07.30.2015 09:56 AM

In the longest campaign of all time, who wins and who loses?

So, you’ve all seen this. Who wins and who loses, in an eleven week campaign?

  • CBC: They have started to edge away from yesterday’s bombshell – ie, “THE ELECTION WILL BE CALLED THIS SUNDAY” – but they are still on the hook in the estimation of many. If they got it right, they’ll have a bragging rights about a major, major scoop. If they got it wrong, they’ll be hearing about it for a long, long time. After the Ghomeshi/Lang/Murphy/Mansbridge/Solomon stuff, they can’t afford another huge mistake.
  • Third Party Advertisers: Whether they are on the Right or the Left, they’ve all got impressive war chests and things they want to say. Their ability to say those things will be dramatically reduced by a dramatically-longer writ period: the spending limits in the Act are designed to prevent the very sort of advertising they want to do. ‎If the campaign kicks off sooner than later, these third-party PAC-style outfits are a big loser.
  • Liberals: They have way less money than the Conservatives. A writ period of 70+ days is not what they were expecting, and it means they won’t be able to do as much paid as they had hoped. It hurts them. That said, Justin Trudeau – despite his various now-well-document faults – is a Hell of a retail campaigner. A longer writ gives him the ability to connect with more voters, more often, and possibly turn around his party’s downward descent in the polls. 
  • New Democrats: They, too, have less dough than the Tories. They, too, will effectively go bankrupt at some point during the campaign. Do they stop advertising at the start of the writ? At the end? In the middle? Not an easy choice. That aside, Angry Tom has turned out to be better at retail than many of us expected – cf., Tom feeding goats, Tom doing the weather, Tom smiling so much his face must hurt, etc. Maybe a longer writ helps him, too. (A caveat: past behaviour is the best indicator of future behaviour. Inevitably, if you give him enough opportunity, Angry Tom always gets Angry. A longer writ period creates more opportunity for that to happen.)
  • Conservatives: For Stephen Harper, the two-month-long writ is a gift. It crushes the campaigns of those pesky trade union advertisers, and it seriously squeezes the yarbles of Messrs. Mulcair and Trudeau. But – and this is a big but – the 2015 campaign is really just a great big referendum on Stephen Harper. Is giving people more opportunity to think, over and over, about how Harper has been there a decade a really good idea? I’m not so sure. ‎He has gotten a bit more popular, lately, but he’s done that by staying out of the papers. Is being back in the media, every day for more than two months, in any way advisable? Again, there’s a sizeable risk there. 
  • Canadians: Folks who love democracy, you win! You are about to get truckloads of it, right on your front lawn, for week after week! Folks who hate politicians, you lose! You’re about to hear from more politicians, more often, than ever before!

Election fatigue, here we come!


  1. PT says:

    Definitely risky for Harper. With more time added to the 2011 campaign, it’s quite possible Harper would have lost.

    They are betting they have enough of a war chest and a campaign team that can respond to stop any slide and pummel us all with ads directed at any opponent who makes surprising gains.

    For now they’ll hit hardest against the Liberals because where they’ll win or lose will be suburban Ontario – seats that would right now flip from Con to Liberal. We shall see – campaigns matter.

    • Kev says:

      Someone should ask John Turner about the wisdom of an aging government, calling a long writ, starting while people are still in summer holiday mode.

  2. MississaugaPeter says:

    While in total agreement that the length benefits the CONS (more than a few in court or convicted), I think the current standings help the NDP (first) in fundraising and hurts the Liberals (third) in fundraising.

    Unfortuantely pro-Harper PAC money will filter into the coffers of the CONS but the anti-Harper PAC money will be distributed into many different coffers.

    Hopefully the proceeds of Mulcair’s book (2 days to go) go straight to NDP candidates across the country and an online version is free of charge.

    • Matt says:

      Do you work for his publisher?

      You’ve been pimping Mulcairs book like it’s going to be bigger than the Bible.

      And proceeds going to the party, I believe would be illegal. But hey, NDP illegaly financing thins is right in their wheel house – Illegaly funneling donations after Layton’s death to the Broadbent Institute, illegally funding satellite offices.

