Friday, August 07, 2015
Sunday, August 02, 2015
After months of the Conservatives carpet-bombing the air waves with an ad declaring Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau just not ready, the Liberals finally responded with an ad of their own yesterday: Ready.
While many initially dismissed the Conservative ad as lame and ineffective (as they have every ad they've released for a decade, only to later concede they were devastatingly effective) I immediately saw it as a very effective piece because it zeroed it on a doubt most Canadians already have: is Trudeau ready to be Prime Minister? Very smart was the line at the end -- I'm not saying no forever, but now now -- which acknowledged many Canadians do like the guy so a hard negative attack wouldn't work. The goal was to plant doubts he was ready to govern -- at least right now. Hard not to argue they were successful.
The Liberal response ad was released Saturday, the day before the writ is expected to drop:
It's not a bad ad -- I'd subtitle it "not ready my ass." Trudeau looks comfortable and confident, and talks about what actually matters to middle class Canadians: pocket book issues around jobs and the economy, which is where our laser focus needs to be as this campaign begins. It's a decent ad, but it left me wanting a little more. I'd have liked to have seen it months ago, and I hope it's a big buy because releasing it as the writ drops minimizes any free media coverage.
Now, on Twitter many Conservatives and one other quickly lept up to gleefully to accuse Liberals of breaking the first rule of crisis communications: never repeat the opponent's message. And that is a rule. If someone asks if you're a crook, you don't answer "I'm not a crook" and proceed to tell them why. I think they're off base here though, and I'll tell you why.
Is Justin ready IS the question many Canadians have about Trudeau. Is Justin ready to lead a G7 country is the question many have had since he was elected Liberal leader. He has high name recognition -- people feel like they grew up with him -- and high likability. I've maintained from the start though, even through those high polls, that at some point Canadians would ask OK, I like the guy, but is he ready to be PM?
Getting over that hump has been his challenge from the start. The Conservative ads were effective because they recognized that feeling was out there, and they stoked it. So whether or not those ads existed, Trudeau at some point needed to address this issue and convince Canadians that yes, he is ready. The carpet bombing made it necessary to take it on even more directly, rather than just trying to show it with words and deeds.
Some have said Trudeau's response should have simply been, in short, Harper sucks. That wouldn't address the problem though. There are definitely votes to peel off Harper, but right now most of them aren't coming to us. Liberals need to again become the default not-Harper choice; right now we're not. Just pulling votes off Harper is a waste of time until enough Canadians DO see Trudeau as ready to govern and lead, and not just a good guy.
However, in closing, I will say that I hope the Liberals abandon this positive-only pledge. It's naive. Don't go personally negative, but contrast and looking at the record of our opponents and the emptiness of their promises is both fair and effective. There is no virtue, electoral or otherwise, in clinging to some sort of positive high ground. People say they don't like the hard stuff, but you don't win points for not doing it, and those ads do influence their voting decision even if they won't admit it.
Trudeau is a boxer; well, it's time to suit up and get in the ring. Don't pull your punches. Game on.
Friday, July 31, 2015
“N.O. The no is categorical, absolute, irrefutable and non-negotiable. It’s no. End of story. Full stop.”
Monday, July 27, 2015
As you probably know, some months back former Conservative MP Eve Adams crossed the floor to join the Liberal caucus. Told she had to seek an open nomination, she opted to run in a riding where she had no roots -- Eglinton-Lawrence -- as there was already a Liberal candidate nominated at the time in her home riding. A local Liberal, Marco Mendicino, was already seeking the nomination in Eglinton-Lawrence. After a long delay and a heated race, Mendicino won on Sunday -- by some reports handily.
As we waited for the results, I tweeted this:
I predict pundits have 2 columns ready. 1 Adams wins shows noms not open. 2 Adams loses shows Libs reject Trudeau. #cdnpoli #EgLaw— Jeff Jedras (@jeffjedras) July 26, 2015
And as you can guess, with Mendicino's win they went for option 2. It was entirely predictable. Heads the pundits win, tails Justin loses. Tim Harper's column is representative of the spin across social media and pundit land this morning. Haters gonna hate, and they were going to hate either way.
