Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Election Strategery: The Grits

Over the past week, I've previewed the NDP, the Bloc, and the Tories. I wrap up my election preview with a look at the Liberals (sorry Green Party fans).

As an added bonus, I'll lead off with a recap of the national caucus election conference call from earlier this evening. A contact of mine sent me a recap of the call (gosh, I feel just like Susan Delacourt).

Herle's Strategery: The Liberals will, not surprisingly, treat this as a two part campaign. The first part will be damage control, as they expect Harper to go negative right off the bat and get a bump in the polls. Since the electorate is still quite volatile, they're advising local campaigns to stay away from identifying voters and, instead, to find volunteers and fundraise (while people are Christmas shopping? Huh?). The second part of the campaign will feature an all out ad blitz and they're banking on Harper not having any substance past the corruption issue to maintain momentum through a lengthy campaign.


The 2004 Campaign: John McCallum and Judy Sgro were sent out to heckle Stephen Harper. Paul stumbled through the debates. David Herle said his own campaign was in a "spiral". Yes, things were looking bleak for the Liberals in the Most Important Election Ever. Then, the Liberals launched some of the most effective attack ads in Canadian history and the Conservative campaign imploded upon itself. Paul talked about the economy and his record, and then scared the bejesus out of NDP voters. I'll give the big guy credit - he digs himself out of holes better than most politicians in recent memory.

The Result: 135 seats and 37% of the vote.

Since Then: After promising to fix healthcare for a generation in front of the TV cameras, Paul hammered out a backroom deal which gave 42 billion to the provinces in exchange for nothing. And Quebec didn't even have to give the nothing. Then Danny Williams threw a hissy fit and Paul gave him a few billion. Then Lorne Calvert felt Saskatchewan was getting a raw deal so he got bought off. Then Dalton McGuinty proved why Ontario has always been the problem child of confederation and he got a few billion. Starting to see a pattern?

The Leader: Paul Martin. (I think I'll just follow the old adage - "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all")

The Team: The Grits continue to show why resistance is futile, luring over Belinda Stronach and recruiting Marc Garneau and Michael Ignatieff, among others, to run.

Unofficial Slogan: "Shit happens. But do you really want Stockwell Day in Cabinet?"

Campaign Song: Money for Nothing

The Issue: The record. The recent spending spree could really hurt Martin's credibility on the economy but it's been twelve years of, more or less, good government. Even though I don't necessarily think he's handled all of the following issues well, it would likely be a good idea to mention his accomplishments since the last election: Health Accord, Child Care, Same Sex Marriage, "No" to BMD. And, of course, Goodale's proposed tax cuts.

The Commercial: Go negative or go home. It worked last time and I think it's worth going down that path again. Make Harper the issue and the Liberals will be in good shape.

Other Advice:
1. Marginalize the NDP. Don't even acknowledge Jack Layton's existence - focus squarely on Harper to frame it as a two horse race. And it might be a good idea to help the Green Party out, however possible.
2. Ask Harper a few times if he'd repeal the same sex marriage legislation. (I actually wrote this before Harper's comments today...keep the issue alive)
3. When Harper attacks the recent roman orgy of spending, ask him which bills he wouldn't honour.
4. Campaign extensively in BC and Ontario. Ignore the rest of the country.
5. That said, play for federalist votes in Quebec. Let Dion run the show there, rather than Lapierre. Wells has a good article on this.
6. Bring up foreign policy. I know most Canadians don't give a rats ass about it, but a lot of people think Martin is his best on the international scene. If there's a big summit or meeting he can sneak off to during the campaign and look Prime Ministerial at, then he should definitely go.
7. Oh, and this may be asking a lot, but if Paul could somehow get a clear vision for Canada, that would be a big boost.

Prediction: While I don't necessarily share Paul Wells' somewhat fantastic range of "Liberal majority to Liberal wipeout" that he mused about on the National last week, we're probably looking at anywhere from 100 to 135 seats.

28 Comments:

  • I'd say those are fair comments, and probably in the ball park.

    By Blogger John Murney, at 2:06 AM  

  • Wow - it's like the movie "Being John Malkovitch", but with David Herle.

    Anyhoo, two points.

    1. (the SSM stuff today may skew this) Refom gains 20 seats every election.

    2. Martin has done nothing but SSM: health/child stuff is bull, and I think he made the wrong call on BMD (was it worth softwood and mad cow??).

