Thursday, April 17, 2008

Summer Of Love?

It would seem those that don't want an election, see the summer break as an opportunity to boost Dion's fortunes:
Stéphane Dion wants to spend the summer selling the idea of a national carbon tax on fuels that damage the environment. His top advisors are telling him that he still has work to do convincing Canadians to buy what he is selling and the summer would give him time to craft a campaign narrative.

Yes, the summer barbeque circuit, didn't we hear the exact same thing last year?? Seriously, last spring, all the talk was about getting Dion out there, touring the country, establishing a dialogue with Canadians. A new wrinkle if this summer brings some policy, but basically the same theme.

The summer break is traditionally very hard for opposition leaders. The public glare of parliament gone, people distracted by vacation and such, nobody really paying attention, it's tough to get any press, nevermind establish a narrative. Concurrent with that struggle, the government is free of scrutiny, able to make the odd announcement, it really is their best season. With all that in mind, I'm hard pressed to see the summer break as savior, an environment that will improve our fortunes.

I would argue that the summer brings more risk than reward, as the recent problems of the government fade, we allow them the lion's share of coverage, all of it scripted. Quiet is the government's best friend, and I fully expect a LONG summer break, similar to last year. Dion can tour the country, but he doesn't do so alone, and he operates in a controlled environment.

It sounds great, bide our time, allow Dion to get out there and sell the Liberal vision. However, if history is our guide, Dion will mostly be forgotten in the summer, it will really amount to nothing. Nobody disputes that the government tends to get more negative coverage when parliament sits, nor does anybody dispute the challenges for the opposition during the summer break- those two realities make the summer of love scheme more wishful thinking, than sound strategy. Anything could happen, but I'm willing to bet things don't look any better, possibly worse, than they do at this exact moment, come the fall. The summer is rarely the friend of the opposition, certainly not the season to sell a vision, your audience is entirely distracted.


Antonio said...

I think most Canadians already think the Liberals are on summer break

JimmE said...

... um forgive me, but I thought there was something else that people did to sell their political agendas, over a specific period of time. Ahh, something called ELECTIONS I do believe.

900 ft Jesus said...

I agree, Steve. Summer will not help Dion or the Liberals, and Harper’s does better when the House isn’t sitting. Every time. He can’t as easily control agendas and questions while the House sits.

wilson said...

Harper can always loan Dion his cowboy vest and hat.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree. Voters' attention spans are short. Images of the raid will resonate now.

Steve V said...

"Harper’s does better when the House isn’t sitting. Every time. He can’t as easily control agendas and questions while the House sits."

Couple that with a further round of abstaining, heading into the summer, and you are assured of going nowhere, possibly backwards.

Anonymous said...

The thing with Dion, there is an impression from Paul Wells' article in Macleans, that he prefers not to do things he is not interested in.

When it comes to Clarity Act and fighting for Kyoto, he will give 200 per cent effort and blow away his opponents. He is also reluctant in throwing attacking ads and talking in soundbites, which was Chretien's supposed advice.

I was there when Dion gave the speech in Toronto announcing the 30-50 poverty plan. It was so good that caucus members suggested that Dion can make mileage by saying that speech over and over again. Dion was known to have resisted this notion, preferring to do things once.

The only thing positive for waiting until the fall is that Dion may become so enthused with the carbon tax that he destroys Harper with a two foot pole campaigning on tax shifting. Otherwise, Dion needs to consider the election campaign as a six week lecture circuit to sell his vision of Canada or risk further erosion.