• Bluesky Team

Blast From The Past - Sept 19

Good morning,

It’s Day 9 of the 2019 election and the Liberals are in damage control mode and the other parties are thanking the political gift horse called Time Magazine.

It was a late night on the campaign trail for media and opposition parties as they scrambled to make hay of the discovery of a 2001 photo of 29-year-old Justin Trudeau in brownface makeup and a turban at an “Arabian Nights” themed private school party where Trudeau was teaching.

CBC - Trudeau says he is 'deeply sorry' he appeared in brownface at school gala in 2001

Globe and Mail - Yearbook photo surfaces of Trudeau wearing brownface at party in 2001

The Bluesky Brief election team was also busy last night analyzing the impact of this explosive exposé.

Here are the various perspectives of our Bluesky Brief election team:

From Geoff Turner, Senior Consultant

Justin Trudeau needs to keep apologizing at every turn as long as it takes. He needs to say sorry, and say why it was wrong, how it hurts, and level with people that he failed to live up to the core values that he holds dear and promotes so often. 

While he's doing this, he needs to keep the campaign moving, focused and dig deep to present the best case to voters about the Liberal plan, and the Liberal team – both of which reflect and enact those values in meaningful ways.

From Neil Brodie, Vice President

Who saw this coming?  Well, I guess Mr. Trudeau did.  

He has known about this picture (and at least one other incident of ‘performing in makeup’) for 18 years. Yet he still approved the slow drip of racist accusations against his political opponents.  I’ve done innumerable dumb things in my life, especially in my 20’s.  But I’m not running to be Prime Minister. Mr. Trudeau apologised (while pointing out that he is known for dressing up in costumes) and we should accept that. But Canadians shouldn’t forget about this when they get to the ballot box next month. The good news is, this should shut down any more of the “he said/she said” attacks for the rest of the election campaign and perhaps we can start concentrating on the competing policies of the parties. 


From Cameron Holmstrom, Consultant 

The release of last night’s story is the kind of event that leaders fear and why campaigns always matter. This story and the photo attached to it is simply devastating for the Liberals, especially for a leader that has built his entire narrative and leadership around diversity being Canada's strength. 

I don't know what Justin Trudeau could say to make up for this, but his apology from the plane in Halifax doesn't seem to be it. “I should have known better,” doesn't cut it. This is indefensible and I can't point to a progressive politician in North America who has survived such a thing. This is so off-brand for him that it could destroy any thoughts of trying to push progressives to strategically vote to stop the Conservatives. Progressive voters have overlooked a lot before when voting strategically, but this? It could easily be a bridge way too far and could break the hold Trudeau has had on this segment of the electorate for four years. 

From Hussain Shorish, Consultant

How can you justify wearing brownface makeup and a turban at party and run for prime minister? You can’t. It’s safe to say Mr. Trudeau knew that this story was coming for 18 years. Although the Liberal leader has apologized for his behavior and will surely continue to do so, his base that kept in him through a bumpy year, will be disappointed, if not hurt. Will this really affect his campaign? It will certainly impact his image in the world.

If Mr. Trudeau is true to his campaign slogan of choosing forward, he needs to start by doubling down on attacking his opponents on their past. He must take a stronger stance on Bill 21 and show greater support to indigenous and ethnic peoples if he is to weather the storm. For all of us who know hypocrisy in politics is second nature, we know that Mr. Trudeau will now need to dig deep if he is to stand a chance come Oct. 21st.


As much as the Conservatives are no doubt relishing last night’s Time Magazine exclusive, the only downside for them is that it pushes leader Andrew Scheer’s first major campaign commitment out of the top headline position before most people had a chance to digest it.


If elected on October 21st, the Conservatives are promising to eliminate billions in corporate welfare and give it back to Canadians. And giving back seemed to be top of mind amongst all the leaders yesterday.

But will this continue?

