09.01.2015 08:11 AM

KCCCC Day 30: when the water dries up, all the animals start looking at each other funny


  • It’s September. It’s day 30 (by my count, anyway).  And that means all of the parties are going to get really edgy, starting today.  As the departed Rod Love once said to me: “When the water starts to drying up, all the animals start looking at each other funny.”
  • In a national political campaign, certain things are ubiquitous.  You have a leader.  You have a campaign manager and campaign staff.  You have fundraisers.  You have advertising.  You have a war room.  You have policy.  You have a tour team. You have speech writers.  You have security and tech types and loads of other stuff.  But the one thing you don’t have is this: unlimited time.
  • As of today, time is becoming much more precious.  As of today, staffers can say: “The vote is taking place next month.” As of today, staffers will peer up at that big campaign calendar on the war room wall, the one with 30 days X’d out, and shake their sleep-deprived heads, knowing that things are about to get really bumpy.
  • The campaign grid is shrinking, baby.  In any winning campaign I’ve worked on – under Jean Chretien/John Rae in Ottawa, or Dalton McGuinty/Don Guy in Toronto – we have had a campaign grid on the wall, indicating when we are having a health care announcement, or a jobs roundtable, or a big rally somewhere, or the launch of our policy book, or whatever.  In a winning campaign, what you are doing (and when, and where, and with whom) is always on the grid.  (And, naturally, the principal job of any of the war rooms I led for Messrs. Chretien, Rae, McGuinty, Guy was to find out what was on the other side’s campaign grid, and then blow it up.)
  • As of today, all of the campaigns have two big problems.  One, they are running out of runway.  They are running out of days to tell a story that will win them a majority.  Two, none of them seem to have a winning story.  The polls reflect that, too: the economy is the electorate’s priority, and none of the parties has yet come up with an economic narrative that is a clear winner.
  • As I told one commenter yesterday, I am like most Canadians in this regard.  “I’m feeling like most Canadians, to tell you the truth: usually vote Liberal, but wonder if their leader is ready; think Conservatives haven’t been as radical as some predicted, but wonder if they’ve been there too long; can’t warm up to Mulcair if I tried, but appreciate the fact that the Dippers have abandoned a lot of their past radicalism. Oh, and I think the Greens are okay, but I don’t know a lot about them.”
  • So, all the politicos are going to start looking at each other differently.  And – mark my words – with things this tight, and the clock running out, it is going to get vicious.  Which, naturally, I (and the much-missed Rod Love) love.


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    Christian says:

    My two cents. The problem with campaigns (and politics/governing in general) is that its all tactics no over-arching strategy. Too many ‘specialists’ (communications, pollsters etc.) not enough ‘generalists’. Leaders are describing and responding to symptoms and poll results.

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    Ridiculosity says:

    When the jobs start to dry up, all the voters start looking at politicians differently too.

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      Maps Onburt says:

      Except unemployment hasn’t changed except in the oil patch (and even then the RoC numbers have averaged it out to no change).

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        davie says:

        Maps…we’ll have to see how that pays out over time. A pro oil industry argument of the past years has been that many jobs all across the country depend on the oil patch.

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        Ridiculosity says:

        Before we pronounce on that issue, let’s wait until we see the job numbers on Friday.

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    Maps Onburt says:

    Still seven weeks out though… (which I guess is a “normal” length campaign). Not much sign yet of the Conservative’s vaunted war chest… the other parties seem to be outspending them from what I’ve seen. I’m wondering if they are saving it all up towards the end to hammer home some themes. Not much in the way of announcements either (Trudeau has done a bunch but that was when nobody was paying any attention to him). Like you say Warren… it’s about to get interesting!

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      Ridiculosity says:

      CPC “themes”?

      Like what?

      How well they’ve managed the economy over the past decade?

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        Doogie says:

        Perhaps a hellava lot better than if we had a Martin Liberal or Layton NDP government. We would be experiencing massive Budget cuts by Martin or massive deficit spending by Layton. Both poison!

        Harper Cons? Just right?

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    Scott says:

    As far as I’m concerned, Trudeau has the least baggage and best ideas of the three. Dippers are like a bunch of kids with an old crusty adult leading them. Harper is way past his best before date. I believe this will continue to become apparent to voters as time goes by.

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      ralphonso says:

      I find this narrative really strange. I’ve always found this type of critique to bee too convenient and too partisan.

      I think outside observers can agree that the NDP has some really solid MPs in that group, and that many of their “kids” really did pretty well.

      The NDP certainly has more MP strength and probably equal candidate strength than the Liberals at this time.

