01.17.2011 10:42 AM

About those Reformatory ads (updated twice)

Classic case of having more political money than political brains.


Because they are seeking to scare Canadians about something which Canadians like: a coalition/cooperation deal.  As Harris -Decima found last Summer, 60 per cent of Canadians favour some sort of cooperation between the Liberals and the NDP.  It doesn’t scare them at all.

Here’s some other reasons why the ads won’t work.  As I’ve noted before:

1.  The Conservative Party is the successful result of a coalition.

2. Their party’s leader formally endorsed a coalition with the aforementioned “separatists” (which the Grits don’t, by the way).

3.  Canadians don’t think it is a big deal, or even objectionable.  They like it.

4.  Even long-time Reformatory cheerleaders think Harper et al. are propagating “fairy tales.”

5.  The people who advocate for the coalition idea are among the most-revered in Canada.

So why does the (oxymoron alert) Refomatory brain trust continue to scream bloody murder about a “coalition” that doesn’t exist?  Beats me.  But, as my grandmother used to say: “Never discount the possibility that a political strategy that looks clever is in fact totally stupid, dear.”

As in all things, and as I’ve said many times before, I’m with my grandmother on this one.

UPDATE: A couple of you have asked me what I would recommend the Liberals do.  This is what I would have done. (But what do I know?)

UPDATER: Hah ha ha ha ha ha!


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    hugger says:

    “So why does the (oxymoron alert) Refomatory brain trust continue to scream bloody murder about a “coalition” that doesn’t exist? ”

    Because it gives them the opportunity to repeat another one liner slag. Coalition with Separatists.

    Remember “A tax on everything”? It’s just an extension of the KISS principle. No, not the band.

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      Cath says:

      No I think the use of “coalition” has about the same effect as the use of the “reformatory” reference. The difference though is that one sticks better than the other with Canadians.

      The best thing about the ads with Ignatieff solo are that those are the man’s own words. It defined him when he said them and they continue to define him. The longer the LPOC grass roots keep him as leader the longer he’s writing oppo. script.

      I actually think the ads take some cues from tips raised in your book Warren. Pictures don’t lie.

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        hugger says:

        Reformatory is descriptive and linked to the Reform takeover of the PC party, but it also uses a twist of humor for those not so partisan to miss it. Coalition with Separatists has no humourous intent. It is only what it is, a derogatory one liner. Those puns just keeping coming..

        Rather than the “tax on everything”, we got deficit budgets, shifting unwanted debt to CMHC and HST in Ont and BC. Then there’s that high dollar to consider. It’s benefits to the resource sector and the negatives for manufacturing. This is where that game with the walnut shells and a pea comes into play.

        In today’s news we have Mr. Flaherty once again going full speed in reverse on mortgaging and debt levels. Tools they used to heat up the economy are beginning to show the extent of their wisdom.

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          allegra fortissima says:

          coalesco, alui, alitus – a “c” word and Latin for beginners. Practice makes perfect, a nice brain exercise while doing the dishes.

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        Namesake says:

        Cath says: “I think…Ignatieff …’s …so…lo …the man …lie…s.”

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          Cath says:

          I said no such think. Your quote pertaining to my words is incorrect namesake, either please correct your error as they are not attributed to me.
          (Warren, if no correction takes place by “namesake” may I ask that you remove the post as anyone can see that it’s inaccurate)

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    Ted says:

    It’s deja vue, all over again. Only the colours have been switched.

    Remember the Conservatives’ attempt at innoculating themselves from any criticism from the Liberals in 2006? Doesn’t it ring completely true today as well only about the Conservatives?

    Why yes, yes it absolutely does Ted.

    Here’s the transcript of their ad which is prescient about their own situation only 5 years later:

    “When you’ve been in power for 12 [5] long years…

    When your party has been named in a judicial investigation into corruption [election funding fraud, MP bribery claims, access to information corruption, Parliament buildings corruption, etc.]…

    When scandals continue to engulf your government [detainees, access to information, abuse of taxdollars for partisan gain, sole-source contracts, lobbying by former staffers/MPs, etc.]

