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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Liberals go for mediocrity, same old same old

I don’t know who was handling the federal Liberal Party this afternoon but they sure blew it!
After days of hardknuckle campaigning the Liberals elected an apparent outsider, one who looks like he might just be the sort of character the Canadian people are looking for, and then they blow it all by letting Paul Martin introduce him, with Jean Chretien himself, posed in behind the two!
Guess all the real good spin doctors are working for Harper, or sitting alone in a snowy mountain landscapes far away from it all!
I can see the Conservative attack ads now; The picture of Dion, Chretien and Martin all holding hands with the caption: The Same Old Gang! Canada’s New Government or The Same Old Gang? Harper won’t have to release a single policy plank!
Yep Liberals, that’s what Canada wants, another rather odd looking fellow who speaks fluent Franglais and was a cabinet minister in a government remembered by most Canadians for boondogles and bribes.
Whoever was running the show in Montreal these past few days should of put Martin and Chretien on a bus to Beirut. Letting them onstage was a game a of Russian Roulette and this time the gun went off!
Party tonight at the Harper’s on Sussex Drive!
Meanwhile, over on the left side of the rink, sit the rest of the opposition. This is good news for them too. Well, mostly, and it depends a lot on their attitudes.
A Francophone, Dion speaks the Quebec language. He’ll win some votes just because he’s from there. He opposed Iraq, and seems to be concerned about Afghanistan, that will help too. His other ace is the environment. However, Quebeckers, overall, are going to see Dion as a weak choice, unable to win a majority. Much will depend on how he does in the rest of the country, but Quebeckers will go to the Bloc before they vote for a party that can’t win the big house.
Over at Jack Layton’s house everyone has loosened the top button of their blue shirts. Bob Rae winning would have hurt them bad. The fact a former New Democrat was even a contender in the race makes all NDPers seem a little more palatable. Now, if they can only get Rae to go study in Europe for a year or so! The NDP too must make use of the Dion, Chretien, Martin photo. They’d also be well advised to start reminding the public that it was their Grandaddy, Tommy Douglas, who introduced the idea of balanced budgets. If ever there was a time for the NDP to just talk economics and the environment, its now. But its also time to go medeival on the Conservative history of leaving gross debt in their wake. If they play it right, the NDP could be headed for the same postion Gerard Kennedy played at the Liberal convention, king makers.
To have any chance at all, it is in the interest of both the NDP and the Liberals to bring down the Harper government right away. The question is, will the Bloc will go along with it. Expect the Conservatives to deal with the Bloc. They’re not ready yet. They want a chance to bring down a budget.
Because Dion is a former environment minister, his selection is not good news for the Greens, although they may do well simply stealing disaffected Conservative voters.
Apart from how it affects the parties, the selection of a weak federal Liberal leader should be good news for the independent movement in this country. It most certainly enhances the chances of another minority government in Ottawa, no matter when the election is called. The presence of both Martin and Chretien onstage with the new Liberal leader is going to send many voters further from the party. Some of those votes will go to other parties. Who knows where the rest will go. A few independents could well wind up holding the balance of power.
To be fair, Dion was obviously trying to show party unity, and to heal whatever rifts had developed over the campaign. To that end, having his opponents on stage was a good idea. But Canadians, outside the Liberal party, were looking to see if the Liberals would come out of this convention with new vigor, new ideas, and new leadership. Unfortunately, that is not the message they are going to intitially get. It will take the new leader some time to change that public perception. A quick election might not give him the opportunity.

If I was a spin doctor, here’s what I would suggest in the way of strategy for each of the campaigns.

Liberals: Put Chretien, Martin, Goodale, Hedy Fry, and anyone else from that era, on a desert island somewhere, preferably where the North Koreans are planning a nuclear test. Leave them there. Offer Ignatief the foreign affairs file, if he refuses it, pretend he doesn’t exist. Trot Dryden out with a national daycare program, Bryson with an environmental plan, and the young Mr. Trudeau with a Quebec plan. Send Kennedy to Alberta to head up the western flank, and have Dion visit him frequently. Trot Bob Rae out with a national healthcare plan and have Martha Findlay take the point of the Status of Women. Let Belinda Stronach take on the negative fire against Harper and his cronnies. Put Dion in intensive conversational English classes and make him join Toastmasters. Find a way to take out the Conservatives asap.

Conservatives: Stay the course. Use the photo. Promise the moon. Fire the current US Ambassador and offer the job to Michael Ignatief.

NDP: Talk economy, environment and healthcare, with an emphasis on historical Conservative mismanagement of same. Use the photo. Call the Liberals, The Same Old Gang. Find three good canidates in Quebec. There must be three! Talk about secondary industry (value added) and education. Don’t react to everything that comes up. Get punchier. The election, afterall, will be about social policy, environment, healthcare and foreign affairs, all NDP strongpoints.

Greens: Ignore the current opposition. Develop a reasonable and realistic economic policy and communicate it. Target dissaffected Tories. Point often to the inaction of both Liberals and Conservatives.

Bloc: Stay the course. Talk about Quebec. Stay out of the rest of it. Use the photo on the Liberals. Always use the words “Afghanistan and Iraq when talking about the Conservatives.

Independents: Run on the sick and tired of being sick and tired of the same old gang platform. Talk straight. Point to the possibility of another minority. Tell the voters to send a message to the parties, elect someone who isn’t in one!


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