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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Will History Repeat itself in this Federal Election?

-------------BREAKING NEWS:--------------

OTTAWA — Conservative communicatins director, Ryan Sparrow, was suspended by his party today over comments about the Father of a Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan.

Jim Davis, who recently lost a son in Afghanistan, complained on Thursday that Harper's surprise announcement that he would completely end the Afghan mission in 2011 was "irresponsible." Mr. Davis said his son will have died in vain if Canada does not complete its mission and pulls out prematurely.

Sparrow, who was in the news late last year after being caught sneaking down a hotel's back stairs after a secret press briefing with "approved" reporters, accused Mr. Davis' of making the criticisism of Prime Minister Stephen Harper for political reasons.

In an email to a reporter, Sparrow said that Davis was a supporter of deputy Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. The inference being that Davis was complaining because he was a Liberal.


Will History Repeat itself in this Federal Election?

They say that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

While surfing the web this morning, in search of my daily dose of political intrigue, I ran across something that reminded me of a past election and how, no matter what the polls might show, sometimes voters actually have the last say when it comes to the winners and losers.

At the outset of the 1993 federal election, not one pundit, reporter, strategist or commentator predicted that the Conservatives would be nearly wiped off the electoral map and end up reduced to just two seats in the House of Commons, yet it happened.

That election also ended the career of Prime Minister Kim Campbell.

During the election campaign Campbell toured the nation in an all out effort to win. At one point her personal popularity far surpassed that of Liberal leader Jean Chretien and support for the Progressive Conservatives increased to just a few points behind the Liberals in the polls. It was a far different story when the ballots were counted.

So what happened?

Why did the Conservative campaign self-destruct?

The reason why many voters turned away from the Conservatives, the crushing blow one might say, came as a direct result of a single campaign attack ad aimed at Liberal leader Jean Chretien and his unusual speaking style.

Chretien's speech problem, the result of having had Bell's Palsy during his childhood, resulted in him speaking from one side of his mouth. The Conservatives saw this as a weakness and decided it would be to their advantage to ridicule and attack the Liberal leader's physical handicap.

The tactic backfired.

As a result of widespread public outrage the PC party ended up paying the ultimate price. They were nearly obliterated and the Liberals went on to win that election and successive races for well over a decade.

When it comes to campaign tactics not a lot has changed inside the Conservative party in 15 years.

Recently we’ve seen the same sort of negativity from the Harper campaign as was witnessed in the Campbell campaign of 1993.

Months before the current election was even called the Conservative party began airing television ads depicting Liberal leader Stephane Dion as weak and ineffective, someone who is too much of a risk to elect as a Prime Minister.

These attacks have been followed by a constant barrage on the Conservative party web site. A site that often features more pictures (unflattering though they may be) and more discussion about the Liberal leader than it does about Conservative policies or the Prime Minister himself.

The most recent negative attack,one that finally raised the ire of some voters, depicted Mr. Dion being circled by a puffin (Newfoundland and Labrador’s official bird) as the bird repeatedly defecated on Mr. Dion’s shoulder.

The image, as disgusting as it was, was also quite ironic.

With the current campaign against the Harper Conservatives in Newfoundland and Labrador one could easily suggest that Harper himself should have been the candidate depicted under such dire circumstances, but I digress.

There appears to be no end to the level of mean spirited negativity the Conservative party is capable of when it comes to winning, and it gets far worse.

The Conservatives appear to be so determined to crush their opponents that they will stop at nothing.

Regardless of what recent news reports may suggest, the former head of the television consortium which manages the leader's debates told the Globe and Mail yesterday that he was informed in 1997 that Prime Minister Harper would not participate in a public debate if the leader of the Green party was included.

Smear campaigns, half-truths and strong arming news services are one thing but when a party is willing to actually put lives in jeoparty in order to cripple their opposition they have stooped to an entirely new low.

There is a saying among journalists that under the tight control the Prime Minister's office has on his MPs there is no such thing as an unauthorized leak. The evidence of this is apparent in the current election campaign where Conservative candidates in certain ridings have been warned not to talk to the press.

With the sort of control Mr. Harper has over his MPs it caused great concern about a year ago, shortly after Mr. Dion assumed the leadership of the Liberal party, when one Conservative member of Parliament from Ontario informed the media of precisely where and when Stephane Dion would be touring during what was supposed to be a top secret visit by the Liberal leader to war torn Afghanistan.

This "leak" not only put Mr. Dion's life at risk but also the lives of countless members of his military escort and it caused great distress among military planners on the ground and around Canada.

Is blind political ambition really worth stooping so low?

Will Canadian voters, at some point in this campaign, finally reach their Campbell / Chretien threshold as they did in 1993?

This remains to be seen but the Conservatives, like their Republican counterparts in the U.S., appear to believe that by running a non-stop negative campaign they'll easily storm to victory.

Perhaps they will, but history has shown that their approach can be a very risky gambit North of the border.


The Lone Sailor said...

Not gonna happen. The Liberal Spending Scandel is still hanging over the party's head.

NL-ExPatriate said...

I'm still waiting for an American sub to surface in the arctic again. Or some bandit American escapees to crash a border crossing. Like was done in the last election. Or the release of some far fetched 1930's American plan to invade canada? Yea OK. If harper wins a majority they won't need a plan to invade canada harper will divide us so thoroughly that they will own us anyway through Corporate takeovers and Public private Partnerships.

Along with the SPP Security and prosperity partnership which has been looming under the radar for over ten years.

You can bet your last dollar that the Americans of all parties don't ant Dion to win because he is proposing a tax on the life blood of the American economy.

we are only 33 million and we export far more oil that we use hence the TSX's new name commodities exchange. Where do you think most of that oil goes the US!