06.22.2015 07:15 AM

In today’s Hill Times: the campaign 2015 SWOT

SWOT is an analysis technique consultants use to assess internal STRENGTHS and WEAKNESSES – to a campaign, to a client, to a cause – and to evaluate external OPPORTUNITIES and THREATS.

A SWOT analysis isn’t about a message – it’s about a thing, or a factor, that can help or hurt. It can be happening right now, or is something likely to happen in the future.

The Canuckistan commentariat are pretty good at assessing the political import of things that have already taken place. But what about future events – things that haven’t happened yet? What is the political impact of those?

Herewith and hereupon, a SWOT analysis of ten things that may or may not happen over the next four months.

1. The weather: Hurricane Sandy helped return Barack Obama to the White House – remember that iconic shot of the president hugging a tearful New Jersey marina owner? – but extreme weather events can terminate political careers, as well. In era where climate change is both dramatic and undeniable, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has done rather well (cf. the floods in Calgary, Manitoba, Montérégie and so on). His opponents, meanwhile, tend to all but disappear during these disasters. Based on past events, a Conservative STRENGTH and OPPORTUNITY.

2. Terror: Sadly, acts of terror – whether committed by jihadists or neo-Nazis – have become a daily occurrence (globally) or a factor in daily life (domestically). The murders of Canadian Armed Forces members Nathan Cirillo and Patrice Vincent by jihadists just eight months ago had a profound effect on our politics. As was the case post-9/11, acts of terror propel the electorate into the arms of conservative political parties, as these players are seen as more credible on “law and order” themes. Another Conservative STRENGTH and OPPORTUNITY.

3. Length of writ: Pundit Guide’s Alice Funke has speculated that the Conservative government may well extend the writ period from the standard 37 days required under the Elections Act, and thereby increase their advertising budget along with it. With their demonstrated fundraising superiority, a super-sized writ would present yet another a Conservative Party OPPORTUNITY. But it could be a THREAT to them, as well: in the extended 2005-2006 campaign writ period, the incumbent Liberals bizarrely ran a 36-day campaign during a 55-day writ period – while the challenger Conservatives paced themselves, and ultimately triumphed. An extended writ period, therefore, could similarly present an OPPORTUNITY for the challenger NDP and Liberals.

4. Facebook, Twitter: In the modern era, social media have become a gold mine for political war rooms – and an ongoing headache for campaign management, and political leaders. Alberta’s 2012 election notwithstanding, social media-based flubs aren’t typically a game-changer – but they do have the potential to throw campaigns off-track for a day or two. For all of the parties, social media are therefore both an OPPORTUNITY and a THREAT.

5. Scandals: As you read this, Liberal Party operatives are poring through the emails and files of former Conservative Party strategist Dimitri Soudas, looking for dirt to fling during the writ period. Similarly, the Conservative Party are aware of sworn affidavits that have the potential to greatly damage Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s reputation. If the muck starts to fly – in a kind of Tory-Grit mutually-assured-destruction exercise – it will provide New Democrats with a huge OPPORTUNITY to depict themselves as the only mainstream option not caked in grime.

6. Paid media: For a decade, the Conservatives have simply had much better ad campaigns – a STRENGTH – while Grits and Dippers have had a demonstrated paid-media WEAKNESS. Based on the recently-broadcast evidence, expect this dynamic to continue.

7. Media and money: As in, the former lack the latter. As such, media organizations lack the means to cover campaigns as they did in days of old – and so they now tend to favour following only those campaigns who have a realistic shot at winning. If the Liberal Party continues its precipitous slide in public opinion polls, media inattention may well be the result – and is a huge THREAT, and a similarly-sized NDP OPPORTUNITY.

8. Leaders debates: The Conservative Party has successfully – and brilliantly – ensured that the various leader’s debates will be very difficult for regular folks to see. For the best debater on the stage, Tom Mulcair, this is a real problem and therefore a THREAT: he needs the debates to convince Canadians that he isn’t a wild-eyed radical. Similarly, for Trudeau, the debates – while a potential WEAKNESS, given some of Trudeau’s past verbal mishaps – are now keenly needed to get back in the game. All told, a Conservative STRENGTH.

9. Third party campaigns: Most recently, Engage Canada has taken to the airwaves with a potent anti-Harper message (a THREAT for him) – but also no clearly-expressed alternative. Does it favour Mulcair or Trudeau? We can’t tell. As such, Engage – and progressive campaigns like it – may end up creating an OPPORTUNITY for Harper, because they equalize and split the Conservative leader’s progressive opposition.

