the political spectrum tell you one thing, and one thing only:

He is a huge threat to both of them!

And while the Conservatives and the NDP ramp up the rhetoric, the steady drumbeat of a Liberal revival echoes in the night, haunting their dreams.
mac headrick 2/3/2014 9:41:25 AM Report

Twistinwrenches do not concern yourself with the “funkybunch".

Listed below are two quotes from his responses today.

You sir, have hit an all time low. It's no secret that you have your head shoved so far up the NDP's "postural region",

In response to you.

“Name calling? Just stating facts sir. And who said I was a Liberal? Jumping to conclusions I see. Very, very immature making improper assumptions as I'm not a Liberal.”

In the last provincial election I publicly stated my support (and voted) for David Orazietti our Liberal provincial member. Immature, making improper assumptions, yes “funkybunch” is correct there.

He also attributed a quote "to be a liberal, you believe in nothing," that I didn’t write.

Another “funkybunch observation, “yet you think Tommy Boy is a great leader? Mind blowing to say the least.”

No I also never mentioned the above.

In the 2010 Sault Ste Marie elections 27 people put their names forward for Ward positions. I finished ahead of 21 of them with the sixth highest total. This is being “humiliated”?

I do not mind the name calling in fact I enjoy a little controversy.

T-rat 2/3/2014 9:56:06 AM Report

SooToday: this column ran last Saturday under the heading 'editorials/columns', where it should be and a number of readers, myself included, took issue with the content then.

Now, today a personal opinion, on a topic of national interest appears for a second time but this time under Local News? And most responders still take issue with the content. The column is not local news. It is not news at all.
MarcHandthefunkybunch 2/3/2014 10:03:01 AM Report

"Liberals stand nothing," is exactly what you said above. How can you say you didn't say that when it's as clear in the hole in Brett Farve's head?

MarcHandthefunkybunch 2/3/2014 10:03:29 AM Report

Sorry, "stand FOR nothing".
sunnie 2/3/2014 10:16:04 AM Report

My sentiments exactly Mac.. Boo to the haters out there.
OMGWTF 2/3/2014 10:38:39 AM Report

You'd think Mac was a Toronto Sun writer by this dribble. This is what happens when a political party, in this case the Liberals, lead in the polls and the incumbent party, the PC's get scared and keep dropping their pants so everyone can see who they really are - protectors of the PC's not the people as they try to bury everyone's head in the sand. Stephen the Bully will have his day as Justin the Leader continues to listen to the people instead of bulldozing us over with omnibus budget bills and business over the environment tactics. The Emperor Steve has no clothes!
B Boy 2/3/2014 10:53:52 AM Report

Forgive my ignorance, but what has this really achieved? How has this move fixed the senate issues?

To me it just mostly looks like semantics. I don't believe anything that comes out of Ottawa regardless of the party.
mac headrick 2/3/2014 11:13:00 AM Report

B Boy I do not know if I am qualified to answer your question. Apparently I have my head up the rectum of the NDP while at the same time being compared to a Conservative writer of the Toronto Sun. By the way I appreciate both comparisons.

Justin Trudeau"s decision has been decribed as "semantics" or "window dressing" etc.

Now I am serious about the next part. It was a smart political move.Some will (and obviously do) disagree with some of my statements or perception.I did list four areas in which I felt the Liberal Party will benefit.

OMGWTF makes a good point relative to the Conservatives being scared. I predict a significant political attack towards Justin Trudeau from the Conservatives in the near future.
AnnieP 2/3/2014 11:20:07 AM Report

Why was this posted under "news" category? Will SooToday be posting editorials from everyone from opposing political views under "news" as well? News should be unbiased reporting. This is just someone's opinion. Thumbs down SooToday!
LRP 2/3/2014 11:59:48 AM Report

Isn't it interesting that Mr Headrick is the only one who has both his full name and picture above his comments/opinions?
Bravo, sir for taking a stance and having the (well, you know) for laying claim to it.
So easy to bash someone when you have an acronym as a name (as do I) :).

Love political debates - mature ones that have substance, not rude personal bashing. It shows lack of argumentative substance. Come up with something to say about politics to argue the points. Bashing the author is ... well, yes... immature. (That's what politicians do; shame on you!)

I'm politically confused, so my comments are purposely personal, not political... this time.
Just Curious 2/3/2014 2:14:32 PM Report

LRP; not strange at all for Macs Pic and Byline to show up.. He is a columnist as Dave is and his column was posted verbatim from the editorials page, what in hell for I don't know.. A bit of biased journalism on Sootoday's part, I would suppose but who am I to judge. Lots of times I like one thing better than another, most days I like my dog better than most people. Don't think I would vote for him tho, 'cause he's too much like a politician, take care of him and feed him and he will still bite me in the ass at times...LOL..
pruden 2/3/2014 3:14:28 PM Report

Mac: I think it's interesting reading your article and you enjoy every angry, every agreeable response - you want people to read your articles and they do...that's what it is all about...continue doing what you do Mac...your very own point of view.
LRP 2/3/2014 4:16:58 PM Report

ALL days I like my dog better than most people.

Freedom of speech is important, and I knew Mac about 20 years ago and I can assure you that he loves the debate. That smile of his is not just for the picture. He's loving that the pot is stirred.

How cool is that we can all say what we want to say? (expletives excluded)
coop604 2/3/2014 4:32:21 PM Report

This opinion is a news item? Seems to me if senators can vote according to their conscience and not be bobbleheads to any leader, all parties should be in favour.
OMGWTF 2/3/2014 5:11:30 PM Report

Senators follow Party lines when voting. Why do you think the incumbent PM stacks the Senate when the can?
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