How the Conservatives plan to turn a minority into a majority

Doug Finley on Harper’s election playbook

Harper’s playbook

Sean Kilpatrick/CP

From his second-floor office in Parliament’s East Block—once John A. Macdonald’s lair and still appointed with some of his furniture—Sen. Doug Finley has a direct sightline across Wellington Street to Stephen Harper’s office in the Langevin Block. He points out the Prime Minister’s window for a visitor. Asked if they ever wave to one another, Finley deadpans, “Not much.” Neither man is known for his playful gestures.

What they are known for is partnering to reshape the federal political landscape. But that relationship is now changing. Finley, 64, is undergoing chemotherapy for colorectal cancer, and is stepping down as Harper’s campaign director. He’ll remain, though, a key adviser to the Tory machine, which he largely assembled and kept oiled for eight years. He recently summed up his role this way: “I’m not the world’s greatest strategist, or the world’s greatest pollster, or the world’s greatest advertising man, but somebody has to pull these bits together.”

That’s a deceptively chipper job description for a notoriously hard-driving party boss. Finley’s few moments in the public spotlight solidified his reputation as a tough customer. He was once ushered out of a House committee room by security, after he showed up at hearings demanding to testify according to his own timetable, refusing to wait to be called. He banished would-be Tory candidates who didn’t meet with his approval. He lashed out at the CBC in a fundraising letter to Conservative supporters.

But in a rare interview with Maclean’s last week, Finley sounded like the methodical backroom organizer Tory insiders talk of in awestruck tones, rather than the intimidating figure who occasionally emerged to brief bursts of media attention. He sketched a road map to majority that the party will surely try to follow in the next election.

His starting point is elementary election arithmetic. Of the 308 seats in the House, each of the Conservative, Liberal, NDP and Bloc Québécois parties, he reckons, can reasonably be allocated about 40 seats at the outset of a campaign. That leaves just 148 up for grabs. So to claim a majority, the winner would need to grab 115 of those ridings. “To win 115 of 148 seats is a huge, huge undertaking,” Finley says. There’s no clear sign of either party cresting toward the roughly 40 per cent of the popular vote needed to accomplish that feat. Conservative and Liberal polling numbers have remained stubbornly consistent since the 2008 election, the Tories in the mid-thirties, the Liberals in the high twenties.

Still, that puts Harper several precious percentage points closer than Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff to majority territory. To get the rest of the way, Finley says, means converting voters who can’t be easily corralled under either of the two parties’ banners. “There’s a sizable group of people, perhaps enough to sway an election, who could be Blue Liberals or Red Tories,” he says. How to switch Liberal voters in that centrist group to his side? With a gruff laugh, Finley says they must be “transmogrified”—the trick Calvin, of the defunct Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, while playing a spaceman, accomplished using a hair drier as a ray gun.

In the political playground, the tools used to transform voters aren’t so harmless. Attack ads have been a hallmark of Finley’s style. The most recent batch of Tory TV ads again take aim at Ignatieff’s character. They accuse him of returning to Canada, after about three decades in Britain and the U.S., not to serve his country, but to satisfy his ambition. The acerbic tag line: “He didn’t come back for you.”

Other party tacticians might shy away when asked directly about the bruising side of their trade. Not Finley. “Most modern politics, campaigning now—it doesn’t matter where you go—is warfare,” he declares. “People say, I don’t like negative ads, and these guys like negative ads. Well, you go to the United States, you go to the United Kingdom, you go to Australia—their advertising, their approach, in many ways is many times more adversarial than ours.”

Finley, however, isn’t only about going negative. He stresses three big messages for the Conservatives—”strengthening the economy, strengthening the military, strengthening communities.” And he pinpoints the sorts of voters he hopes will respond. Finley’s approach is to identify “tranches” of winnable ridings, based on close analysis of voter demographics. Suburban seats remain the key prize, as they were in the 2008 election, and within the burbs “new Canadians” and “soccer moms” draw Finley’s closest attention.

On winning over immigrant voters, he praises the patient groundwork done by Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and, not incidentally, Kenney’s predecessor in that portfolio—Finley’s wife, Diane Finley, now human resources minister. Immigrants used to be bedrock Liberals. Finley claims the Tories have won many over by pointed reminders that “their values—family, hard work, entrepreneurism, etc.—are very similar to Conservative values.” As for those sought-after soccer moms, Finley says they crave safe communities for their families. So he expects the Tories’ ongoing push for longer prison terms for a wide range of crimes, along with more police, to appeal to them. Across many demographics, he sees economic policy as the Conservative brand’s backbone. “We’ve proven that our attention to our knitting, which is particularly the economy, job creation, tax reduction, is resonating with the Canadian public.”

Finley only sounds like a lifelong conservative. He grew up in Scotland, where as a young man he backed the Scottish Nationalists. Arriving in Montreal in 1968 as a manager in the aerospace industry, he was soon volunteering on Liberal campaigns. In the early 1980s, Finley moved to Winnipeg, and shifted to the right in politics, first to the Progressive Conservatives, then to Reform. By the 1990s, he was a Canadian Alliance organizer in southwestern Ontario, his wife’s home territory. When Harper merged the Alliance with the PCs in 2003, Finley became the united right’s linchpin organizer.

Since then, Harper has switched chiefs of staff often and shuffled his cabinet repeatedly. But the brogue and beard of his campaign director remained constants—until this week’s shakeup. Now Guy Giorno, who was Harper’s chief of staff until the start of this year, takes over as campaign chair; Jenni Byrne, the party’s director of political operations, becomes campaign manager. Finley expects to go on advising the duo replacing him, and take on special tasks they assign. His says doctors tell him his medical outlook is very promising. But if the government falls on its budget within the next few weeks, a possible scenario, he might still be in chemotherapy. “No matter what happens,” he says, “I will be an active contributor to the campaign.”