    By Blogger matt, at 2:09 AM  

  • Good post Calgary. I think you're bang on.

    By Blogger NorthBayTrapper, at 2:41 AM  

  • Matt, your trend is spurrious at best. A gain of 20 seats in '97, and '20 in 2004 four does not a trent make

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:09 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger XXX, at 9:15 AM  

  • Oops - what I was getting at was 40 in '93, 60 in '97, 80 in 2000, 100 in 2004. Neglecting the fact that it was 66 in 2000. My bad.

    By Blogger matt, at 9:22 AM  

  • Please, please, please do your assessment of the Green Party. I've taken to reading your blog daily and I'd like to know your views on the party I'm planning to vote for.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:57 AM  

  • Here's an assessment of the Green Party: they're just as corrupt as any of the major parties, only with the added hypocrisy of insisting they're different just because they don't have any seats.

    Their leader is Paul Martin-lite...just take away Martin's (supposed) charisma, bilingualism, money, and team of aides, and you have Jim Harris.

    Thankfully, they'll drop in the popular vote this time around, and maybe -- if taxpayers are lucky -- they'll even lose their Elections Canada subsidy.

    Good enough for you?

    By Anonymous matthew, at 10:13 AM  

  • The Green Party had some sort of big blow up a couple years back because the leader ditched all the weirdos who were running the thing. I’m not certain of what it’s all about but I believe the Nova Scotia Green Party and the federal Green Party aren’t even on speaking terms. There seems to be a major bust-up over the federal leader supporting capitalism. No kidding. It seems the group running the show wants to make it semi-mainstream, while its grassroots want to have it rail against the Man.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:28 AM  

  • Harper likes to spout off about Sponsorship but let's not forget the "Conservatives" have had their own scandals that our right wing media has so conveniently forgotten.

    1. Belinda Stronach hated Harper and his views on Abortion so badly that she switched to a party who's position she agreed with.

    2. Germant Grewal illegally taping conversations of himself trying to weasel his way into the Liberal party only to try and use them when the Liberals told him to fly a kite after they smelled the rat that he is.

    3. Randy White's brilliant deduction regarding the free flowing use of the notwithstanding clause on anything his party doesn't agree with. Gee I wonder why he "retired"?

    These are just three I remember off the top of my head. Now with halfwit Harper dredging up the same sex marriage issue it all adds up to a party that is out of touch with the Canadian reality!!

    By Blogger Scott in BC, at 12:01 PM  

  • The Greens have been taken over by someone who would be more at home in a Libertarian version of the Conservatives, and he's pulled a smart trick, which is to purge the vegans, go mainstream, catch the protest vote enough to get federal money, and wait.

    By Blogger Michael, at 12:02 PM  

  • There's also a strong possibility he's funneling that money into his own pockets...the Greens are under investigation for improper bookkeeping, by both Elections Canada and by whichever organization monitors accountants...

    By Anonymous matthew, at 1:09 PM  

  • What, nobody's picked up on it yet?

    "...(gosh, I feel just like Susan Delacourt)."

    Alright, I'll bite. To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen:

    "I've felt Susan Delacourt, and you, sir, are no Susan Delacourt!"

    Badoom boomp.

    By Blogger Babbling Brooks, at 1:53 PM  

  • CGH,

    I'm sorry I do not follow your logic. None of what you noted were scandals. Belinda is paid off with a cabinet post. NO SCANDAL. Grewal is involved in a shady negotiatiion similar to one that Stronach was involved in...notice he is no longer running for the Tories but Martin, Dosanj and Reid are still around, Randy White was obviously too extreme and once again...voila he is out of the party.
    Two of the three instances you gave look worse on the Libs and having a nutbar in the causus is not a scandal...just look at Wappel.
    The same sex issue is dead...the only ones that ask about it are poor journalists looking for an easy headline. Conservative Minority = no threat to SSM.
    "But Harper said if a private member brought forth a bill...", even if the conservatives weren't in power someone could bring forth a private members bill...it is a moot point.

    You are not just a hack, but you are an incredibly poor one.

