Cabinet changes in both countries speak louder than words

0 Comments 17 February 2017

Justin Trudeau will make sure he is not caught in the crossfire in potential trade disputes. He has nothing to gain by accenting Yankee-Canuck differences.


Published on Monday, January 16, 2017 in The Hill Times.

OTTAWA—The new year cabinet changes in Canada and the United States are a keen study in just how different our two countries really are.

With the departure of Stéphane Dion and John McCallum, the face of the Liberal government is even younger and more diverse.

Dion and McCallum had decades of experience in government. Their departures deplete the experiential depth and breadth of the cabinet.

Most ministers don’t only manage their own departments and responsibilities. They may weigh in on major national issues, which impact on the government and the whole country.
Prime minister Jean Chrétien’s decision not to join the war on Iraq, was seen as seminal. Chrétien’s four decades in Parliament played a role in that decision, but he also consulted multiple cabinet members, especially those with lengthy political experience.

Youth has the benefit of energy and drive, but with age comes wisdom. History often repeats itself, which is why some wizened faces in cabinet are a good thing.

The deeper Trudeau goes into his mandate, the more he will need to count on colleagues with experience to weather difficult storms.

The youthfulness of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself has been key in attracting a whole new generation of engaged young people. His commitment on issues like marijuana managed to engage a new generation, one that previously had no interest in government.

That intergenerational change has served the Liberals well but it also has limitations.

Maryam Monsef came to cabinet with high expectations but had no political experience. She inherited a treacherous portfolio which could have used a veteran’s touch. Her successor is also a newbie. Karina Gould has impressive international organizational experience which could be a useful training ground for this tricky portfolio.

In his first wave of American appointments, the cabinet of U.S. president-elect Donald Trump is getting older and whiter.

Neither change should surprise us. Politicians promote those with whom tDonald Trump, hey feel the closest connection.

Young leaders generally encourage younger faces, while older leaders can be more comfortable with those of their own age, gender, and race.

Women often support other women. Leaders hailing from minority communities work hard to recruit those from diverse cultures and races. U.S. President Barack Obama’s cabinet was a reflection of his own personal life experience.

Hillary Clinton surrounded herself with strong women and her team reflected a real gender change that, had she won, would have radically changed the face of the American administration.

Trump is a white, 70-year-old business man. It should surprise no one that most of those whom he has elevated to his cabinet are white businessmen.

For those Americans witnessing the changing face of Washington, it must be tough to see so few minority appointees at the table. It is as though the last 30 years of civil rights progress has been erased and Jim Crow is back to rule the roost.

The visible lack of diversity is one thing. Even more troubling is the fact that some cabinet viewpoints are a real throwback to America’s racist past.

Trump’s choice for attorney general is so polarizing that he is being publicly opposed by the Congressional Black Caucus.

Seventy-year-old Senator Jeff Sessions voted against hate crimes legislation, and publicly questioned whether women, gays, lesbians and transgendered even face discrimination.

Thirty years ago, an attempt by then president Ronald Reagan to make Sessions a district court judge was rejected by a Republican-dominated Senate committee.

Apparently, this brand of conservatism is more palatable today than it was in the eighties.

By most accounts, Senator Sessions has not changed.

But America has. The deep racial divide reinforced by this appointment is a glaring example of the growing differences between Canada and the United States.

It is easy to understand the frustration of civil rights activists and feminists confronted with a proposed cabinet appointment that is so controversial. How can the attorney general be trusted to promote human rights and protect the judicial gains for women and minorities if he does not believe in them himself?

New Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland will, no doubt, make the case in Washington that Canada continues as the best friend and neighbour of the United States. She will be smart enough to avoid making a gratuitous enemy of President Trump.

Trudeau will make sure he is not caught in the crossfire in potential trade disputes.

Canadian jobs are too dependent on our interconnectedness. Trudeau has nothing to gain by accenting Yankee-Canuck differences.

But last week’s cabinet changes in both countries speak louder than words.

Sheila Copps is a former Jean Chrétien-era Cabinet minister and a former deputy prime minister. Follow her on Twitter at @Sheila_Copps.


Raitt needs O’Leary to split Blue Tory vote

0 Comments 16 February 2017

Lisa Raitt is banking on social media technology and new recruitment techniques, to swell Red Tory, anti-O’Leary ranks within the party with online recruitment. In so doing, she is well-positioned to become everyone’s second choice.


Published first on Monday, January 9, 2017 in The Hill Times.

OTTAWA—Lisa Raitt’s campaign to stop Kevin O’Leary was brilliant.

It vaulted her to the front of the news cycle during a January political lull. It also set her up as a foil to the Trump-like tendencies of some of the Blue Tories who are already in the race or thinking of joining.

It would be folly to assume that Raitt does not want O’Leary in the race.

A good part of her message last week targeted Kellie Leitch, and the controversial proposed citizenship test of Canadian values.

