Imagine, if you can, gentle reader, that you are a card-carrying member of the Conservative Party of Canada. You are looking anxiously for a permanent replacement for Stephen Harper in the CPC leadership election this coming May. You have studied the swollen field – no fewer than 13 candidates at last count. Regretfully, all seem to lack at least one crucial ingredient.
Anyone who has made a career in politics will tell you that two of the most difficult decisions involve timing: when to get in and when to get out.
Of the two, the getting-out decision is often the more difficult.
Canadians saw evidence of that back in the 1960s when John Diefenbaker, a former prime minister, could not bring himself to relinquish the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party. He challenged the party to throw him out, and it did.
“Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for?” ― Robert Browning
Mr. Trudeau, meet Mr. Browning.
One thing the Trudeau government cannot be accused of is lack of reach. Its ambitions have carried it into endeavours that the Harper government did not attempt to reach or had no interest in reaching.
The U.S. presidential election and the Brexit referendum are the most recent prominent examples of the shortcomings within the polling industry. They are by no means unusual or isolated illustrations. Indeed we have witnessed some provincial elections in Canada, notably in Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta, where late pre-election polls have also been substantially off the mark.
If the federal Conservatives had their wits about them they would do what the Royal Navy did back in the age of sail when it sent forth “press gangs” to forcibly conscript – or “impress” – seafaring men to crew its warships.
They would send a press gang off to Stornoway to confront their interim leader Rona Ambrose and to beg, cajole and implore (though perhaps not physically force) her to stand as a candidate next May when the party replaces the departed Stephen Harper. The press gang should not be allowed to take No for an answer.
Otto von Bismarck, Germany’s “Iron Chancellor” in the 19th century knew whereof he was speaking when he observed, “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best.”
It’s a sentiment Justin Trudeau would agree with. Or would he, as he emerges from the most ragged week of his young prime ministry?
The last thing Justin Trudeau needs is to spend a king’s ransom on the renovation and rehabilitation of 24 Sussex Drive, the official residence where he lived as a child and where he would like very much to live again as prime minister.
It may make sense taking a look back at history as we are trying to understand what has been happening south of the border over the last months. Ever since Donald Trump formally announced his candidacy in June 2015, most observers where hit by surprise as the campaign unfolded through a series of events that culminated in the electoral outcome of November 8. If viewed through a broader historical lens, however, these developments are surprisingly consistent with a deeper pattern of presidential politics.
Earlier this month at Western, I spoke to PhD students in political science about how to publish. Here are the speaking notes I used for that presentation.
The Five “Ws” and One “H” of Publishing
I’ve structured my presentation on academic publishing around six questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why? And How?
Let me begin with Why you should publish.
Why should you publish?
build a CV for scholarships and job market
get in the habit of publishing (a key aspect of this career)