Our Election Newsletters


Last week the By George Journal delivered two special edition election newsletters. If you did not receive them, here are direct links to the publications:

The Campaign Wrap

The Day After The Night Before

By way of a personal observation on the election results, By George Editor Chris George offers an introductory commentary in the post-election newsletter greeting.

Last night was a dramatic election finale, the very stuff that Canadian history is made of: and so ends a Conservative era and so begins a new era of Liberalism. Canadians wanted change and voters delivered that change in striking fashion.

     Justin Trudeau out-campaigned his opponents and provided an enchanting dream of a better Canada, a more generous government and a more optimistic approach to governing. With a positive message of tapping our Nation’s potential, he returns to Ottawa with a sizable majority and a solid mandate from all parts of this country.

     Trudeau has performed his own remarkable Trudeaumania with this campaign and expectations are high indeed for this son of a legendary Prime Minister. With great anticipation, he must assemble his cabinet team and provide the direction to both keep his bevy of promises and meet Canada’s social and economic challenges. And with this dawning of a new era, comes Canadians’ hopes and well wishes that Prime Minister Trudeau will succeed.

Follow By George Journal through this week for further coverage on the aftermath of the election campaign. For a specific search of archived articles, click through the articles tagged: 2015 Election.

Of “the game-changer” prediction


At the end of August, early on in the election campaign, By George Journal editor Chris George made the prediction that in the last 10 days of the campaign, Prime Minister Stephen Harper would make a bold move. To snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, it was predicted that Harper would announce his impending resignation. Should Canadians give the Conservatives a majority mandate, he would promise to step down in Fall 2017. By promising not to fulfill a full four year term, Harper would win over those Canadians wavering away from the Conservatives, unable to vote again for his leadership.

In that By George post, it was boldly stated that this move would alter the outcome of the election:

“PM Stephen Harper’s announcement in the late stages of the campaign will be that game-changer that will determine this election vote.”

Well, the predicted turn of events did not materialize and the 42nd electoral history was made of other stuff. The By George soothsaying rubbish was swept away to the waste-bin…

But wait. In post-election commentary from Conservative campaign operatives, it has been revealed that this strategic move was indeed in play! In a Toronto Star article earlier this week – Tories considered telling voters that Stephen Harper would not seek re-election – we learn that this gambit was being seriously considered.

In the final days before the election, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s top campaign organizers floated the idea of telling voters he would not seek another term if he won, the Star has learned.

Sources say Harper’s strategists urged using British Prime Minister David Cameron’s successful “lame-duck” move to salvage a Conservative government, but realized it was too late for such a Hail Mary pass.

“It was not Harper’s record or his policies — it’s just that people hated Harper and we saw it happening early,” said one insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal campaign machinations.

Because the Tories’ research was confirming that fear, they considered replicating Cameron’s bold gambit of earlier this year when he promised to serve only a final five-year term.

But it soon became clear to those who trial-ballooned the idea to a handful of trusted party insiders and candidates that the tactic would backfire over questions about who would be Harper’s successor.

“The instant response was, ‘Well who am I voting for then? Am I voting for Jason Kenney because then I’m definitely not voting Conservative and I’m definitely not supporting your campaign,’ ” said another Conservative source who also spoke on condition of anonymity.

Now, the armchair campaign strategist gets the better of us at By George and we are now left to amuse ourselves by asking a few rhetorical questions like:

  • Had this move been contemplated as an option early on and then executed for Thanksgiving Weekend, could it have achieved the desired results?
  • And (acknowledging that hindsight is 20-20) would this gambit not have been better than running the niqab and snitch line announcements in the final week?

Of course this all assumes that Stephen Harper would have entertained his retirement announcement in the first place… many doubt his ego would have allowed such a move.

But, you have to wonder, would this have made the difference?

New PM’s inner circle

Much has been written and is known about Prime Minister-elect Justin Trudeau. But what is there to be known about Trudeau’s confidants? Who are the people in his corner who have his ear?

Here are important things to know about Gerald Butts, Katie Telford, and Cyrus Reporter – three people the Prime Minister will lean on, perhaps the three most important advisors in Ottawa now.


