Monday, May 02, 2011

Day 1

Before we get all the warped judgements, wherein praise is overstated and scorn brings tortured emphasis, it's important to keep things in perspective. You don't discount failures, but you also realize that almost like sport, the line between winning and losing isn't as vast as commentary suggests, more a statement on human nature than real world manifestations. Often times, political change comes from a one line consideration, which is then bastardized by the plugged in chattering class, fictional meanings attached, when really it is usually quite simple.

I'm not sure what will happen tonight, but it is fair to say Liberal expectations at the beginning of the campaign won't be met, anywhere from a hold to some erosion to devastating, that appears our spectrum. With that in mind, it's about to get negative for the Liberals(I have my own opinions), so before the maelstrom begins, perhaps a contrarian consideration, because people deserve some acknowledgement.

Not a testament to resonance, likability, certain strategic errors whatever, but I will continue to say Ignatieff, the "happy warrior" ran a good campaign. Ignatieff didn't do what he needed to do in the debate, but on the hustings he was energized, engaged, inspirational, open and pretty much gaffe free. When you think of all the potentially risky political positions Ignatieff put himself in, he deserves some credit for pulling it off. Contrasted with the Conservative campaign, I am profoundly proud that the Liberals waded in, embraced democracy the way it's supposed to be, ran a VERY accountable campaign.

In terms of war room gaffes, hard to point, instead a pretty smooth machine. When it came to social media, the Liberals engaged in interesting ways, particularly Ignatieff using twitter to push the debate issue. In addition, rapid response has been an issue in the past, this election the Liberal team came out with some great quick reactions, the facebook ad comes to mind as an example of terrific turnover. I would classify that facebook ad as the first example of a political ad going viral in Canada.

The Liberal base seemed energized this election, evidence of improved ground game, greatly improved fundraising, big, diverse crowds. In terms of pure democratic expression, call me crazy, but I'm somehow proud of the way Liberals have rallied, gives me resolve moving forward.

Let's vote, let's turnout, let's make the best of it, then let's digest honestly, ignore the vultures and do what we MUST to rebuild.


Jerry Prager said...

Only the weak democratic renewal package turned voters away in the end I think. The Party management mattered more than Canada, got to change that now.
Still don't think it will be a disaster though.

Sean Cummings said...

The Liberals ran a pretty damned good campaign - far better than the last one and miles better than the scandal a day Tory campaign. If the Liberals do get their asses handed to them tonight, I truly do hope the party rebuilds properly this time. I hope it purges the old guard and brings in fresh blood who are connected to the grassroots. The Liberal vote is still out there, voters need to see a completely reinvented party that resonates with people across the country.

I'd prefer that over an NDP government or opposition any day of the week.

Tof KW said...

I agree with Jerry about the Libs needing to be bold about the democratic reform package, a mistake in my view since it was Harper's democratic abuses that triggered this election. Also Ignatieff not addressing Layton's BS directly in the debates, or the Libs attacking the NDP at all until late in the game.

But it's not like the others didn't make serious strategic blunders on their parts, especially Harper. Yes, overall this has to be the best losing campaign I've ever seen.

And all it boils down to is bribing soft nationalists in Quebec, and riding a wave thanks to the media. It doesn't actually matter that your platform isn't costed, or even changing a budget you're campaigning on 17 days after the original was drafted. Who cares, just make up shit and get elected.

I guess this sort of thing has happened in the past; for example Stanfield having the better policies and ideas in 1974, yet Trudeau still winning a huge majority anyways thanks to one dropped football and the media obsessing about trivialities over issues.

For what it's worth, the Liberals have run the best campaign in 2011 and have the superior platform of the three main parties; and you have my vote this time.

Anonymous said...

I think the problem with the Liberal campaign was something more fundamental that no one is talking about. The campaign was dead on arrival. Despite the decent platform and policies, no one was listening because the Conservatives had defined who Ignatieff was through the relentless negative ads. Like it or not, they worked.

The Liberal campaign made a strategic error on this issue.

Steve V said...

A strategic issue or a testament to not having the cash to respond effectively? People can say this and that, but the Cons always have an advantage when they have scads more cash available. You can strategize all you want, but you're shooting blanks if you don't have the jam to back it up.

Gayle said...

I totally agree about the LPC campaign, but disagree that the weak democratic reform package turned people away.

