Saturday, February 07, 2009

Declawed, For Now...

I know many were nervous, that the new Liberal leader would be subjected to the same Conservative assault, as his predecessor. That view didn't incorporate a simple fact- this isn't 2006, the Liberals would surely adapt and respond much more forcefully, mindful of the lessons learned. Apart from lessons learned, I didn't see a Dion redux, because the political climate is such, the Conservatives simply can't go negative, in any high profile way. After the hyper-partisanship displayed in November, the Conservatives desperately need to appear serious, their entire focus on the economy, any overt attacks against rivals, only feeds a negative perception- a mean spirited, partisan driven entity, that doesn't have it's priorities straight. Wasting energy, attacking the opposition, would rightly be seen for what it was, and I have little doubt that strategy would backfire in a big way, the Conservatives would harm themselves, far more than their target.

It would appear, the Conservatives have reconciled themselves to the fact that attack ads aren't in the cards:
Stephen Harper is so concerned about the economy that the Conservatives are not launching any negative ads aimed at Michael Ignatieff, according to one well-placed Tory source. Although the Tories have lots of money and ammunition (example: Mr. Ignatieff's flip-flop allowing his Newfoundland MPs to vote against the budget), the Prime Minister doesn't want to appear to be playing political games in the midst of the economic crisis.

"The government is focused on projecting itself as serious about the economy. ... Anything that could make the government seem focused on other things [like an attack ad campaign] is being avoided," the source said.
As a side note, somewhat comical that even the Conservative knee jerk sleaze machine understands the public mood, while the NDP looks more partisan than ever, with their badly timed ads.

You can't take Jane Taber as gospel truth, but given the genuine reality of the times, it's pretty safe to assume we won't see any overt attacks on Ignatieff in the near term. Understanding the financial constraints, it would still be wise for the Liberals to consider some "introductory" ads for Ignatieff, nothing outlandish, a small buy, that can use free media to our advantage (last year, the Conservatives announced new ads, the media played them ad nauseum, but they never made it to the airwaves in any real way, HELLO).

Apart from the possibility of our own campaign, I have little doubt, that as things cool down in Ottawa, Ignatieff will begin more high profile tours of the country. Right now, there is clearly a measure of curiosity with our new leader, everything Ignatieff does tends to make it into the news. I say, we should capitalize on the honeymoon, and get Ignatieff out there, everywhere and anywhere, while we still have the media's attention. If there is a pause in Conservative gutter politics, we can fill the void with a positive presentation, further cement a sense that the Liberals are on the move, with a new direction. A trip into Bloc heartland would bring plenty of attention, electoral chances aside. Rural British Columbia, the Conservative bunker on the prairies, all the unusual locations, a hint of bold, a sense that Liberals are reaching out, rather than realistic "winning" opportunities.


PeterC said...

Heard yesterday in the house of commons:
"But if Iggy would only show the same patients as, say, when he waited to come back to Canada...."

Give it two months and I think those attack ads will go is just who they are.

Steve V said...

Agreed, at some point, they won't be able to help themselves.

Robert McClelland said...

The lack of an ad campaign against Iggy so far likely has more to do with the impending visit by Obama and Harper's need to portray himself as being in tune with what Obama believes; something he wouldn't be able to do if he's viciously flinging mud at Iggy.

Then of course, there's the Conservative pattern of not re-using the same tactic twice as the main focus of their attack. They'll go after Iggy in some new fashion that the Liberals won't be prepared for.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm....the years away will be their thing - they've brought it up in QP.

Hmmmm.....all the while Harper was spending his time making speeches that put down his own country.

Jane Taber - next Senator?

Tiny Perfect Blog said...

I agree with Robert and would add that the Conservatives need to get through this session of Parliament before they can again go hard at the Liberals. They needed Liberal support this time, and had to play nice. Next time, the Liberals will be forced to prop up the government, (due to their poor finances and inability to run an election campaign) and Harper will be able to do as he pleases.

Anonymous said...

now that they're comfortable wearing dirty diapers they won't change.

Steve V said...


I don't think the strategy has anything to do with Obama, it's purely a domestic consideration. Imagine Harper running ads attacking Ignatieff, while he's preaching co-operation, arguing that during this economic crisis, there's no time for partisanship. We all know it's bullshit, but that's not the point. Canadians blame Harper, for the mess in November, he orchestrated a needless crisis. The last thing these guys want right now, is another high profile example of their mean-spirited nature, anything that distracts from the serious focus on the economy is a loser for the Conservatives. Going after Ignatieff only reinforces the Conservatives negatives, and that's why we will see a pause, because people simply won't tolerate it now. Obama's visit is a big whatever, this is about realizing that attack ads, at this time, will backfire.

Anonymous said...

"The last thing these guys want right now, is another high profile example of their mean-spirited nature"


The person who will be running attack ads against Iggy is Layton. That is because Layton sees Iggy as a threat to the NDP, instead of someone who he needs to overthrow Harper.


Michael Ignatieff NOT a leader. Doesn't work for many swing Con voters because many centre right voters actually respect Iggy. On Afghanistan and even on the economy, they find him to be credible. Particularly with the Cons on survival mode.

The Cons are still a fearmongering party. Their success in trying to win a majority the next time will be to talk up the THREAT of a coalition. Iggy needs to counter this by building up the Grits as a viable alternative government (you can't with Stephane Dion). Also avoid any traps Harper may set for Iggy, particularly on law and order and social issues. These are issues that the Con base are truly motivated on and Harper will need to rally come election time.