10. The teams: By now, most political folks recognize that Trudeau’s core team has become a liability – they have angered the Grit rank and file on myriad issues, and they arrogantly assumed Trudeau’s popularity would have no end: WEAKNESS. The Conservative campaign is no longer led by Doug Finley, as it was until 2008 – but Jenni Byrne ably demonstrated in 2011 that she knew how to win a majority: a STRENGTH. The NDP, meanwhile, have brought back Jack Layton whiz kids Brad Lavigne and Anne McGrath – this, too, testifies to New Democrat bench STRENGTH.

You can do the SWOT, too, and come up with different results. For this writer, however, the yet-to-happen tends to yield Conservative and/or New Democrat STRENGTHS and OPPORTUNITIES.

Team Trudeau, meanwhile, are beset by more than their fair share of WEAKNESSES and THREATS.

The only question, to me, is this: what on the above list is actually going to happen?


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    Northern PoV says:

    ” the Conservative Party is aware of sworn affidavits that have the potential to greatly damage Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s reputation.”


    you are an incorrigible teaser!

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      Matt says:

      I’ve heard rumours about a couple of the subjects.

      And if accurate, I think it would be a mistake to use one of them.

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        Warren says:

        It sure would.

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        W the K - No, not Warren says:

        You’re right. It would be viewed as Rat F*cking of the highest order.

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        Étienne says:

        Would this be about the Lib-Dipper merger talks of a few years ago?

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          Matt says:

          I won’t repeat what I’ve been told, but if true, would be very damaging to Trudeau’s image and him personally.

          Again, it’s second hand information. I have not seen the affidavits

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    Matt says:

    3 – The longer the election period, the longer Mulcair and Trudeau, having never been part of a national campaign have to make mistakes. However, it gives them longer to recover too.

    5 – Scandals – the problem with this is the parliamentary press gallery refers to EVERYTHING as a “scandal”. Most Canadians respond to them now with an eye roll or a sholder shrug. Plus, 9 times out of 10, there is nothing to these “scandals” Can you say widespread Conservative electoral fraud?

    9 – third party ads – As David Akin and others have pointed out, Engage Canada’s ad was pure, unadulterated bullshit. They are hoping to do to Harper what they did to Hudak. Well, Harper ain’t Hudak.

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    Kaiser Helmets 'n Motorbikes says:

    You must realize we are now 18 years, 6 months into the climate change “pause”, that is to say, no warming has occurred in 18+ years. The number of extreme weather events is at an historic low.

    Of course, these facts are no important to church of climate change adherents, but for us atheists, little things like facts matter a whole bunch more than the musings of discredited high priests in the East Anglia Vatican who spend their days manipulation climategate data and reading computer model end-trails.

    PS: To all the Climate Church going Haterz, go ahead and tell me all about how I am a holocaust, err, “climate” denier and should be burned at the stake… Please, make my point for me.

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      Domenico says:

      I too am shocked that the Pope has fallen for the AGM hoax. This is the greatest fraud since the theory of evolution or possibly the heory of gravity. If only His Holiness had listened to the unbiased climatologists at the Heartland Institute, the University of Cranbrook and the Flat Earth Society, he would have seen through the socialist agenda!

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      Domenico says:

      I too am appalled that His Holiness has fallen for the AGM hoax, the greatest fraud perpetrated on humanity since the theory of evolution or the theory of gravity. If only he had listened to the unbiased scientists at The Heartland Institute, The University of Cranbrook, and The Flat Earth Society he would have seen through this conspiracy by Al Gore and his legions of cash grabbing scientists.

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        Domenico says:

        HI Warren, sorry captcha code melt down led to two posts. I like the second post better. It more clearly captures my “outrage”. 🙂

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          debs says:

          I like both, glad Warren left them up, as really we need this hoax identified, thoroughly spread and infect the population, Cranbrook U hasnt done it well enough:)

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      davie says:

      West Coast here; Nanaimo averages 55 millimeters of precip each May. This year, 5. This part of the world is unusually dry the past two or three years. Further south into the states, it is also dry.
      Where I lived up north until last year, the past few years saw warmer lows over night during the winter, for sure (things were never so green up there), way shorter cold snaps and lots more precip.
      I keep coming across stuff about the ocean temp changes, and the changes to life in the oceans, ever more methane release, rising global temps.
      How do you define ‘pause?’