I know I am repeating myself, but I believe people just wanted a change. The conservatives will hold on to their vote because they are the only game in town on the right. Most of the voters want to shake things up, and Jack is the flavour of the day.

Honestly I think it is best for the liberals that the NDP win a weak minority, or govern with the support of the LPC (issue by issue). That is because the NDP will either not keep their promises and learn it is impossible to do so, or actually keep their promises and govern well because of it.

Well, I suppose if the latter happens it won't be good for the LPC, but it will be good for the country. If the former, Jack will no longer be shiney and new - he will be just like everyone else. Once he loses the high ground it will be an even playing field.

Steve V said...

"I totally agree about the LPC campaign, but disagree that the weak democratic reform package turned people away"

More correct to say it didn't attract anyone, but it wasn't the central issue, just another sign that we made some short cuts.

You're right about people just wanting change, unfortunately a tired brand was bypassed.

Mark Richard Francis said...

There's the added issue that the Liberal brand has a lot of baggage these days compared to the NDP.

Also, the oft-stated criticism that Liberal is now just a variation of Tory strikes home. If you want change from Harper, why vote Harper-lite? If you want Tory, why not vote for the real thing?

The Liberals had a platform sufficiently different from the Conservatives, but not enough time to make that clear.

I also think that voters needed to be reminded time and time again that Harper rally has been leaning on Liberal economic success, not anything of his own making. Indeed, had Conservative been in power for a few years longer, our banking system would have been a mess given the 'reforms' the Conservatives used to push.

I realize that pushing the economic issue would be an uphill climb for the Liberals a the Conservatives had good scores on that in terms of perception, but in war you have to work at eroding your opponent's strengths too.

Way too much ground on economic perceptions has been yielded to the Conservatives.

Anonymous said...

Yes, definitely a wave of wanting change was in the air.

However, I think if the Liberals could not afford to defend Ignatieff, should they have voted down the Harper gov't at this time?

My daughter had a mock vote at school (grade 5 level). She came home and told me that all the girls were voting for Ignatieff because he is going to help us go to university. But, all the boys were voting for Harper because Ignatieff doesn't live in Canada.

This may be a school story but it exemplifies how a segment of Canadians are receptive to persistent, false, attack ads. Once they buy into these, you cannot connect or get traction with these voters.

I am going to proudly go and cast my Liberal vote now.

Steve V said...

"However, I think if the Liberals could not afford to defend Ignatieff, should they have voted down the Harper gov't at this time?"

I don't think waiting until the fall or next year would have changed much on that front. You say the barrage prior to writ drop, wouldn't have changed later, and our coffers were what they were, doubt they improve by propping up Harper for another year.

Steve V said...

"There's the added issue that the Liberal brand has a lot of baggage these days compared to the NDP."

You're right Mark, which is why when change took root, people bypassed our tired brand. The NDP used the "old parties" and even though he's about as new as a Datsun, the lack of governance allowed "different" to land with the unproven alternative. People will say what a great campaign the NDP ran, but prior to the debates it was so bloody stale and pedestrian I could barely believe it.

Tof KW said...

Steve, I sincerely believe the federal NDP will suffer the same fate as the Ontario NDP after Rae. Bob himself was good, and a few cabinet ministers ...and that was it for depth. There were literally poly-sci students elected on the NDP ticket that election.

Look at the federal version today and imagine if they held government? You have Layton, who isn't an intellectual like Rae is - rather just a left-leaning populist version of Harper, so no improvement at the top. Then there's Paul Dewar, really the only good parliamentarian out of that whole party, and Mulcair is a loudmouth but would probably make a competent cabinet minister. THAT'S IT! Who the hell else really? And they're only going to do slightly better if in opposition.

Call me crazy but the Liberals shouldn't be thinking merger if things go bad after tonight. Likewise I think Ignatieff should be kept as leader. And if Harper falls, the Libs should just prop up Layton on a vote-by-vote basis. Because if in power, the Layton NDP will be every bit the gong-show that Rae's Ontario government was in the 90's.

Just watch.

Sean Cummings said...


Peter Stoffer is fairly well regarded.

Tof KW said...

Sean, thanks, and I'm sure there is more depth in the NDP front benches than I could think of. I'm sure there is another name or two we didn't list here.

The point is it's a shallow talent pool. Though admittedly that same affliction didn't stop the Harper government really.

Meanwhile the Liberal bench oozes talent and depth. They have three good choices for finance alone. Pity.