      • MississaugaPeter says:

        I don’t think I would be encouraging a free online version if I knew the publisher, would I?

        Only the 3rd time I have mentioned it, not pimping at all. You have a way with exaggeration. Must the CON in you. Extremely offensive to many that anyone would liken it to the Bible. Please don’t tell me that you liken other trivial things to Hitler as well.

        Yup, the NDP are the ones that are notorious for doing illegal activities. How many NDPers have been before the courts or are in jail right now for their misuse or misrepresentation of government funds? Are there not a number of Harper appointed cronies before the courts right now or do you have extremely selective memory?

    • Matt says:

      And I hate to burst your bubble, but the NDP are not first in fundraising.

      First quarter 2015:
      CPC – $6.4 million
      Libs – $3.8 million
      NDP – $2.3 million

      Second quarter numbers haven’t been released yet.

      Since the 2011 election:
      CPC – $64 million
      Libs – $45 million (They are spending 50 cents of every dollar raised on fundraising efforts)
      NDP – $23 million.

      • MississaugaPeter says:

        I replyed: “I think the current standings help the NDP (first) in fundraising and hurts the Liberals (third) in fundraising.”

        No suggestion at all that the NDP are first in fundraising. They are in almost every poll right now first. It is easier to get funds when you have a bigger base of supporters to draw from (over 2,000,000 more Canadians support the NDP today than would have over six months ago) and are now considered the most likely progressive party to be elected to govern our great nation. The Liberals unfortunately are going in the opposite direction, thus their fundraising numbers will probably not be as strong as they previously would have been when they were favoured by many more Canadians.

      • Christian says:

        NDP are reporting they raised a record 4.5 million in the second quarter.

  3. Moishe Pipik says:

    Having more time to think about Harper over a long campaign I would think must be a benefit for him. A short campaign probably creates more of an emotional response to his record and knee-jerk reactions, A longer campaign gives voters the time to say to themselves, maybe he’s not so bad after all or after consideration I’ll stick with the devil I know. It’s so sad. Once again hold your nose and vote for the “best” of the worst. I think I will become an ex-pat and complain that I can’t vote.

  4. Moishe Pipik says:

    Also, long campaign is going to cost the networks a fortune in coverage. Get ready for more shared resources (CBC reporter using Global cameraperson, co-ordinated by CTV producer, edited by SRC…equals watered down journalism covering the gainsburger of the day with no context, perspective or flair) briefer stories, more interns filing, and generally poorer media coverage. Who benefits from that?

    • Matt says:

      CBC doesn’t care how much it costs. It ain’t their money.

      Bob McCowan, now with the FAN590 in Toronto likes to talk about the days he worked at CBC. There was a guy to put on his mic, a different guy to take off his mic, a guy to set up the camera, a guy to operate the camera, a different guy to pack up the camera.

  5. Brad says:

    harper has been campaigning for 4 years now.

  6. Matt says:

    If he goes now, or in a week or two, I don’t think we’ll see to much advertising in August. Sure, the CPC will do an ad here and there to try and goad the NDP and Liberals into spending some cash early on, but I think we’ll really start to see the ad war heat up first week in september.

    Just my opinion, but I think his motivation here in going early, more than increasing the campaign budgets, is to kneecap the union advertising. I’m kinda disappointed. I find those union ads absolutely hilarious. Put them all together on a CD and you’d win a Grammy for best comedy recording.

    And Warren, what does this do to the rumored Lib house cleaning? Has anyone ever fired the Chief strategist and campaign manager after the writ has been dropped??

    • Lance says:

      Has anyone ever fired the Chief strategist and campaign manager after the writ has been dropped?

      You know, that is a good point. Kind of helps forcing the issue one way or the other, doesn’t it? “Shit or get off the pot”, as it were.

    • smelter rat says:

      I love the smell of ReformaCon desperation!

    • terry quinn says:

      I think the unions will, if the writ is dropped this weekend, put out “non political” ads which do not refer to an election directly. They and other similar groups are not going to let the money raised sit in a bank account. It would not surprise me if they continued their ads, breaking the law and then challenging the constitutionality of the law later on. After all, freedom of speech is at risk here.