Gerald Butts, 44

  • Principal adviser in the federal opposition leader’s office
  • closest election campaign adviser, travelling with JT tour
  • Trudeau’s BFF – a member of Trudeau’s wedding party and helped write the eulogy for his late father, Pierre
  • Confidant extraordinaire – each day, each campaign event, Butts briefed Trudeau beforehand, pumping him up before going on stage, calming him down when he was upset, encouraging him when the campaign seemed to be floundering
  • son of a Cape Breton coal miner, grew up in Glace Bay, the youngest of 5 children
  • met Trudeau at McGill University
  • 1999 went to Toronto – worked with George Smitherman
  • with Butts’ influence, the Ontario Liberals won elections in 2003 and in 2007
  • was principal secretary to Dalton McGuinty when he assumed the premier’s office
  • helped implement a green energy strategy that would phase out coal and sell a tax his leader had promised never to implement
  • quit the Ontario Liberal party before the 2011 election — prior to the gas-plant scandal
  • went to work leading the World Wildlife Federation of Canada
  • in October 2012, Butts left WWF to join Trudeau’s leadership bid
  • advised on such decisions re legalizing of marijuana, expulsion of the entire Liberal Senate caucus, and Trudeau’s position on the Northern Gateway pipeline
  • an extrovert – an outspoken, pugnacious attack dog
  • married to a lawyer and has two children


Katie Telford, 38

  • advisor in the federal opposition leader’s office
  • Liberal party’s national campaign director and chair
  • Toronto-raised daughter of public servants
  • good reputation as a backroom strategist
  • credited with rebuilding Party and designing campaign’s ground game
  • good friends with Gerald Butts for 25 years, having worked together at Queen’s Park
  • n September 2001, Telford went to Queen’s Park as a staffer to MPP Gerard Kennedy, when the Ontario Liberals were still in opposition
  • set out with Kennedy to implement the premier’s ambitious agenda in education
  • also was Stéphane Dion’s one-time deputy chief of staff


Cyrus Reporter, 40-something

  • since April 2013 served as Chief of Staff to Trudeau
  • Ottawa lawyer
  • an active participant in backroom politics and the Liberal Party of Canada
  • roles in general elections of 1993, 1997, 2000 and 2006
  • a member of Paul Martin’s election campaign “war room” in 2006
  • held various senior positions from 1994 to 2003 as Chief of Staff for Alan Rock through three portfolios – Industry, Justice and Health
  • stepped out of politics and into legal boardrooms 2003 – 2013
  • served as lobbyist for BP Canada, Syncrude Canada and Nexen (now CNOOC), all companies responsible for the expansion of the tar sands



20 Quotes: election reflection

liberals5Here are a few quotable quotes collected on election night and Tuesday media. They reflect the immediate reactions to the historic vote.

