‘Harper produces feelings that run hot for about 30 per cent … but produce less passion with the other 70 per cent


Bruce Anderson completes his contemplation with similar advice for the Prime Minister.

If he presides over an all out attack on the personality of Mr. Ignatieff, he calcifies his reputation as a partisan first and to the bitter end. Alternatively, he could try to rebrand himself, an effort which started out well in the last campaign. But the problem with this idea is that it takes longer than 40 days, often doesn’t work, and exposes you to some unique risks. Our society’s fleeting attention mean personality campaigns are becoming more risky than ever, with the prospect of victory or loss turning on a single phrase, photograph, musing, or indulgence.

The best approach for Mr. Harper to break through his ceiling would also be to put some larger ideas on the table. He needs a new, better way to show centrist, female and urban voters that his agenda is truly theirs, that if they reward him with a larger mandate, he will not use it to pursue his partisanship, or to try to impose the kind of right of centre ideas that most of them don’t want. His opportunity is to define a next-generation centrist agenda for Canada.


‘Harper produces feelings that run hot for about 30 per cent … but produce less passion with the other 70 per cent

  1. I guess any thoughtful Canadian would support the concept of the next election being based on serious policy discussions, however there has been an extraordinary amount of hand-wringing on the issue coming out of the press this season.
    However, are the media really prepared to assist in this? While the parties do their best to frame the issue of the day, in reality it is the media that collectively decides which bait to take. I recall a CBC panel in which Coynes as much admitted (lamented) that the press really wasn't interested in presenting, discussing policy (at the time I think a biker chick girlfriend was the "hot" political topic). I am not saying that the gossip should not be put out there as well, but perhaps in a kinda CanLit type approach equal space should be alloted for serious policy presentation, analysis and discussion.
    So who thinks the Globe would be willing to equal the ink (bytes) they use on gossip/personality/style into policy?
    Would Macleans?

    • Hand wringing by clumnists doesn't mean a media organization is willing to take the risk of being different.

      During the blanket coverage of the death of princess Diana, for days after anyone had any actual information, Rick Salutin was on a panel – are we hearing too much about Diana? – for The National. Can't remember who the other guests were, the big guy with the helmet hair was host. Salutin was arguing that the media should just stop already, and the host said something like, "but then Canadians won't watch, they'll turn the channel." Salutin siad he thought viewers would be drawn to a Diana-free broadcast, and then hilariously proposed trying it right there on the spot, just stop the Diana coverage and see what happens. Followed of course by cringing on the part of the host and a commercial.

      Same for print media, afraid that if they go for content they will lose market share.

  2. Did Bruce Anderson really write sentences like "If they reward him with a larger mandate, he will not use it to pursue his partisanship, or to try to impose the kind of right of centre ideas that most of them don't want." with a straight face?

    Shorter version of the article: "Dear Stephen Harper. Promise not to be Stephen Harper. People will vote for you. "

    • lol

  3. Stewart – it helps if the parties who need to get recognition hand out predigested information for the Media to chew at – called press releases.
    Ignatieff has to stop playing peekaboo – nothing worse than letting the press – and Harper – fill a vacuum…

    • The above was meant for the election… however there are plenty of substantive issues that the press could provide information about that would push the parties into discussion and perhaps positions.
      My current favorite is the approach Canada is taking to the H1N1 vaccine. Not that the company has agreed to donate 20% to developing nations (their right provided they meet the contract to Canada), but rather the proposed use of adjuvants in the Canadian flu shot and an expected fast tracking of this without following all of the medical protocols.
      Even between elections, the media can force/encourage intelligent discussion of policy by simply informing the public on non-trivial issues.

  4. The best approach for Mr. Harper to break through his ceiling would also be to put some larger ideas on the table.
    I do love that this is news– Hey, Politicians! If you suggest policy, people will vote for you!

  5. He's right. It's always tough to tell on blogs,websites, messageboards etc because you're talking to a constituency that is much more engaged than the average voter. That being said, people do recognize his hyper-pertisanship – unfortunately for opposition politicians, none of them are doing anything to endear themselves as particularly different in that respect from Prime Minister Harper. Ideas, and how they would shape Canada going forward is going to have to be the narrative going forward for the Liberals. When it comes to the economy, opposition leaders simply don't have much ammo to go after the government with. Most polls suggest that despite the macro difficulties, most still feel relatively comfortable with their own status, Secondly, the economy issues have been talked about in a global lens, thus very few are trying to blame the current government for the problems we're facing. However, I do think, as noted above, that there is opportunity in being a party putting forward a vision for the future while the Conservatives are going on the attack on all things Iggy.

  6. "Aaron Wherry" , the cut and paste king….

    Chris. S, at least had snarking comments. …..

  7. I have a comment on the statements found in this post, so I'm posting my comments where the post came from.

  8. Why does it always boil down to "centrist, female and urban voters"? Can we finally get a new meme to explain electoral fluctuations?

    • Well, if we elect the Liberals we can start talking about their need to western, male, rural voters.

  9. How about, Harper makes my skin crawl and makes me slightly ashamed of being canadian?

    • And Dion would have made you proud?

  10. Interesting outlook on Harper's "accomplishments".

    – $1200 child care subsidy (sure, a meaningless monthly subsidy that replaced a real childcare program, just super)
    – a 2% GST cut (that caused a $13B deficit according to the PBO)
    – a waiting times guarantee (that you mention twice and has few metrics to back up its success)
    – major reductions in the indian land claims backlog (true, some progress, but 'major progress'?)
    – major improvements in infrastructure (what infrastructure? Via what federal program? Federal stimulus has barely begun to roll)
    – Reductions in the federal-provincial disequilibrium (sure, I suppose)
    – Canada exited Kyoto (how could this be a good thing in the absence of lunkheaded global warming denial?!?)
    – Recognition of Quebec as a nation (sure, along with all those meaningless apologies: easy votes, right?)
    – A major expansion in military… (our troops do what is necessary, military expansion is not necessarily good)
    – final resolution of gay marriage (on what planet has this happened with a right-wing gov't?)
    – resolution of softwood lumber (sure, by acquiescing whole hog to bullshit American demands)
    – a greater Canadian presence in the Arctic (that will begin in 10 years when we actually have ships, until then it's just belligerent talk)
    – consistent increases in foreign aid (sure, big deal, not to any new or notable level)
    – successful navigation of a political crisis (that Harper himself caused with his boneheaded hyperpartisan games)

    We can look forward to:

    – new "tough on crime" legislation – presumably that same legislation Harper has been promising his neaderthal base for years… the same legislation that flies in the face of evidence regarding effective anti-crime tactics

    – A Canada-EU trade pact – will this be a good thing? Harper is proceeding on this without a national debate, we don't have a good understanding of its implications

    Governments run on their records, true. Harper had better hope that the whole country is as prone to ridiculously favorable interpretations as you are.

  11. I do like how you listed the waiting times guarantee twice.

    Think he'll be announcing it next campaign too?