10.31.2011 08:07 AM

In today’s Hill Times: welcome to the bigs, Team Dipper

From today’s HT, a regular exchange between me and my pals Tim Powers, Karl Belanger:

What I find interesting about Tim’s broadside against the NDP isn’t so much what he said—after all, declaring “I’ll tax you more” isn’t much of a get-elected strategy. He’s right about that. But what I find interesting is that the Harper Death Kill Machine (HDKM for short) has now targeted Karl’s Dippers.

Welcome to the big leagues, Karl! You haven’t made it, politically, until the boys and girls (but mainly boys) in the CRG start spending untold thousands to smear you!

It follows a tried-and-true methodology, too. The CRG will throw punches at the various contenders for the NDP leadership, but nothing lethal. Mostly, they’ll just clip and catalogue every word you utter (and quite a few you don’t) between now and March.

And then, once the leader is picked—most likely my pal Brian Topp—they’ll swing down on you like a pack of ravenous jackals, which they closely resemble.

Offshore web sites. Libelous SO 31s in the privileged forum of the Commons. Nasty brown envelope stuff about the candidate as well as his/her family. Tax records. Unsourced videos. And, natch, wildly-out-of-context quotes (or made-up quotes) for radio and TV ads. Internet, too.

That’s their M.O. They’re not subtle, they’re not original, but they are convinced it’ll work. Because it worked against Iggy and Dion.

But here’s why it worked: IGGY AND DION DIDN’T RESPOND. Or, if they did, they responded too late.

It’s not in this Grit’s partisan interest to give you this free advice, Karl, but I like a lot of you guys. So here it is, in point form:

1. Rip their faces off, first.

2. Leave no charge unanswered.

3. Rip their faces off, again. Make them cry like babies.

That’s it. That’s the politics we’ve got, now, thanks to Mr. Harper et al.

It’s sink or swim, Karl. Welcome to the bigs.



  1. W.B. says:

    Sadly, it’s what they have to do. Why aren’t they attacking Harper NOW. What’s this honeymoon all about??

  2. smelter rat says:

    What’s a CRG?

  3. dave says:

    I remember a radio interview decades ago with one of our best writers(Mavis Gallant) on one of her visits to Canada. She was asked why she chose to live elsewhere. She answered something like, In Canada it sometimes seems that too many people hate, and go around looking for something or someone to hate.
    Now that the Conservatives are ‘avro-arrowing’ the gun registry data, and pulling their free market hoax to dump the wheat board, I am wondering what their next ‘hate’ target will be domestically.

  4. The Doctor says:

    Yes, it’s amazing, isn’t it? Before Harper and the Conservatives came along, nobody attacked anybody. Even Stockwell Day got off completely scot-free. Everybody loved one another and sat around singing Kumbaya. It was like the Garden of Eden.

    I’m not making this up.

    • frmr disgruntled Con now happy Lib says:

      Compared to the Canada we will have when Mr. Harper and his merry band of Christian Fundamentalists and oil patch cronies are done with us, it will have seemed like the Garden of Eden.

    • Ted says:

      No one is saying attacks didn’t happen – we already remember the Conservatives attacking Chretien’s facial paralysis for example – but no one took out attack ads in an off-writ period, no one spent as even nearly as much as Harper on attack ads, no one has been nearly as relentless in personal attack ads (eg. Warren made one quip about Stock believing the world is only 6000 years old and the Liberals never made an ad about it), no one has used government resources nearly as much for attack purposes (like the 10%ers for example, or government ads to promote themselves, or being the biggest party of tax subsidies, etc.).

      So no, no one has been subjected to the HDKM before or anything like it.

      But I think Warren’s message here is: Liberals and all progressives of all stripes have to stop whining about how vicious and destructive and scorched earth Harper is because that ain’t going to change the way he does business, and they have to start fighting fire with fire.

  5. billg says:

    The tried and true political method of attacking your opponent has been around for 100’s of years, anyone who thinks that the CRG have either invented it or mastered it is either very naive or they’ve just awakened from a 50 year nap. I remember a certain operative mocking a leader with Barney doll, cruel yes, but, Mr Day opened up his beliefs for attack, and, they were attacked, too bad so sad was the answer….Mr Day and the Reformers took a valueable lesson from that.
    Liberals were once fighters of ideas, “bar room” “down in the mud” fighters, not so much anymore.
    If your visions and ideas are not worth fighting for then why should I vote for you?
    I’m not in the Parliament Hill circle of operatives, but, Its not hard to see Mr Harper has watched and learnt very well from the Yoda who runs this blog page…and I aint kissin’ ass saying that.

    • Ted says:

      Funny, I don’t seem to recall any ads about Stockwell Day’s belief that the world is only 6000 years old, let alone round the clock ads about him outside of an election.

      Harper watched and learned from US politics and the Liberals have taken it for granted that Canadians wouldn’t be duped by that type of vicious campaign of lies. They should not have: campaigns of hate and lies work in the US and Harper is showing it does here too.