    What message can you possibly take to the people of Canada? ‘PM plans negative campaign.’

    Like everyone said when Harper started in on his record breaking pace of broken promises, record spending, pork, abandoned principles, etc.: “meet the new boss, worse than the old boss”.

    Or as I sometimes put it: The Right Honourable Stephen Mulroney Harper.

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      Namesake says:

      And as the irrepressible Kady has pointed out (http://urlm.in/gsah ), ironically, it appears that even one of these very ads embodies a new mini- Ad-scam of its own, since it uses a (hell, THE) gov’t office for a partisan ad, in violation of their own new “Accountable Government: A Guide for Ministers and Ministers of State – 2008” regulations on the Use of Gov’t Property: “Government Property: Public office holders shall not directly or indirectly use, or allow the use of, government property of any kind, including property leased to the government, for anything other than officially approved activities.” http://urlm.in/gsag

      But, hey, it is PM “I think I make the rules,” after all.

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        Namesake says:

        oops: forgot to close italics after the ‘is’

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          Ronald O'Dowd says:


          You don’t win by putting out ever more garbage on the airwaves. The Blue Five has many years of tatters all over it. (Must explain why Laurier looks increasingly worried — à la Stockholm syndrome!) Hello…

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    PoliticalPundit says:

    You can’t discount the power of negative ads. Harper will destroy what is left of Ignatieff’s credibility because the groundwork has been laid over the past two years by the media and the right-wing polsters that have in unison constantly trashed Ignatieff as a foreigner and therefore anti-Canadian – a potential traitor to the nation. The U.S. Tea Party has built it’s politica base by portraying Obama as a dangerous Muslim foreigner who should be run out of office forthwith.
    This is why the Ignatieff Liberals have to be prepared to respond with smart “bomb style” counter ads, just like the one shown above concerning the tremendous loss of good paying union jobs over the part five years of Harper’s autocratic rule.

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    Liz J says:

    Wow, talk about grasping at straws! The Conservative party was formed by uniting conservatives, not Dippers and Separatists.

    The Conservatives truthfully defined Ignatieff out of the gate and it stuck , people seem to agree with them.

    Perhaps Iggy would do better with better people around him to carry him, advise him better but most of those old hands have jumped ship. Now he’s flailing and failing miserably. It’s too bad, we need better from the Official Opposition.

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      PETE says:

      lIZ j…..YOU are all over the blogosphere blaspheming Iggy and saying Harper is perfect. Don’t your lies get old?

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    Marc says:

    They scream about it because it frightens them, and they hope that Canadians will be fooled into thinking it must be a bad thing.

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    Ted says:

    The problems for Harper with these ads are:

    1. We’ve heard it all before already. He has pumped out the same message and he can’t even come up with anything new? People tune out same old same old. Look at how Martin got nowhere with repeating the entire “hidden agenda” campaign or when Eves tried “he’s not up to the job” repeat campaign against McGuinty. No one listened. Everyone realized they were out of gas and the repeat campaign was more evidence of that.

    2. Harper has nothing much to show for 5 years. Some historic events have occurred in Canada and the world and the Tories have basically been pretty irrelevant to them. Canadians aren’t as dumb as the Tories treat us: we realize when you have nothing, you go negative.

    3. In this climate when there has already been a public reaction to the pettiness and nastiness in Ottawa, and you add the debate over Tea Party nastiness going too far, I think going so hard negative when you offer nothing else won’t work as it has in the past.

    4. As Warren notes, the negative message they offer is not seen as negative by Canadians so it doesn’t work.

    5. After 5 years of spin and lies and the Tory attack machine, Canadians want to hear something else. Ignatieff is out there telling Canadians what he will do; Layton is out there telling Canadians what he will do; Harper is trying to scare you with phantoms. You can do that once (he has), maybe twice (he has) but it wears out.