Whatever comes next, Finley played a central role in Conservative victories that came far faster than his boss expected. Back in 2003, Harper didn’t anticipate seriously threatening to oust the Liberals until after “at least one full election cycle, and by that I mean five years,” Finley recalls. But the 2004 sponsorship scandal fatally undermined Paul Martin’s run as prime minister, giving Harper’s new party a “kick start.” Finley’s disciplined operation, particularly superior fundraising, allowed them to seize their chance.

After five years in office, these Conservatives aren’t outsiders anymore. Harper’s Alberta roots no longer de?ne the brand. “Initially, there was a certain degree of, ‘We’re from the West,’ ” Finley says. “I think that’s very largely eradicated now.” Still, he has helped instill in Conservatives a reluctance to give up easily on their self-image as upstarts. It helps keep them motivated and unified. “We’re only, when all’s said and done, seven years old,” he says. “I don’t think we’ve become institutionalized.”

Maybe not. Yet Finley speaks those words in Sir John A.’s former office, now his own, where the winter sunlight is burnished by stained glass. It’s a grand space, redolent of insiderdom rather than insurgency. And Finley is, after all, a senator. Harper appointed him to the upper chamber in 2009, after abandoning his pledge to name only elected senators the previous year. Finley avows that he hopes Senate reform will one day put him out of a job or force him to stand for office.

As he steps aside as campaign chieftain, though, he finds himself an establishment figure—backroom sage of the party in power. He professes to find the aura that’s grown around him “a bit astounding.” Describing Harper as his own “prime strategist,” Finley calls himself, by contrast, “just an operations guy.” From a forceful political pro given to making persuasive statements, his claim is, for once, completely unconvincing.




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How the Conservatives plan to turn a minority into a majority

  1. Excellent article and spot on as fars as I can determine – well done :)

  2. Excellent article and spot on as fars as I can determine – well done :)

  3. A growl from an old political dog who is laid up for this hunt.

    Nothing new here.

  4. A growl from an old political dog who is laid up for this hunt.

    Nothing new here.

  5. Love these stories on (usually) background guys.

    I hope Mr. Finley makes a speedy and successful recovery from his decidedly more important fight.

  6. Love these stories on (usually) background guys.

    I hope Mr. Finley makes a speedy and successful recovery from his decidedly more important fight.

  7. Finley is proof positive that our immigration policy does not work!

    • O'reilly. . . I suppose that name background reveals something more acceptable? O'reilly, just another spud eater with ridicule softly emerging from the lilt of the tongue. Having the Scots being held at the lower level of the ladder is their natural goal. Too funny, but we welcome both of you to our fair land here across the seas.

      • you know you're dealing with OLD-school racists when they're trying to figure out which british isles background to discriminate against.

        perchance have either of you ever used the word "eye-talian" ?

        • I believe Whops would be the favoured perjoarative of these um…gentlemen, or eyeties.

          • That would be WOPs, "Without official papers."

          • Thanks, i couldn't remember the spelling.

  8. Finley is proof positive that our immigration policy does not work!

  9. Canada's Karl Rove.

    Key difference: Rove does his thing whilst earning his keep in the private sector. Canada's version sucks on the taxpayer's teat.

    That aside, I wish him well in his cancer struggle.

  10. Canada's Karl Rove.

    Key difference: Rove does his thing whilst earning his keep in the private sector. Canada's version sucks on the taxpayer's teat.

    That aside, I wish him well in his cancer struggle.

  11. O'reilly. . . I suppose that name background reveals something more acceptable? O'reilly, just another spud eater with ridicule softly emerging from the lilt of the tongue. Having the Scots being held at the lower level of the ladder is their natural goal. Too funny, but we welcome both of you to our fair land here across the seas.

  12. I feel like I need to wash my hands after reading that

  13. It has been quite a rare and fascinating process to watch as the three rightish parties (by Canadian standards) went about merging and launching their brand. Seven years have flown by, but the Party, to me, does not seem institutionalized already, but rather it seems odd that the Party is always referred to in the media as if it has been, around forever.

    Corralling and lumping the best of the historical foibles or negatives about the three former rightish parties, is a good tactic, for opponents, but it just does not seem to be resonating with many Canadians. Canadians sense that indeed it is Harper as the main strategist, and after his White House trip there may be many more new supporters after seeing him more than holding his own. It is very reassuring.

    • Three?

    • And which three parties are those?

      I recall the Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance (formerly the Reform Party). And considering that the Reformers started as a break away from the PC's it's not so much that the two parties were united as they were reunited later down the line.

  14. It has been quite a rare and fascinating process to watch as the three rightish parties (by Canadian standards) went about merging and launching their brand. Seven years have flown by, but the Party, to me, does not seem institutionalized already, but rather it seems odd that the Party is always referred to in the media as if it has been, around forever.

    Corralling and lumping the best of the historical foibles or negatives about the three former rightish parties, is a good tactic, for opponents, but it just does not seem to be resonating with many Canadians. Canadians sense that indeed it is Harper as the main strategist, and after his White House trip there may be many more new supporters after seeing him more than holding his own. It is very reassuring.

  15. Harper with a majority would be a veritable nightmare for all true Canadians.

  16. Why???

    • DUH !!!

  17. Why???

  18. Excellent article. The only concern I have is that Calvin's transmorgrifier was an upside down box, not a hairdryer.

    Please try to do a little more research on these important details.

    • Transmogrifier Mk. 1 was an upside down box, it was then adapted from a water pistol for portability and was powered by telepathy.

      • But we are agreed, it was never a hair dryer

        • Agreed.

  19. Excellent article. The only concern I have is that Calvin's transmorgrifier was an upside down box, not a hairdryer.

    Please try to do a little more research on these important details.

  20. you know you're dealing with OLD-school racists when they're trying to figure out which british isles background to discriminate against.

    perchance have either of you ever used the word "eye-talian" ?

  21. The part of their get-a-majority strategy I like best is how they manage to find one spin-friendly journalist each week to write a story about how they intend to get their majority through double-secret, super-stealth, invisible micro-targeting.

    The fact that there is zero evidence pointing to any possibility of a Harper majority not only doesn't refute the merits of that strategy in the least, it actually confirms it.

