05.15.2012 12:00 AM

In today’s Sun: Con war room, missing in action

Brad Lavigne looked stumped, for a moment or two.

Lavigne — the brilliant Jack Layton loyalist who helped pilot the New Democratic Party to its historic gains in the election of one year ago — seemed uncertain, however briefly, about what his answer should be.

In an exchange with Tim Powers — the much-liked Conservative Party pundit — Lavigne had been asked about when Stephen Harper’s war room intended to start attacking newly minted NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair.

Lavigne eyed Powers warily. The two political strategists were on a stage at the Ottawa Congress Centre for the annual gathering of Canadian realtors. Finally, Lavigne allowed that he did not know, exactly, when the ruthless Conservative attack machine would strike. “But it’s coming,” Lavigne said. “It’s coming.”

Indeed it is. But when? And, more significantly, why hasn’t it happened already?
The questions aren’t irrelevant.


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    Dennis Hollingsworth says:

    The Foreboding is Spell-Binding !!

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    Brammer says:

    It was always Harper’s goal to destroy the Libs, not the NDP. Perhaps the NDP is worth more to him alive than dead.

    Now that the Libs are out of the way, Canadians essentially have two choices. It dovetails nicely with Harpers divide and polarize approach.

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      Tim Sullivan says:

      I agree. It has more to do with long-term planning than easy gains.

      He’s wily that Harper.

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      CanadaDave says:

      I think this is pretty much it. Attacking the NDP could very likely serve to strengthen the Liberals. Disenchanted Dippers just aren’t likely to go Conservative, but they could come to us. At the same time, a strong NDP is much more likely to continue to bleed off Liberal support.

      Harper’s got some time to play with before he goes to the polls and can afford to maneuver for a bit.

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      Sean says:

      except uhhh… the NDP is winning. they would form a minority government if the election was held today.

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    fritz says:

    I agree with Brammer. Maybe they believe the hype about Mulcair and are waiting for him to implode. If so it could be a big mistake; a two way fight between the NDP and the Tories will be no cakewalk for conservatives after 10 years of CPC rule. We’ll know more if/when they attack the new Liberal leader. Lets see what happens then.

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    Cameron Prymak says:

    You’ve highlighted PM Harper’s importation of American style Attack Ads but is it out of the realm of possibility that a Conservative majority could introduce something like super pacs too?

    On another note, there’s an authentic policy difference between the two parties and the contrast can only get larger –


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    Michael S says:

    Liberal corpse ain’t quite dead yet. That’s why. Liberals are still looking for their Miracle Max.

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    dave says:

    I enjoyed the Conservative attacks on Mulcair yesterday. Mulcair mentioned ‘Dutch Disease’ a few days ago,bringing adverse responses from Wall, Clark and Redford. So the Conservatives repeated those responses ( – Mulcair’s economics are wrong, goofy,…)and then styled Mulcair as having said that he believes that the economy in Western Canada that generates 100’s of thousands of jobs is a ‘disease.’ No mention of ‘Dutch Disease,’ just that Mulcair says that it is a’disease.’
    Non political junkies, that is, most Canadians, would bridle at Mulcair calling a part of our economy a ‘disease.’

    And, so far, it keeps anyone from discussing the complexities of ‘Dutch Disease’ or ‘petro state.’

    Cunning word play by the Conservatives!

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    Martyn says:

    What about this…Their goal is to essentially create a two party system. This would make the middle Canadian (currently Liberal and mostly progressive) decide Cons or NDP. If they continue the destruction of the Liberal party, while mostly shooting blanks at the NDP, they may pick up enough progressive and right-leaning fiscal votes in order to balance the political spectrum. The Liberals currently hold approx 20% of the vote, while the Cons and NDP have about 30% each. This vote, done correctly could be split to give 35-40% each. That leaves the two campaigns chasing a much smaller group of swing votes and mitigates the Conservatives from having to defend/attack two fronts. This added to the fact the Conservatives often raise money 2:1 would make the long term outlook for the Conservative movement better. I am not convinced they care what happens to the NDP in the short-term as it will always be easier, in the long run, for them to campaign against NDP policy then Liberal policy.

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    kre8tv says:

    The Cons have figured out that an LPC on life support and an NDP sitting where they are in the polls is better than having a single alternative for voters. Divide and conquer. If the NDP keep climbing within about 18 months of the next campaign, that’s when the Blue Death Star will get activated.

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    Philippe says:

    God knows there’s a ton of material on Mulclair. He’s a a nut.