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    ButterNut says:

    I, for one, am looking forward to Iggy campaigning on how badly Canada sucks. It should be good for a laugh!

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      hugger says:

      You are going to have to dig deeper in the garbage can than that Oscar.

      You will never earn your Deflectacon badge that way.

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    jon evan says:

    “60 per cent of Canadians favour some sort of cooperation between the Liberals and the NDP. It doesn?t scare them at all.”

    Yes, Canadians favor cooperation like they favor maple syrup. But, what Canadians don’t favor is who might lead that cooperation/coalition. Mr. Ignatieff is at ~24% in popularity as a leader and so a coalition with him as PM is VERY SCARY! Even you would be scared I think?

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      The Doctor says:

      I agree that that 60% number Warren trots out is a very superficial number based on a rather shallow and questionable interpretation of (not very good) polling data. I realize that WK is showing his partisan colours here, but come on WK — you know as well as anyone that a lot of polling questions are superficial and that the answer you get can depend very much on what question is asked and in particular how it is asked (and also what is NOT asked).

      There’s a helluva difference between “cooperation” (who can possibly oppose that? It’s like opposing mom, apple pie or peace & harmony) and having the NDP at the cabinet table, spending your money (as was specifically on the table during the Liberal-NDP-Bloc negotiations, as ably chronicled by Brian Topp). Ask a polling question based on that latter, and see how popular that idea is.

      The other thing that skews polling numbers like those cited by WK is the presence of Quebec and the Bloc in the mix. The coalition idea is popular, or at least not particularly unpopular, in Quebec, because the Bloc is popular there. But the fact of the matter these days is that elections are not won or lost in Quebec the way they once were under, e.g., Trudeau and Mulroney. The presence of the Bloc means that a small number of Quebec seats are truly in play. The real battleground is Ontario and the rest of English-speaking Canada, where a LPC-NDP-Bloc coalition, by any name, is significantly less popular than it is in Quebec.

      I agree that coalition/cooperation will always be a popular idea among those partisan/activist types who assiduously hate Harper’s guts and think he’s an abomination etc. But LPC, NDP and other like partisans consistently over-estimate how much ordinary, apolitical Canadians dislike Stephen Harper and his government. As Paul Wells once put it (after Liberal Sen. David Smith made a comment about Canadians disliking Stephen Harper): “Most Canadians don’t actively dislike Stephen Harper; most Canadians that Sen. David Smith knows actively dislike Stephen Harper”. I’m paraphrasing there.

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        Warren says:

        How many polls have you written and run, “The Doctor”?

        Name one.

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          The Doctor says:

          Absolutely zero, WK. That doesn’t mean, however, that I know nothing about polling.

          Warren, at heart I’m simply talking about the basic principle that the answer you get can depend very much on the question that’s asked, how it’s asked, the order in which it comes up in the series of questions asked, which words are used, etc. I can’t imagine that you, of all people, would disagree with that, would you?


          Q1: How would you feel about Gilles Duceppe being a federal cabinet minister?
          Q2: How would you feel about a separatist being a federal cabinet minster?

          Anyway, I know you’ve advocated in favour of “cooperation”, and fair enough, though I do find you’re a bit coy on the question of what exactly that would entail.

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          The Doctor says:

          How about the fact that the NDP is a member of Socialist International? (If you don’t believe me, look it up). Or the fact that two official NDP positions are that an NDP government would immidately pull Canada out of NATO AND NORAD? Or the fact that the NDP is formally allied and joined at the hip to the Canadian Labour Congress? You think all Liberal Party of Canada members and supporters would be hunky-dory with all that? Never mind the nationalization and protectionist stuff.

          I find that a lot of merger proponents see this whole thing through incredibly rose-coloured glasses. They think you just add the current NDP polling number to the Liberal one, and presto! Electoral success! I find that one thing merger proponents never seem to want to talk about is the beef, the details — if you jettison the socialism, do you think that true-believer Dippers are going to come along for that ride? If you keep the socialism, the doctrinaire pacifism and the joined-at-the-hip relationship to organized labour, do you think that centrist/moderate Liberals are going to get on that horse?