    By Blogger NorthBayTrapper, at 2:09 PM  

  • "Germant Grewal illegally taping conversations of himself"

    -Grewal taping was stupid but definitely not illegal -- taping a conversation is leagal so long as one party in the conversations is aware that taping is going on. If that were not the case the W5 and every other investigative TV show would be illegal. There is a lot to criticize Grewal for but don't make up crimes.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:27 PM  

  • Please, you must forgive the Liberals. What is in the past is in the past. Be a Canadian and vote Liberal. Otherwise we will have those American loving Neo-cons with the freaky eyes and weird cowboy hats.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:34 PM  

  • This election campaign is going to run 2 months. That's a lot of time for a conservative candidate somewhere to make a major gaffe. If history is any indicator expect the gaffe to come when conservative support starts to rise and perhaps equal or exceed Liberal support. Good polls always give some nutjob conservative candidate somewhere enough courage to stick their foot firmly in their mouth and say something politically damaging.

    If nothing else the Liberals are experts at exploiting their opponent's "mistakes" *wink* *wink*. As a liberal supporter, I thank god for people like Ralph Klien. For the past few elections Ralph times his "gaffes" perfectly. I personally think Ralph is super secret Liberal agent.

    In the end of the day parliament will look pretty much the same as it is today.

    By Anonymous blah, at 4:54 PM  

  • The Future of the LPC: Win or lose, if Martin doesn't get a majority he is history. Which is a good thing. Its time the old age pensioners in the party retire and live the good life, and allow younger and brighter people try to salvage what is left of the LPC.

    Its somewhat hard to believe that this is what the most successful political party in the world has become.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:56 PM  

  • For my fellow conservatives who need Blah's post translate into conservative, here it is:

    Bad polls for the Liberals make the most desperate among them manufacture a "right-wing nutball" scenario to scare voters back into Gritland. Worse, its a sexier story than: "Harper makes sensible proposal" - so it will lead the other news stories that day.

    The day this schtick gets tiring and people judge our parties based on policies and agendas - the Liberals are finished.

    By Blogger Chuckercanuck, at 5:02 PM  

  • chuckercanuck

    For a conservative you don't seem to grasp the concept of personal and party responsibility. It's not the liberals fault when a conservative candidate makes comments about the Asian tide increasing the entrance requirements at UBC engineering to levels beyond the capabilities of white students. Or when Ralph Klein unveils his health care privatization plans a few days before a federal election.

    Maybe the Liberals should play nice and just roll over?

    It's like you want the political equivalent of welfare for the CPC.

    By Anonymous blah, at 6:34 PM  

  • It strikes me that while the right-wing nut-job strategy taken by the LPC pisses off Conservative supporters, it actually is aimed at the NDP. I think that anyone who would actually consider voting for the CPC would generally ignore the Liberal scare tactics. It's people who are unsure whether they want to vote Grit or NDP that get swayed by fear of Harper et al to chose Liberal rather than New Democrat.

    -Socialist Swine

    By Blogger Socialist Swine, at 8:05 PM  

  • How the hell are you getting inside info? Lucky Bastard!

    I do think these are fair comments aside from your inability to list Martin's positives. Even Ibbitson admits that when Martin is on, he can make people feel passionate about the future. On the other hand, ignore Ibbitson and talk about how Martin got a great deal for Aboriginals.

    By Blogger Jason Cherniak, at 9:51 PM  

  • Martin is also very good at securing support in return for god knows what, and punishing those who don't step in line. Sometimes this backfires on him, and sometimes it works for him. He has slowly and methodically built a base of power around him personally that is very difficult to shake, and that base has a lot of voter power under its control.

    That's quite truly what makes a Canadian Prime Minister. John A. Macdonald and Brian Mulroney are two other prime ministers that excelled at crossing the country over and over and over again, making deals with people you would bury if they didn't say yes.

    Jean Lapierre, Belinda, Scott Brison are just very public examples of Martin's ability to make deals.

    Amidst all of this, Martin is a very inspiring leader within his close political circle. He really looks out for those who are looking out for him. He does have big ideas for Canada, even if David Herle tries to convince him otherwise.

    Harper has the reverse problem. He is very good at alienating groups, particularly due to this ideological nature. He will happily alienate Belinda Stronach for stepping outside the party line, rather than simply bury her with *power* to keep her busy. He will happily call Eastern Canada defeatist because he truly believes in a greater spirit that all people should aspire too, and so he's unwilling to go out to the maritime provinces and cut pork deals with key leaders. He's willing to reopen the same sex debate because it's the 'right' thing to do, even if not the most politically expedient. And most damningly, he's unwilling to make the deal with the separatist devils in Quebec that brought Mulroney to power, but instead talk about a philosophical third way that no one thinks is realistic, but may actually be the best option.

