Saturday, September 12, 2009

Premature Fabrication?

I think the Conservatives might have gone to early on the fear mongering front. Nevermind the historical fact that parties that go entirely negative are usually LOSING, the better strategy for the Conservatives would have been to unleash this debate mid to late election campaign. The fact we are having the coalition discussion now, scribes busily chiming in as we speak, means that the issue is unlikely to sustain itself in a campaign. I don't know much, but I know about attention spans, unless something fresh or shocking is added, people will get bored and move on. In addition, Tom Flanagan would tend to agree, saying it was "a bit early" to get into this coalition discussion.

None of this says the Conservatives won't continue to highlight this "issue", I just wonder about the mileage. Even yesterday, I sensed some pushback from the media, as the Conservatives kept re-issuing updated Ignatieff attacks, in response to his clear coalition statements. I also heard a few "the issue is dead", a sentiment which apparently angered the PMO. Why? Without much of a positive vision to offer, Conservatives concluded that creating fear would recapture the one moment when a majority looked in reach. The Conservatives have clearly concluded that a protracted coalition debate works to their advantage- I'm not sure, because even if they stir up English Canada, it's negated in Quebec, no majority is mathematically possible. Even if that argument is true, timing is everything and you best maximize the impact if you drop the attacks in the midst of the momentum of a campaign. I've got no problem with "Ignatieff on his heels" pieces Friday before the writ is dropped, let's air it all out now, that works for the Liberals. Moreover, when you consider that this week hasn't been stellar for the Conservatives, one wonders if this talk has any impact at all.

The leaking of this tape has short circuited the Conservative plan. I saw a building up of a lather before they went into full attack mode. The quickly put together and quite disjointed messenging in the latest attack ad shows a kneejerk reaction to events of the day. It's almost like the coalition portion was put in at the last minute, the ad lacks coherence. We all know that ad was cobbled together in short order, because the old "just visiting" ads never make it to the air if anything was in the "can". The old ads were intended to blunt the Liberal ads in the immediate, while they regrouped and got something new out. I firmly believe we've caught them flat footed. Further proof is found the website, where the usually sharp Conservatives aren't pumping their own ads, not even a link. Looks more like reactionary mode than methodical plan at the moment.

I predict the coalition discussion will linger, but it will be just a one sided facet of the larger discussion about what kind of government we want. Liberals relish the opportunity to present themselves as the party that can make Parliament work, "co-operation" will never be a dirty word in Canada. We will contrast that with an argument that you don't reward the failure, all this dysfunction was on Harper's watch, time to change the pecking order.

Conservatives will argue this until they're blue in the face, but I'm willing to bet when they laid out their election strategy, the emphasis on the coalition didn't happen prior to the writ drop.


Unknown said...

I see 2 attack fronts so far. The first is (was) the coalition government. The second is the fact that Ignatieff has spent time outside of Canada.
I am not sure I agree that an attack-based campaign is ineffective, one only has to look at the progressively negative US elections to see its effectiveness. The Conservative party are continuing to take lessons from the ROC on this front.
If I had any say I would encourage Ignatieff not to follow suite.
What they have done is plant the seed...people do not forget, they latch on to a trigger which concerns them and vote accordingly.

Steve V said...

I'm not saying it's ineffective, just that this particular argument isn't well placed in their overall strategy. This kind of hysteria argument would work better in the late stages, not the preamble.

As for our side, the type of ads released in Quebec are fine, but I wouldn't go much beyond that. If you entire argument centers around a different way to do business, it looks pointless if you are see as the same. Tough but not gutter.

Unknown said...

I think that the CPC have always been 'strike early, strike hard'. They have continued to run attack ads throughout the last 3 fact, almost on a daily basis I receive attack bulletins in my mailbox.
I think if the government falls you will see these ramp-up significantly. Ignatieff's time at Harvard seems to be the focus...which, to me, speaks to experience not lack of commitment to Canada.
Things like dual-citizenship seem to be big rally cries for the right-wing...

Steve V said...

Again, don't disagree on the preferred tone, just the timing. I firmly believe the Cons aren't pleased this coalition angle blew up prior to the writ drop, and the way they are reacting to the press confirms my view.

