U.S. Ambassador to Canada Bruce A. Heyman speaks at the Canadian American Business Council in Ottawa on Sept. 30, 2014. Barack Obama’s former Canadian envoy says divided Democrats in his party can learn important lessons from Justin Trudeau’s slim election victory in their quest to defeat Donald Trump and the Republicans next year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Democrats can learn from slim Liberal win to beat Trump: ex-Obama envoy

Democrat Hillary Clinton received more than three million more votes than Trump in 2016

Barack Obama’s former Canadian envoy says divided Democrats in his party can learn important lessons from Justin Trudeau’s slim election victory in their quest to defeat Donald Trump and the Republicans next year.

Bruce Heyman says there is a key parallel with Trump’s 2016 election victory and the Trudeau Liberal minority government win last week — neither of their parties won the overall popular vote.

Therein lies a lesson for Democrats, a party united on defeating Trump but divided ideologically in picking a candidate and a political approach, Heyman says.

The Liberals won the federal election with 33.1 per cent of the popular vote compared to the 34.4 per cent won by Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives.

At the riding level, that translated into 157 Liberal seats and 121 for the Conservatives, a victory that was won largely by winning key regions in Ontario and Quebec.

Democrat Hillary Clinton received more than three million more votes than Trump in 2016, but was unable to carry key states like Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida because of the U.S. Electoral College’s distribution.

“As we saw with the last election, popular vote actually does not matter in either of our countries,” Heyman said in a telephone interview from Chicago.

“You need to find those ridings or those congressional districts or those states that actually make the difference and work those. I think the lesson for America is the Liberals were able to identify those ridings … knowing that it was going to be a challenging election. They won where they needed to win.”

Heyman said his party needs to unite around a handful of candidates and resolve internal policy differences between progressives — embodied by candidates such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — and moderates who are largely uniting behind former vice-president Joe Biden.

“The lesson that the Democrats need to have from 2016 and even looking up in Canada and elsewhere — you’ve got to come together,” said Heyman.

That means trying to take back the same key swing states that Trump won, which he said was akin to the Liberals’ success in Toronto’s suburban ridings that comprise the 905 area code, he said.

“That’s a really important parallel. People will vote on economics. There are a lot of other things going on out there that are emotional or highly distracting, but at the end of the day, people care about the food they can put on the table.”

READ MORE: New Liberal minority government neither the strongest nor the weakest minority

Heyman, a former Goldman Sachs executive, was a top fundraiser for Obama before he was appointed to the Canadian ambassadorship in 2013.

Since his departure from Ottawa following Trump’s victory, Heyman has been a vocal booster of Canada-U.S. relations and a frequent defender of the Trudeau Liberals. He became especially active on Twitter when Trudeau’s relations soured with Trump in 2018 with a series of the president’s insulting tweets directed at the prime minister.

During their White House meeting in June, Trump and Trudeau mended fences over their shared goal of getting the newly negotiated North American free trade deal ratified by lawmakers in their two countries, which, so far, hasn’t happened.

In the final days of the Canadian campaign, Obama also took to Twitter to endorse Trudeau, an unusual move for a foreign leader but something Obama has done in other international elections.

Heyman said he had nothing to do with brokering any Obama endorsement and only learned of it when he saw his former boss’s tweet.

But he wasn’t surprised, and believes it was rooted in Obama’s passion for continuing the fight against climate change.

“I think it was a sincere endorsement based on one, a friendship, and two, a set of ideals where President Obama mentioned climate change as being an important one,” said Heyman.

“In all my work done with the Obama team, and with the Trudeau team, I think they were aligned on this issue. And I think the prime minister now virtually holds the leadership role for climate as a spokesperson in the world, as you’ve lost many other people promoting liberal democracy and climate change.”

Heyman said the support the Greens, the NDP and to a certain extent the Bloc Quebecois garnered shows that a majority of Canadian voters support parties that had platforms focused on combating climate change.

Heyman did not specifically mention Scheer, who Trudeau frequently branded as a climate-change laggard. Scheer rebutted that, calling Trudeau a hypocrite because the Liberals had fallen short of their greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The current Canadian ambassadors from the European Union and Germany have told The Canadian Press that Trudeau’s victory will ensure “continuity” on Canada’s commitments to fight climate change. But neither of them waded into the partisan fight that played out on the federal election campaign trail.

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Supreme Court upholds White Rock council decision on Lady Alexandra development

Planned 12-storey highrise on lower Johnston Road was stalled in 2018

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

MARCH 31: Five more in B.C. have died due to COVID-19

Surrey RCMP not seeing ‘significant loss’ in ranks because of COVID-19

Surrey Mounties say they have a good tracking system to keep tabs on police officers experiencing an illness

No final high school game for Surrey all-stars; six scholarship winners named

COVID-19 forces cancellation of all-star games for boys and girls at Enver Creek gym April 3

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

John Horgan extends B.C.’s state of emergency for COVID-19

Premier urges everyone to follow Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice

B.C.’s first community COVID-19 death was dentist ‘dedicated’ to health: lawyer

Vincent was 64 when he died on March 22 after attending the Pacific Dental Conference

UPDATE: 6.5-magnitude earthquake in Idaho shakes B.C. Interior

An earthquake was reportedly felt just before 5 p.m. throughout the Okanagan

Two inmates at prison housing Robert Pickton test positive for COVID-19

Correctional Service of Canada did not release any details on the identities of the inmates

BC heart surgery patient rarely leaves home

James Jepson is especially vulnerable to the novel coronavirus

BC SPCA launches matching campaign to help vulnerable animals after big donations

Two BC SPCA donors have offered up to $65,000 in matching donations

Anti-tax group calls for MPs, senators to donate scheduled pay raises to charity

Bill C-30, adopted 15 years ago, mandates the salary and allowance increases each calendar year

Two arrested after man lies about COVID-19 illness to stay in Victoria Airbnb for free

Victoria Police found stolen goods inside the occupied unit

Most Read

l -->