      (Though I do think there will be a mini NDP MP and candidate rebellion re: deficits, which will punch the last hole in a sinking ship)

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        Scott says:

        Sure they have a few. Hell, three or four Dippers are among my favourite M.P.’s. To say the dippers have the same depth on the bench is a joke. Never mind governing experience. Having said that, I would vastly prefer an NDP government to another Harper government.

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          ralphonso says:

          Have you ever dealt with some of them? I don’t like to disparage elected officials because it’s a tough life, but it’s not a joke at all. Look at who survived in 2011. At least 1/3 of our MPs are borderline useless. Just because they’ve been around and they wear the same colour as us doesn’t make them good. A lot of really good MPs went down in 2011, and a fair number of the backbench dregs managed to cling to life. There is a reason the party has cycled the same 6 or 7 members in front of the camera for the past four years.

          I don’t see why we can’t support our party but tell the truth about other parties. My party right or wrong is just childish.

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            BillBC says:

            “My party right or wrong is just childish.”

            This should be the motto of this website. It certainly seems to be how Warren feels, which is why I come here to see what he thinks. Mindless partisanship everywhere else, but please, not here. The meme “my leader is good, but yours suck” is stupid and tiresome. Let’s not have it here…

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    davie says:

    Is the main issue the economy? Pundits (who often like to appear real and down to earth…grounded with real people), the corporate media, main party leaders all claim that it is. Could be this propaganda campaign claiming that it is nothing but the economy has door and phone answerers who care to respond parroting the mainstream media and its pundits…it’s all economy, all the time.

    Suppose it’s climate change? Suppose it’s anti corruption and democratic improvement? Suppose it really is health care system? Suppose it’s quality of life? Or foreign affairs?

    Some people have lost jobs, but many more people have jobs and fairly predictable incomes.

    If the main issue is not the economy, then pundits and the media who claim it is the economy will see the outcome on election day and scramble to come up with some face saving rationales for the stupidity of voters.

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      Ridiculosity says:

      Go knock on doors or make phone calls. Canadians will tell you they’re worried about two things: the economy and Harper.

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        davie says:

        I talk only to neighbours, and we are all oldsters. I follow the media…and message boards like this one. I am wondering what you mean by the 2nd item, ‘Harper.’ Do you mean the issue at doors is economy and Harper together? Or is it the economy…and then, Harper?

        As I mentioned above, is it possible that people who come to the door and answer your questions are simply parroting what they have seen on the media…hoping, as I think pundits do, to appear down to earth, practical. For example, suppose a person really is seized by something other than trade treaties and jobs, but wants to appear well informed and not too tin foil-y.
        Or, for example, suppose the main parties and leaders constantly push that ‘uncontrolled immigration’ is the real issue, constantly report that too many immigrants from Middle East is a threat to Canada. OUr media carries only the main party leaders’ comments, and so we all begin to think that is the big issue…and that is what we repeat when we answer the door?

        Anyway, I see and hear so often that it is all the economy, that I begin to question the premise.

        (O, it is possible that I am grumpy because living in water restrictions, with smoked skies and fierce wind storms, by a decaying ocean of some size, – I begin to wonder why climate change and improved democracy are not major issues.)

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          The Doctor says:

          I’m reminded of a federal campaign I worked on in the 1990s, in the old Vancouver Centre riding. At the end of the campaign, we were doing a “debrief” with the guy who managed the campaign. Somebody asked him what the biggest issue seemed to be in the riding. And he said, “Well, based on the phone calls we received, you would have sworn it was herbal remedies.” (This was when the feds were talking about regulating them).

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          Don Wilson says:

          Davie, you’re onto something re the environment. Environmental indicators have deteriorated in terms of violent weather and global warming to the extent that John & Jane Frontporch are beginning to pay attention. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (an industry group comprised of our major insurers) is reported steep increases in extreme weather payouts. They are concerned because these payouts hit their bottom lines. The IBC is not the David Suzuki Foundation or a Greenpeace Maoist Cell. These are very conservative business professionals. And they are concerned about extreme weather and global warming. An election issue?

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        terence quinn says:

        What liberals are hearing a the door right across Canada is that the fear Mulcair almost as much as they do Harper as PM. The “just not ready theme” is out there but people are watching his performance to see if they can vote for them.

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      ralphonso says:

      No one cares about c51, although I think the economy narrative is over-rated. The media just doesn’t know how to effectively report on anything else, so they overemphasize it. You want to know what people are really worried about? real estate prices, even outside of the big cities.

