Thursday, August 14, 2008

No Time For Complacency

Don't get me wrong, everyone needs a vacation, but I'm getting the sense the last few weeks that the Liberals are generally taking a breather. This lull in the "sales" pitch comes at the same time that Harper is ramping up his attacks on the Liberals. Fortunately, the Conservatives are also dealing with considerable negative press, due to their self-inflicted wound routine during the Committee hearings. That development strikes me as more luck than sound strategy, overall circumstance demands a extraordinary push.

Reading these comments from an anonymous Conservative offical, you see a rare admission:
The official, who spoke on the condition that he not be named, said that the Conservatives believe Mr. Dion had a good July, with the launch of the Green Shift, but lately the balance has tilted

Dion did have a good July, easily his best patch since becoming leader. Don't take anything that follows as panic or doom and gloom, because the Liberals are fine as of today. My concern is more the trend, the Liberals just don't have the luxury to let up, it has to be push, push, push, all the time, everywhere. The opponent hasn't relinquished in the least, it's still daily offence. For all intent and purposes, the election has already begun, the Liberals simply can't afford to let Harper dominate the headlines without an effective counter. Idle media, with no real Liberal story to tell, allows for the Conservative attack machine to get maximum coverage. It is noteworthy, that Dion's high profile in the weeks prior tended to balance the hysteria. If Dion is on vacation, then Liberal strategists should be creative to keep their message in the news. Any "void" is risky, especially when you consider most Canadians haven't really developed a firm opinion either way.

The Green Shift is still malleable, the frame isn't completely established, which means its ultimate fate may come down to one simple reality, which side, the advocate or the detractor, works the hardest. This is no time to pat ourselves on the back for a pretty good release, this is the time to kick it into overdrive, every challenge met with a response. No dead air, complete overlap.

It's the middle of August, and I'm still waiting for anything Liberal in the province of Quebec. Fertile ground for The Green Shift, opportunity for Dion to get some traction. To date, no sense of any gameplan in this key province, if there is one, so under the radar to be irrelevant.

Again, the sky is not falling, in fact I see partly sunny skies. However, that current reality can change in short order, especially with rabid dogs everyone, primed to pounce.


Anonymous said...

While the cons. havn't figured out how to act as a government and still act as an opposition party the Liberals havn't figured out how to be an opposition party!!! every time Harper attacks the green shift as a tax on everything they should be responding with what has Harper done or will do that WON'T cause a tax on everything. God knows there are a thousand points the Liberals can use every week to question what the cons. are doing.

Anonymous said...

Ditto your post and the initial anonymous comments.

Respond to each attack - it's really not a difficult concept, particularly since the attacks are so very predictable.

Steve V said...

It just seems like sometimes, the strategy is so methodical, not very nimble or reactionary.

If I can use an American analogy. Remember when the Bush team, which employ similar tactics to these guys, savaged McCain in South Carolina, during the 2000 campaign? Now, some of that stuff was off the charts, but similarly nasty, full throttle attacks. In this year's primary, the McCain team went into South Carolina with a well organized response team, everytime a hint of something came up, BOOM, all the surrogates went to the press, immediate media releases, saturation to blunt the nonsense. It was really a "at war" mentality, and that's the way we should be approaching every day.

JAWL said...

You would think something is happening in Quebec if the poll two days ago is truly representative. The Liberals were tied with the Bloc.

Maybe not the right ridings but at least up.

And the press announcements on the Liberal site are getting a lot stronger,

Todays about the meat inspectors or lack there of and the attack on Dunn about the CRFA changes to the idling times two days ago.

Almost over the top but certainly Tory like.

However they re not getting the main stream coverage on these various releases.

And their somewhat bigger guns seem awful silent too.

Hopefully they are waiting for the upcoming strategy meeting.

It is frustrating listening to the constant BS coming out of the Tories and no counter punch.

Very frustrating.

Anonymous said...

As I note in the recent blogpost, Dion, Iggy, and Rae did not respond well to the war between Russia and Georgia while democratic Opposition leaders such as Obama and Cameron were out in front.

Since the polls in Quebec showed that Saint Lambert is in play, why haven't Dion made a personal trip to the area where the rioting took place in Montreal already? He could have seized the initiative by saying that Harper and Nicholson's policies toward Young Offenders do not work. In and out is fun but race riots affect the core voters that are needed to destroy Harper's conservative ideology. Especially since Saint Lambert is working class and full of ethnic francophones.

ottlib said...

Stephen Harper mentioned the Green Shift Plan today. That is rather good news.

It means The Plan is still front and centre in the political conversation seven weeks after its release.

I have said it before, Stephen Harper cemented the Accountability Act in the minds of Canadians so that even when politics moved on after its release it still had a huge impact on the 2006 election.

Stephane Dion might have succeeded in doing the same thing if Mr. Harper still finds it necessary to attack it at this point.

