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

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 18 COVID-19 cases, highest daily count since July

The total of COVID-19 cases in the region is now at 662

A Kelowna clinic decided to immunize their patients in a drive-thru flu clinic earlier this month. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Interior Health anticipates increase in flu vaccinations this season

Some 300,000 doses of flu vaccine ready for distribution across Southern Interior

Grade 7 Trafalgar students show off posters they put up around downtown Nelson with information about residential schools. Photo: Tyler Harper
Trafalgar class puts up residential school history posters downtown

The Grade 7 students made their own websites and QR codes

The Capitol Theatre has been transformed into a courtroom for the trial of Const. Jason Tait that started on Sept. 28 and continues. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Defence begins presenting evidence in Nelson jury trial of RCMP officer

Const. Jason Tait is charged with manslaughter after a Castlegar incident in 2015

The West Kootenay Cycling Coalition says GoByBike Week was a success. Photo: Submitted
A round of applause for GoByBike Week supporters

Nearly 200 cyclists participated

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read