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    bobbie says:

    1) the NDP still haven’t defined themselves. Notley herself said the Alberta NDP isn’t Mulcair’s NDP. We’ve heard there’s a Sask. NDP, and B.C. NDP etc.etc. Who is Mulcair REALLY? He’s still on a getting-to-know-you tour. Did the NDP, media consortium and pollsters misread the Alta. “revenge” vote?
    2) the underdog factor. Who has it? Who can use it to their advantage?
    3) The Liberals can still GOTV more effectively than can the NDP. The NDP is still an unknown and mixed bag on that score.
    4) if there’s one thing that voters hate more than entitled politicians it’s entitled media who are currently driving this campaign. Given that Harper and Muclair have ditched the consortium’s debate and not too many people, who now choose to get their news elsewhere, the traditional media are becoming less and less relevant to the outcome. Didn’t you opine about this once too WK?

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    Luke says:

    Will this election become the First Nations Election?


    That would be very interesting. I do seem to be noticing quite a bit of energy coming from First Nations advocacy groups on getting out and making a difference. If that persists and they succeed in getting out the FN vote, all kinds of conventional politico wisdom could fall apart, I imagine.

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      KBab says:

      John Ralston Saul calls it “The Comeback.” Could be a definite factor, the Cons are buried in their shit on that file.

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        bobbie says:

        Think again.

        1. Aboriginal Economic Development: In June 2009, the Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development was released and resulted in a fundamental change to how the federal government supported Aboriginal economic development (Link)
        2. Aboriginal Program Transfers: Spending increased for Aboriginal program transfers from $6.2 billion in 2007/08 to $7.4 billion in 2011/12 (Link — scroll down to pie graph)
        3. Arctic Sovereignty: The Inuit and Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, in support of Arctic Sovereignty, was signed on December 1st, 2006.(Link) (Link)
        4. Bigstone Cree and Peerless Trout: The Bigstone and Peerless Trout was the largest land claim ever settled in Alberta and involved a financial settlement of $231 million, as well as extensive new infrastructure and 140,000 acres of prime crown land. (Link)
        5. Canadian Human Rights Act Amendment: The amendment to the CHRA in June of 2008 was to ensure First Nations Peoples had the same rights as non-Aboriginals. (Link)
        6. Education funding for First Nations K-12: In 2010-11, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) invested approximately $1.5 billion in First Nation K-12 education funding, as well as $317 million in post-secondary education to support First Nation and Inuit students across Canada (Link)
        7. Employment programs: There are a number of new employment training-oriented programs available for Aboriginal youth and adults. (Link)
        8. Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act: This Act, (link), as well as the amendment to Bill C-24 in 2010, allows for greater certainty of title and makes sure the rights of women and children are considered during any marriage settlement.
        9. First Nations Commercial and Development Act: This economic development legislation came into force on April 1st, 2006 (Link)
        10. First Nations On-Reserve Housing: Over the past five years the Conservative Government, through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC), supported the construction of approximately 1,750 new units, along with renovations to some 3,100 existing units. It has also provided a number of other housing initiatives.(Link)
        11. First Nations Transparency/Accountability Act: This Act, known as Bill C-27, was passed in the House of Commons in November 2012. It is gradually working its way through the Senate and is expected to receive Royal Assent in early 2013. (Link)
        12. Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act: The Gender Equity Act received Royal Assent on December 15th, 2010 and would ensure compliance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (Link) (Link)
        13. Infrastructure Investment Plan: In June of 2011, the federal government, in consultation with First Nations, decided to develop a plan every year that would provide a stable future for all Aboriginal communities. (Link)
        14. Indian Residential Agreement & Reconciliation Commission: The Government signed the Indian Residential Agreement and set up a Reconciliation Commission in June of 2008. (Link) (Link)
        15. Infrastructure for Education: In 2010-11, $304 million was provided to support infrastructure costs for education facilities. This funding supported approximately 117,500 students in kindergarten to grade 12 and 22,000 post secondary students. (Link)
        16. Land Claim Agreements: 900 of 1300 claims submitted in 1970 were still unsettled when the Conservatives came to power in January of 2006. Since that time, a minimum of 450 have been signed (Link) although the graph at this link indicates closer to 800.
        17. Legacy Agreements: Four “legacy agreements” were signed in B.C. prior to the 2010 Olympics. The communities to partner with the federal government were Lil’wat, Squamish, Tsleil-Wauthuth and Musqueam Nations, which resulted in tremendous economic opportunities for everyone involved. (Link)
        18. Madawaska Maliseet Land Claim: The Madawaska Maliseet claim was settled in 2008 over a former CP track and right of way that passed through Madawaska Maliseet (in Northern NB). The community received $5.7 million in compensation (Link)
        19. Metis Protocol: The Metis National Council signed a protocol agreement with the Federal Government in September, 2008. (Link)
        20. Michipicoten Land Claim: A land claim was settled in 2008 with the Northern Ontario Michipicoten Nation, who will now use some of the $58 million it received from the federal government to develop a harbour at Wawa (Link)
        21. Native Residential School Apology: Prime Minister Harper made a formal, historic apology in the House of Commons on June 11th, 2008 for the failed residential school policy that began in the late 19th century (Link) (Link)
        22. Native Student For Success Program: The Student For Success Program began in 2012 to improve literacy and numeracy in elementary and secondary schools, while improving student retention and high school graduation rates. (For details, check out the PDF file at this link.)
        23. Opening of a Northern Development Agency: A Northern Development Agency was opened in Iqualuit, Nunavut in 2009 (Link)
        24. Residential Schools Settlement Agreement: The residential school agreement was passed into law in September 2007 for all those who wish for a “common experience” compensation payment (Link)
        25. Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act: Bill S-8, the Safe Water for First Nations Act passed into law in June 2012 (Link)
        26. Saskatchewan Land Settlements: Some 33 land claims completed in Saskatchewan involved settlements totaling $595.5 million dollars and 800,630 acres of prime real estate. (Link)
        27. Smith Curtis Land Settlement: The Skeetchestn band, 50 Km northwest of Kamloops in B.C. settled with the federal government in 2007 for land they did not receive a fair market assessment for in 1906, providing new economic development opportunities. (Link)