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      W the K - No, not Warren says:

      Really?!? Who knew…

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      cgh says:

      KHM, as you can see from the comments you got, there’s lots of folks here who also evidently believe that humans originated in England and that Eugenics was serious science. To which list we could probably add homeopathy, osteopathy, chiropractic theory, the Hollow Earth theory, paleo diets, the essential fluids doctrine, the steady-state universe and a few hundred other things popularly accepted in their day by “consensus” science.

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      !o! says:

      Sure, I’ll bite…

      there was no pause? Seriously, the denial is like anti-vaxxers


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        cgh says:

        Did you actually read the NOAA report? You can demonstrate anything you like if you alter the raw data.

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    Matt says:

    4 – Social media posts

    The Liberals lost another candidate last week after he posted a picture or commented on a picture of a woman with a bruise on her face and made a joke about domestic violence.

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    doconnor says:

    8. I think the Conservative’s plan has backfired. I expect there will be 6 debates with the 3 major leaders, including the network ones. No one will refuse to attend a debate where the other two are attending.

    9. Canadian have shown they can migrate to one party to beat the right-wing candidate, often in the last week of the campaign. The Engage Canada commercials supports the non Conservatives before we know which one will be the standard bearer. People what the alternatives are.

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    davie says:

    I think that I will apply this formula to ‘issues.’

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    Priyesh says:

    I don’t think Harper has a strength on security. It’s just part of the natural emotional cycle. When people are killed, we would do ANYTHING to get them back, and Conservatives are good at capitalizing on that.

    Don’t believe the pundits. Listen to the data:


    “These findings echo the trends noted in an essay we released in the wake of the Parliament Hill shootings where we cautioned that while Canadians are often initially supportive of measures designed to protect ourselves at home, this support quickly tapers off. Virtually every response to the spectre and reality of terrorism over the past decade has ultimately been deemed to have failed in hindsight. The public downright reject the narrative that threats to our security can be resolved through further restrictions on personal freedoms and they will hold their leaders to account for any decisions which further erode civil liberties.

    We believe that Conservative decline is linked to the declining salience of security. The moral panic associated with bringing in heightened security after the episodes in the fall has dissipated and Bill C-51 no longer appears reasonable, particularly in progressive Canada. Indeed, the Conservatives have now returned to the levels they were at in mid-October, before the Parliament Hill incident and the security wave which propelled Stephen Harper into a clear lead.”

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      Matt says:

      Really? That’s your souce?

      Know Harper hater Frank Graves?

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        Priyesh says:

        My source is the data. This isn’t the first or only country to be hit with a terrorist incident. We’ve seen this before. The data isn’t lying.

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    JH says:

    Harperpac is up and running, wouldn’t doubt they’ll more than out raise and out spend Engage Canada’s dollars. This may be a monster they may wish they had not helped create.

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      Matt says:

      Engage Canada is not “grass roots” like they claim. It is run by former Dalton Mcguinty and Jack Layton advisors and funded by unions like Unifor and United Steel Workers.

      And the ad if full of lies.

      Conservatives have cut health transfers – bullshit.

      6% per year INCREASE until 2017 then INCREASES every year tied to inflation or a minimum of 3%, whichever is greater.

      A smaller INCREASE is still an INCREASE.

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        VC says:

        You would do well to look up the relationship between nominal and real growth rates, and inflation. (Here’s an insight: when a nominal price increases at the same rate as inflation, there is NO REAL INCREASE).

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      JH says:

      There’s many including myself, who will neither help fund nor support anything to do with unions. To my mind they are the antithesis of free enterprise and free speech. Any Liberals who support Engage Canada even sub rosa, in concert with their NDP partners, risk alienating a lot of potential grit voters who don’t have much use for the unions and the stuff they get up to.

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        doconnor says:

        Unions are the embodiment of freedom of association. They don’t repress free speech any more then employers do. What’s more free enterprise with a representative of one group negotiating with the representative of another group over conditions and payment for services rendered?

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    Joe says:

    One of the issues I have with the Liberal election strategy is their lack of come back to the Conservative Justin = just not ready ads. Its not the first time the Liberals failed to fight back. Dion and Iggy were both besmirched in a similar manner. At least the Conservatives supporters are going to fight back against the negative advertising attacking them.