  • “Sunny ways, my friends. Sunny ways. This is what positive politics can do. … It’s time for a change in this country my friends, a real change.” – Justin Trudeau, prime minister designate at victory speech
  • “This is what positive politics can do.” Canadians had sent a clear message that it’s “time for change in this country my friends. Real change. We beat fear with hope, We beat cynicism with hard work. We beat negative, divisive politics with a positive vision that brings Canadians together.” – Justin Trudeau
  • “When the time for change strikes, it’s lethal. I ran and was successful because I wasn’t Pierre Trudeau. Justin is successful because he isn’t Stephen Harper.” – Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney, former PM on election night
  • “It turns out that Justin Trudeau caught the spirit of citizens and mood of the country just right. But a far greater task lies before him: to lift a noble people even higher in their pursuit of prosperity, equality of opportunity and compassion. Judging from his election performance, we shouldn’t put it past him.” – Glen Pearson, former Liberal MP
  • “For all of those who have, over the past decade and a half, built our party or contributed to our campaign, you have our deepest gratitude and you should feel nothing but pride. But the disappointment you also feel is my responsibility and mine alone. When the next time comes, this party will offer a strong and clear alternative based on our conservative values.” – Prime Minister Stephen Harper, at his concession speech
  • “It wasn’t the economy of their policies that brought the Tories down, it was their cynicism. The nastiness of Tory politics under Stephen Harper, the mindless partisanship, the throttling of backbench MPs, are not outgrowths of conservatism.” – Andrew Coyne
  • A fourth Harper mandate was always going to be a longshot. Ten years in government produces a lot of rubble, and the Harper government wielded its partisan sledgehammer hundreds of times during its three mandates, so it’s no surprise they were eventually bludgeoned in return. Stephen Harper is a goner, and humiliated, too, to the near-erotic ecstasy of Canada’s chattering classes, who loathed him with such intensity it’s hard to think of a comparison in modern politics. Well, maybe Dick Cheney, George W. Bush’s Darth Vader. – John Ibbitson
  • “Mr. Harper appeared disengaged from much of it and in the end, the forces for change and those wanting to see a new style of politics practiced in Ottawa were not to be denied.” – Keith Beardsley, in an interview with the Hill Times
  • “But governing for 10 years is a rare privilege, and Conservatives have no reason to be bitter. Conservatives need to be thankful, respectful of the voters’ choice and reflect on how to regain the broad moderate centre clearly deserted in this campaign.” – Hugh Segal
  • “The knives don’t come out. The New Democrat caucus … shows its solidarity, we stick together, we work through these things. It will take a while to sift through the aftermath and figure out what went wrong. We all have to lick our wounds and really assess what happened because it felt so good right up to the night of.” Charlie Angus, re-elected NDP MP
  • Trudeau’s political role model is not so much his beloved “papa,” whose public persona over 15 years as prime minister mixed charisma and aloofness, but his maternal grandfather, Jimmy Sinclair, a consummate glad-handing, baby-kissing Scottish immigrant to Canada and Rhodes scholar. It was no accident that Trudeau held his final campaign event Sunday night in the Vancouver constituency his grandfather represented from 1940 to 1958. – Bobby Umar, National Post
  • Justin Trudeau, the eldest son of Pierre Elliot Trudeau, has resurrected his party, confounded his critics, defied the naysayers and trolls, overcome his own mistakes and resoundingly defeated two tough, smart, determined opponents who cannot have imagined anything like this outcome. In doing so, Trudeau, 43, has made history. Canada has its first political dynasty.. – Michael Den Tandt, Ottawa Citizen  
  • Style wins over substance: Trudeau proved he’s a lightweight compared to Harper or Mulcair – but we elect him anyway – Anthony Furey, Ottawa Sun
  • “Many of you have worried that Canada has lost its compassionate and constructive voice in the world over the past 10 years. Well, I have a simple message for you. On behalf of 35 million Canadians, we’re back.” – Justin Trudeau, at an Ottawa rally on Tuesday
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s near 10-year term in office had confounded many observers’ view of Canada as an open and pluralistic society with an idealistic global face. The country has been seen to be practically non-Canadian. – Jeremy Keehn
  • Canada is a blessed nation, and that is not hyperbole. For three decades now, the country has been well led. Brian Mulroney negotiated free trade with the United States; Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin eliminated the deficit and kept the banks sound. Stephen Harper guided Canada through a dangerous recession and made us a more Pacific nation, through increased immigration, trade deals and by involving the West in the life of the general government. Few countries can claim such a record. And like it or not, a third of that record belongs to Stephen Harper. – John Ibbitson
  • “Stephen Harper can be proud of. He united a fractured conservative movement and led it to victory after victory after victory. He brought the West into the heart of the federal government. He signed trade agreements with four dozen countries and more. He guided the nation through a financial crisis. He delivered a decade of peace – uneasy at times, but peace nonetheless – between Ottawa and the provinces. More than anything else he tried to get the message across that there are certain things that people should be doing for themselves. And so he took money out of the government’s hands and put it in our hands. He really did do that. All in all, he was a good prime minister.” – David Bercuson, University of Calgary historian
  • “The real void left by Harper’s exit, however, will be on the world stage. In the not too distant past, only four or perhaps five countries could be counted upon consistently to stand up for moral clarity and the expansion of freedom on the world stage… Harper could always be counted on to condemn rather than seek to appease terror in the Middle East, stand up for dissidents, and speak forthrightly on liberty.” – Michael Rubin
  • “When you talk with people who have given up the last four years, every weekend, every break, really trying to engage the public and really trying to find ways to make democracy matter to people to just get wiped out in a wave, it certainly makes you ponder your place in the universe.” – MP Charlie Angus (commenting on losing colleagues – quality MPs – like Megan Leslie, Peter Stoffer, Jack Harris, Paul Dewar, Nycole Turmel, Peggy Nash and Andrew Cash)
  • The 2011 Conservative majority vote share 39.62% = an illegitimate government / The 2015 Liberal majority vote share 39.50% = voters have spoken ~ awesome! – anon. (election meme)


BGJ’s Election Musings Page Index

Mulcair, Harper, Trudeau.(Chris Wattie/Reuters; Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

Throughout the election campaign, reaching back to January and through the marathon writ period, By George Journal compiled quotes about the federal election and the Canadian political scene. Month to month, we have kept a running list. Here are the direct links to our monthly compilations.











You may be interested to see the dozen remarkable quotes selected in: 12 notable election quotes from August or the 12 notable quotes from September.  Also, you may wish to see the By George editor’s selection of the top quotes through the first half of the year: 12 Stellar Election Quotes of Past 6 Months.

And to see more quotes and related By George articles on the election and/or politics, check our archives for tagged posts on “2015 Election”, “politics”, and/or “election”).