    • Wow….thanks Passing by! And you are….? Oh, nobody? Mmmmm.

      I really don't mean that condescendingly, it's just that I'm allergic to presumption, and you are full of it my friend.

    • "Double-secret", "super-stealth"? Ya, that's why they're telling journalists all about it. Your last sentence fragment makes no sense whatsoever.

  22. The part of their get-a-majority strategy I like best is how they manage to find one spin-friendly journalist each week to write a story about how they intend to get their majority through double-secret, super-stealth, invisible micro-targeting.

    The fact that there is zero evidence pointing to any possibility of a Harper majority not only doesn't refute the merits of that strategy in the least, it actually confirms it.

  23. It was Doug Finley and Tom Flanagan that went to Chuck Cadman with the bribe and it's too hard to get past that to see this man as anything but corrupt. I hope Canadians realize how truly incompetent this bunch is, how detrimental they have been to our democracy, and how they like to bend our laws to suit their crimes and never allows them to intrench themselves in our political system.

    • Got any proof? Or are you just flapping your gums?

      • Just flapping his gums.

      • Proof? You didn't see the film clip of Harper saying he knew it (the bribe) wouldn't work. I believe both names were mentioned as orchestrator of THE BRIBE.
        But then self-induced blindness is convenient and catchy, isn't it?

    • Why would you choose to use a cancer treatment method as your blogging name in an article about a man fighting cancer ?

      If it is your position that a Party other than the Conservatives should be the government, don`t you think that you only help the Conservative cause, and harm your own Party, by acting like such an insensitive, vulgar jerk ?

      • I thought you tories were fed up with all the sensitivity and political correctness.

        Screw this guy. I hope he dies.

        • Oh, oh. Please show some respect.

          • I'd pay good money for the chance to say it to his face.

          • For a guy who justifies using negative ads? No respect.

    • That statement in the final sentence applies more readily to the Liberal party, buddy.

    • I recall very well that Doug Finley was reported to have been one of the two Conservative operatives who, Donna Cadman — Chuck's wife — claimed her husband had told her had tried to bribe him to vote to save the Conservatives in Parliament. She said that Chuck had told her they had offered him a $100,000. insurance policy to vote with the Cons. after he had left the Cons and become an independent. Isn't it strange that now Donna Cadman is a Conservative M.P. in the Parliament of Canada. (Or is that now to be called the Parliament of Harper?) Wouldn't you think that after Chuck Cadman,a dying man, had made such an effort to get to the House Of Commons to vote for the Liberals –he was an honourable man, after all — that his wife would pay him the honour of declining the Conservative offer to help her get into parliament as a Conservative?

      I wonder if Diane would dishonour her husband like that? Too bad about the cancer but that didn't play into the strategy of using anything or anyone to win a majority. After all, just think what could come out of a majority Harper government.

      Seventy-eight year-old grandma who is worried about dishonesty and disintegration of a democratic, humane, healthy society. (Senior's angst)

  24. It was Doug Finley and Tom Flanagan that went to Chuck Cadman with the bribe and it's too hard to get past that to see this man as anything but corrupt. I hope Canadians realize how truly incompetent this bunch is, how detrimental they have been to our democracy, and how they like to bend our laws to suit their crimes and never allows them to intrench themselves in our political system.

  25. Transmogrifier Mk. 1 was an upside down box, it was then adapted from a water pistol for portability and was powered by telepathy.

  26. Yes, a nightmare for liberals.

    • Oh, *that's* what a "true canadian" is….

  27. Yes, a nightmare for liberals.

  28. Got any proof? Or are you just flapping your gums?

  29. "Immigrants used to be bedrock Liberals. Finley claims the Tories have won many over by pointed reminders that 'their values—family, hard work, entrepreneurism, etc.—are very similar to Conservative values.'"

    I thought the Conservatives do not like recent migrants like Ignatieff and immigrants.

    Conservative line: "Immigrants, vote for the Conservatives; just don't run for prime minister. You're just visiting."

    • I don't see a lot of people coming back after more than 30 years to become prime minister. But maybe that's just me.

      • Yeah, his/her little attempt at a clever jab never got off the ground. I mean, I simply don't see too many Canadians immigrating to Canada, but that could just be me (and Dennis).

  30. "Immigrants used to be bedrock Liberals. Finley claims the Tories have won many over by pointed reminders that 'their values—family, hard work, entrepreneurism, etc.—are very similar to Conservative values.'"

    I thought the Conservatives do not like recent migrants like Ignatieff and immigrants.

    Conservative line: "Immigrants, vote for the Conservatives; just don't run for prime minister. You're just visiting."

  31. Egypt has its autocrat; so, too, will Canada.

    Autocrat Harper!

  32. Egypt has its autocrat; so, too, will Canada.

    Autocrat Harper!

  33. Finley and the other 52 or 53 Senators will use their offices, and the funds that flow through them, to campaign for Harper's majority.
    Finley's approach is not highly original but it could prove effective. His bewitching brew is shrewd mixture of ideologies – communitarian Christian values conservatism focused on 1950s style middle-class suburban families; neo-liberal fiscal conservatism (although most ardent fiscal conservatives are angry at Harper's unrestrained spending since he came to office in 2006); libertarianism when it suits them, western populist democracy (50% + 1 vote rules) for those seeking a Triple E Senate, and nationalist conservatism in Quebec.
    Finley also knows that elections are won in the trenches and in the air wars. The Conservative War Room has unlimited cash and enough energized angry militants to do all the hard and dirty work required to identity and then get the conservative voters to the polls.
    If the NDP gang keep attacking the Liberals then Finley and Harper will get their majority and Finley can retire in peace.

    • Even if the libs and Dippers would just call a truce until Harper is gone it would help. No reason for them to get hitched or waste a lot of energy trying to change each others views – the enemy of my enemy is my friend stuff. It continues to baffle me that diehards in either party can't make this simple calculus – after all it's just about what the reformers and the PCs managed to do, even if they did have more in common then the lib/ndp. It could also be said that more than a few PCers have come to realise they didn't have as much in common with the reformers as they may have first thought they did.

