Friday, December 21, 2007

Harper And Ontario

Harper is making the festive rounds, with his year end interviews. This article focuses on Harper's prospects in Ontario, moving forward. Harper:
"We need to continue to make gains in Ontario and should make gains in Ontario. That ultimately will be determined by our relationship with the voters of Ontario, not fundamentally by whether we are pleasing the premier or a mayor in some city. I think ultimately, it's the people we have to connect with."

"I think our policies should win us more support in Toronto the same way that it's winning us more support in similar demographics in every other part of the country."

First, a quick point on the last sentence. There is no evidence whatsoever to support Harper's contention that the Conservatives are winning "more support in similar demographics in every other part of the country". Outside of Alberta, there is no sense that the Conservatives are connecting with the urban voter, Toronto isn't the exception, more part of the trend. If you take Harper at his word, how then does he explain stagnant polling, has the connection with the urban "demographic" been offset by a lose of support in rural areas? I don't think so.

Harper thinks the Conservatives should make further gains in Ontario. As I've argued before, Harper's Ontario strategy to date has been a strategic head scratcher. Harper can discount a mayor or a premier or a urban candidates concerns, but in the fights we've witnessed, they represent their constituents in a more direct way than the government. Miller arguing for more money for his city brings support, moreso than he may get in an election. McGuinty arguing for proper representation resonates with Ontarians, in a way that speaks to basic self-interest. Calling people "whiny", calling people "small", when they are essentially standing up for the locals is a losing stance for the federal government.

The reason why the Conservatives aren't making gains in Ontario is simple. A complete lack of sensitivity, a dismissive tone, a pre-occupation with other electoral regions and a lack of urgency. The government's reaction to the manufacturing problems in Ontario have been nothing short of passive indifference. Flaherty has the arrogance to tell manufacturers, on the verge of bankruptcy, that a high dollar represents a terrific opportunity to re-tool, update equipment imported from the Americans. Companies are losing their shirts, and Flaherty's solution, invest more and take bigger loses in the near term, that you can't afford. I've had some first hand feedback to this proposition, and to say it wasn't well received is understating the point. The government simply dropped the ball on the manufacturing sector, and as a result, come election time, others can capitalize on the timid response.

It's funny to hear Harper, arguing that the Conservatives will make gains in Ontario. From everything I have seen, the government minister's seem more content to antagonize and alienate, than build a better foundation.


Anonymous said...

The only place where Harper can make gains in Ontario is Peel Region and York Region. Otherwise, he has maxed out.

It is dependent on Jason Kenney's strategy of tapping in conservative ethnic voters. Sad thing is that he has been doing it since 2004 and it has not budge that much. Furthermore, he cannot see any consolation whatsoever in the Provincial elections where Tory was able to make a net gain of one measly seat.

Steve V said...

"It is dependent on Jason Kenney's strategy of tapping in conservative ethnic voters. Sad thing is that he has been doing it since 2004 and it has not budge that much."

That strategy is pure wishful thinking. The only hint, when the Conservative snagged Khan, and we arguing that he would bring a flood of ethnic support. All that looks to happen, the seat simply reverts back to the Libs and Khan leaves in shame.

Red Canuck said...

Harper's talk about winning more support in "similar demographics" is just a lot of hot air.

In the last election, the Connies were totally shut out in the 3 largest urban centres in the country (Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal). That's no coincidence, and nothing has changed substantively since then to improve their prospects.

I think they've basically written off big cities, and are focusing their efforts instead on making inroads in Quebec and the urban suburbs, although I think they'll be disappointed with their results in the latter.

Anyways, Harpo's year-end interviews were painful to watch on a number of levels.

Anonymous said...

From the insider perspective, I have questions as to Bonnie Crombie's viability in Mississauga. Ethnic voters are more socially conservative. Khan can run as an Independent and win, if he does not end up in jail.

Steve V said...

"Khan can run as an Independent and win, if he does not end up in jail."

Especially, if Khan has a tough on crime message ;)

Steve V said...


I agree, they have written off the big cities. Those cities act as the Harper majority firewall.

Anonymous said...

Update: Harper has called the four by-elections for March 17. The late date means that he fully expects the House to fall before that date.

It is time to stop concentrating on by-elections and focus on the national campaign.

Monkey Loves to Fight said...

Certainly Harper hasn't done a whole lot to bring over new support in Ontario. As for gaining big in the 905 belt, the only ridings I think the Tories even have a shot at that they don't hold now are Newmarket-Aurora, Mississauga South, and Oakville and they could just as easily lose Burlington and probably will see Halton stay Liberal. As for ethnic voters, I've never bought this idea of ethnic voters being monolithic in their beliefs. Like all other Canadians there is a wide diversity of views within any ethnic community.

Anonymous said...

Win over Ontario - a real good start attacking the premier, short change Ontario on seats, pouring money into Quebec - Ontario can go to hell....uh, huh - that'll do it.

Steve V said...


Sounds like a winner to me. The sad part, it's all true.