Jerry Prager said...

Since it is obvious that your constant reiteration of the "If I wanted to lead a coalition I'd be Prime Minister now" was read at high command, let me add that the positive move on the same discussion is to speak directly to the 62-63% of Canadians who consciously voted against Stephen Harper by voted for one of the other parties. Let him speak to the majority, and seek to encourage them to realize that if they want to get rid of Mr. Harper the only way possible is to guarantee a Liberal victory. Iggy needs to massage the message to capture all those votes that Libs sometimes get because they are the preferred second choice of most non-Lib voters, while the Tories are the last choice of almost everyone else but their own base. The majority do not want Harper, and it's their help Iggy needs, without any coalition talk required. "I didn't want to lead a coalition but I do need the help of the majority who oppose Harper to actually get rid of him. End of story/

Anonymous said...


What do you think the chances are that the NDP will reach some type of short-term "concessions" with the conservatives.

I still see hints of that, though they are talking all around each other. Layton still keeps talking about "needing to get parliament back to work" Mulclair is talking about needing to read what Harper puts out (ain't that a twist?). The conservatives for their part are practically spitting at them, but I have a feeling there could be more going on than meets the eye.

Perhaps reformers and socialists are holding hands in secret?

Anonymous said...

I say "reformers" tongue-in-cheek, of course . . .

Jerry Prager said...

As for the Cons, they know they're going down, and they're floundering. Flaherty vs. Kevin Page, the one man who got it wrong all the time, and the man who proved that it was possible to get it right every time. Flaherty is incompetent. And the beauty of the sinking of the Harpercons the more of the real Harper we're going to see, and it's going to get uglier and uglier as the bully tries to force himself on the Canadian people. The other thing you have going for you is that this big Brian Mulroney fete is a chance to compare which Tory PM was a worst liar, Lyin Brian or the man Warren Kinsella likes to call Mr. Angry.

Steve V said...


We have to tap into that second choice potential. Agree.


These EI reforms are being framed as way to "woo Layton". I'm not so sure, the Cons really want to show they've kept their promises, we walked out. Plus, the EI reforms aren't a confidence matter, so I'm not sure how that necessarily delays anything. I can't see any purple coalition working for long, but I guess anything is possible. Listening to their respective supporters, they do seem to have a lot in common these days ;)

I believe Jack is in wait, it's up to Harper to give him something. He'll cave at the slightest threshold to look credible.

Tomm said...

Steve & Steven,

The Liberal's are open to many avenues of attack. Although it looks like the Tories will attack Ignatieff's credentials and credibility.

With respect to whether the Liberal's get dirty themselves, did you miss Ignatieff's press conference? He calls a press conference to rail against a Harper flag waving speech. He said things like there is a fear of a coalition if the LPC+NDP+BQ>160. That is a given.

He indicated that with a majority he can guard against the appointment of Charter judges (my term), and can kill the gun registry. How much of this wasn't already obvious as positions to the voting Canadian?

Ignatieff's press conference was a real, live, breathing attack ad. He is already down in the muck slinging the stuff. Hell, it was the LPC that gave the video exclusively to the CBC.

Ignatieff started the public attacks in Sudbury and hasn't let up.

Unknown said...

My concern would be that an election does not change the status-quo. Harper is unwilling to support a minority-government by working with the other parties...its my way or the expressway. Canada wants a working government.
However, unless the LPC can pull out either a minority or a small majority we are in for more of the same.
However, two things will happen 1) Harper will resign having failed to reach a majority government and 2) Layton will resign having failed to significantly raise the number of seats.
These are not bad things although, the devil you know.....

Steve V said...


I think everyone is concerned about a return to the status quo. Harper never gets a majority, unless we see a spectacular Liberal collapse, particularly with this coalition crap (you do the math, nobody has every won a majority without Quebec). That means voters, and this may happen in the final days, status quo or CHANGE, Ignatieff as the agent. Faced with that prospect, I see a real opportunity with late breakers this time around, if we run a solid campaign.



Unknown said...

My definition of an 'attack' ad is one which goes after the character of a person in a manner outside of their actions in parliament. I do not see ads which discuss how Harper, or Baird (etc) have acted at MPs as being attack-ads....we have a right to hilight and question their integrity and actions.
Ads which question Ignatieff's being a Canadian (or Michaelle Jean for that matter) are contemptable.
Is this who we want as our Prime Minister...the face of Canada to the world?
Steve, I hope you are correct in your statements...desperately at times. I will do what I can locally...Ujjal is my MP (thankfully).

Tomm said...


I'm surprised that you don't think the Liberal's have not attacked Harper's character.

Even if we ignore previous election attacks, let's walk backwards through the last two days. Ignatieff gets a video surreptitiously, of Harper giving a speech to Tories, leaks it to the CBC, waits one day for the CBC to spread and spin, and then holds a press conference to essentially call Harper an asshole. Someone that people of character, and integrity just can't work with.

But it wasn't just that. He also piled on the "hidden agenda". Somehow, the Tories being against activist judges, being aginst the gun registry, being against a national governing coaliton that includes "socialists and separatists" is new. Since when?

Oh yeah, and Harper would like a majority... That knocked Canadian's right on their can.

So he attacks Harper's character, brings out the hidden agenda and says that it is good enough for him to cause Canadian's to go to the polls.

I'm glad he's not overly arrogant.

Unknown said...

Tomm, I guess I see it differently.
1) that was a political speech so I consider it fair game to be speaks to Harper's character and the LPC did not supplement it...just drew it to our attention.
2) concerns about a hidden agenda are also in the public political domain
Interesting that you referenced judges. His 'leaked' speech drew references to that and Harper has spoken in the past about his disdain for the Supreme Court and what he considered its 'left-wing' decisions. Hmmm, can you say George W....
If Harper brings forth a bill which can be considered a motion of confidence the opposition parties can vote against it. If he has failed in working with the opposition then we do need to have an election.
But, in all of what I have seen there has never been an attack on Harper, the person, his family, his patriotism nor the fact that he is a Canadian. I find it insulting, as a Canadian, that we can question Ignatieff's loyalty to this country. Do we question whether Wayne Gretzky is a Canadian? He does not want to return, but he is still a Canadian is he not?

Gayle said...

Tomm - I am not sure why you are complaining about that tape. It is an accurate recording of what Harper said. It is not like his words were taken out of context - that would be the CPC way of doing things - or did you forget all those "tapes" they have of Dion and of Ignatieff, cleverly edited by the CPC ad people and used in their ads.

The very fact that this is one of your complaints astounds me. Could you get any more hypocritical?

Ignatieff only commented on what has been obvious to many of us for years. Harper does not want to work with other parties. Surely you can see that is the case? He went into those EI negotiations by lying, over and over again, about the LPC plan. That lie included an inflated cost estimate that was based on, you guessed it, another lie.

And this:

"But it wasn't just that. He also piled on the "hidden agenda". Somehow, the Tories being against activist judges, being aginst the gun registry, being against a national governing coaliton that includes "socialists and separatists" is new. Since when?"

is obviously not new, but much of it is something Harper never says publicly, reserving those comments for his base. That is why he has the reputation of harbouring a secret agenda. If he really believes the courts are filled with lefty activist judges, why doesn't he campaign publicly on that point? Why does he reserve those comments for the safety of private meetings? Do you think it might be because, publicly, he might be forced to actually substantiate his silliness about politicizing the court? That maybe (hopefully) someone will point out that it is Harper who is advocating for politicizing the court, which, until he got involved, was non-political? Do you think it might be because he knows that kind of talk does not go over well with people outside his base?

You are scrambling Tomm - and it shows.

A Eliz. said...

That is what the Reformers want, to do..... get rid of the Liberal party all together....they will try anything. lie, cheat, you name it.

Tomm said...


I mistakenly left the impression that I had a problem with Harper's speech. I don't. Have it made public. My understanding is that the guy taping was doing so publicly and also got his picture taken with the PM.

That wasn't my problem.

It was what Ignatieff did and how he did it.