Raitt needs O’Leary in the race to split the Blue Tory vote.

If that sounds complicated, two voting rules guarantee a campaign roller coaster ride in the months leading up to the May vote.

First, the Tories have adopted preferential balloting, which means that voters will actually rank their preferred candidates.

Ironically, that same system was one of the options proposed to replace the first-past-the-post general election vote, without much support from the Conservative Party.

The new system means the winner may not be the first choice of the greatest number of voters, but rather the second choice of the majority.

If this sounds complicated, it is one of the reasons that most people exit the conversation when the subject of electoral reform is broached.

But the peregrinations are compelling for political animals who follow leadership conventions with the same passion the rest of us reserve for hockey championships.

The greater the number of leadership candidates, the more Raitt needs to divide the vote in order to come up the middle. 

In other words, she needs the blunt force trauma that O’Leary’s candidacy would ignite to limit the potential migration of Blue Con votes to Leitch.

During multiple press appearances, Raitt spent more time railing on Leitch than on O’Leary, reinforcing her real intent in launching the Stop O’Leary website.

The site will also permit her supporters to get immediate access to email data of potential Conservative voters who don’t align with the values of O’Leary, and coincidentally, Leitch.

Raitt’s team followed up her press appearances with the purchase of a pop-up ad on social media flagging the Stop O’Leary website on all national news apps.

That data mining will be golden in recruiting more members and mobilizing an anti-O’Leary movement with the hopes of converting it to a pro-Raitt force.

The second element that makes the Raitt strategy so smart is the party’s decision to give equal electoral weight to every riding in the country, regardless of the number of registered Tories entitled to vote.

Raitt is one of only two Conservative candidates with ties to Atlantic Canada. She was born in Sydney, Nova Scotia to a family which shared a passion for business and unions. That could explain her visceral reaction to an O’Leary vow that, if in government, he would outlaw unions.

The other Conservative with Atlantic roots is fellow Ontario contender Erin O’Toole. He served in Shearwater and attended law school in Halifax during his career in the armed forces as a regular and reservist.

Even though the Tories were wiped out in Atlantic Canada in the last election, they have deep roots and strong provincial organizations in every province.

East coast ridings have as much weight as vote-rich Alberta, so anyone who can sweep Atlantic Canada has a good chance of being toward the front of the pack on voting day May 27.

Raitt’s bold move will allow her to recruit Red Tories who have a deep connection to the party and do not want to see it go down the same path as the Republican extremism south of the border.

Many Atlantic Conservatives yearn for the time when they used to be progressive, and there are plenty of Tory icons, from Flora MacDonald to John Crosbie, who never supported the Conservatives’ shift to the right under Stephen Harper.

Raitt is banking on social media technology and new recruitment techniques, to swell Red Tory, anti-O’Leary ranks within the party with online recruitment. In so doing, she is well-positioned to become everyone’s second choice.

That is where the likeability factor can have an influence

The risk in launching such a public attack on O’Leary and Leitch is that Raitt may bruise her reputation for likeability.

It requires a delicate balance to trash colleagues with a smile.

If she succeeds in establishing herself as the most viable progressive Conservative choice, she may be able to eclipse the neo-cons in the race.

Raitt’s move is a political game changer.

Sheila Copps is a former Jean Chrétien-era Cabinet minister and a former deputy prime minister. Follow her on Twitter at @Sheila_Copps.




The Walrus Talks National Tour: We Desire a Better Country

0 Comments 06 February 2017

Walrus Talks National Tour (cartoon graphic)The Order of Canada and the Walrus Foundation are jointly presenting The Walrus Talks Conversations About Canada: We Desire a Better Country, a national tour featuring 50 members of the Order and 50 youth leaders to mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017.

“This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Order of Canada, one of our country’s highest honours,” said Governor General David Johnston. “Its motto, Desiderantes Meliorem Patriam (They desire a better country), is the source of inspiration for this one-of-a-kind speakers’ series. The diverse and compelling examples of excellence that it will showcase will inspire Canadians and invite them to imagine the Canada of tomorrow.”
The tour runs from March 1 to June 1, 2017 in 13 provinces and territories in just 13 weeks. The tour will connect members of the Order of Canada and Canada’s next generation of young leaders with communities across Canada on what our future as a country could and should be.

All of the events will be streamed live online and rebroadcast by CBC Radio and CPAC.

For tour dates and ticket information, visit


Book Launch: They Desire A Better Country

0 Comments 01 February 2017

They Desire a Better Country (book cover)Who belongs to the Order of Canada?

The Governor-General’s office and the publisher, Figure.1, have brought together 50 stories of those who proudly wear the snowflake insignia in one book, They Desire A Better Country: The Order of Canada in 50 Stories.

This anniversary collection tells the stories of just 50 of the nearly 7,000 remarkable individuals who collectively hold Canada’s highest civilian honours.