      • The Doctor says:


        With Guns.

        In our streets.

        • smelter rat says:

          They passed on the soldiers concept, and armed dozens of police riot thugs instead.

        • Ted says:

          One single ad. During an election. That never aired. That was recorded but never meant to be seen. That wasn’t even any kind of personal attack on Harper.

          Yeah. Same thing.

          Even the Conservatives attack on Chretien’s paralysis, as low class as that was, is not the same kind of thing as Harper has introduced to Canada.

          But the point is, because of Harper, it is now here. And the rest of have to start living with Harper’s reality, and doing something about it, instead of whining about it.

          • The Doctor says:

            Ted, I was really just trying to wind you up there to amuse myself on a Monday.

            But in all seriousness, the upshot of your posts and WK’s seems to me: we need to go more negative. I really wonder about that. First of all, many have argued, including on these comment boards, that it’s the incessant negativity of our overall political discourse that’s driving voter turnout down and turning people off politics generally. So what about that?

            Secondly, I’m not sure that “not being negative enough” is really the main problem behind the recent poor performance of the LPC in recent elections. In fact, there have been lots and lots of negative things said about Harper and his cohorts, for many years now. You don’t have to look hard to find all kinds of nasty things said and written about Harper. Every day we have scads of Liberal and NDP MPs, bloggers, activists, columnists and so on reminding us of how awful Harper and the CPC are. So I’m not sure that publishing, broadcasting and saying even more negative stuff is really going to change anything. But if you think so, then have at ‘er.

            I admire WK’s skills and acumen. But I think there’s a lack of equivalency behind his analysis because Harper is years and years old now as a political figure in this country. You’re not going to re-define him now. The Dion and Iggy attack ads were aimed at trying to negatively frame and define people who were newcomers to our federal political scene.

            There’s just as good an argument that the real underlying causes of the LPC’s problems have much more to do with such things as: getting their lunch eaten by the NDP (e.g., are you supposed to leave the NDP completely alone and spend your entire time attacking the CPC?); more or less ignoring the LPC’s atrocious weakness in Western Canada for decades and thus having SFA for MPs there; sucking at fundraising; and failing to come up with compelling policies and election platforms that represent an attractive and differentiating alternative from what the CPC and NDP are proposing. Personally, I think the LPC would do itself much more good by addressing these problems than trying to figure out some cool, compelling new way to tell us that Harper sucks.

  6. sassy says:

    Since Harper came along, the attacking has been vicious and unrelenting, to the determinant of those who wish to serve the Canadians who put our elected officials (of all parties) in office. Do you understand the difference?

  7. Transplanted Doerite says:

    Warren, so you think that Brian Topp will be chosen [DELETED]

    Sorry, no extreme libels permitted. Do them on your own web site, please. Not here. Warren

  8. How American Neoconservatives Stole My Country Canada

    Some party members then went to the “National Citizens Coalition” to talk their president, Stephen Harper, into running for the job. He agreed, won, and went on to engineer the takeover of Canada’s Tories.

    To this day, Harper refuses to reveal who paid for his expensive leadership run.


  9. billg says:

    Believe what ever nonsense you want Sassy, thats NOT the point, but, blaming the winning party for something or other seems to be a Liberal pastime these days.
    Let the NPD fold you into their party or, fight back…its pretty much the only two choices.
    The “whoa is me” is getting tired.

  10. billg says:

    Fighting back is rolling in the slime?? Jeeezus, if thats the mindset of the average LPC member then fold the party up and get behind Topp or Nash.

    • sassy says:

      So are your saying that whoever can sling to most sh*t wins, it that what you think governing the country is all about?

      • Cam Prymak says:

        I think the issue is like what you see in the US where President Obama tried to rise above the partisan tactics leveled at him by Mitch McConnell and Eric Cantor. His approval ratings plummeted in connection with those attacks, along with help from the poor economy, yet polls showed most people felt he had the correct policies, especially during the run up to the August debt ceiling deadline.

        He wasn’t consistent in getting his message out. Only after he started challenging the Republicans to move on his jobs legislation with his ‘Pass this Bill’ message did anyone start to take him more seriously. And that package was a combination of bi-partisan measures.

        His view of the public conversation, like Iggy and Dion I think, was sort of like a group of professors engaged in a discussion where collegiality and consensus are more the order of the day.

        There is no consensus possible when the opposing party is intent on your destruction. I don’t think Obama went negative but he upped the ante and challenged McConnell and Cantor directly, tying McConnell personally to the right-wing policies.

        I think WK is right, you have to fight hard to get your message out and go on the offensive.

  11. kre8tv says:

    I keep waiting for the day when someone decides to hit back hard at the Cons–factually and relentlessly–and exposes their glass jaw. I’m not holding my breath that the NDP will be the ones to do it, no matter who they pick for the helm. But I’d like to be wrong about that.