It was too Rovian...

Tomm said...

With respect to the Tory's campaigning aginst the Supreme Court or something. That is just ridiculous.

Harper has made it clear that he isn't comfortable when judges wrap the charter around everything and everybody.

He would appoint judges that are less likely to do that. There are a lot of Canadian's that agree with that. He appeals for their votes.

Gayle said...

"He would appoint judges that are less likely to do that."

He can't.

The law is the law. Judges have to apply it. Any new decisions based on the Charter must follow the decisions that came before. He is saying that rather than appoint competent members of the bar to the bench, he wants to appoint a bunch of partisan CPC hacks who will then ignore the law and do what Harper wants.

In other words, he wants to politicize the judiciary. He has already started by removing fellow judges from the vetting process and replacing them with partisan party hacks who know nothing about the law and the legal system. Prior to that any appointment was vetting by a group of lawyers and judges appointed to the panel by the provincial government, federal government and the local bar association. Now they are vetted by cops and firemen.

The real problem Harper has with the justice system is not down to the courts, it is down to the constitution. If he does not like the Charter he should say so, and run on a platform seeking constitutional reform to amend or remove it.

Kris said...

To say Harper doesn't want to work with other parties is not a personal attack. It has to do with his conduct as a Prime Minister and a Parliamentarian.

To raise his inability to finish writing his book... now that would be a personal attack :)

Unknown said...

The Odacity of Being Me.....hmm, maybe that would be Jack's book?

A Eliz. said...

That is why I do no trust Harper..with a Majority, he would ruin everything Trudeau and many others put into the Constitution..Harper has got to be the very worst PM this country has ever had......even Mulroney looks good.

Tomm said...


A Charter Challenge is at the core of every criminal prosecution in Canada? Judges don't automatically go there.

For example, Khadr, goes to Afghanistan collects some ears, smiles for the camera, is part of the Taliban/Al-Qaeda army, and is accused of killing an American soldier as a foreign combatant.

He is being detained awaiting trial by the US and our Supreme Court tells us that in 2003 he was tortured and also talked with Canadian officials who then shared this information with the American's and therefore, because of charter protection, must be repatriated. It was a split decision.

These judges have a choice and too many are making their decisions based on stretching the fabric of the charter to protect the criminal and the vile.

He may very well end up back in Canada. (If he is a dual citizen with Pakistan, I know where I would negotiate his release.) But if so, why wouldn't the Canadian government wait for the American trial?

If you see many criminal prosecutions as a comb through the charter by the defense attorney's, than I'm not sure I want those judges, or pay that price.

Unknown said...

Tomm, as far as Khadr goes the US has not brought him for trial for how long now?
He does indeed have a right to a fair trial, so if they plan to do that then do it. You cannot keep someone in jail indefinitely except under the Patriot Act.
As a Canadian he has certain rights and this is one of them, so bring him back and allow the process to work.
Whether you agree with his actions, and I most certainly do not, this country stands for something and I find it embarrasing that our government consistently, and repeatedly picks and choses when, and if, to act on behalf of its citizens.
Keep in mind that he has only been accused...not yet proven and so is guilty of nothing at this time.

Gayle said...

"These judges have a choice and too many are making their decisions based on stretching the fabric of the charter to protect the criminal and the vile.'

Are you a lawyer? Can you point to the places in the decision where the court did not apply the law?

The problem is not the courts. The Charter gave the power of oversight to the judiciary. If you do not like the fact the courts have that power (something they did not ask for, by the way), then you must repeal or amend the Charter.

You have to stop blaming the courts and start looking at the law.

Steve V said...

"To say Harper doesn't want to work with other parties is not a personal attack."

Are painfully obvious facts off the table?

Cathie from Canada said...

I think Ignatieff shouldn't run from the Coalition. He should remind Canada about what actually happened -- that if it hadn't been for the threat of the Coalition, the Conservatives would never have come up with an economic stimulus package they did, and Canada might well have lost its auto industry as well as millions of other jobs.
So the Coalition was necessary to help save Canada's economy. That's why I supported it, as did other Canadians last December.