  7. doconnor says:

    All parties will concentrate their advertising in the last few weeks of the campaign. The higher limit will mean the Conservatives will be able to do more frequent ads, but they have diminishing returns. Of course, the parties position in the polls will effect what loans they can get. I expect the top two parties will spend the limit.

    I wonder what this will do to the leader tours, which was already an expensive process of questionable benefit.

    • justin says:

      U.S. presidential candidates McKinley (1896) and Harding (1920) both ran campaigns from their homes and had the people come to them. It certainly would save money but in this day and age of cutthroat political competition I’m not sure how practical that would be.

  8. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    What is this, make a monkey out of them week? First, Ivison and the National Post — and now, CBC and Barton?

    Not a good way to induce positive news reporting.

    • JH says:

      Harper never worries about the National Media and doesn’t care what they do or say. He’s proven he can get his message out and win without them. This hurts them though. These days they can’t afford their usual expensive and expansive campaign coverage with crews on every leaders bus, plane etc. They are all losing money and jobs as advertising and audience declines. I’m betting lots more pool/consortium reporting and much more expected from the local and regional outlets. Which will be good for reporters and newsrooms there. I personally wouldn’t mind seeing and hearing less from the usual Press Gallery ‘stars.” In some cases it will be a more than pleasant change.

      • Elisabeth Lindsay says:

        And let us not forget the only reporter that got the Orange Wave right was Chantel Hebert.

        Chantel also was the only reporter NOT to travel on the leaders planes. She instead chose to do the ground game in Quebec and scooped everybody.

        Perhaps we shall see some of the same initiative from the PPG this time out?

      • Ronald O'Dowd says:


        How can I put this delicately? Harper has spoken in the past about natural checks on his government. He’s already knocked off the Senate. Let’s just say his efforts regarding the SCC have only produced mitigated results.

        He knows that the Parliamentary Press Gallery is always loaded for bear, hence his love of local media that he can either control or manipulate at his own choosing.

  9. ralphonso says:

    Long campaign is a huge win for Harper.

    It allows plenty of time for the NDP balloon to leak air. (Big gift to the Liberals here. Harper realizes that he needs them alive somewhat.)

    It allows for hot button issues to be addressed and to fizzle.

    It puts the other party leaders on the spot in their campaigning. No more “you’ll have to wait for the election” answers now.

    It derails the “referendum on Harper” narrative because you can’t talk about Harper for two months straight.

    The long campaign financially knee-caps the NDP and Liberals for two elections – this one, and the next as they will probably borrow money and will have nothing to spend if the election results in a minority and another election within 18 months.

  10. Liam Young says:

    Are you insinuating that the CBC management will be tossing around a hot potato yet again?
    I mean, it would just be icing on the cake to embarrass the CBC into final submission and termination, right?

    I don’t see the point in calling an early election. Only the Conservatives will lose by plastering the public with shameful and embarrassing bad ads like the recent Trudeau attack ad. The only beneficiaries will be the recipients of mega ad dollars.

    Hopefully, Canadians will ask themselves if this is good fiscal management.

    The smart people will have booked their media weeks (if not months or even years) ago given that there is still a fixed date.
    Only the desperate and foolish will spend money during the next 5 weeks. Avoid the two holidays, but MAYBE get sucked into advertising during a couple of major events (golf, hockey, etc).

    That said, it’ll be a hell of a ride and I’m equally jacked and frightened.

  11. Taco says:

    Long campaign bad for Harper.

    -higher voter turnout in long Campaigns
    -too much media exposure for a long campaign, people will get tired of seeing the status quo.

    Voters angry at Harper are very vocal these days. When Canadian Bump into friends and family saying how angry they are at Harper, it is gonna rub off on soft conservative voters.

    It’s time for a change, if Harpers Campaign falters, wouldn’t be surprised to see rumbling in his caucus during a campaign of this length.

  12. Luke says:

    I hate news stories like this. That is, ones that aim to predict the future. Like the Ivison et al. story about the senate abolition announcement that wasn’t.