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    George Pringle says:

    Why spend money defining Tom and the NDP when they will do a good job tarnishing themselves? We’ve already had attacks on the West which they need to have any chance at a majority. Don’t underestimate the need for socialists to be socialists which will alienate more Canadians.

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    Ted H says:

    I am waiting for the day when the Cons go too far with the attack ads, just as they did when they made fun of Jean Chretien’s face. When that day comes the Canadian public will finally realize what a bunch of thugs these guys are and throw them out.

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    Dan says:

    I honestly don’t think they’ve figured out how to attack Mulcair.

    The Bin Laden thing? The journalist clarified it.

    He’s too centrist? Too cozy with Israel? That’s not an attack in the Conservative world.

    He’s ANGRY?!?!?! No real evidence. (At least, nothing that works in an ad.)

    A big part of it might actually be geography. They might want to paint Mulcair with the “Quebec-first”, “closet separatist” brush. But there are enough Quebec Conservatives that they’re asking Harper to hold his fire, so they don’t look anti-Quebec. They’re waiting for the polls to stabilize. They don’t want to write off Quebec unless they absolutely have to.

    Lastly, there were too many similarities between the Liberals and the Conservatives to attack them on policy. Hence the personal attacks. I think the Conservatives actually believe they can win a war of ideas with the real opposition. Hence the usual “high tax, anti growth” attacks.

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    olymapic Star sailor says:

    Why? because he would return the attack with double wammy. He is actually a Liberal from QUebec who know how to fight the good fight.

    ALso, he what he is describing is good policy and Harper is not all theat respected by Canadians.

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    Dan says:

    Also, I think the thesis that Harper benefits from a two party system is wrong.

    The Reform party was the best thing that happened to the Liberals. The one party state was done once the Alliance came along.

    By that token, nothing frightens Harper more than a leftward coalition.

    If the Liberal party goes away, they *might* trend more Conservative than they do NDP, and Conservatives *might* win.
    …but if the Liberal party hovers at 20%, then the opposition is split, and Conservatives WILL win.

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    Sean says:

    I think Warren is right on. They havn’t done anything because they don’t know what to do. I was expecting them to come out with ads about Ed. Broadbent slamming Mulcair right away. They have totally missed their opportunity. They are too late in going after Mulcair and he has jumped in with his own ads right after the convention. Very smart. In 2015 Harper will be trying to appeal to Canadians after nine years of scandals, missing millions, wild cronyism, electoral fraud and out of control deficits. I think Mulcair has a serious chance in 2015.

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    J Ross says:

    Incorrect analysis. Stephen Harper wants the Liberal Party, for all intent and purposes, dead. Reduced to what the Liberals were in the UK. He wants the choice in Canada to be between the NDP and the CPC and his hunch is (probably correctly) that in the FPP system we have, the CPC will be in power in such a context 60% or more of the time. The NDP are only too happy to oblige as they would indeed prefer a universe where they were in the promised land of power 30-40% of the time (with the CPC in power the rest) than a universe where the CPC seldom held power. It is unclear whether this 65% CPC-35% NDP universe will produce a Canada dramatically different from the 70% LPC-30% PC universe of the 20th century. It might. It may not…The CPC and the NDP may or may not have a formal arrangement – more likely it is wink-wink, but they both want the LPC dead. And the LPC will die. Only die-hard LPCers who don’t know much about other politcal parties or current Canadian political reality don’t see that. But the solution is NOT CPC-NDP. It is a new party with no baggage – the Progressive Party of Canada that is economically responsible and centrist and socially liberal. The LPC, NDP and Greens need to all go away and the moderate forces in all three need to form a new party. Let the die-hards form the Socialist or Social Democratic Party of Canada. The result will be the re-establishing of a moderate slightly-left -of-centre governing party that will win elections more often than not with the CPC being the occasional replacement. Anything else and Harper’s greatest hopes come true.

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      Dan says:

      Stephen Harper wants a two-party system! The only solution is to create a two-party system!!!!!

      You Liberals.

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        J Ross says:

        a) I’m not a liberal
        b) read the post carefully. You will see in fact it advocates for a restructuring of the political landscape to re-establish a 3 party system with a small social democratic party as the third. This is not because I necessarily want a small such party in and of itself. It is because faced with the choice between such a party and the CPC Canadians will simply far-more often choose the CPC.

