07.06.2011 08:00 AM

Channel changer?

Susan D. on the Grits getting in on the pre-writ ad game, here.

My take? The problem isn’t the tactic. The problem is the strategy.

The Reformatory campaigns worked because they defined two unknowns – Dion and Ignatieff – before they could define themselves.

Harper is a known quantity. The Liberal leader-to-be isn’t.

Negative always works best when you are creating an impression. Not changing an impression.


  1. Tiger says:

    Well, with time, you can get over negative campaigns against you — after all, didn’t Martin’s people define Harper in the 2004 campaign?

    The Grits didn’t stick with a post-Martin leader long enough to fight that fight…

  2. Cath says:

    Yep, you’re right.

    Changing that impression should be starting from within the party, not in random press conferences when you really have nothing to say. Has the rebuilding with the grass roots even a blip on Rae’s radar?

    He says that you “have to be in a position to respond to attacks” – um, yes, but first you have to be relevant, which the LPOC isn’t at the moment.

    Channel changer? What nuts are watching TV on these beautiful summer days? If it’s a channel changer at all it’s a prompt to change to the “off” position.

    WK – are you catching that that old fb education issue is heating up again? Is this playing into NDP hands?

    • frmr disgruntled Con, now Happy Lib says:

      Just a question, Cath, as a conservative,(perhaps not big C) why would you even give a rats ass?…..I have seen the changes for the better in the Liberal Party already, and god-willing we will be in much better shape to give as good as we get in the next election, and prevent Mr. Harper from continuing to move this country backwards…..

      • Cath says:

        Like many others to this blog I was invited to leave a comment, and did so. The discussion this thread was based on Warren’s post – see that’s how it works. I also seem to recall that Kinsella’s pretty open to discussing his views with any one – whether they give a rat’s ass, or not – which, I don’t….at least I don’t give a rat’s ass about Rae’s attempt at a some magical ad-game when the country still hasn’t got a clue as to what it means to BE a Liberal any more.

        I don’t see the LPOC as a serious threat with Rae calling the shots – no way, no how. Maybe he’ll surprise everyone and turn his attention elsewhere depending on the outcome of the Ontario provincial election.

        Again, just one point of view among many.

        • frmr disgruntled Con, now Happy Lib says:

          My partisanship appears to have got the better of me, and I apologize for my inappropriate language…..of course you are entitled to your opinion, and I agree, Mr. Kinsella is more than fair in allowing diverse opinions on his site…..
          I do feel, however, that in the short time that Mr. Rae has been interim leader, there have been positive changes in how the Liberal Party operates. The party is realizing it must have input from the grassroots in order to rise from the ashes….baby steps to be sure, but steps in the right direction, nonetheless……

          • Cath says:

            I hear you. Except that after the Dion election nightmare Bob Rae himself promised the ground support and grass roots they’d have a change to have a say in who their leader was – that didn’t happen. If you’re hopeful this time by what you’ve heard so far then great. I hope you’re not disappointed….again.

  3. Lance says:

    You’re right; what is there negative to say about Harper that we all haven’t heard a thousand times?

    Rae’s problem won’t be the same problem as Dion’s and Ignatiefff’s was; he is already defined. The trouble for Rae is that the Tories won’t have to go to great lengths with all the material that is out there in order to get it to resonate. There is a reason that Rae was the second runner-up in that leadership race that he lost to Dion and placed after Ignatieff, both spectacular flops in their own right. And if they were spectacular flops, how does anyone reasonably expect the person who finished behind them and also has an absolutley horrible record as premier of the province with the richest seat count to do? And please people, spare me the bit that it doesn’t matter because he is only the temporary leader. You know as well as I do that he is going to be getting the job on a full time basis eventually.

    • Michael says:

      Harper was already defined from all of his speeches, letters and musings from his days at the NCC.

      The voters either liked what they heard. Highly doubtful, since Harper moved to more moderate concillatory positions. They didn’t care. Or Harper was able to redefine himself by adopting new policies.

      In any case, Harper the head of the NCC could never get elected. But Harper the Conservative leader was able to get elected 3 times, the last time with a majority.

      What does this have to do with Bob Rae and the Liberals? Well, Bob Rae, NDP premier of Ontario may not be electable. But if he plays his cards right, Bob Rae, Liberal leader stands achance.

