Leadership hopeful Brad Trost, sitting at one end of the stage, views the action on a projection screen at the Conservative leadership candidates’ debate, in Halifax on Saturday, Feb. 4.
Political parties in power can sometimes have trouble finding a ‘hot button’ issue that can rile up their base to the kind of fever pitch where they’ll start writing cheques to do something about that hot button. After all, if a party is in power, it ought to be able to do something about a ‘hot button’ issue and a supporter who pauses for a moment might decide no cheque is required.
It’s a little easier for parties in power in a minority government to find that hot button. The Harper Conservatives, for example, during its first two minority governments, kept sending out missives asking supporters for money to help fight off attempts by the opposition parties to keep the confounded long-gun registry much hated by the Tory base. The long-gun registry was a favourite and money-winning hot button issue for the Conservatives. (And partly explains the rather listless and unhurried pace the Harper Conservatives took to finally doing something about.)
The Trudeau Liberals, it seems to me, have been having a slightly tougher time finding that ‘hot button’ sweet spot. Until the 2015 election, their go-to hot button was Stephen Harper himself. But now, in power, they need a new bad guy to get their base upset enough to make a donation. Well, hello there Brad Trost. Trost is a Conservative who has been returned in five general elections by the voters of the riding now known as Saskatoon–University to be their member of Parliament.
Ask him — as I’ve done — and he’ll describe himself as to the right of Attila the Hun. He is a proud social conservative and a constant presence in the annual right-to-life anti-abortion demonstrations on the Hill. And, as my colleague Marie-Danielle Smith reported this week, he’s “not entirely comfortable with the whole gay thing.”
Oh — and Trost is also running to be the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada which, one assumes, would be his first step to running for Prime Minister of Canada.
That, pretty much, is all the brain trust at Liberal Party HQ needs. Trost could not be more of the exact opposite of everything the Liberal leader (and prime minister) Justin Trudeau stands for. And when you get that kind of polarity, well, time to fire off a hot button fundraising email.
Which is just what the party did Wednesday evening. It arrived in my inbox (Pity me: I’ve signed up to get the fundraising pitches for all parties) with the subject line: “The Brad Trost Thing”. Here’s a screen shot of what the body of that email looked like. Congrats, Brad Trost!