The Trudeau camp has already drawn up its road map to 2015.
Everything that Justin Trudeau does between now and then, if he wins the Liberal leadership on Sunday, will be with an eye to the next general election. The details of the plan are being closely guarded: Mr. Trudeau and his advisers feel it would be presumptuous and arrogant to publicly speculate on their strategy for the future ahead of the final results of the race.
Speaking with a wide variety of Liberal sources, however, The Globe and Mail has pieced together what they believe to be the eight major challenges facing the front-runner in the race to lead the party after three successive electoral defeats. Over all, the goal is to avoid the trappings of the Ottawa bubble and focus the party’s energy on the next ballot.
Mr. Trudeau has many things to do on Monday, from asking his first question to Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the House of Commons to staffing his parliamentary office. However, he can be expected to quickly lay out his priorities for the future when he makes his most crucial announcement: the Liberal Party’s campaign team for the 2015 election.
1. Start right away to fight 2015 election
The Trudeau camp needs to get its election team up and running as soon as possible. The core members of his leadership bid, having shown their mettle during a seven-month-long campaign, are expected to focus on the next election instead of running his leader’s office in Ottawa. Top advisers and organizers such as Gerald Butts, Katie Telford and Robert Asselin are set to guide the Liberal Party and Mr. Trudeau’s long-term strategy, rather than manage the day-to-day operations of parliamentary affairs. Mr. Trudeau plans to stick to the disciplined, hard-work ethic that has been successful for him so far, while allowing his team to grow to absorb new talent.
Liberals feel that Canadians will want to know that Mr. Trudeau can perform in the House, but the priority will be to continue meeting with voters across the country, showcasing his commitment to learning his job and offering a positive alternative to the Harper government. Mr. Trudeau will benefit from the fact that as the leader of the third-place party in the House, he will not have the same obligations or opportunities as the Official Opposition NDP to keep the government in check, which will free him up for politicking outside of the Ottawa bubble.
2. Concentrate on fundraising and modernizing the party
The Liberal Party of Canada is a relic of the past, carrying a complicated structure of provincial and territorial wings. Past efforts to reform the Liberal Party have met much internal resistance, leaving the organization heavier and more decentralized than the Conservative Party of Canada and the NDP.
Mr. Trudeau and his team are well aware of the need to change their party, but they don’t want to reignite past tensions for the sake of it. The goal remains to be focused on the next election, which means ensuring that the party is the most effective campaign tool possible. One key challenge will be to mesh Mr. Trudeau’s campaign organization with the party structure. Mr. Trudeau has already attracted thousands of volunteers who will be working to get him in office, and he needs to use his strong social-media presence to the benefit of the entire party. The hundreds of thousands of supporters who signed up during the leadership race will also continue to be solicited for money and policy input.
Money is a key ingredient of modern politics, and the Conservative Party has easily beat its opponents at the fundraising game for years. The funds have allowed Mr. Harper’s team to wage large-scale advertising campaigns, but Mr. Trudeau has proven an adept fundraiser during his own leadership bid. His campaign is vowing to transfer about $1-million in unspent funds to the Liberal Party, and he plans to continue amassing money at every opportunity, although the Liberals are not expected to catch up to the Conservatives in the short term.
3. Shuffle the shadow cabinet to showcase veterans and new faces