      • Lance says:

        But if he plays his cards right, Bob Rae, Liberal leader stands achance.

        Well, sure he does, just like Jim Carrey would have a lucky puncher’s chance against Georges St. Pierre. Theoretically possible I suppose, but realistic? Hardly.

        Has Rae changed his stripes that much? During Harper’s days at the NCC he wasn’t exactly in a position to put any of their ideas into practice, and he wouldn’t have been trusted to run a french-fry stand let alone a province or a country. So yes, he did have to modify some things, in order to succeed. Now he has a successful record of three electoral victories and being Prime Minister to fall back on. What does Rae have by contrast? A disastrous reign as premier of Ontario and becoming leader after having finished behind the first guy once and the second guy twice. How exactly does that inspire confidence?

        I seriously doubt that the Tories will even be bothered to focus most of their efforts on the LPC; they’ll be going after the second biggest kid on the block the NDP. Rae just being there (and he will, mark my words) are going to be ads that will practically write themselves in a province with the most seats.

      • Cath says:

        As a conservative I urge the LPOC to go with Michael’s strategy:-)

        • bugzy says:

          nd he wouldn?t have been trusted to run a french-fry stand let alone a province or a country.

          As far as I can see , based on the past six years of dictator Harper’s reign, that line still stands.

          It hasn’t changed on iota and one day, his beloved parrots supporters will also be crapped on and then watch that crap hit the fan.

          I have no doubts that this will come to pass before 2015. Those immature voters he has converted will have had time to mature and start thinking for themselves.

    • The Doctor says:

      “what is there negative to say about Harper that we all haven?t heard a thousand times?”

      You nailed it, Lance.

  4. Bil Huk says:

    i’m sick of the focus on those ad campaigns. they provided a contribution to the conservative win, but the size of that contribution has gotten so exaggerated its getting silly.

    the focus on those ad campaigns is just another symptom of the illness that has stricken Liberals everywhere. They seem to need the magic key to set their sights on to end the nightmare. First it was getting the right leader. Now its clearly those defining ad campaigns that nailed Dion and iggy..

    Without those ad campaigns i think the conservatives still win their majority. Does Iggy prepare for the english debate better without the ad campaign? Does the liberal platform connect with the canadian voter better without the ad campaign? Do Quebec voters come to the aid of Iggy without the ad campaign?

    its good that the liberals are refining their tactics, maybe that’s the only message here, but i see the ‘leader quest’ which took up WAY too much liberal focus swithing to ‘ad campaign quest’.

    • The Doctor says:

      I would add one more sentence to Bill’s 3rd paragraph: “Does the fact that the LPC is dead in the water from western Ontario to Vancouver change without the ad campaign?”

      (Hint: the correct answer is “no”.)

      • Cath says:

        but in order to even begin to develop an ad campaign the LPOC needs something to sell from the ground up too.
        A two pronged approach perhaps?

  5. Mark in Ontario says:

    I can’t see why the Conservatives would waste a cent on ads against the Liberals. They are irrelevant.

    Layton did Canada a huge favour by decimating the Bloc. The future Conservatives strategy will thus be to win over those former BQ voters when they tire of the NDP. That’s where the focus of any Conservative ad strategy will be. If (when) Quebec voters tire of NDP, we can be sure they won’t go to the Liberals, which CROP last week had at 9% in Quebec (almost within the margin of error of death).

    The Liberals are not in the game. Like the UK Liberals after David Lloyd George, their days have passed.

    • The Doctor says:

      It took the UK Liberals an awfully long time to die though — remember Jeremy Thorpe?

    • Philip says:

      If we Liberals are so “irrelevant” and “not in the game”, as you have pointed out, why are you here at all? Surely a colossal waste of your time.
      I’m not sure I really understand your behavior.

    • Pete says:

      layton opened old wounds with his 50% plus one comments for separation. He did no one any favors and his comments will haunt him going forward.

  6. Pete says:

    harper is trying to become “Liberal lite” to sway middle of the road voters towards making the reformatorts more palatable going forward.

    The problem with that is the Tory base do not want middle of the road and that will catch up to Harper as he straddles both ends of the spectrum.

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