Written by Lawrence Scanlan and translated by Daniel Poliquin, O.C., this book is about Canadians of every age, from coast to coast to coast, and celebrates the breathtaking diversity of Canadian achievements, all of which have made a lasting impact on our country.

This book will be available for purchase in February 2017. Every living member of the Order will receive a copy as will every high school and library system in the country.


Feb. 13: Sheila Copps to speak at Women for 50% 2018

0 Comments 26 January 2017

Visit Women for 50% 2018’s Facebook page to register.

Pre-event news coverage to date:

Huddle Today. “Because in New Brunswick it’s still 1977.” January 11, 2017.

CBC News New Brunswick.Work begins now to elect more women to legislature in 2018.” January 11, 2017.

Acadie Nouvelle.Un mouvement pour 50% de femmes à l’Assemblée législative en 2018.” 11 janvier 2017

New Brunswick Women’s Council. “Women’s Council applauds growing movement to increase the number of women participating in New Brunswick politics, calls for changes to political process.” Français.


10 Days To Change the World: Attend the World Design Summit

0 Comments 25 January 2017

World Design Summit Montréal 2017

Get Your Tickets Now!


Social Media as News

0 Comments 23 November 2012

Social Media as News

A morning workshop
for journalists and news-watchers

CBC reporter and Twitter maven Kady O’Malley will be joining the presentation team at a
workshop next week for news and information professionals.

The National Press Club of Canada is offering this professional development workshop
on social media for journalists and others interested in understanding the craft on
Thursday, November 29, 2012 at Adobe Systems, 343 Preston Street, Tower ll in the
Klondike Room.

Learn how journalists use social media to gather the news. Find out how to feed into the
24X7 news cycle using these techniques. Register for this unique opportunity at

Susan Murphy, Co-Founder and Digital Media Specialist at Jester Creative Inc. will be
leading this half-day workshop, which will run from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Social media’s impact on traditional marketing and journalism practices
– News breaks on Twitter first
– New media communications tools (blogs, podcasts, video)

Finding your online audience
– The importance of listening
– How to connect with people in the online world

How to establish realistic social media marketing goals
– Social media goals – it’s not about numbers
– Establishing business goals that make sense

Developing effective social media strategies
– Creating spaces
– Measuring success

Managing your social media time wisely
– Time saving social media tools
– Focusing on what’s important to you
– Scaling social media

All training materials, which may include presentation slides, relevant links and supporting
information will be provided in electronic form to course participants. These materials will be
provided via email after the workshop.

About the Instructor
Susan Murphy has 24 years of experience in media and communications, with 15 years
experience as a web site designer and digital content specialist. Susan is a former
television producer with hundreds of local and national programs to her credit ranging
from news to arts and entertainment. She has been working with social media since

Susan has 20 years of experience as a trainer, and has developed course content
for delivery in both the public and private sectors. She regularly delivers social media
training courses to a variety of private and public sector clients. More information about
Susan’s experience can be found at



October is women’s history month

0 Comments 23 October 2012

October is women’s history month and there is much to celebrate. However, the advances we have enjoyed are under attack, in Canada and abroad. The Republican candidate for American president thinks the key to women’s political involvement is the requirement to leave work in time to get supper on the table. In our country, the Conservatives continue the attack on reproductive rights of women. In this month that honours the Famous Five, those courageous women who fought for our right to vote, we should all do our part for equality.

I have recently taken on responsibility for the Liberal Party’s Judy LaMarsh fund. In the next few months, Liberals across the country will organize activities in support of the Judy Fund. Please join Liberal Member of Parliament Dr. Carolyn Bennett at the end of the month at a Parliamentary Scaraoke Party. Just follow my web link and I will see you there. If you want to host your own party, email me at Continue Reading

Charity, Events

“Scaraoke” for Judy / pour Judy

0 Comments 12 October 2012

Karaoke Fundraiser for the Judy Lamarsh Fund hosted by the Liberal Women’s Caucus.













La collecte du Caucus des Femmes du Parti Libéral “Scaraoke” pour le fonds Judy Lamarsh.


August Update

0 Comments 14 August 2012

What a great Olympic run for Canada!  The country was riveted on our women’s soccer story, from the lows to the highs.  That last-minute goal for Bronze was the icing on the cake.  Our medalists, and those who marked so many personal bests made these Olympics absolutely unforgettable.

As summer closes, it is time to get back to work.  I am happy to embrace a new challenge.  Mary Pynenburg, the dynamic president of the National Women’s Liberal Commission, has asked me to take over the reins of the Judy LaMarsh Fund.

With the support of the party executive team, young women founders of Beyond the Numbers, and our president Mike Crawley, the Judy Fund will be working to help fund more Liberal women in the next election. If you are interested in helping, please just send me an email and we will get you involved.

On the international front, I have just been asked to serve as a Member of the Governing Council of the Centrist Asia Pacific Democrats International (CAPDI). Continue Reading

© 2017 Sheila Copps.