      • quite simply impossible – the NDP are by their nature Liberal and the Liberals are by their nature nothing .. if anything the Conservatives and the NDP have more in common in that they both want to carve up the LPT – in point of fact a careful analysis of what is happening at present might, just confirm my hypothesis – If Jack was smart he would come out swinging big time against Iggy as he has already started the process. There will be no ABC .. no Coalition .. no agreement … instead we see the direct consequence of the new strategy needed for the NDP to gain ..then again a consequence of this is that the Conservatives also gain – BUT – perhaps that is the overall strategy for the long term as both Harper and Layton are playing slice and dice with the LPT right now and will continue this until the NDP become the official opposition and then Canadians will have a clear decision right or left because as it satnds the LPT is nothing and neither and only concerned with power for powers sake.

        • Funny how they almost suceeded in putting their differences aside in 08.

          Libs and Dippers have worked together both separately and in previous minority govts.

          NDP numbers aren't looking too good right now – no carving there.

          Libs chase power for its own sake – and just what the hell is Harper doing then??

  34. Finley and the other 52 or 53 Senators will use their offices, and the funds that flow through them, to campaign for Harper's majority.
    Finley's approach is not highly original but it could prove effective. His bewitching brew is shrewd mixture of ideologies – communitarian Christian values conservatism focused on 1950s style middle-class suburban families; neo-liberal fiscal conservatism (although most ardent fiscal conservatives are angry at Harper's unrestrained spending since he came to office in 2006); libertarianism when it suits them, western populist democracy (50% + 1 vote rules) for those seeking a Triple E Senate, and nationalist conservatism in Quebec.
    Finley also knows that elections are won in the trenches and in the air wars. The Conservative War Room has unlimited cash and enough energized angry militants to do all the hard and dirty work required to identity and then get the conservative voters to the polls.
    If the NDP gang keep attacking the Liberals then Finley and Harper will get their majority and Finley can retire in peace.

  35. Three?

  36. I believe Whops would be the favoured perjoarative of these um…gentlemen, or eyeties.

  37. "How to switch Liberal voters in that centrist group to his side? With a gruff laugh, Finley says they must be “transmogrified”…

    In the political playground, the tools used to transform voters aren't so harmless. Attack ads have been a hallmark of Finley's style. The most recent batch of Tory TV ads again take aim at Ignatieff's character. They accuse him of returning to Canada, after about three decades in Britain and the U.S., not to serve his country, but to satisfy his ambition. The acerbic tag line: “He didn't come back for you.”

    Well that's BS for a start. The end game of Finely's tactics is to turn uncommited voters off and make them stay home if you can't get em to vote for you – pure Rovinism.

    • You may try to blame Finley but the fact remains the lack of leadership of the Liberals and there failed policies are causing their voters to stay home. It has nothing to do with Finley. It is the Libs themselves who are causing their own to dissaffect.

      • Some truth in that. But Finely is doing nothing to turn the trend of low voter turnouts around. Why should he, it plays o the CPCs strengths, if you want to call them that.

        • It is not the job of Finley to improve voter turn out. He is a politico who is playing the game as he sees fit. It is up to Canadians to decide if they want to vote or not. It is Canadians themselves who are responsible for low voter turn out.

          I would just make the point. Would you stay home and not vote because somebody is using negative advertising? That's not a credible explanation for low voter turn out.

          • Now you're being disingenuous really. Attack ads don't help to drive down the voter turnout? They certainly aren't the cause but they sure as heck aren't helping. It's in the CPCs interest to do nothing that helps voter turnouts right now, given that 2/3rds of the country don't support them and it's a fair bet many of those who aren't voting wouldn't either.

          • I would remind you again what I said. Voters do not turn out to vote for a variety of reasons. Some we will never know. However, I would suggest the opposite effect could also happen. If the voters as you suggest are so incensed with negative advertising then you would think they would show up to vote against the party that is doing the negative advertising. I think your suggestion that negative advertising is the cause is pretty facile. People say they don't like negative advertising but is a proven fact they pay attention to them.

            It is not the job of any political party to encourage or discourage voter turnout. The issues are there and it is those issues that Canadians should focus on.

            You know I get pretty tired of this thing about 65% of the electorate don't support them. That is virtually the case in every election. No party receives 50% of the vote. Did the election of Jean Chretien with 38% of the vote in 97 or 2000 somehow deligitimizes his majority government.

          • The difference being that rarely has the winning party been the last party that the majority of Canadians would have voted for.

          • Aren't we the clairvoyant one? You have no idea what you are talking about. It is your opinion and only your opinion. Once again here we go…Canadians are stupid and know not what they do. Give me a break!

          • hollinm continued…..

            We get to vote for one party in an election. The fact that 65% of the electorate is spread among four opposition parties is not the fault of the CPC. We have a first past the post system which has been in place since the country was founded. Now somehow because we have a CPC government and weak opposition parties the system is broken. Come on!

  38. "How to switch Liberal voters in that centrist group to his side? With a gruff laugh, Finley says they must be “transmogrified”…

    In the political playground, the tools used to transform voters aren't so harmless. Attack ads have been a hallmark of Finley's style. The most recent batch of Tory TV ads again take aim at Ignatieff's character. They accuse him of returning to Canada, after about three decades in Britain and the U.S., not to serve his country, but to satisfy his ambition. The acerbic tag line: “He didn't come back for you.”

    Well that's BS for a start. The end game of Finely's tactics is to turn uncommited voters off and make them stay home if you can't get em to vote for you – pure Rovinism.

  39. Why would you choose to use a cancer treatment method as your blogging name in an article about a man fighting cancer ?

    If it is your position that a Party other than the Conservatives should be the government, don`t you think that you only help the Conservative cause, and harm your own Party, by acting like such an insensitive, vulgar jerk ?