    Harper may or may not call the election on Sunday. If I were Harper, I wouldn’t, just to spite the CBC. And I seem to recall various instances where Harper et all toy with the media in this kind of way. Gives the appearance of the media lacking credibility, which they frankly deserve with speculative “news” stories like this. I would not be surprised if he called it some other time even if he had planned on doing so Sunday.

    • Vancouverois says:

      Convincing. Even if he was planning to call it on Sunday, does Harper lose that much by doing it on Wednesday or next weekend instead? I don’t see how.

  13. Kev says:

    The CBC didn’t say “WILL”. They used the Conservatives’ favourite weasel phrase: “as early as”.

    • Warren says:

      Wrong. They said “will” in the first wave of stories.

      • Merrill Smith says:

        They actually said, many times, that the CBC confirmed the election would be called Sunday. Then they started saying Sunday or Monday. Since only the PM himself could confirm that information, it struck me as really strange to frame it that way.

    • MississaugaPeter says:

      Rosemary Barton was pretty sure of it last night while hosting Power & Politics.

      However, I immediately remembered Harper and the CONS burn another media outfit last week by making them think that he was going to publicly take a certain NDP stand on the Senate?

      Possibly a CON game to leak wrong information to the media so people become closer to being as cynical about the media as they are about politicians.

  14. Tim Gallagher says:

    The NDP just announced they raised $4.5 million in the second quarter; at this rate (you start accumulating lists you can go back to) and given the NDP ended up with a surplus in 2014 (1.5 million if I read the elections canada website correctly, and I admit that’s a big if) I would anticipate them being able to raise the $25 million to spend the ‘new’ $50 million ceiling (it’s fifty cent dollars given the rebate structure). The NDP owns its own building which helps keep costs down etc between elections and as far as I’ve seen have spent zero on paid advertising to date. A longer campaign helps all parties with fund raising so not sure what PMSH is gaining by having such a long election period. 3rd party limits rise as well. And what’s to stop each individual union from spending 500 grand instead of combining under one central umbrella. Ya, they’d have to have different ads but they’re easy to make these days. Once you game the system as PMSH appears to be doing you lose all moral authority to prevent others from doing the same thing.

  15. gyor says:

    Its Qaunty, not qaulity that matters, and remember the CPC has to divide its money between attacking Trudeau and Mulcair.

    • Matt says:

      By that logic the Liberals have to divide their money attacking the CPC and NDP (the CPC, NDP AND Bloc in Quebec) and the Dippers have to divide their money attacking the CPC and Liberals (CPC, Liberals and Bloc in Quebec).

      What’s your point?

    • cgh says:

      Actually, Matt, it’s worse than Gyor thinks. By going after the Liberals and driving them down, the Liberals become increasingly motivated to go after the NDP simply to try to stop the bleeding. Effectively they’re doing Harper’s work for him. We’ve already seen this pattern emerging over the past several weeks. And they have no choice, as they are both going after the same pool of left of centre voters.

  16. Kelly says:

    Too many variables. Could be bad for Harper if the other parties can show that the early call is a conservative dirty trick to do financial harm to the NDP and Liberals. Could turn out to be a big fundraising motivator for NDP and Liberal supporters, you never know.

    Arguments about a long campaign giving time for the NDP balloon to deflate are equally applicable to the Conservatives. Who says they won’t fall back to 28% in the polls if the NDP runs a really good campaign?

    A long campaign will hinder third party advertisers, but advertising isn’t everything anymore. Yes, TV and radio ads have an impact but mainly with certain constituencies. Millions of Canadians don’t even subscribe to TV anymore or listen to commercial radio. Especially younger voters who tend not to vote conservative but who vote less, as well. A huge worry for Harper is if the NDP or Liberals can motivate the millions of Canadians who don’t bother voting. If voter turnout were 75 or 80% the cons would be toast. Hence the active voter suppression tactics.

    In general, my sense is that most Canadians are truly sick of Harper. The real battle will between the NDP and Liberals over who will get that vote. That is why the network TV debate going ahead without Harper is interesting. That debate could be a turning point in getting the anti-harper vote to move decisively toward the NDP or Liberals. If that happens, the Cons are in trouble. If it creates more even vote splitting, harper gains.

