New PMO video takes election to the battlefield

Patriotism was the last refuge of scoundrels. YouTube’s next.

The new PMO video takes the election campaign to the battlefield

Screengrab from 24 SEVEN Credit: 24 SEVEN

Screengrab from 24 SEVEN Credit: 24 SEVEN

Koo koo ka choo, 24 Seven, once a source of folksy one-stop shopping for weekly video digests of Stephen Harper’s meetings with Tanzanian leaders and Mrs. Harper’s concerns about texting while driving. Get a load of this latest one, which is about how Canada “Stands Strong and Free.”

Among the possible things that could be said about this—(1) it’s terrifying; (2) the music is rather urgent; (3) this has what, remind me, to do with the week the Prime Minister has had?—perhaps the most striking is the following. The video above was released by the PMO today. This one went public as the new Canadian Forces recruiting video yesterday:

Can you tell the difference? I can’t tell the difference. Neither, apparently, can Laurie Hawn, the retired Canadian Forces officer who serves as a Conservative MP for an Edmonton riding. He tweeted the second video, which isn’t a PMO production, as a “24 Seven exclusive,” before getting it right the second time. And well he might be confused, because, at this writing (subject to change at any moment, one suspects), the Canadian Forces video is currently posted to YouTube on the PM’s promotional channel.

I guess we have our simultaneous answer to two questions that have vexed the Hill lately: (1) How eager are the Conservatives to campaign on so-called “security” issues? and (2) Could the line between government information and partisan campaigning possibly be blurred still further? The answers, in order, are (1) really quite eager and (2) oh, of course it can.

A few thoughts. First, it is awfully sweet that some people on Twitter, including a Liberal staffer, were critiquing the skill with which the 24 Seven clip was edited. This is bad news indeed for the Conservatives, if they hope to enter Stephen Harper for advertising trade prizes. But since they’re planning to keep him entered in the “Prime Minister of Canada” category instead, the smirking legions of Monday-morning cinematographers would do well to remember how solid the Conservatives’ record is when it comes to winning despite—or because of?—lousy visuals.

Second, these YouTube videos aren’t the campaign; they’re the endless rehearsal for a campaign. The fact that only a few hundred or a few thousand people seek them out isn’t a bug; it’s a feature: It allows the Conservatives to try dozens of ideas for campaign spots with minimal pressure to succeed. If this works, it’ll be back in more polished form later.

Finally, video like this is defensive, or would be, if the opposition parties were working hard at taking away the Conservatives’ two biggest competitive advantages: economic management and national security. The Conservatives always campaign against their opponents’ perceived strength: Recall their 18-month campaign against Stéphane Dion as an environmentalist in 2007-08. On security, there might be a promising line of opposition attack to the effect that the Conservatives aren’t really tough, that they don’t make Canadians safer, and that they don’t have soldiers on their side. Clearly, this set of arguments is tempting to some opposition hangers-on, who want to talk about the PM’s visit to a wardrobe on Oct. 22. The Conservatives may feel like they need to shore up what should be an area of formidable natural advantage for them. This is the down payment.

Nine more months to election day.

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Patriotism was the last refuge of scoundrels. YouTube’s next.

  1. I couldn’t help but notice the cons have been plugging military recruitment advertising messages on the airways again, it’s a sure sign Canadians will see boots on the ground if Harper is re-elected. The Harper government lied to the people in the HOCs about the combat mission and the MSM just turns a blind eye and goes after Trudeau because he only does a 10 presser. If the people of this country had listened to the Current this morning with Stephen Maher and Mark Bourrie, they would have truly learned a big lesson of how the MSM operates in the country by means of fear from the PMO. Fear of loosing their jobs for speaking out against the harper government. CTV(don martin) and SUN News network are completely in the tank for the conservative government.

    • Thanks Em – that gave me a good chuckle!

  2. I for one have no problem with Harper being ridiculed for hiding in the closet. If it had been Trudeau or Mulcair who had done that, we’d currently be bombarded with ads about how their lack of courage makes them unfit to be the PM.

    And I’m tired – REALLY tired – of this PM and his party constantly raiding government coffers – i.e. taxpayers’ wallets – to pay for “information ads” that are nothing but barely-disguised CPC campaign ads. There IS no “line between government information and partisan campaigning.” Not anymore.