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    chuckercanuck says:

    You have to repeat it. No one reads these comments but a few lonely nerds. If its so explosively juicy then it is cruel not to share. Nature abhors and all. Plus, I’m going to just fill in the blanks myself. Once, a catty neighbor said to me about another neighbor, “they are into funky shit”. What said funkiness was, she wouldn’t tell me. So what do I do? Make a list of all possible funky things a couple could do and eliminate all the boring ones. Threesome? That’s so 1980s. Polyamory? Again, not quite funky if you ask me. 50 Shades of Grey? Well, since that tidbit was dropped before that book came out, that’s what I chose to believe.

    So, Master Kinsella says there’s a bombshell. Matt the commenter fuels that fire. No one will say what Trudeau did. All we know is that people submitted sworn affadavits. It can’t be too criminal because Justin isn’t smart enough to run a successful fraud or racket. It has to be something Justin did because of his passions. He is all passion, no brain. Cheat on his wife? Booorring. Maybe Canadians won’t like that but its hardly anything new. Did he start life as Justine? Boorring – not only because it would be very Hip these days, but also we have seen him all his life so that can’t be it. Smoke dope? He wants pot in every pot! So that isn’t it. Did he make a video with Paris Hilton? Ill-advised, I agree, but what a brilliant way to get the 18 – 24 year olds voting.

    I will spend the rest of the night coming up with scenarios that meet the criteria of:

    a) Justin did them.
    b) they would ruin him if they came to light.

    I suggest we all do the same and come back tomorrow with our best answers.

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      doconnor says:

      I suspect people have posted comments, but Mr. Kinsella’s familiarity with libel law causes him to click the Trash link. Some of those nerds work of the Liberal Party who seem be out to get him.

      Maybe its just that he smoked crack, not something big like cheating on his girlfriend in his office.

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        debs says:

        or he paid Brazeau to take the fall, 🙂
        *im with chuckers, lets speculate our pants off*

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    ajay says:

    His advisers did what was most reasonable given the circumstances. Arrogant are those that brought Ignatieff to lead the LPC. Trudeau will become PM someday. should Mulcair become PM he will be very controlling like Harper, and good luck pleasing his base with 15 day care, senate abolition etc….In a couple of years the NDP will be in trouble thanks to Alberta. Personal scandals are usually about sex and drugs. Republicans used Monica against Bill Clinton, he became very popular. And we know how much popular Rob Ford became with his base. Four more year for Trudeau!!God Save Justin Trudeau!

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    MississaugaPeter says:

    WTF. I guess after you have pissed off Old Liberals it is time to recruit Mexicans still in Mexico.


    JT is really not ready for primetime. Not now, not in the future. I’d like to blame his advisors, but something like this you would think he would overrule without hesitation.

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      MississaugaPeter says:

      I finally concede that Ben Mulroney is more fit to be prime minister than Justin Trudeau.

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    Al in Cranbrook says:

    Engage Canada? David Akin trashed their ad propaganda. http://www.torontosun.com/2015/06/12/new-ad-from-anti-harper-group-all-baloney Not that very many else within the ranks of the usual MSM suspects give a much of a damn.

    NOAA’s revised temperatures for the 20th century? Yes, they went back and “adjusted” the historical records, and voila! No more warming pause! Who would have guessed, eh? I could post all kinds of links debunking this nonsense, but nobody would bother reading it anyway. It’s kinda like the old pat answer in religious circles, you know, when things don’t add up? “God works in mysterious ways.” Apparently, so do climate change scientists.

    Interesting graph from Patrick Michaels, PHD in ecological climatology, etc… http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/when-will-climate-scientists-say-they-were-wrong What 102 climate models predicted, and what actually happened. Graphs of the last 10,000 years are a lot more revealing, but what the hell has historical context have to do with anything, right? Or for that matter, even ol’ Sol.

    Anyway, it’s a long way to go yet until the election, considering a week can be a lifetime in politics. Personally, I think the CPC are keeping their powder dry for now, ’cause as the old adage puts it, “Timing is everything.”

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    Matt says:

    Justin Trudeau announced today he will end Canada’s participation in bombing ISIS, and kiss and make up with Iran.


    And for all the “progressives” who like to trumpet EKOS polls lately that show the NDP on the rise, you were awful quiet regarding Fridays showing the NDP falling more than 4 points.


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