  40. Fascism (def) One common definition of fascism focuses on three groups of ideas: the Fascist Negations of anti-liberalism, anti-communism and anti-conservatism; nationalist, authoritarian goals for the creation of a regulated economic structure to transform social relations within a modern, self-determined culture; a political aesthetic using romantic symbolism, mass mobilisation, a positive view of violence, promotion of masculinity and youth and charismatic leadership

    • And this relates to this article and discussion…how?

      • Well…the last part of it says something about "charismatic leadership"…so obviously he's not talking about Canada.

  41. Fascism (def) One common definition of fascism focuses on three groups of ideas: the Fascist Negations of anti-liberalism, anti-communism and anti-conservatism; nationalist, authoritarian goals for the creation of a regulated economic structure to transform social relations within a modern, self-determined culture; a political aesthetic using romantic symbolism, mass mobilisation, a positive view of violence, promotion of masculinity and youth and charismatic leadership

  42. But we are agreed, it was never a hair dryer

  43. You mean for all true left-wingers.

    • 65% of canadians identify as centre or centre-left

      it's not at all fair to say you're not a "true canadian" if you don't want harper gone… but it's also probably true that most canadians want him gone

      • Harper's share of the vote, which has reached about 37%, has not been that much lower than Chretien's, who I believe once only gained 38%, and didn't rise above 40%. So, by your logic, most Canadians wanted him gone, too, right?

      • I don't think we even know what a "true canadian" is. We do know that Harper has moved the Conservatives to the centre which I never would have thought. He certainly does not seem to be a "true conservative". He appears to me to be a "true politician" … at least one that will do most anything to remain in power. Small p power – i.e. minority government. Harper simply is not genuine enough to move beyond small p – he seems to wear a coat of many colours :)

      • Ugh…I can't believe people still say this!

        Who would you have us replace Harper with? You do understand that by your own logic, even more Canadians do not want Ignatieff, and even more Canadians do not want Layton.

        What the *expletive* is your point then?

        If you are proposing a united left, fine, but keep in mind that the Liberals and NDP have never been a united party, ever. At the end of the day, to insist on breaking down the Canadian electorate into a simple dichotomy of left-wing vs. right-wing does not do justice to reality, and therefore is not beneficial to the conversation.

        So please, please, please stop *expletive* trying to do it!

        Ugh!

      • Let's wait for the next election to prove the falseness of that statement.

  44. You mean for all true left-wingers.

  45. I don't see a lot of people coming back after more than 30 years to become prime minister. But maybe that's just me.

  46. In an exclusive poll conducted for Postmedia News and Global News, 64% of surveyed Canadians said the federal political process is working “just fine” and that there's “no need” for an election. Only 36% said an election is necessary – when the numbers are like this any party that forces an election runs the likelihood of experiencing ' The Punishment ' factor – consider the amount of close call 3 ways out there and Harper could get the majority right now if the LPT is stupid enough to force one

    • With the CPC polling at pre-merger levels, the idea of a majority government led by Harper is even more laughable now than it was in 2006. Dream on…

    • No worries…no election in 2011.

      Jack's turn to turn turtle.

  47. In an exclusive poll conducted for Postmedia News and Global News, 64% of surveyed Canadians said the federal political process is working “just fine” and that there's “no need” for an election. Only 36% said an election is necessary – when the numbers are like this any party that forces an election runs the likelihood of experiencing ' The Punishment ' factor – consider the amount of close call 3 ways out there and Harper could get the majority right now if the LPT is stupid enough to force one

  48. Even if the libs and Dippers would just call a truce until Harper is gone it would help. No reason for them to get hitched or waste a lot of energy trying to change each others views – the enemy of my enemy is my friend stuff. It continues to baffle me that diehards in either party can't make this simple calculus – after all it's just about what the reformers and the PCs managed to do, even if they did have more in common then the lib/ndp. It could also be said that more than a few PCers have come to realise they didn't have as much in common with the reformers as they may have first thought they did.

  49. Oh, *that's* what a "true canadian" is….

  50. Agreed.

  51. quite simply impossible – the NDP are by their nature Liberal and the Liberals are by their nature nothing .. if anything the Conservatives and the NDP have more in common in that they both want to carve up the LPT – in point of fact a careful analysis of what is happening at present might, just confirm my hypothesis – If Jack was smart he would come out swinging big time against Iggy as he has already started the process. There will be no ABC .. no Coalition .. no agreement … instead we see the direct consequence of the new strategy needed for the NDP to gain ..then again a consequence of this is that the Conservatives also gain – BUT – perhaps that is the overall strategy for the long term as both Harper and Layton are playing slice and dice with the LPT right now and will continue this until the NDP become the official opposition and then Canadians will have a clear decision right or left because as it satnds the LPT is nothing and neither and only concerned with power for powers sake.

  52. Just flapping his gums.

  53. You may try to blame Finley but the fact remains the lack of leadership of the Liberals and there failed policies are causing their voters to stay home. It has nothing to do with Finley. It is the Libs themselves who are causing their own to dissaffect.

  54. Some truth in that. But Finely is doing nothing to turn the trend of low voter turnouts around. Why should he, it plays o the CPCs strengths, if you want to call them that.

  55. Funny how they almost suceeded in putting their differences aside in 08.

    Libs and Dippers have worked together both separately and in previous minority govts.

    NDP numbers aren't looking too good right now – no carving there.

    Libs chase power for its own sake – and just what the hell is Harper doing then??

  56. It is not the job of Finley to improve voter turn out. He is a politico who is playing the game as he sees fit. It is up to Canadians to decide if they want to vote or not. It is Canadians themselves who are responsible for low voter turn out.

    I would just make the point. Would you stay home and not vote because somebody is using negative advertising? That's not a credible explanation for low voter turn out.

  57. That would be WOPs, "Without official papers."

  58. With the CPC polling at pre-merger levels, the idea of a majority government led by Harper is even more laughable now than it was in 2006. Dream on…

  59. I thought you tories were fed up with all the sensitivity and political correctness.

    Screw this guy. I hope he dies.