Certainly, it has not impacted the polls as yet, but neither did the Accountability Act until the election. Remember, the Conservatives never lead the Liberals in between the 2004 and 2006 election. And Stephen Harper never lead Paul Martin during that period either.

Stephane Dion's goal with The Green Shift was to get people talking about it and to plant the seed in the minds of Canadians. So when he runs on it during the next election Canadians will know what he is talking about. They will probably not know all of its details but they will know about it and its overall objectives.

The fact Stephen Harper felt the need to attack it 7 weeks after tis release would seem to indicate that Mr. Dion has been successful. How successful remains to be seen but it is a beginning.

Steve V said...

"And the press announcements on the Liberal site are getting a lot stronger,"

Actually, I was looking at some of the press releases before I posted. The Lunn angle wasn't even on the radar politically, kind of a bit story in terms of mileage (not speaking to merit). What I'd like to see, not that simple press releases are all that pivotal, is released with some jam, responding to the Conservatives. If you look at the recent list, hardly any reference to the frontpage newscycle.


I don't necessarily disagree, as you know, but that's only part of the picture. Harper is talking about The Green Shift more and more, because the Cons have concluded it will be the central thrust in an election to undermine the Libs. Whether it works or not, we need to react with urgency, not a sense of all's well.

Steve V said...

"why haven't Dion made a personal trip to the area where the rioting took place in Montreal already?"

Mushroom, I don't see much, apart from the narrow goal of getting Garneau in. Seems to be good focus to ensure everything goes according to script, but pretty much dependent on whatever is picked up in other parts of the country, rather than any on site push. It's almost like a defeatist attitude, somebody is calculating that time is better spent elsewhere, and that's just a mistake IMO. Nothing's going to happen, if you don't try to make it happen.

Steve V said...

Here is sort of what I don't get:

"On Thursday night, Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion attended the Toronto Music Festival's performance of Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos, explaining to those who spotted him in the lobby that he was there to show support for the arts."

Spotted him in the lobby? That was fortunate. And, I think we are just fine in Toronto, especially when you have a big BBQ there next week. Harper hit two provinces today, and his line in NB was we "have to fight as hard as we can against the Liberal plan". Other than raising money, Dion should never be in Toronto. So, we have the Garth thing, the BBQ, a play, all in "sea of red" terrority. How many events has Harper had in Calgary?

Anonymous said...

I don't think the Liberals actually want to win the next election. Just like I didn't think the Dems actually wanted to win in '04. This year the Dems want it. This lackadaisical waltzing about from the Liberals tells me that they're not really up for the fight.

Anonymous said...

When your political opponents are highlighting your ideas, more so than you are,

chances are your ideas stink, and they're capitalizing on that.

Then again, maybe you think a major tax that would destabilize the economy, throw people out of work, and increase the cost of living of every day families who dare to wish to heat their homes, is not an idea that stinks.

A right minded person would relegate you to a blind partisan, willing to support their leader, regardless of how ridiculously harmful such a plan is.

Frankly Canadian said...

Let the electioneering begin! we as Canadians are starting to realize that we have let this band of junior lawyers get together and form a government with a party they hi-jacked to get there with. I had made a comment on a blog the other day which in turn started a dialog with a conservative troll. He had made a comment to the fact that he would rather have a country led by business/marketing/consulting type rather than educated professor/administrator/lawyer type.
My response was as follows:
Do not get me wrong "Old School" (A.K.A Old Fool), I was merely suggesting that it was odd that the level of education from the Liberal M.P.'s is much more extensive then that of the Conservative M.P.'s. You have given me a new project to work on tonight though, and yes I have found the results to be extremely interesting. The type of previous profession from some of the higher educated conservatives seems freakishly common to be of Law/ Lawyer background. Some of these previous Lawyers, and as you stated "who are lower than used car dealers", seem to be holding some pretty important offices for Canada. These former "used car dealers are as follows: Maxime Bernier, Vic Toews, Peter Van Loan, Peter McKay, Garry Lunn, Jim Flaherty, Jim Prentice. So I guess for once and I'm quite sure only once, I will have to agree with you that having a bunch of used car dealers running the country makes for a capricious situation. Incidentally does anyone know how many Pulitzer prizes Steven Harper has, as he has economist, lecturer, and writer on his resume? Thanks for the enlightenment "Old Fool" have a great day!
Yes I think Canadians want a change but not these people for that change! Incidentally I attended a open forum town hall meeting with Michael Ignatieff tonight in Kelowna and wow that was great! Mr. Ignatieff is an intelligent, straightforward, conscientious, and passionate man, who is obviously dedicated to his ethical obligations that leave this country and world a better place the future generations. The Liberal "Green Shift Plan" offers prudent, sensible, pragmatic methods, while assisting and offering incentives for responsible stewardship behaviour. Thank you Michael for the wonderful discussion group, and I look forward to the up coming meeting with Bob Ray next week.

Anonymous said...

Eh, Frankly Canadian, while we can appreciate that you spent some time typing that post, but we do not appreciate having to see it on every and their dogs blog. Please, post it on your own blog or in one comment box but do not serial post. Thank you for your anticipated co-operation.

penlan said...

Steve - the Libs are within a point of overtaking the Bloc.

Is that not tractionÉ

Deb Prothero said...

There's a big event (public not just partisans) in Montreal on Saturday - here's the Facebook group for the event:

I agree they need to punch harder on the media releases - when is Warren goin' to set up a war room. Cripes the war is on now.

Hopefully Dion will get some press in Montreal on Saturday and maybe his intention is to visit the area where the riots occurred.

Frankly Canadian said...

Just overly excited I guess, Mr. Ignatieff seems to have an inspirational effect, I'll keep my copy/paste to a minimum.

Anonymous said...

"he was there to show support for the arts."

Dion at the Toronto Music Festival. Who will he see there: Flaherty, John Tory, Bob Rae? Is this the best place to find swing voters? Try going to some folk festivals instead. Even Mosport is a better place than enjoying an awesome performance of Richard Strauss.

Anonymous said...

On the eve of an election, and another newly nominated Liberal candidate quits.

I'd put a lot more stock in the "Canadians prefer Harper over Dion by a two to one margin" aspect of that last Decima poll rather than on the generic party numbers. If there were two unknown nameless leaders, the Liberals would have a chance.

But their not nameless, and the Liberal candidates who have to sacrifice for a losing cause are seeing the writing on the wall.

ottlib said...

anonymous 12:06,

An axiom of politics. The Prime Minister does not give credibility to an opposition idea by talking about it. Leave it to someone in the government with less stature. John Baird perhaps?

Jean Chretien, Brian Mulroney and Pierre Trudeau all ignored the Opposition unless they believed something it had said would resonate and hurt them politically.

That is the case here. The Plan is not as complicated as its opponents make it out to be, it has great potential to resonate when Canadians really begin paying attention and it is not going away as they had hoped.

Like I said it is still the main political topic of the summer and no government likes it when Canadians are talking about the ideas of its main opponents.


Until the writ is dropped Stephen Harper is going to have the media advantage. The only way the Liberals are going to get any attention is if they do something outrageous or stupid. Thankfully, he has not really taken advantage of his advantage. Mr. Harper's performance this summer has been more of the same, trash the Liberals and re-announce (sometimes for a third time) funding schemes. That is reflected in the polls.

The Liberals have done exactly what they wanted to do this summer. Plant the seed of the Green Shift Plan while not making any significant mistakes.

The result is the idea of The Plan is cemented in the minds of Canadians and the Liberals are statistically tied with the Conservatives going into a probable Fall election.

All that being said what you say is true but alot of things in politics is timing. The Liberals will have to wait until the House is sitting again, or an election is called, whichever comes first, before they can ratchet up the pressure on the Conservatives.

Steve V said...

"I'd put a lot more stock in the "Canadians prefer Harper over Dion by a two to one margin" aspect of that last Decima poll rather than on the generic party numbers."

So you would put the leader question ahead of vote intention? Sorry, but the latter is the bottom line, and I would argue this bodes well for the Liberals, in that if Dion can close the leader gap, then a tie will become a lead. It must be very disconcerting to Conservatives, to see Harper lead by some much, and yet nothing in vote intention. If I recall correctly, when Martin lead Harper by a similar margin, the Liberals were up 10% in the polls :)


My only quibble would be the "cemented" aspect, I don't think people have developed a strong opinion, one way or the other, and if you listen to the anecedotal stuff from MP's they acknowledge work to be done explaining the plan.


That's good to hear.


"Then again, maybe you think a major tax that would destabilize the economy, throw people out of work, and increase the cost of living of every day families who dare to wish to heat their homes, is not an idea that stinks.

A right minded person would relegate you to a blind partisan, willing to support their leader, regardless of how ridiculously harmful such a plan is."

What a irrelevant hoot you are, completely misrepresent and then have the nerve to suggest others are blind partisans. Weak stuff.

ottlib said...


Sorry, I really did not make myself really clear with regard to The Green Shift Plan being "cemented" into the consciousness of Canadians.

I agree that they do not know the details but they do know it exists and they do know that it is a Liberal initiative.

That should exceed the expectations of the Liberals for the release of their plan it is a good foundation for selling it some more as the weeks and months progress.

The Liberals still have alot of work to do to be sure.

Steve V said...


Jeff said...


I have been trying to get answers to the Green Shift but no one is replying. I have sent emails to Dion and Garth but I have not had a reply. And yes I have tried to be respectful. But if Dion refuses to answer questions about his own plan, why should Canadians trust that it is a good plan?

Steve V said...


Why don't you email Harper and see if he responds? Pretty bogus complaint. Have you called your local Liberal, have you visited the website? Sorry, big yawn.