You know it's a Canadian Election when...
...politicians scape-goat the Alberta oilsands.
...the Premier of Alberta wades in.
...the Liberals promise an ambiguous gun ban.
...the Tories flip-flop on negative ads in a matter of hours (they'll go neg anyone?)
Yes, it's hard to call the first full day of the election a slow news day in the least...it just has a "rerun" feel to it. Among the things on day two that deserve a bit of commenting on my part:
1. Ed: It seems Ed Stelmach has taken a page from Ralph Klein's playbook, deciding to play the role of pundit on the federal election campaign. And, whatever, I can't criticize him for that when you consider that McGuinty and Danny Williams will do the same thing (oh, and Harper too). But Stelmach's moral high ground posturing about attack ads? That, I could do without:
But Mr. Stelmach also seemed to suggest that attack ads aren't the way to win that majority, appearing to criticize federal Tory ads harshly critical of the Opposition Liberals.
“Albertans want to know what you're going to do for them,” he said when asked about the federal Conservative ads. “I don't think they pay much attention in terms of criticizing another individual.”
Mr. Stelmach was himself the victim of third-party attack ads in the most recent provincial ballot and said the increased majority his government won is proof that voters don't like negative ads.
“While you're criticizing someone else, you're not really telling Albertans what you're going to do for the province of Alberta.”
First of all, I'm not sure a PC win in Alberta should neccesarily be the case study used to prove a point about election campaigns. And considering the only reason Stelmach offered for re-electing his government was that the Liberals would destroy the economy and bring in the NEP, it definitely isn't a case study in how positive campaigning works.
2. Early in the Morning: The Tories made a tactically brilliant decision in the last campaign to have policy announcements every morning in order to control the day's agenda. No doubt buoyed by this, they've decided to do daily 6 a.m. smearings of Stephane Dion. Today's run did not go over well.
Gee, who would have thought journalists would be cool to the idea of setting their alarm clocks to 5 a.m. every morning wouldn't go over well with reporters already hostile towards Harper? Especially if the Tories don't plan to do anything other than show off new photo shopped Dion pictures?
At the same time, this provides a great opening for the other parties to set the agenda. A daily 8 a.m. policy announcement by the Liberals could easily allow them to set the agenda, rather than just responding to the Conservative narrative.
3. Debate Debate: I've never been convinced that Elizabeth May should be included in the debates despite her belief that she is entitled to a spot. They have yet to crack 5% of the vote in an election (a significant threshold in a lot of MMP countries) and they have yet to elect an MP.
I did find it odd that the Liberals were pushing for her inclusion while the Tories wanted her excluded. If we work on the assumption that having May in the debates helps her...and that she'll grab voters who care about the environment...and that the Liberals are also fighting for voters who care about the environment...well, you have to ask yourself how May doing well helps Dion, and how May doing well does not help Harper. Even if she tears Harper a new one in the debate, that would only serve to make Dion and Layton look even less effective by comparison.
There was a good debate about the debates in the comments section of this post last week. Reading through the comments, what I'd really like to see would be:
-Four debates of different formats (town hall, youtube, topic specific, etc...).
-Get rid of the separate French and English debates and make them all billingual.
-Open up the first three debates to May and the Greens.
-Make the fourth debate open only to the PM and the leader of the opposition. Make it a Bartlett-style no holds barred debate since, after all, these are the two individuals fighting for the right to be Prime Minister under our British Parliamentary system.
PS - Great to see that Steve Paikin will be moderating the English debate this year!