    But that's also why Harper is a good guy, despite and because of his political naivety. Mulroney was choked by his albatross of deals, and he was an asshole. Mulroney also had two very strong majorities, and Harper is stuck tripping over his own feet.

    That's not to say that Harper is uncharismatic. On a personal level, he's very charming. It's just that when matters turn closer to the realm of the Greater Idea, he will let the Greater Idea trump people.

    So, it's two different campaign styles. Dithers is great at building loyalty that is effective when the time is needed, but he has no Great Idea, but is left spinning inside of David Herle's spin machine--one of the world's most effective tactical machine, no doubt.

    Harper is a no-spin, straight shooter, and so he has an uphill battle to win voters' minds in this very diverse and splintered country. His Greater Idea of Canada is actually pretty good, but it's very hard to convince people when communications are so heavily mediated, and you are being constantly whacked by that wonderfully evil Herle spin machine. Can someone who is so terrible at connecting with people be an effective Prime Minister? Well, ask Joe Clark.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:37 AM  

  • North Bay Trapper you can call me all the names you want but it doesn't change the fact that you are so blinded by your right wing rhetoric that you can't see straight. LOL Are you trying to say that Grewal and White are just nice guys who are misunderstood? That is as funny as trying to say Harper likes homosexuals. Neither case is true and the people of this country will see him and his party for what they are. Right wing wing nut radicals.

    By Blogger Scott in BC, at 3:32 AM  

  • "a lot of people think Martin is his best on the international scene"

    iraq war?

    reading this was quite depressing. the liberals cant play "the lesser of all the evils" card forever. also, you cant assume green and ndp voters are all the same patchouli-scented crowd. i couldnt get my ndp-identified friends to help out a green municipal election candidate because the ndp had endorsed another party.

    By Blogger angela, at 9:11 AM  

  • "talk about how Martin got a great deal for Aboriginals"

    are you talking about kasechewan? yeah, that was a great deal, water is definitely overrated. im sure youll find some way to dodge the blame.

    the liberals said the following about their treatment of aboriginals:
    "We've had cabinet meetings with aboriginal leaders, we've had round tables ... day after day, this Opposition has said nothing for aboriginal Canadians, day after day, they have voted against every single proposition we've had for aboriginal Canadians."

    1. we had MEETINGS, bitches!
    2. we are not the conservatives.


    yeah, jason, im soooo inspired.

    By Blogger angela, at 9:19 AM  

  • The Grewal scandal was not the recordings, it was the release of the edited recordings to substantiate a false specific criminal allegation, namely the Liberals being willing to exchange Senate seats for MP votes. The May 31 05 first release of the "pristine" and complete recordings to the Canadian public "confirmed" that allegation the CPC including Harper had been making for two weeks straight. For two days the CPC including Harper vouched to Canadians that these recordings were complete, uncut, unedited, and any Liberal complaints that they were so edited were nothing but a desperate smokescreen without a shred of truth behind them.

    Well, we all know that in the following week and a half the CPC was forced to release an additional 35 minutes of material to the 75 minutes released on May 31. Worse, in that material, which was clearly edited out for content when you put the edits side by side with the original May 31 release, it was clear that while the Liberals were willing to talk about possible cabinet positioning they flatly rejected ANY consideration of trading Senate seats for anything.

    To this day Harper and the CPC have never told Canadians who edited the May 31 recording, when did Harper know they were edited, when did Harper know the Senate seat allegation was actually false, and why have neither the CPC nor Harper apologized for the LIES they were selling on this issue once they knew they were doing so? This in my mind destroys any claims of personal honesty and integrity where Harper is concerned. Instead of dealing with the scandal within his ranks he buried it in the hopes that Canadians would forget about it, despite it being a clearly unprecedented scandal in Canadians federal political history for the LOO to make specific criminal allegations against a government, present evidence that appears to support that allegation only to have it turn out that this evidence was faked to make the claim appear valid when it clearly was not.

    That is the Grewal scandal, and it goes to the heart of Harper's credibility on ethics in government. If he is unwilling to do the right thing when he is in opposition, why should anyone expect he would do the right thing if something untoward happens in a CPC government led by Harper?

    By Blogger Scotian, at 7:04 PM  

  • Shopping around I felt the need for another reward card and the wide selection I got here was overwhelming.

    By Blogger Thomassamuel, at 1:18 PM  

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