Kirk said...

The NDP did attack ads right. They kept them satirical and people respond well to satire as a form of attack and they also like the satirist. They do not like the "voice of doom" even though such ads are effective in damaging their target.

Remember Ignatieff's speech to caucus? Where he attacked Harper with satire? Talking about him being all alone and lonely in his ad? Satire.

The NDP attack ads also did what anyone in sales knows you must do: ask for the sale. The NDP attack ads ended will Happy Jack saying what he'd do and asking for your vote.

The Liberal attack ads tried this in a slight way with a "Vote Liberal" graphic at the very end for 3 seconds.

The Cons last ad was the worse though. It started on Prime Minister Harper's brass name plate and did a big "working for you" thing them switched to an unrelated attack on Ignatieff obliterating the positive approach of the preceding 25 seconds. Too funny.

Mud slinging and attack ads including Layton's ads and his "truancy" attack on Ignatieff in the debates were a big, big factor during as well as before this election even if the NDP supporters won't admit they did it too.

Tof KW said...

Speaking of the lack of talent in the governance of this country, let's take a look at a riding near me: Kitchener-Conestoga.

This is a weird shaped riding, mostly rural but also contains a part of the south end of the City of Kitchener, and even the north extreme of the City of Cambridge. Regardless the rural portion dominates.

This riding will more than likely safely re-elect CPC deputy whip Harold Albrech. Harold is a dentist and an evangelical who wishes that abortion be outlawed. His name appears on a prayer post today for his re-election.

For the NDP we Bruce Lorne, who's election signs give equal billing to Jack Layton. Bruce is the VP of the UFCW local here in Kitchener, well that makes him more a professional manager than Albrech.

And for the Liberals, they're running Bob Rosehart, former president of Wilfred Laurier University. I think this speaks volumes, even the people the Libs field in places they won't win outclass the competition.

Oh, final note. Big controversy in this riding is that Albrech's campaign manager bought the domain name before Rosehart could, and linked it to the CPC smear site

Stay classy reformatories.

Kirk said...

Also,in my opinion the Liberals are missing their greatest strength. They reflect the grassroots, populist views of most Canadians.

However, they do not operate as a populist party.

The Reform Party operated as a populist party but that never got them much support outside the prairies and the interior of BC because their ideas weren't the populism of the other regions of Canada.

The NDP's populism is that of the loony left even if their policies don't reflect that. Just reading NDP supporter's posts elsewhere has reminded me, forcefully, of that.

The Liberal's populism in that of the majority of Canadians.

But we view "populism" as a tactic that only works for the far left and far right.

The strategy and form of populism is available to all. The Liberal Party hierarchy may not think so preferring to ultimately keep a top down approach even though Ignatieff's populist approach of town halls and listening to ordinary Canadians has been the best thing for the Liberals in years.

Sean Cummings said...

Oooo - say it with me now: Deputy Prime Minister Libby Davies.

* shudder *

Omar said...

I don't know how anyone could manage a *shudder* for anyone after enduring the disaster we've had as Prime Minister these past five years. The scary Libby Davies scenario is really, really stale.

Dame said...

I am Cool and collected regarding the future we firmly occupy the Ceentre with some great plans to deliver stay as we are now.. we will win the future ...
all the winds will past as weightless and momentary...

Anonymous said...

The NDP are calling up Liberal supporters today and telling them their polling station has changed. Very dirty stuff. Very noticeable that in Gerard Kennedy's riding, only Kennedy supporters are getting these false calls. Makes Harper look like a saint.

Brad Dillman said...

I'm in Peter Stoffer's riding. I think he's a decent guy, but I think his views on the Canadian Forces differ from Layton's. A lot of his riding works at CFB Halifax. Puts him in a tough spot. Also he's facing questions about the long gun registry. I think he'll still hold his seat, he got 61% last time.

Gayle said...


Just want to say thanks for the blogging and the venue. I told myself before the votes were counted that I would take a break from my political obsession if the CPC won a majority.

So if you are around in 4 years I will "see" you again. 'Til then - take care.

Steve V said...

Thanks for the insights Gayle :)

Omar said...

I told myself the same thing last night. I created this character a few months before Harper's first win in 2006 and I think these last few words I tap here will be Omar's last for awhile. Thanks for all your work Steve, and take care.

Steve V said...

Thanks for the comments Omar, keep jamming!