  60. Poor sensitive wee flower, you are.

  61. Poor sensitive wee flower, you are.

  62. Oh, oh. Please show some respect.

  63. Terrorist drives car full of explosives to a Mosque http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNq-SX8Uhug&fe

    Wonder why Macleans, Star, Globe, Post, CNN, FoxNews, BBC did not report it? Russian TV America picked up the story. So much for a free and fair media!!

  64. Terrorist drives car full of explosives to a Mosque http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNq-SX8Uhug&fe

    Wonder why Macleans, Star, Globe, Post, CNN, FoxNews, BBC did not report it? Russian TV America picked up the story. So much for a free and fair media!!

  65. I'd pay good money for the chance to say it to his face.

  66. 65% of canadians identify as centre or centre-left

    it's not at all fair to say you're not a "true canadian" if you don't want harper gone… but it's also probably true that most canadians want him gone

  67. Harper's share of the vote, which has reached about 37%, has not been that much lower than Chretien's, who I believe once only gained 38%, and didn't rise above 40%. So, by your logic, most Canadians wanted him gone, too, right?

  68. I don't think we even know what a "true canadian" is. We do know that Harper has moved the Conservatives to the centre which I never would have thought. He certainly does not seem to be a "true conservative". He appears to me to be a "true politician" … at least one that will do most anything to remain in power. Small p power – i.e. minority government. Harper simply is not genuine enough to move beyond small p – he seems to wear a coat of many colours :)

  69. Ugh…I can't believe people still say this!

    Who would you have us replace Harper with? You do understand that by your own logic, even more Canadians do not want Ignatieff, and even more Canadians do not want Layton.

    What the *expletive* is your point then?

    If you are proposing a united left, fine, but keep in mind that the Liberals and NDP have never been a united party, ever. At the end of the day, to insist on breaking down the Canadian electorate into a simple dichotomy of left-wing vs. right-wing does not do justice to reality, and therefore is not beneficial to the conversation.

    So please, please, please stop *expletive* trying to do it!

    Ugh!

  70. Wow….thanks Passing by! And you are….? Oh, nobody? Mmmmm.

    I really don't mean that condescendingly, it's just that I'm allergic to presumption, and you are full of it my friend.

  71. Yeah, his/her little attempt at a clever jab never got off the ground. I mean, I simply don't see too many Canadians immigrating to Canada, but that could just be me (and Dennis).

  72. And this relates to this article and discussion…how?

  73. For a guy who justifies using negative ads? No respect.

  74. Thanks, i couldn't remember the spelling.

  75. Now you're being disingenuous really. Attack ads don't help to drive down the voter turnout? They certainly aren't the cause but they sure as heck aren't helping. It's in the CPCs interest to do nothing that helps voter turnouts right now, given that 2/3rds of the country don't support them and it's a fair bet many of those who aren't voting wouldn't either.

  76. The problem with the Liberals is that their stuck making some very bad choices. Iggy went out saying that voting for the NDP or the Bloc was a vote for Harper, and that they should vote Liberal to save the country.

    The problem is that the NDP is more better placed to stop the Conservatives in many ridings. This is especially the case in BC where the Liberals are behind both parties and, in some areas, even behind the Greens. If the NDP-lite voters were to support this notion, they would be handing the Conservatives ridings on a silver platter. Same goes in Alberta and in the Ontario that's outside of GTA proper.

    The Liberals haven't offered anything concrete to set themselves apart from the rest.

  77. The problem with the Liberals is that their stuck making some very bad choices. Iggy went out saying that voting for the NDP or the Bloc was a vote for Harper, and that they should vote Liberal to save the country.

    The problem is that the NDP is more better placed to stop the Conservatives in many ridings. This is especially the case in BC where the Liberals are behind both parties and, in some areas, even behind the Greens. If the NDP-lite voters were to support this notion, they would be handing the Conservatives ridings on a silver platter. Same goes in Alberta and in the Ontario that's outside of GTA proper.

    The Liberals haven't offered anything concrete to set themselves apart from the rest.

    • there vs their vs they're: Sir or madam, please learn the difference. Nobody takes seriously an article that leads off with a vulgar spelling error. And you are not the only one in these columns who confuses "there" with "their". And no, I am not an old fart.

      • They're, their excanuck….calm down.

        • One is a pedant about spelling. One simply cannot help oneself.

  78. Russia Today Slogans.

    "Makes Fox News look like a network of scholars"
    "The BBC, but driven by smut"
    "We blow everything out of proportion because Putin told us to"
    "TASS 2.0"

    You can't watch that network (I get it on Shaw Cable) for 5 minutes without changing the channel. Otherwise, you'll end up having to buy a new TV.

    BTW, CNN did report on this. http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/01/30/man-char

    As did Fox News http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/01/30/man-arrested

  79. Let's wait for the next election to prove the falseness of that statement.

  80. "Double-secret", "super-stealth"? Ya, that's why they're telling journalists all about it. Your last sentence fragment makes no sense whatsoever.

  81. That statement in the final sentence applies more readily to the Liberal party, buddy.

  82. I would remind you again what I said. Voters do not turn out to vote for a variety of reasons. Some we will never know. However, I would suggest the opposite effect could also happen. If the voters as you suggest are so incensed with negative advertising then you would think they would show up to vote against the party that is doing the negative advertising. I think your suggestion that negative advertising is the cause is pretty facile. People say they don't like negative advertising but is a proven fact they pay attention to them.

    It is not the job of any political party to encourage or discourage voter turnout. The issues are there and it is those issues that Canadians should focus on.

    You know I get pretty tired of this thing about 65% of the electorate don't support them. That is virtually the case in every election. No party receives 50% of the vote. Did the election of Jean Chretien with 38% of the vote in 97 or 2000 somehow deligitimizes his majority government.

  83. hollinm continued…..

    We get to vote for one party in an election. The fact that 65% of the electorate is spread among four opposition parties is not the fault of the CPC. We have a first past the post system which has been in place since the country was founded. Now somehow because we have a CPC government and weak opposition parties the system is broken. Come on!

  84. there vs their vs they're: Sir or madam, please learn the difference. Nobody takes seriously an article that leads off with a vulgar spelling error. And you are not the only one in these columns who confuses "there" with "their". And no, I am not an old fart.

  85. As for those sought-after soccer moms, Finley says they crave safe communities for their families. So he expects the Tories' ongoing push for longer prison terms for a wide range of crimes, along with more police, to appeal to them.

    And yet last I read, the CPC have the very least traction with women.
    And that was before working moms who put their kids in daycare got an earful of Ms Findley.

  86. As for those sought-after soccer moms, Finley says they crave safe communities for their families. So he expects the Tories' ongoing push for longer prison terms for a wide range of crimes, along with more police, to appeal to them.

    And yet last I read, the CPC have the very least traction with women.
    And that was before working moms who put their kids in daycare got an earful of Ms Findley.

    • Doug and Diane Finley are actually married to each other, btw. They are both equally partisan and equally vicious

  87. Well…the last part of it says something about "charismatic leadership"…so obviously he's not talking about Canada.

  88. No worries…no election in 2011.

    Jack's turn to turn turtle.

  89. They're, their excanuck….calm down.

  90. One is a pedant about spelling. One simply cannot help oneself.

  91. I was under the impression that Senators should be tending to the legislative duties. Surely, the institution shouldn't be filled with full-time party operatives on the public payroll?

  92. I was under the impression that Senators should be tending to the legislative duties. Surely, the institution shouldn't be filled with full-time party operatives on the public payroll?

    • And do you remember when Senator Davey, and Senator Kirby, and Senator Smith all worked on Liberal campaigns and I`ll bet Andrew not P or C was real bothered by that.

      • I've never defended the practice, nor should you. I'd rather the Senate was composed of non-aligned members chosen on merit. This proposal has the benefit of being constitutional, unlike elected senate schemes.

  93. And do you remember when Senator Davey, and Senator Kirby, and Senator Smith all worked on Liberal campaigns and I`ll bet Andrew not P or C was real bothered by that.

  94. The difference being that rarely has the winning party been the last party that the majority of Canadians would have voted for.

  95. The transmogrifier was a cardboard box, not the hair drier raygun that Spaceman Spiff used.

  96. The transmogrifier was a cardboard box, not the hair drier raygun that Spaceman Spiff used.

  97. I've never defended the practice, nor should you. I'd rather the Senate was composed of non-aligned members chosen on merit. This proposal has the benefit of being constitutional, unlike elected senate schemes.

  98. Aren't we the clairvoyant one? You have no idea what you are talking about. It is your opinion and only your opinion. Once again here we go…Canadians are stupid and know not what they do. Give me a break!

  99. We already do have a working majority federal government. Minority Conservatives simply work closely with separatist Bloc Quebecois to form a majority.

    Bloc Quebecois joined federal politics in 1992. Party members are drawn exclusively from the province of Quebec. Bloc Quebecois has publicly stated goals of "devotion to Quebec and secession from Canada". Bloc Quebecois is a separatist party. Their actions and decisions are devoted to dividing Canada.

    It is deeply concerning that we have an exclusive separatist provincial party governing Quebec (Parti Quebecois) while another exclusive Quebec provincial party (Bloc Quebecois) functions in the federal arena without a majority or mandate from all of Quebec to go about pursuing secession during daily Ottawa federal business.

    I hope Harper Conservatives and (separatist) Bloc Quebecois do not acquire sufficient seats to allow them to continue making defective laws and distributing billions. This coalition government has demonstrated the habit of distributing large amounts of cash, instead of smaller, more easily traceable amounts, which is an identified means of making embezzlement easier.

    This sounds like a valid concern after reading macleans.ca Sep.24, 2010:

    "Quebec: The most corrupt province
    Why does Quebec claim so many of the nation's political scandals?"

  100. We already do have a working majority federal government. Minority Conservatives simply work closely with separatist Bloc Quebecois to form a majority.

    Bloc Quebecois joined federal politics in 1992. Party members are drawn exclusively from the province of Quebec. Bloc Quebecois has publicly stated goals of "devotion to Quebec and secession from Canada". Bloc Quebecois is a separatist party. Their actions and decisions are devoted to dividing Canada.

    It is deeply concerning that we have an exclusive separatist provincial party governing Quebec (Parti Quebecois) while another exclusive Quebec provincial party (Bloc Quebecois) functions in the federal arena without a majority or mandate from all of Quebec to go about pursuing secession during daily Ottawa federal business.

    I hope Harper Conservatives and (separatist) Bloc Quebecois do not acquire sufficient seats to allow them to continue making defective laws and distributing billions. This coalition government has demonstrated the habit of distributing large amounts of cash, instead of smaller, more easily traceable amounts, which is an identified means of making embezzlement easier.

    This sounds like a valid concern after reading macleans.ca Sep.24, 2010:

    "Quebec: The most corrupt province
    Why does Quebec claim so many of the nation's political scandals?"

  101. And which three parties are those?

    I recall the Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance (formerly the Reform Party). And considering that the Reformers started as a break away from the PC's it's not so much that the two parties were united as they were reunited later down the line.

  102. "How the Conservatives plan to turn a minority into a majority"

    More like

    How the Conservatives WANT to turn a minority into a majority, using the same tactics they've used before.

    I don't see anything new here. That's the playbook?

  103. "How the Conservatives plan to turn a minority into a majority"

    More like

    How the Conservatives WANT to turn a minority into a majority, using the same tactics they've used before.

    I don't see anything new here. That's the playbook?

  104. The reason a majority is eluding the Conservative Party is Stephen Harper himself. If they ran Brad Wall or Danny Williams they would get a majority. That's not going to happen, though, because it really is the Stephen Harper Party of Canada. He controls it completely and won't allow any other contenders.

    As for the attack ads on Iggy, I have to laugh at them because a big part of Harper's problem is that he never had the gumption to leave Canada and see the world. His narrow-mindedness is holding him back. He's a very shrewd man who is very short on wisdom.

