The general - Macleans.ca

The general

by

Conservative Senator Doug Finley, one of the primary architects of the Conservative party’s electoral success, who is now stricken with cancer, reflects on death and politics.

Along with his team, Finley ran one of “the most successful political campaigns certainly in Canada in the last 20 years” against former Liberal leaders Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff, who took the reins of the party in 2006 and 2008, respectively. Not waiting for the writ to be dropped, the attacks even began before the 2008 and 2011 elections. It was called “of the constant campaign” — because in the minority situation, the threat of an election was always on.

“When you offer to go into the back alley to have a fight, you better come armed to win the fight,” says Finley. He and his team came up with a strategy which would utilize the Liberals’ own words and actions against them. For Dion, it was lack of confidence. For Ignatieff, it was foreign professorial ambitions. “There were no lies or ambiguities. I would call them not attack ads, but factual ads,” says Finley. “They were based on a very strong amount of research,” he says. “As the campaigns evolved, both of these gentlemen fed into the picture we painted of them.”