  12. TheSilentObserver says:

    Jack Layton’s historic result in May was widely attributed to his appeal to optimism and the fact that the then two main parties, the Tories and Grits, went around in circles and were generally unproductive. On the other hand, I’ve been complaining for years how utterly wimpy the Canadian left has become and really, how simple it would to turn the tables and lay the smackdown on Harper for just about everything he does. I wonder if the NDP is capable of carrying on the spirit of Layton (love is better than hate, etc.) while cracking a few right wing skulls at the same time. The leadership candidate that can prove they can effectively do both has my full support as prime minister in waiting.

    • The Doctor says:

      Apparently you’ve never heard of Heather Mallick or read one of her columns. You know, the ones that appear in the largest circulation newspaper in our country.

      Your post seems to suggest that there’s a whole bunch of negative stuff regarding Harper and the CPC that isn’t being said or hasn’t been said already. Could you give me an example?

      • TheSilentObserver says:

        I have, unfortunately, read Heather Mallick from time to time. I also read the more reputable columnists in the Star on a near daily basis. There’s a lot of evident stuff that they have been refusing to touch on, such as the contempt for democracy desplayed most obviously in the prorogation incidents of ’08 and ’09. Then there are the various the various assaults on Canada’s identity, whether it is appearing on Fox News a week after the stomach turning Red Eye comments about our sovereignty and armed forces and doing zero to call them out, to essentially cancelling Canada Day two years in a row to parade the Windsors around the country, and other monarchist binges this past summer, to allowing Anti-Canadian far right extremists such as Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin access to this nation, as well as Euro-fascists such as Geert Wilders. In the first case, tory MPs held a reception for her, and in the last, his reception was funded with taxpayer money. How about this past week, when some benightened senator dismissed our national symbol, the beaver, whose fur attracted Europeans and who have the largest and most sophisticated impact on the environment after humans, as some sort of ugly rodents. Also, the conservatives have become perhaps the most virulently Anti-Arab government outside of France with their continued support for Israeli Apartheid their failure to support citizens overseas if they happen to be a little less than white. These are a couple of hastly constructed and overly broad examples. I hope they’re satisfactory.

        • TheSilentObserver says:

          forgive my few spelling mistakes

        • The Doctor says:

          Everything you list there has already been said or pointed out, in many cases repeatedly. There’s absolutely nothing new there.

          And your suggestion that the prorogation issue was ignored by the media is preposterous.

          I agree that you could create attack ads based on the stuff you list. You can create attack ads out of just about anything. Whether such ads would be effective, or would instead backfire, is another matter.

          • TheSilentObserver says:

            Sorry if i didn’t grab your jist earlier. These have all been featured in the media, mostly in passing with the exception of the prorogation incidents, but you’d never have seen Iggy or Jack approve ads based around these themes. As for effectiveness, look how badly the liberals were eviscerated around the theme of Dion not being a leader, and this massive pile of bullshit about a coalition. Surely more tangeable themes can have a similar effect if placed in the right hands.

      • Woody says:

        There is a lot of stuff. But who cares? It’s the vote splitting.

  13. W.B. says:

    Let’s face it Layton played a lot of footsie with Harper. And when he could have been fighting Harper in the first period of the Dion leadership he spent about a year attacking Dion in order to improve his own standing. In the end he had the courage to join the coalition, but all and all Layton was not the guy to really go after Harper and the big right wing swing. He’d rather be Opposition leader and let Harper have his way with a majority which is what happened.
    Mulcair looks like the only guy with what it takes, but even he wants to throw Labour over the side.

  14. patrick deberg says:

    Enough of the whining already !

    The main reason the Harper death machine is running amok is we let them in. They are doing everything they said they would. Steven Harper has hated the east for as long as he’s been running for whatever scrap he could get. The left must unite to defeat him and his minions. To much self interest bough him to power. He threw every red tory overboard, got left with the stupid ones, power hungry ones, and the ignorant ones. He painted us into a corner with the rural rednecks and found enough splinter votes to inch to power . He rigged the ridings like the republicans and incrementally poisoned this country. Now loyal foot solders cut brake lines or slash tires or paint crosshairs on liberal signs to serve the master. Harper channeled Carl Rove and brought our country crashing down on our heads. He manufactured this polarization while we slept thinking the poison would never infect us. We slept through it for ten years and now we say what the hell happened ? These fellows talk about tolerance but it’s only tolerance for what they say and they smirk while their foamies like ezra and shadle spew pus and infection all while they say it’s not them. Well here’s the truth . It is you, all of you. If you let these assholes speak for you then beyond a shadow of a doubt you are an asshole too. It’s not a difference of opinion. Cutting brake lines is not a difference of opinion. But you bastards haven’t got the courage to face up to your foot solders as they run around at night wrecking havoc. Does the left wish to reclaim the country. Get over your narcissistic differences and unite the clans !!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *