Because I am regarded across the Dominion as an expert political strategist (very savvy), desperate people often approach me in public with questions about what their preferred political leader must do to triumph in the federal election.
Usually, I respond by smiling broadly and saying something harmlessly generic like, “Shut up” or “This really isn’t the place to discuss this, Mr. Dion.” After all, expert advice doesn’t just grow on trees—although if you retained the services of an expert political strategist like me, you would always know what does grow on trees. Peaches, for instance.
But I’m in a generous mood. Here’s an expert (very savvy) look at what the leaders need to do in the second half of the campaign:
Stephen Harper: Flip-flops don’t stick to him. Gaffes don’t stick to him. Nothing seems to stick to him. (Except for magnets—the charisma simulator he had installed before the campaign is 70 per cent iron.)
Sweater Vest Steve—the family-loving, baby-hoisting, human-emotion-having character being portrayed by the Conservative leader—is playing well in two important demographic groups: hockey moms, who make up 22 per cent of voters, and the easily bamboozled, who apparently make up the rest. Harper has even taken to sitting down in public and playing piano whenever he can find one. Upside: it conveys a sense of serenity and confidence. Downside: he may go down in history as the first prime minister to be audited for failing to disclose income from his tip jar.
A majority is within Harper’s reach if he can broaden his appeal just a little bit more. He’s already stopped closing his speeches with “God bless Canada”—to win over secular voters. He’s already staged photo-ops with countless toddlers—to win over parents. The key remaining group is young people voting for the first time. But how to appeal to the kids? Ladies and gentleman, I give you MC Stevie H:
Mad polyester bling
I’m like Alex P. Keaton
But more right wing . . .
Stéphane Dion: What can the Liberal leader do to turn things around? Well, before the campaign, one expert political strategist (me—very savvy) wrote that Dion’s image problems could be solved if he made just one bold change—growing a big hairy moustache. That way, voters could ascribe to him the characteristics of mustachioed heroes of old: decisiveness, resolve, the ability to outwit Donkey Kong.
But Dion failed to take my advice—and now we’ve arrived at a juncture in the campaign when it’s too late to implement my contingency: Plan Afro. The Liberal leader’s only option for getting back in the race? Replacing his entire campaign team with one man—director Michael Bay.
You heard me. At this point I don’t believe anything short of the simulated destruction of an entire metropolitan area by killer robots spouting cutesy catchphrases would be sufficient to generate widespread public interest in Stéphane Dion.
Plus, a majority of political scientists in this country has long believed that the leaders’ debates would be more compelling if the head of the Liberal party was a Transformer with a cannon for an arm. Consider how our history would have been enriched:
Mulroney: You had an option, sir, you could have said no. You could—
Broadbent: Hey, wait a minute, he raises a good point about—
Knowlton Nash: Well, with only one leader left on stage, I guess tonight’s debate is—
Jack Layton: The New Democrat leader began the campaign by asking Canadians to elect him prime minister—proving once again that you can’t beat opening with a good joke. As the halfway point approaches, Layton must now subtly alter that message and ask Canadians to make him leader of the opposition. When that doesn’t work, he can use the final days of the campaign to ask Canadians if they need any odd jobs done around the house. We must bring change, positive change, to this worn-out linoleum!
Elizabeth May: The Green leader spent the week travelling across the country by train, conjuring warm images of whistle-stop tours of old. More important, it was the only way to get to Hogwarts to have the party’s dubious platform sheathed in the Cloak of Plausibility.
May is campaigning as a populist—so her party needs to foster a showier display of grassroots support. When Sarah Palin was selected to join the Republican ticket, you could within days buy T-shirts, tote bags, even thongs emblazoned with the Palin name (I assume the thongs somehow bring together in co-operation, rather than awkwardly cleave, the buttocks). It’s time for Green party enthusiasts to follow suit and give away May-branded undergarments—the only political lingerie that’s environment-friendly, in that it’s guaranteed to biodegrade by 3 p.m.