Just for fun, let's try to look at this logically. Fact is if Trudeau really wanted Adams as the candidate, she'd be the candidate. He'd either have appointed her or fixed the race to ensure she won. Mendicino would have had swathes of memberships mysteriously disallowed or disappeared. People would have been strongly encouraged to not support his campaign. There were plenty of levers they could have pulled. They pulled none of them. Besides leaving the nomination call to second-last in the GTA (Thornhill remains) no process or other levers were used to support the supposedly favoured candidate. And Mendicino had the support of past (interim) leader Bob Rae and a lot of active establishment Liberals who, if Adams was really the hard Trudeau choice, wouldn't have gone near his campaign.
The argument for option 2 also relies on Adams being "Trudeau's choice." Let's examine that logically too, shall we? The only way Trudeau could have headed off this damned either way scenario is if he hadn't have let Adams cross the floor to the Liberal caucus. She was hardly a big get and her Liberal bonafides were questionable at best, but the opportunity to pick up an MP at Harper's expense is hard to pass up. And if he'd blocked her he'd have taken flack for that too; don't kid yourself.
So now that we accept she's coming onboard, of course he has to have a press conference with her -- only Prime Minister Harper is allowed to never talk to the press without consequence. And of course he is going to say positive things about her -- what, is he going to say I don't like her but welcome to our caucus? But he took pains to make clear that she would have to face an open nomination and he would pick no favourites. So all the "Trudeau's choice" arguments are predicated on the fact he had a press conference to welcome a new MP to the caucus. It just doesn't hold up to scrutiny.
Of course, logic doesn't help you when the gods of the narrative aren't on your side. So be it. To quote a great philosopher, haters gonna hate. Liberals just need to shake it off. The pundits will move on to the next tortured story soon. And no narrative is forever -- a year ago they'd decided the man walked on water.
Meanwhile, in Mendicino Liberals have a candidate with deep local roots and the Liberal grassroots behind him that is best positioned to take on and defeat Joe Oliver. And none of the rest matters. Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers
Saturday, July 25, 2015
Stephen Harper's forest fire firefighter photo-op gone wrong this week reminded me of the time a campaign I was involved in was faced with a similar fire-related choice.
We had a late-campaign rally scheduled for Terrace with Prime Minister Paul Martin, and had been working for a week on the logistics of bussing in supporters from Prince Rupert, Smithers, and communities across the massive riding.
But then Mother Nature threw a wrench in our best-laid plans, and forest fires began to rage in Northern British Columbia. And the Terrace Airport, where Martin, his entourage and the national media were scheduled to fly into, was ground zero for the effort to fight the forest fires.
With the fires still raging the morning of the scheduled rally, the decision of our campaign and the leader's tour team was clear -- we cannot run the risk that Martin flying into Terrace Airport could divert or distract any resources away from the firefighting effort. That had to be the priority.
So on less than half a day's notice, we shifted the rally from Terrace to Prince Rupert, a two-hour drive away. And to complicate matters further, the rally would have to be at the airport -- and Prince Rupert's airport is on an island, accessible from Prince Rupert only by a small ferry that doesn't run as often as you'd like. Still, after a lot of frantic effort we pulled off a successful rally. And, most importantly, the efforts to fight the forest fires were able to continue without interruption.
Then there's Harper, who this week flew right into the flames and diverted resources from the firefighting effort for a hollow photo-op with BC Premier Christy Clark, who also should have known better. A local reporter with guts captured the mood of the locals well:
For a second straight day, firefighting efforts at the Westside Road fire were the backdrop for political photo ops.The publication explained to the Huffington Post why it went with the headline "Man in blue suit thanks firefighters" and took the tone it did:
Today, several federal politicians stood around waiting, occasionally wiping dirt from their clothing while sweaty, ash-covered, exhausted-looking firefighters surrounded them for the tightly controlled photo opportunity. Helicopters carrying empty buckets buzzed overhead and a steady stream of wildfire fighting aircraft circled prior to the event.
(Harper) chose to make a campaign statement about possibly sharing firefighting costs, but no date, no commitment to put him on the record. We thought the focus should be on the firefighters...We thought it was entirely appropriate for what happened and we are a little surprised other media didn't treat it similarly.So am I, frankly. Still, the media coverage is besides the point, because the rule should be clear: only firefighters should run towards the fire; politicians should just stay out of the way. Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers