A couple of weeks ago I questioned the wisdom of having Ignatieff spend a great deal of time "out of Ottawa" this fall. The idea of Ignatieff trying to recapture what was a positive summer in my view, coupled with being outside of the Ottawa glare, made for a risky strategy. However, after seeing what Donolo has unveiled, I'd like to amend my previous concern.
I do like the new branding, the "Open Mike" tour, because it denotes a seperation from the "Liberal Express". Minor in one sense, but keeping things fresh is key, otherwise everyone grows bored and you're left in the wilderness, while Ottawa rages.
What is a much more important point, this idea of Ignatieff in constant contact with the average Canadians. It is this messaging that reveals the Donolo strategy and why I've changed my view. When you hear Ignatieff in interviews now, rather than high minded proclamations, his answers are rooted in what Canadians are saying. It's "what I'm hearing", "if you travel around", "Canadians are clearly saying", which congeals into an overall picture of a person intimately in touch with Canadians. This becomes more important, when you pull back and do the compare and contrast with the Harper approach. Ignatieff just sounds more grounded, concrete, when he references the outside Ottawa perspective, and he does so with real conviction. Whether it's changed Ignatieff, I don't know, but rather than aloof, he has developed a practicality that people will relate to.
There are still pitfalls with this strategy. Whatever the planned tour, I think people should be ready to cancel events at a moment's notice, should serious moments develop in Ottawa. That said, for the first time in a long time, I'm starting to "get it", the Liberals have a layered strategy that works on multiple fronts. Mike it up Michael!