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      Dave Roberts says:

      EKOS’s January 13th 2011 poll puts the Conservatives at 40% support vs. 39% for a united NDP-Liberal ticket.

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    W.B. says:

    I’m confident the Liberals anticipated these ads and have a whole series of retaliatory attacks ads against Harper ready to go? Yea right.

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    Troy says:

    Am I missing something? Just how would the Liberals and the NDP form a coalition without the Bloc?

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      Jan says:

      Like they did last time.

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        The Doctor says:

        Yes, and Oceana has always been at war with Eurasia.

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          Troy says:

          That’s what I was thinking. Thanks for the laugh Doc.

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    jStanton says:

    Ads like these will change little for the simple reason that, of the 3 significant types of voters, the ones that Mr. Harper needs to target will not respond favorably to them.

    The 3 types of voters are 1) conservatives that will always vote Conservative, 2) liberals that will always vote Liberal, and 3) those that can be swayed either way.

    Mr. Harper needs to target type 3, but the type 3 voter responds to reason, and easily sees through bullshit like negative ads. Instead, Mr. Harper has targeted the type 1 voter, and he needn’t of bothered.

    Mr. Ignatieff, on the other hand, and Mr. Layton too, has a tremendous opportunity to fill the void that Mr. Harper has left, by advancing reasoned arguments for reasonable change.

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    P.Martin says:

    I recall a liberal ad showing armed soldiers with a tank in the background warning canadians about the army taking over the streets……………now that was scary………Hmmmmmmmm

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      hugger says:

      And I remember media reports of Canadian Forces Snipers on rooftops in Toronto during the G20 boondoggle.

      Thanks for your extraordinary contribution to the discussion.

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    bell says:

    I would be surprised if most Canadians are OK with a coalition which includes the Bloq. I suspect most non-separatists would be pretty negative towards that. Its not just NDP/Lib its NDP/Lib/Separtists. The ads play up the Bloq role. Unfortunately Iggy’s signature supporting the original deal with the separatists can’t be taken back. I don’t know who was advising the Liberals back then but signing a document commiting to govern with Separatists and making that document public is one of the dumbest political decisions I have seen in a while. Its too bad that when Harper was considering the same thing while in opposition someone didn’t get his signature with the separatists. Maybe it exists. If it does Iggy’s team should focus all their attention on finding it.

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      jStanton says:

      Your premise is flawed… you need to think out-of-the-box on this. The Bloq represents both separatists, federalists, and fence-sitters. I suspect that separatists are in the minority, in any case. The fact is that Quebec is a pretty sophisticated political culture, and voters vote for immediate benefits, not long-term ideals. In other words, the Bloq is a multi-dimensional vehicle, representing Canadians of all sorts of different stripes, and a coalition, or shared government of any form with them is entirely appropriate and desirable. In fact, it’s the quickest way to completely neutralize the separatist wing!

      The anti-social-democratic, anti-populist, anti-science, and fundamentalist Stephen Harper Party, that hates and vows to change the Canada that defines us in the world as one of the most advanced societies, by your reasoning, is no different from the Bloq, insofar as both want to undo our country. However, at least the Bloq would leave most of us alone, and concentrate on Quebec. Mr. Harper, on the other hand, intends to make you just like him, whether you like it or not.

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        Bell says:

        The average Canadian voter doesn’t think out of the box. In fact some would argue doesn’t think at all.

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      Namesake says:

      re: the letter to the GG from Harper while in opposition wanting to overthrow the gov’t with the separatists rather than call another election:

      Oh, it exists, alright: the text is reproduced here:

      I assume, but don’t know if, it had actualy signatures; it’d be very odd if it did not. But Duceppe probably still has a copy — he was waving it angrily in front of the cameras when this trash talk about making deals with Separatists first broke out, a year or so ago.

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    Oscar says:

    Warren, as a previous warroom mastermind, you must be impressed, even envy, the current batch of pre-election Conservative attack ads. They are slick, direct and will resonate with Canadians..and are just a preview of what is coming down the pipe.

