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

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.

Just Posted

James Nathan Roberts, 38, was found dead May 15 by a Terrace RCMP officer patrolling the woods between the curling rink and the train tracks. Police are asking the public to come forward with any information. (Submitted photo)
Terrace police renews assistance plea a year into homicide investigation

Investigation began after James Roberts’ body was found in May 2020

This concept artwork from July 2020 shows the inland port planned for the former Skeena Cellulose mill site in Terrace. (Image courtesy Hatha Callis, Progressive Ventures Group)
VIDEO: Highlights of Terrace’s inland port public hearing

Council gave third reading to two zoning amendments on June 14

San Group owners Suki, left, and Kamal Sanghera with technical manager Richard Zeller at their facility in Port Alberni in Feb. 2021. The forestry company is looking at expanding its business into northwest B.C. by setting up a manufacturing unit in Terrace. (SUSAN QUINN/ Black Press file photo)
Forestry company San Group eyes Terrace for northwest B.C expansion

The company looks at Skeena Industrial Park to set up a sawmill manufacturing unit

The Independent Investigations Office of BC has concluded police acted appropriately in the lead-up to a fatal ATV crash north of Terrace on May 23, 2021. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Police watchdog finds no police wrongdoing in fatal ATV crash

The May 23 crash resulted in the death of a Terrace woman

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Most Read