With one week down and four-and-a-half to go in #elxn43, let’s find out what (beside Time Magazine) continues to be …

Be careful of what you say...Fake news section of Elections Act faces Charter challenge https://bit.ly/2kTcZb8

PBO Costing – This is an interesting read https://bit.ly/2ko95qB

A letter by Quebec’s Premier getting traction on the campaign trail https://tgam.ca/2lXl2nA

Bad headline - Some voters question whether Canada is ready for a PM with a turban https://bit.ly/2m2UT6I

Guelph Green candidate regrets post of 9/11 conspiracy video https://bit.ly/2m2ikwY

People's Party candidate Steven Fletcher accused of taking voter data from Conservatives https://bit.ly/2kEaFVD

Alberta MLA says Liberals trying to rig election…and blame Neil Young https://bit.ly/2kjIISC

Where you will find the leaders today

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau - no media itinerary was released last night following the breaking news.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh will appear on at 7:20 a.m. ET on Newstalk 1010's Moore in the Morning with John Moore and then on CTV's Your Morning with Anne-Marie Mediwake and Ben Mulroney at 8 a.m. ET. Following these media appearances, Mr. Singh will make a 10 a.m. ET announcement in Hamilton on small businesses, outlining the NDP's plan to help small businesses and workers.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer will be in Saint-Hyacinthe for a 10:30 a.m. ET announcement. He will then head to Granby and Sherbrooke to campaign with the candidates.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May will be in Vancouver at 1 p.m. ET to deliver a speech at the BC Assembly of First Nations Annual General Assembly. Ms. May will then be canvasing in Burnaby with candidate Amita Kuttner.

The Bluesky election team with their take on the Conservatives promise to eliminate $15.B in corporate welfare.

From the desk of Susan Smith, Principal

Is it really corporate welfare or competitive incentives boosting investment in Canada - from the auto sector, to AI, the agriculture sector and clean tech sectors, to encourage innovation, Canadian competitiveness, jobs and economic growth? And if we chop these incentives to innovation, are we taking Canada out of the global mix to continue to attract investment in our country and jobs for our citizens?

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer stood in a barbershop in downtown Hamilton and took aim at corporate Canada with this announcement. The devil remains in the details of his proposal, but the details are where the jobs and economic growth are.

Canadians understand competition. They also understand innovation. They understand that, in many cases, these companies can choose to move those jobs, or create those jobs somewhere other than Canada. Growth begets growth and the confidence of the Canadian government can be the final piece in securing a new or refreshed factory, or research facility. A failing company will cut its R&D and related manufacturing lines and redirect those funds into keeping the lights on. No innovation there.

Mr. Scheer is misleading voters when he suggests that government programs are not designed to create jobs and economic growth. In fact, what he is “promising to do” in his review of innovation programming is already in place. Government of Canada program criteria is strict; companies already must thoroughly demonstrate the economic benefits, jobs and more for communities. By going after corporate Canada, Scheer is in fact sticking it to their workers and their families. Cancelling collaborative investment with companies will only hurt Canadian employees and the communities who won’t see the benefits of the salaries being spent. Where? You guessed it - in their local businesses and barbershops.

From the desk of Neil Brodie, Vice President

Focused assistance.

Who wouldn’t want $12 million for new refrigerators? I’d take 12 dollars to offset the cost of a new appliance. But do a few millions of dollars of government assistance ‘make or break’ Loblaws? I doubt it. Same with a $7 million loan to the Irving family of companies that was written off. Or a $40 million contribution to Blackberry that the CEO apparently admitted the company didn’t need.

Focusing taxpayer money on Canadian companies that need it and will provide direct benefits to Canadians should be the goal of corporate support programs. A review is needed, and Canadians should welcome that.

From the desk of Cameron Holmstrom, Consultant 

Corporate welfare has always been a popular target for politicians, going all the way back to David Lewis attacking the “corporate welfare bums.” The Conservatives started down that road today with their pledge to eliminate $1.5 billion worth of them. I wonder if the Conservatives would be talking about this if it wasn’t for Maxime Bernier taking such a hard line on this issue.

If corporate welfare itself is good or bad really depends on how it’s used. Did Loblaw’s really need the $12 million they received to replace old fridges? I think they could have bought new fridges without that money. But would that same $12 million have been better used by helping independent grocers with much less money on hand to do the same thing? Yes, that would have been a good idea.

Government can be a power for good by helping those who need help, and that approach extends to support for employers. Having grown up in a community that was very dependent on forestry, I saw first hand what happens when government doesn’t step up with dollars; families suffer, businesses close and people leave town. So, there is a place for corporate welfare, it just needs to be used judiciously and with good rationale, not just line the pockets of those who don’t need it.

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