    So many potential events…and I haven’t even mentioned Duffy or Anonymous’s claim they have Conservative dirt they plan to release.

  17. edward nuff says:

    oh great. 11 weeks of the Lying King starring Stasi Steve on the slide trombone, Skippy and a chorus of clapping seals. If only shirtless guy could get close enough to dear leader to give him the rob ford callout but stevo probably has a lead lined closet built into his ridiculous podium.

  18. Mclind says:

    Warren as a life long Conservative voter, I appreciate your great input on politics. As a staunch Liberal ? the new environment of hate and criticism from all sides makes me cringe.
    Let’s get on with running our wonderful country and work together if that is at all possible. Every party has its faults but can’t it be for the good and not nitpicking.

  19. rww says:

    Released by NDP HQ via Twitter today

  20. Krago says:

    Dumb question: is there a blackout period for ads in the federal election like there was in the Ontario provincial election last year?

    I remember hearing some Justin Trudeau anti-Harper radio ads during the first week of the Ontario campaign. Could third-party groups prevented from running anti-Trudeau ads in August run anti-Wynne ads instead?

  21. Mark says:

    Will all those Economic Action Plan ads still be going too, or is government advertising curtailed during the writ? Any chance the expected excess of CPC ads might backfire, in the sense of people who like Harper getting pissed off at the endless repetition, and deciding to not vote, or even switch allegiances? Or is that balanced by the soft non-CPC voters who may find the negative messages about their candidates puts them off voting?

  22. P. Brenn says:

    I find the ads painful….whoever finds a way to lower gas prices (with a beleivable promise) will get my vote….

    • Matt says:

      Well, I guess it won’t be the Liberals, NDP or Greens who are all promising some form of putting a price on carbon.

  23. Matt says:

    So here are the fundraising totals for the main parties through Q2 2015

    CPC Q1 6,398,332.79
    CPC Q2 7,381,391.15
    Total: $13.78 million

    LIB Q1 4,030,672.77
    LIB Q2 4,207,961.32
    Total: $8.24 million

    NDP Q1 2,268,604.59
    NDP Q2 4,493,853.22
    Total: $6.76 million

    Wow, heading into an election and the Liberals raise LESS in Q2 than they did in Q1.

  24. Tired Denier says:

    Canadian taxpayers will be the biggest losers in the campaign, financing pretty well 95% of political donations.
    The Liberal Party could become a small centrist party as it is in the UK. There is nothing wrong with that. They can choose to prop up the NDP or the Conservatives and still have a lot of influence.

  25. Derek Pearce says:

    Holy Shite! If Anonymous truly has the goods it threatens it does to leak re a former cabinet minister, then 2 questions: 1) will the news outlets report on it without fear libel action and 2) will it drag down the Con poll #’s at all? This is potentially a major shit storm for the govt. Not to mention the former minister could be charged. (WK I’ll understand if you don’t post this comment of mine, but this disgusting news is now circulating even on Facebook).

  26. Tired Denier says:

    The story about Baird is quite sordidly delicious. You couldn’t ask for more, and under Margaret Thatcher no one would have said a word. And you would not have had to go abroad either.

  27. RogerX says:

    The wild card in a longer election writ is the Duceppe BQ which is being backed up by the Pierre-Karl Peladeau PQ sovereigntists. The longer les quebecois have to think about the Layton Orange Crush koolaid deception debacle the more likely they will vote the BQ back to power to cover up their shame and stupidity.

    If the BQ undermines the Mulcair Quebec power base that will virtually ensure the NDP lose any chance of forming a minority government. Also, Justin’s Papineau seat is at risk too and don’t be surprised if the good people of Papineau decide that Justin is just not ready for anything.

    New PQ leader PKP must help rally les quebecois to the Duceppe BQ as a first test of his bid to push sovereignty in the next Quebec provincial election. PKP will come out a big winner or big looser after the federal election. Gonna be interesting fight in Quebec.

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