A memo sent to Downing Street staff to announce the hiring of Max Waquette as the government’s new executive director of communications said, among other things, that the former head of marketing would “align the entire team around a clear narrative. It was written that the emphasis would be on
In politics, a clear narrative is not everything, but it is very important. And at least one reason for the Liberal government’s struggles in 2023 was a lack of a compelling narrative on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s side, a decent story to tell about themselves and the country, or enough to be heard. Maybe I didn’t do that.
There are very real problems overseas that explain why public sentiment towards Prime Minister Trudeau and the Liberal Party has eroded over the past year, and why Prime Minister Trudeau is likely to lead the Liberal Party in polls this fall. This may explain why it gave the Conservatives the greatest advantage they have enjoyed since the 1990s. A party over ten years ago.
While the pandemic has been perhaps the most difficult three years for Canadians since World War II, officially ended in Mayit has not given way to a golden new dawn.
Inflation has come down considerably from its high point in 2022, but is still higher than most Canadians are accustomed to, and the effects of that peak are still felt. Interest rates rose as a result of the Bank of Canada’s efforts to curb inflation. Housing prices are soaring because construction can’t keep up with demand. And the opioid epidemic continues.
Canadians have reason to be worried and frustrated, but the extent to which the national mood has fallen may still be surprising.
In 2014, the year before Trudeau took office, Pollara found that 45 per cent of Canadians were optimistic about the future of the middle class. Two years ago, at the height of the pandemic, that number was 53 percent.
But when Pollara (whose chief strategy officer is Trudeau’s former pollster Dan Arnold) asked the question again in November, Only 31% say they are optimistic.
There may be other reasons to worry about the future besides inflation, interest rates, and the real estate market. The threat of climate change is now alarmingly clear. 2023 will be remembered for record wildfires and smoke that obscured the sun and polluted the air.
Its noisy neighbor, the United States, remains riven by political turmoil, a dysfunction that threatens the country’s democratic principles.
But whatever the precise reasons why that optimism is fading, these numbers pose a difficult political challenge for a prime minister who put a focus on the middle class at the heart of his agenda when he took office in 2015. There is. When voters are grappling with real issues, it can also be very difficult to tell them an optimistic story. Especially when they have already been in power for eight years.
The political power of a good story
Conservative Party leader Pierre Poièvre is a master storyteller. He looks at the public’s discontent and offers a simple narrative: It’s all bad, it’s all Justin Trudeau’s fault, and things will cost less under a Conservative government.
If voters are angry about the grocery bill or simply fed up with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, that message alone may be enough to secure a victory. After testing Conservative TV ads with focus groups, a pollster found that concluded Poièvre says his party is becoming a “party of hope,” similar to the Liberal Party in 2015.
It may seem trite to think about stories when there are very real issues going on. The idea of a story fits better in fiction than in non-fiction. It can be fabricated, fabricated, manipulated, or manipulated. It is not necessarily fixed in truth.
And journalists and commentators will probably pay. too much attention From narrative to messaging to all the other concepts that can be categorized under the broad heading of “communication.”
But the best stories are based on truth. And amidst the cacophony and chance events of life, Stories are necessary and powerful..
The Liberal Party entered office in 2015 with a set of messages: real change, better is always possible and a sunny way out, creating a winning narrative. They say Trudeau is ready to lead a different kind of government that will do more to support and expand the middle class.
But sitting on the opposition side of the House of Commons makes it much easier to craft and maintain a narrative. When you join government, you are exposed to the vagaries of domestic and international affairs and are required to back up your claims with action.
Most of Spring 2023 in Ottawa. Allegations of foreign interference by Chinese government agents David Johnston’s failed appointment As the Special Rapporteur tasked with investigating these reports ( inquiry It finally starts in January. ) Then came the controversy The issue surrounding the transfer of notorious serial killer Paul Bernardo to a maximum security prison.
On the day the House of Commons reconvened in September, Prime Minister Trudeau stood up after questions and said: announced The Canadian government says it is pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between Indian government agents and the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
8 days later, Anthony Rota resigned Speaker after inviting a Ukrainian war veteran to parliament and publicly honoring him without confirming which side the old man fought on, following an unusual wartime speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. was appointed. Two weeks later, Hamas carried out the massacre of 1,200 Israeli civilians, ending a war that drew the attention of governments and peoples around the world.
In late October, Prime Minister Trudeau tried to placate recalcitrant Liberal MPs by: Onerous changes to the federal carbon tax. Mr. Rota’s successor as chairman, Mr. Greg Fergus, said: got into trouble For wearing official robes in a video shown at the Ontario Liberal Party convention.
Liberals believe that many of the concerns that are wearing down government popularity and public patience, such as inflation, interest rates, and housing costs, are also to some extent beyond their control, or at least not entirely their fault. You could make a valid point. However, there are limits to what the government can offer at this point.
And even if this was a particularly chaotic fall, it stands to reason that unexpected events will continue to occur in 2024.
Do liberals have a story? Can you hear me?
Liberals still want to point to several improvements over the past 12 months, including the continued rollout of new federal programs to provide affordable child care and dental care, and federal investments to build battery and zero manufacturing centers. We are reaching the end of 2023 with these achievements. -Emission vehicles.
After a slow start, Housing Minister Sean Fraser has announced new funding to increase housing construction and rewrite local government zoning rules over the autumn.And while the government pushes ahead with a series of new climate measures, including clean electricity regulations, emissions caps for the oil and gas sector and mandatory sales of zero-emission vehicles, Canada seems We are on track to meet our 2030 greenhouse gas emissions targets.
Helped in part by Mr. Poièvre’s own words and actions, the Liberals have also begun to write a narrative about the Conservative leader: that he is a right-wing radical who would discard the kind of government programs that Canadians value. And if the Liberals face a serious desire for change in the next election, making the case against the alternatives offered by Mr. Poilievre will be key to their hopes of staying in power.
The Liberal Party has successfully promoted itself over the past 12 months with announcements and Instagram videos. And the Prime Minister toyed with certain narrative frameworks and ideas.canada’s promise” is an idea that Mr. Poilievre has sometimes brought to the forefront and taken center stage.
But even if the Liberals are trying to tell a story, if they have a story to tell, it’s not clear that it’s being listened to. Even if there is an argument, it may not yet be able to be summarized in a sentence. So Liberal’s story is his one story to watch in 2024.