  3. The Canadian military’s most serious firefight (since Korea) was on a so-called “peacekeeping” mission in the former Yugoslavia in the Medak Pocket.

    The Liberal government covered it up so Canadians would never know that it happened, that peacekeepers could get into intense life-threatening firefights.

    So according to Trudeau and Mulcair and most of the Canadian media of today, the Liberals sent Canadian peacekeepers on a combat mission…a SECRET combat mission, and mischaracterized it as a peacekeeping mission.

    • I’m not sure what that has to do with this article. Are you saying it’s ok for Harper to use tax dollars to promote the CPC because once the LPC government did not inform Canadians about peacekeepers facing combat?

      • No, what I am saying is that the Liberals and NDP nor their lackies in the mainstream media characterize peacekeeping missions as combat missions, which the Medak Pocket clearly demonstrates that any peacekeeping mission IS a potential combat mission at a moment’s notice.

        And the Liberals and the media tried to cover the fact that peacekeeping morphed into combat in an instant.

        And now the Liberals and NDP and the media are trying to mischaracterize training Kurds to paint targets for fighter jets as combat. It would be dangerous for our pilots to not have Canadians involved on the ground when Kurds are shifting from theory to practice in painting targets for Canadian bombers.

        The Liberals and NDP and media are arguing that we should put our pilots at unnecessary risk.

        • Which has nothing to do with the article. Do you have an opinion on the government spending millions of our tax dollars to test drive the CPC campaign?

          • Plus everyone is aware that a peacekeeping mission can turn into a firefight.

  4. You lefties just can’t stand a Conservative government that knows how to win. The man child Justin would have great difficulty articulating what Harper said without a bunch of ums and ahs and probably add some dumb comment to boot. If the Liberals ever take the Federal helm, Canada will become the indebted basket case that the Ontario Liberals have given us.

    • So to be clear. It is OK if Harper appropriates tax dollars for his campaign, so long as it results in his victory.

      • The Liberals still have not paid back the $40 million dollars of taxpayers money that went in the sponsorship kickback scandal, and their buddies in Elections Canada never investigated or charged anyone for illegal campaign spending.

        • And now the Conservatives are using their majority to gut Elections Canada so that the PMO gets to decide what warrants investigation/prosecution in the future.
          Guess what WSISYW? The BLUE SHIT STINKS AS MUCH AS THE RED SHIT! Do you like the taste of the blue shit? Cause you’re swallowing it all the same.
          Go on, clean your plate, smile and hand over some more money for another helping.

          • Elections Canada didn’t prosecute the NDP for taking union donations/sponsoships for the NDP convention that selected Jack Layton.

            They had one standard for the Conservatives, and a totally different standard for the NDP and the Liberals.

        • $40 million? There goes what little credibility you had. The Gomery Commission “concluded that $2 million was awarded in contracts without a proper bidding process, $250,000 was added to one contract price for no additional work, and $1.5 million was awarded for work that was never done, of which $1 million had to be repaid.”

          You’ll note that the Liberals themselves set up the commission to find out what happened. Unlike the CPC, who deny all and reward their criminals.

          So where did you pull your figure from? Sure you’re not thinking of Gazebo Tony, who absconded with $50 million of taxpayer money to buy his re-election – and instead of being investigated, was “punished” with a promotion and control of the nation’s purse strings?

          Harper & Co have been getting caught at corrupt activities since the attempted Cadman bribe. They appointed the in & out convicts to the Senate. They appointed an unethical reporter to the Senate. They appointed to the Ethics Commission a guy who ended up convicted of breaking election spending laws. There’s still a line of people associated with Harper awaiting trial.

          It would seem the first “C” in CPC stands for “Criminal.”

          • Trying to throw a national election is a criminal matter Bram….and there is no statute of limitations.

          • “Trying to throw a national election is a criminal matter…”

            Please point to the appropriate Criminal Code section. Here’s the link: The only reference in there to “election” has to do with choosing between jury trial or a judge alone.

            Gayle’s comments give a fuller and more complete explanation; I won’t spend time restating the same points. But as someone who has worked in legal publishing for over 20 years, I can verify that she is absolutely correct.