        Let me guess…you propose an alternative voting system (e.g. PR) with lots of parties. Fine. But how do you get that system in place? First, you need to win power. Do you think the CPC are going to magically put such a system in place and propose it to voters? 2nd, once your party (the NDP?) wins power, they have to avoid the usual mindset that goes with it “oh, the FPP isn’t so bad after all” and 3rd) it would have to convince Canadian voters to agree to such a system – 3 referendums provincially have already failed so there is certainly no guarantee.

        So what is your solution? Mine has logic behind it and some evidence – when faced with a right-wing party and a moderate party with smaller more left-wing parties as 3rd and 4th choices (exactly what I am proposing, with the key being a brand change for the new moderate party), Alberta – that great conservative bastion – chose the moderates. But who do you think they would choose between a blatantly left-wing major choice on one end and a conservative one on the other? Reanalyse and offer some reasoning then talk to me.

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    Geoffrey Laxton says:

    Here is the situation in a nutshell:
    The Opp Leader may be a nutcase, but the PM is demented… Go figure.
    Canadians like that kind of thing in a leader.

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    JamesHalifax says:

    Brad Lavigne is quite correct….it is coming. And when it does come…it will be vicious, and not because of any lies that will be told. It will be vicious, because it will have a ring of truth to it, and Canadians will see it clearly. Look what they did to Dion and Iggy.

    Dion – not a leader. (He’s a nice guy I think, but clearly lacks the spirit to be a leader)
    Iggy – Just visiting. (as evidenced by his quick exit to greener pastures after taking the libs out)

    Mulcair…..give him a bit more time to hang himself even higher. The folks in Ontario only need to realize how many jobs are created in that province BECAUSE of the oil sands.
    As for Quebec, Mulcair’s BASE……they need to be made aware of how much the rest of Canada, in particular, ALBERTA pay their way for cheap daycare and low tuition.

    If it wasn’t for ALBERTA, Canada wouldn’t have come through the recession as well as it has.

    If I were a Conservative war room guy, I’d have a little advice for them. Make a list of all the companies in Ontario that provide services or goods for the oil sands and resource development. Take out newspaper ads lising these companies along with the federal riding they are in, and how many people work therein. And then have a final page showing how many people would be out of work if the oilsands no longer needed goods or services from Ontario, and have them ask, “Do you think Thomas Mulcair’s voodoo economics are worth more than your job?”

    People need to see that Mulcair is an economic illiterate, and they need to see what a treasure our resources are.

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      Ted H says:

      Alberta you say? Alberta was born on 3rd base and thinks it hit a home run as the quip goes. When Alberta was a little farm boy with manure between his toes Ontario and Quebec paid the way. Ontario’s economy still has more depth than Aberta and over 70% of tar sands investment is by foreign countries, that’s were the money goes, not to pay Quebec daycare. That’s a stupid Wild Rose myth. The voodoo economics are always from the right wing.

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        Geoffrey Laxton says:

        Alberta is the only Province to become bankrupt. Guess who bailed them out.

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    JamesHalifax says:

    Congrats to all three of you; Ted, Geoffrey, and Jerry. (AKA Larry, Curly and Moe)

    I’m sure you all find Toronto quite comfy.

    Now…thanks for the history lesson, but we’re talking about TODAY….not the 1930’s. Clearly you have never been to Alberta, but I daresay you would be surprised that it is quite cosmopolitan. True, Alberta went through a rough period, but they have grown up now and enjoy being the powerhouse of Canada’s economic engine. Quebec on the other hand……still deluded and expecting handouts.

    The point of my comments were to highlight the economic ignorance of Mulcair and the NDP. You may not have picked that up from what I wrote, but you will certainly see it when the Conservative Ads about the NDP come out. That fact you choose to comment on Alberta, and NOT the Mulcair’s idiotic comparison about “Dutch Disease” show you may understand the error Mulcair has made. And not just in his economics.

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    Welby says:

    Warren may like Tim Powers – but I certainly don’t like him. I have yet to hear an interview where he has admitted the Conservatives do anything wrong.

    Re: Thomas Mulcair
    As far as i am concerend the best thing that happened to the NDP going lower in the polls was by electing Thomas Mulcair and I said this at the beginning of their leadership campaign. He is not a nice person; he is very volatile and he has a tendency to say stupid things such as what he said about bin Laden and about the Oil sands.

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    JamesHalifax says:

    Yes…Mulcair is an idiot, and an economic illiterate.

    What does that say about the NDP’s competence when a dolt like Mulcair is the smartest of the bunch.

    The Conservative war machine will make this abundantly clear very shortly, I’m sure.

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