Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Vision vs Division

I would classify the Ignatieff speech framing as shrewd. While the immediate focus centers around the fact the Liberals have changed their parliamentary strategy, I was struck by the themes Ignatieff developed that look to be the cornerstone of any coming campaign.

The big question, we hear over and over to justify an election- what's the ballot question? Interestingly, there was no ballot question last year, but Stephen Harper's relentless repetitive machine created one and it quickly became acceptable as cause. Ignatieff used a similar tactic today, and it was echoed by all his surrogates. The Liberal justification will be a question of Canada's future.

It is VERY smart for Ignatieff to set a voluntary benchmark, in this case 2017, our 150th anniversary. I've argued before about "5 year plans" and such, this idea fulfills the need to plot a course for the future. In doing so, the Liberals position themselves as the party with a VISION, a characterization that can't be understated, as Canadians wonder about future prosperity. This thrust also allows for a very strong contrast with the Conservatives, who prefer to manage, rather than inspire or set ambitious goals. The Liberals have stepped on the HOPE messaging, without an overt comparison, but it has the potential to appeal in the same way, obvious non-similarities ASIDE. So long as keep repeating ad nauseum, this ballot question will come into focus, it will be our theme.

Ignatieff kept referring to "four years" when he spoke about the Conservatives. I don't think this was by accident, the Liberals are clearly trying to blunt the recent election argument by pulling back and making this a verdict on a much longer tenure in government. Ignatieff used the words often, and they were sprinkled throughout the speech. The intent was obvious, and again it was shrewd.

Ignatieff didn't lay out a platform in this speech, but there is no question he hinted at the policies Liberals will present to the country. Quite passionate on Canadians abroad, aborginal issues, technological advances and innovation in the name of reshaping our economy, etc, etc. Again, not down to the nuts and bolts just yet, but plenty to send signals and give the Liberals some edges.

I had high expectations that this week would turn out to be a good one for the Liberal Party. With the summer lull ended, the boring narratives can fade, if the Liberals use this caucus retreat to change the channel and present strength. What we see, the Liberals have actually been quite busy this summer preparing the ground. A massive ad buy is in the can and ready to go, which speaks to a newfound prowess. We just announced that party membership has exceeded the extremely ambitious 100000 benchmark, announced only a few months ago. A sense that the majority of candidates are almost in place, associations and wings ready. Upbeat MP's, an upbeat leader, coffers full and still filling, it all congeals to give a pretty strong presentation. It's light years ahead of anything I've seen under the Liberal banner since I joined this party.

I think we've set a great tone heading into the fall session. Vision vs division.


Dam said...

Thank you Michael for standing up for progressive Canadians. Off to make a donation to the Liberals now.

Bring it on!

Marie said...

Question: Why did Ignatieff not take questions from the media and instead lined up Rae, Coderre, LeBlanc, Jennings, etc?

What did they mean by "they have lost confidence in the Harper government".

When did the Liberals EVER have "confidence " in the Harper government?

What changed? Now they don't like the Economic Action Plan and budget they voted for a few months ago?
If they didn't like it then why did they vote for it?

Harper once did not like a Martin budget when in opposition but felt an election would be bad for the country at that time.

Instead of voting FOR a budget they could not endorse they abstained. That way they could still criticize it without being hypocrits.
Again, WHEN did the Liberals EVER have confidence in the Harper government?

Anonymous said...

Marie, Marie - don't you realize the Liberal caucus is full of smart, talented people and are allowed to speak. I think this shows Ignatieff's confidence in his people - nice change.

Marie, you will probably soon find out Harper hasn't been straight with Canadians - and that most of his funding has been to Con ridings.

Harper didn't like Martin's budget - hmmm....Harper was very unpopular and way down in the polls.

Any other stupid questions?

Steve V said...


I did the same :)


Answer: Who cares.

Steve V said...


Yes, we actually have a bench that doesn't embarrass us and needs a leash.

JimmE said...

How 'bout:

Da Vision


Jerry Prager said...

The 150th is very smart, and it's obvious that Harper still don't understand that his party is supported only by his supporters, for everyone else in the country, they are the last choice. And this time we will make him understand that in a way that not even he can: Mr. Harper: we don't like you, the way you think, the want you govern, the way you make us feel. You're too small for Canada.

Jerry Prager said...

you're the one who sent me endless emails pretending to be a former liberal supporter who would never vote liberal again, but who so obviously never voted liberal, ever: find a life. The Con is over.

Steve V said...

Too funny Jerry. She's a Con troll from Edmonton.

Möbius said...

Last year's ballot question was the weakness of Dion, and the looming economic downturn, at least from the government side.

Not sure what this one will be, but it should be interesting, at least.

Steve V said...

That's not what they used to justify an election, it was a dysfunctional parliament and a renewed mandate.

This will be about stability, leadership, what kind of government you want and who can lead us economically. That seems clear to me anyways.

gimbol said...

Gonna burst your balloon.

Whose signatures are on that document that would give a veto to the Bloc?

Steve V said...

I'm sure that signature he never acted on with be a centerpiece issue in the campaign. People are extemely worried about that obscure reference. It's even more effective whenever the media speak to that letter and then remind everyone that Ignatieff was extremely hesitant to sign it. Very, very effective talking points that never quite sticks. You live in a bubble Travolta.

Gayle said...

What veto?

The Bloc agreed to support the coalition on confidence motions. They gave up their veto.

rockfish said...

I think Gimbol was referring to the 'coalition' of 2005... Harper, Layton and Duceppe. Now they're back, like Martin, Lewis and some chubby guy. Funny how hypocritical the CONs get when others start using their own tactics against them. Except the gutter ones, that is. That's still all Harper.

jeffkramerak said...

I think he would say---I don’t know what to tell you buddy, but stick with it….