        • Well according to your pal Jerome there is nothing wrong with stealing tax dollars if it leads to an election victory, so what is your problem?

          In any event, if you are going to complain about something it helps to get your facts straight. The sponsorship stuff did not come out until after the statute of limitations expired. There was no legal way to charge anyone under the Elections Act. So much for THAT little paranoid conspiracy theory.

          • Canada doesn’t have a Statute of Limitations.

          • In fact, there are several statutory limitation periods in Canada. For example, a summary conviction offence cannot be prosecuted unless it is initiated within 6 months of the offence date. There are limitation periods for initiating civil claims (generally within 12-24 months of the alleged tortious action leading to the claim).

            With regard to the Elections Act, at the time the sponsorship scandal broke, the limitation was this:

            514. (1) A prosecution for an offence under this Act must be instituted within eighteen months after the day on which the offence was committed.

            This was amended by the Accountability Act and now s. 514 states:

            514. (1) Proceedings in respect of an offence under a provision set out in subsection 500(1) may be commenced at any time within, but not later than, six years after the day on which the subject-matter of the proceedings arose.

            (2) Despite subsection (1), if a prosecution cannot be instituted because the offender has left the jurisdiction of the court, the prosecution may be instituted within one year after the offender’s return.
            No limitation period
            (3) Proceedings in respect of an offence under a provision set out in any of subsections 500(2) to (5) may be commenced at any time.

            Since the evidence of offences under the EA did not come to light until well past the 18 month limitation period, there was no lawful way for EC to prosecute the offenders. I know this does not sit well with the paranoid conspiracy theorists who like to believe EC simply picks on Harper, but facts are facts.

          • If you look up the Elections Act on Canlii, you can do a side by side comparison between the current version of the Act and the one that was in place at the time. Just scroll down to s. 514. Canlii even highlights the differences to make it easy.

          • For crimes other than summary (non-serious) offences, there is no statute of limitations in Canadian criminal law. Therefore, for indictable (serious) offences such as major theft, murder, kidnapping or sexual assault, a defendant can be charged at any future date.[15] In some cases, warrants have remained outstanding for more than 20 years.


          • Yes, Em, for the Criminal Code there are no statutory limits. And there is no act titled “Statute of Limitations.” But as Gayle explicitly demonstrates, there are time limitations on many quasi-criminal acts, as well as most civil suits.

            So in a very narrow sense you are technically correct – but not on the wider point Gayle was making.

          • Sigh. We are so far off topic now that Emily is now arguing against something I did not even say. I was tempted to leave it but, in the hopes this puts any future confusion to rest, I thought I would clarify a couple things.

            First, if I was referring to an actual statute name, I would have capitalized it (like I did with the Elections Act). I realize it would have been more clear if I had referred to statutory limitations instead of statute of limitations, but since that was such a tangential point to my actual point I did not expect to be drawn into an argument over it.

            Second, there are in fact several statutes of limitation in Canada, commonly referred to “Limitation of Actions Act”. These are provincial statutes. It is therefore, strictly speaking, untrue to say there is no statute of limitations in Canada.

            Third, there are indeed certain criminal offences that do not have a statute of limitations (also offences found in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which are not, strictly speaking, criminal offences though they are commonly referred to as criminal). WSISYW was not referring to criminal offences, however. He was referring to offences under the Elections Act, which is why he was complaining about Elections Canada not pursuing the liberals. In fact, criminal charges were laid in the sponsorship scandal so clearly he was not complaining about that. There is simply no relevance in bringing the Criminal Code into this discussion.

            So that is it for me. Hopefully this clarifies things for future reference.

  5. This thread is now putting posts in the wrong places so I will put it at the end.

    Trying to throw a national election is a criminal matter Bram….and there is no statute of limitations.

    Either of you want to return to the topic for a change?

    • Posted my reply with your first post.

      As to getting dragged off topic – WhyshouldI…etc dragged us down the elections rabbit hole – and then you took us further afield with your nonsense.

      • LOL now you can go home happy for the weekend

      • Ya, but Keith, we have jointly demonstrated Emily is completely wrong. Therefore, WE are the ones in the wrong.

        • And YOU can go home confused. As usual. LOL