  105. The reason a majority is eluding the Conservative Party is Stephen Harper himself. If they ran Brad Wall or Danny Williams they would get a majority. That's not going to happen, though, because it really is the Stephen Harper Party of Canada. He controls it completely and won't allow any other contenders.

    As for the attack ads on Iggy, I have to laugh at them because a big part of Harper's problem is that he never had the gumption to leave Canada and see the world. His narrow-mindedness is holding him back. He's a very shrewd man who is very short on wisdom.

  106. I just cannot bring myself to support a political party that runs a campaign based on fear and intolerance. It's not the Canadian way.

  107. I just cannot bring myself to support a political party that runs a campaign based on fear and intolerance. It's not the Canadian way.

    • I agree and I will never vote for a party that uses smear campaigns. Every time I see a smear ad, I give $1 to another party. It is hard to be a teacher and try to educate our youth not to be bullies when the federal government exhibits the bully mentality every day.

  108. DUH !!!

  109. This is all wishful thinking. Canadians deserve better than Harper and his trained seals. Time for Big Ig to take over.

  110. This is all wishful thinking. Canadians deserve better than Harper and his trained seals. Time for Big Ig to take over.

  111. I wish Doug Finley the best of success in his fight against cancer. I do hope he uses this time to re-evaluate the disdain with which he has treated Canadian voters. Negative, ruthless and dishonest politics may be effective, but it's not noble.
    Be noble Senator Finley and above all else, be well.

  112. I wish Doug Finley the best of success in his fight against cancer. I do hope he uses this time to re-evaluate the disdain with which he has treated Canadian voters. Negative, ruthless and dishonest politics may be effective, but it's not noble.
    Be noble Senator Finley and above all else, be well.

  113. Doug and Diane Finley are actually married to each other, btw. They are both equally partisan and equally vicious

  114. Excellent article and shows how manipulative this govt (sic) has been. No moral fibre, as far as I'm concerned.

    Up to us voters to vote them out though, and start thinking outside the box for parties like the NDP and the Green Party.

  115. Excellent article and shows how manipulative this govt (sic) has been. No moral fibre, as far as I'm concerned.

    Up to us voters to vote them out though, and start thinking outside the box for parties like the NDP and the Green Party.

  116. Proof? You didn't see the film clip of Harper saying he knew it (the bribe) wouldn't work. I believe both names were mentioned as orchestrator of THE BRIBE.
    But then self-induced blindness is convenient and catchy, isn't it?

  117. The only intelligence on the hill–is in power right now—-who would U rather have——-the 3 stooges???

  118. The only intelligence on the hill–is in power right now—-who would U rather have——-the 3 stooges???

  119. If the Conservatives ever do in fact get their so called majority, there will probably be a lot more shameless liers walking around in Canada pretending that they didn't vote for Harper and the pseudo-GOP party selling Canada to the USA. In fact one will think that the Conservative GOP party got their majority by MAGIC.

  120. If the Conservatives ever do in fact get their so called majority, there will probably be a lot more shameless liers walking around in Canada pretending that they didn't vote for Harper and the pseudo-GOP party selling Canada to the USA. In fact one will think that the Conservative GOP party got their majority by MAGIC.

  121. The americanization of canada continues and that is the harparian dream. next we will have the lords prayer, backroom abortions, more kids in jail and 1950s hairstyles.

  122. The americanization of canada continues and that is the harparian dream. next we will have the lords prayer, backroom abortions, more kids in jail and 1950s hairstyles.

  123. I agree and I will never vote for a party that uses smear campaigns. Every time I see a smear ad, I give $1 to another party. It is hard to be a teacher and try to educate our youth not to be bullies when the federal government exhibits the bully mentality every day.

  124. I recall very well that Doug Finley was reported to have been one of the two Conservative operatives who, Donna Cadman — Chuck's wife — claimed her husband had told her had tried to bribe him to vote to save the Conservatives in Parliament. She said that Chuck had told her they had offered him a $100,000. insurance policy to vote with the Cons. after he had left the Cons and become an independent. Isn't it strange that now Donna Cadman is a Conservative M.P. in the Parliament of Canada. (Or is that now to be called the Parliament of Harper?) Wouldn't you think that after Chuck Cadman,a dying man, had made such an effort to get to the House Of Commons to vote for the Liberals –he was an honourable man, after all — that his wife would pay him the honour of declining the Conservative offer to help her get into parliament as a Conservative?

    I wonder if Diane would dishonour her husband like that? Too bad about the cancer but that didn't play into the strategy of using anything or anyone to win a majority. After all, just think what could come out of a majority Harper government.

    Seventy-eight year-old grandma who is worried about dishonesty and disintegration of a democratic, humane, healthy society. (Senior's angst)

  125. Doug threw a temper tantrum deserving of Tweens' Bullying Schoolyard tactics when he DEMANDED to speak on his own terms at Committee!

    Herr Harper Robotson will never get a Majority—in Canada, at least!

    Perhaps Zimbabwe …they need him there….God save us from these Unprincipled Bullies who've shamed Canada on the world stage (kicked out of the Security Council after 60 years) who are selling off dismantling Canada and will have us become the 51st State—kick them out with our Vote!

  126. Doug threw a temper tantrum deserving of Tweens' Bullying Schoolyard tactics when he DEMANDED to speak on his own terms at Committee!

    Herr Harper Robotson will never get a Majority—in Canada, at least!

    Perhaps Zimbabwe …they need him there….God save us from these Unprincipled Bullies who've shamed Canada on the world stage (kicked out of the Security Council after 60 years) who are selling off dismantling Canada and will have us become the 51st State—kick them out with our Vote!

  127. Yes!

    Send Harper to Zimbabwe. Our Great Leader is fit to rule there!

    Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Limbaugh…these are NOT reprsentative of the CANADIAN way. The neoCons have made this proud land the playground of the Village Idiots

  128. Yes!

    Send Harper to Zimbabwe. Our Great Leader is fit to rule there!

    Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Limbaugh…these are NOT reprsentative of the CANADIAN way. The neoCons have made this proud land the playground of the Village Idiots

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