    What do you think the Donolo warroom should do in response to these devastating attack ads?

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      Warren says:

      Um, did you read any of my post?

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        Namesake says:

        Yes, the CPC is trying to scare those WITH jobs out of daring to want to vote against them in their air strikes by threatening that they’ll lose them if they do, while their minions like you on the ground are saying it’s somehow unpatriotic or futile to express concern for the 1.5 million currently WITHOUT jobs. Nice.

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        The Doctor says:

        I wondered about that YouTube piece as well. I think that would have been quite effective if an election were held right in the depths of the recession/financial meltdown, but we’re not really there anymore. I’m not convinced that a “things are horrible and miserable” campaign by the Liberals is really going to resonate with most Canadians, but I’m willing to keep an open mind about it.

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    Brad says:

    Steve Harper does not give a fuck about the average Canadian. All he cares about is becoming PM, not one thing more.

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    eattv says:

    Meh. I think the Conservatives aren’t going to be able to make progress in this election because they really don’t have much new to say about Iggy and the Libs. On top of that, they’ve been keeping the anti-Liberal attack propaganda up at a steady pace for their entire time in power. That really dulls any edge that rolling out more attack ads could possibly have during an election.

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    new says:

    May be too idealistic or too optimistic to see one day , Future Prime Minister in Canada can change Canada that poor class never get exist in this country and middle class and rich and government are replace all other class in Canada, Cut poor class people in Canada, That we can remain only middle class and rich people, we have about 33,000,000 million Canadian people who live in Canada and we have may Harper government spend or prepare to spend for future another 70,000,000,000 billion budget spending for war it means if we divide for every Canadian $2000 /person, We do not have any more poor in this country we never see these day come so soon


    cost of Afghanistan war so far is 30 billion or more and cost buying jet is 20 billion we can say this must go more p to 70 billion dollar this can feed each Canadian $2000/month


    Increase all welfare from $550/person in Toronto to $2000/person can you imagine this, Increase old age to $2000/person or pension minimum $2000/person or disable people the same, Student study $2000/person give rent free to people who are poor and insurance to buy medicine in major drug use., Give subsidize apartment rather than renting to own the apartment, People sleep on street homeless can have nurse to help their mental illness and no payment for any more cost like water bill and rent , Easy their life style they give them money but they cannot manage their money then they leave sleep in street and use drug and etc, but if they cut their spending not need to pay rent or electricity or water or gas only pay money for food and cloth and money to nurse to take care of disable or homeless sleep in street are mentally disable then we have reduce all poor in this country no hst for this group, if someone working is above minimum they get from government it means mid class are group not worry about their bill they work with no mental stress and work with more bright mind to made more money on table this group also pay tax to 2% all lending and hst is only 2% and Rich class will become who enjoy add up their money they will pay tax 5% and HST is 5% and lend money 2 to 5% too

    We have lots of water reduce water bills and built more well water if land is big, We can product more solar in roof and reduce electric bills for each household , We can cut all tax for property too, We have lots of land here in Canada and can develop goo, We do not need to pay $1000 to go to Dubai this money used to get cost of airline Dubai out of tourist indirectly, If Dubai plans to bring jet to Canada to made $1000/person now they put visa fees to gain different way of profit from Canadian, Or other way say do not come again or we choose who come who not I am not buying this politic, I am not saying if we give some one business cut him or her or country out this is only conservative only capitalism enjoy bankrupt their competitor to they win game and gain more profit I am saying balance money and not allow some one abuse you or your abuse anybody in return too balance in relationship and friendship and business


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    Skinny Dipper says:

    On the Con ad about attacking Ignatieff’s (un)attachment to Canada: I would recommend that the Liberals state that Harper is not just attacking Ignatieff. He’s attacking every new Canadian who has come to Canada to build a better life. He’s saying that new Canadians have no right to participate in the governing process of Canada as they are “just visiting.”

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