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          Doogie says:

          Mrs. Universe 2015, Ashley Callingbull-Burnham is an aboriginal activist adding her voice to the defeat of the Harper Conservatives by urging aboriginals to register and vote. She was on CBC NN today and she promoted her anti-Harper stance claiming he is not sympathetic to aboriginal needs. She didn’t say which other party would be best to vote for.

          It’s interesting that aboriginal spokespersons like AFN grand chief and Mrs. Burnham seemingly do not support the rights of aboriginal woman’s property rights on reserves and the disclosure of chief’s salaries, benefits and perks as advanced by the Harper Cons. Instead they call on the federal government to give aboriginal people more independence and more financial support for on-reserve education, health services and infrastructure, as well as recovering their languages and cultural practices within Canada.

          I suspect that aboriginal males will vote, but aboriginal females will be discouraged to vote for obvious reasons. What we are witnessing is hierarchic oppression within the aboriginal community to favour men over women, and the privileged over the exploited. It’s sad to see the political exploitation of aboriginals by aboriginals and political parties too.

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    Al in Cranbrook says:

    Listening to Mulcair for as long as I could stand it.

    Harper is now responsible for two recessions. The sub-prime mortgage induced melt down in the US of 2008 that crushed global markets? All Harper’s fault. The Saudi’s deliberate crushing of global oil prices? All Harper’s fault.

    Oh, and the market melt down now going on in China that’s reverberating through stock markets globally? No doubt, that’s all Harper’s fault, too.

    Mulcair is good at one thing, and one thing only: He can peddle reeking utter bull**** with a straight face that would make the best players in Vegas envious.

    Canada’s economy dipped to -0.1% growth for the first two quarters, although it was bouncing back in June. Given the shitkicking Canada’s energy sector has taken totally at the hands of the Saudis, it’s a bloody miracle our economy only dipped to -0.1%…thank you very much, PM Harper. Well done, good job on the economy!

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      Pat says:

      Where do you suppose we would be with high taxes…particularly corporate taxes? This was a step in the right direction to help working people. All Canadians pay the costs of corporate taxes – not the corporations themselves – particularly when companies outsource to lower tax jurisdictions.

      Mulcair the sophist wants to raise corporate taxes.

      Trudeau wants to tax and spend.

      Almost ten years to contemplate how to manage the nation and all you’ve got is failed policies of the past?

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      Mike says:

      Al, What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. The Conservatives love to take credit for the economy when it’s good, but when it’s bad it is someone else’s fault, whether that is the provinces, or world forces beyond the government’s control.

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        Vancouverois says:

        …which makes them no more and no less reluctant to take responsibility for bad news than any other party. Or are you going to claim otherwise?

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    Ronald O'Dowd says:


    When you’re slowly trending higher, you can afford to be both smart and vicious.

    When the bottom of your campaign is falling out, you can’t afford to be both vicious and desperate.

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    RogerX says:

    It’s the perfect Conservative election strategy; by the time we get to October 19th the plebeians will be politically fatigued to the point where they won’t care who wins… and many will just stay home mentally exhausted by all the shlock.

    The Con operatives will be working furiously to GOTV of their 30% core support plus an extra 10% by scaring the shit outta them with visions of godless socialist dipper hordes and/or a redux of another PET like father like son imagery.

    You fight ‘hate’ with ‘fear’ because both are easily awakened in the minds of the masses. Justin will be ‘just not ready’ and Mulcair ‘just too scary’…. while Harper will be painted “just right” for economically insecure times.

    Conservative strategy? The plans of mice and men and miserable mistakes?

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