Monday, February 06, 2023

Knowing When It's Time To Go

In professional sports, in politics, and in life in general, it's wise to know when to go. Michael Harris writes that some Canadian politicians knew when to leave the stage. Many others didn't:

Tom Brady made that point five years ago when he told an interviewer that the only thing he was afraid of was the end of his playing career in the National Football League. The greatest quarterback of all time had trouble saying goodbye. How much trouble? He retired twice, once last year in a flood of emotion, and again last week without the histrionics. 

Conservative Richard Hatfield was the longest-serving premier in New Brunswick history, winning four provincial elections and holding that post from 1970 to 1987. Despite mounting controversies and scandals, including drug charges against the premier laid by the RCMP, and allegations that he had offered marijuana and cocaine to four students, Hatfield refused to resign. Instead, he decided to contest the 1987 provincial election only to see his party demolished.

The man who succeeded Hatfield, Frank McKenna, handled his exit from politics very differently. This very popular politician wiped out the Conservatives in the New Brunswick provincial election of 1987, winning every seat in the legislature. He promised he would leave that post if he was still in office after a decade. And exactly 10 years after his rout of the scandal-plagued Conservatives, McKenna retired from politics, exactly as he’d promised. 

This brings us to Justin Trudeau. Harris believes Trudeau is at the end of a pretty good run:

Justin Trudeau, like Tom Brady, has had a story-book political career. He is five-for-five in running for a seat in the House of Commons, representing the Quebec riding of Papineau. As Liberal leader, he has won three out of three federal elections, and has served seven years and 90 days as prime minister. 

But if the polls have it right, running for a fourth time to remain prime minister may be a bridge too far. Recent surveys show the Liberals trailing the Conservatives by seven points, and suggest a majority of Canadians would like Trudeau to step down and hand the ball to a new leader. Pollster Nik Nanos says that it is a troubling sign for Trudeau that 43 per cent of Canadians think the country is headed in the wrong direction, compared to 40 per cent who believe it is moving in the right direction. Over the last 16 years, only twice has the “wrong” number been numerically higher than the “right” number: the last two years of Harper’s doomed government in 2013 and 2014. 

It's not easy to retire. But it helps to know when you should retire. I wonder if Justin reads what Harris writes.

Image: The Toronto Star


Anonymous said...

My guess is that Justine and/or his advisors do read whatever is being written about public reaction to his government much of the time. Will they react react to a journalists' opinions? If they do, I doubt it will be a hasty "knee jerk" reaction. Having spent much of their time and energy trying to get and stay in power, I doubt they and their supporters will give up easily. I think Justine, who represents his supporters, will cling to power by his finger tips until until he is defeated by the electorate. He has proven several times that he isn't a "quitter". Sounds a bit like Nixon, eh?


Owen Gray said...

Or maybe MacKenzie King, CD.

Cap said...

Successors to successful leaders often run into trouble. Kim Campbell, Paul Martin and Kathleen Wynne all failed to capitalize on their predecessor's longevity. If Canadians are done with Trudeau, chances are they're done with the Libs. In my view, by choosing Poilievre, the Cons have probably given the Libs one more win.

zoombats said...

This situation poses a real conundrum , not so much for Trudeau as much as it does for we, the electorate. I for one fear who the Prime Minister will saddle us with in order to continue in his legacy of power. Will he anoint Freeland as our "second" unelected woman prime minister? Having said that I have no problem with a woman Prime Minister chosen by the electorate. It is about time.Barring that, he is going to have to come up with a real whopper. Something bigger than scrapping the G.S.T. or electoral reform. The only real promise that Harper made was to knock off two percentage points on the G.S.T.. Something he followed up on but no real ground breaker and certainly nothing to compensate his horrible leadership and bilious nature. A real whopper indeed something along the lines of "electoral reform" to be certain. I can't recall in the past where our choice has been so conflicted. No amount of"nose holding" will see this voter see the lickspittle Skippy take the seat. Perhaps now is the time to hand the reins over to the N.D.P. for try.

Owen Gray said...

A point well taken, Cap. Like their Republican cousins, the Conservatives play to their base and don't win enough votes to form a government. That phenomenon might encourage Justin to stay.

Owen Gray said...

Harris has also written that a Prime Minister Singh is within the realm of possibility, zoombats.

the salamander said...

I have only two questions ..

How would would you like to be the Prime Minister
remembered as handing over Canada to Pierre Poilievre & Jenni Byrne ?

I’m off shortly to take my grandson to the park, my lucky day !
Will I sit on my hands.. and consider letting such calamity befall him ?

I believe my finest moments are close upon me.. & I ain’t nothin special
but Mr Poilievre et al Inc has earned nothing but my total contempt .. disgust

Why would I sit idly by.. and let such a parasite threaten any single child ?
He and his diseased crew never met anyone like me.. & i’m just warming to my task ..

Owen Gray said...

I hope the majority of Canadians feel as you do, sal.

Northern PoV said...

Mr. Harris starts with a sports metaphor - my first clue that this was another silly horse-race take on CDN politics.

I think he used to raise substantive issues - now he joins his peers and who just asks 'who's on first?'

Oh, I see a headline in the Nat/Post chain telling me that most Canadians believe that Canada is broken and another one saying most Canadians think Jr. should go and yet another claiming that Lil'PP and his gang are 7 points ahead - years away from an election.
Trying desperately to make a silk purse from a sow's ear?

The last couple of Harris' pieces just add to the chicanery.

Owen Gray said...

I give Harris more credit, PoV. Brady is an example of someone who really had a hard time going.