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

VIA Rail lays off 1,000 unionized workers across the country

Northern B.C. route Jasper to Prince George to Prince Rupert is not affected by VIA Rail layoffs

Overall house sales drop in the northwest

COVID-19 pandemic slowed market activity

B.C. orders Coastal GasLink to stop pipeline construction near protected wetlands

The 670-kilometre pipeline is planned to transport natural gas from northeast B.C. to Kitimat

‘Erratic’ driver arrested on Highway 16 near Vanderhoof

A 23-year-old man from Calgary, Alberta, was arrested on July 6 and faces multiple charges.

Police investigate July 2 homicide in Houston

Man succumbed to injuries at Pearson Road residence

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Large rogue floating ‘island’ corralled by Lac la Hache residents

At least 60 feet wide, this large mass of plants is free-floating on the lake

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

Most Read