Thursday, September 11, 2008

Another day off message for the Conservatives

First it was the Puffin thing, then the May debate exclusion and reversal. Now it looks like the Conservatives are about to lose their message for perhaps the third day in a row, thrown off track by another stupid mistake in their CPC War Bunker in suburban Ottawa:

MONTREAL — Senior Conservative Party spokesman Ryan Sparrow has been suspended from the campaign after suggesting the father of a slain soldier who criticized Stephen Harper today was a Liberal.

Mr. Sparrow sent an email to CTV News today suggesting that Jim Davis, the soldier's dad, is a supporter of Liberal Michael Ignatieff.

He has also been ordered to call Mr. Davis and apologize for his comments.

Disgusting comments by Ryan Sparrow. Punting him far, far away from the CPC campaign was not only the expedient thing to do, it was the right thing to do.

Let me say one thing though. I've been watching the media spin on this, and the puffin thing, and dropping the candidate in Halifax with a criminal record. Rhey're all saying how great it is that the Harper campaign is taking such fast action on these screw-ups, cutting their loses and apologizing, instead of sticking it out, like they did in 2004 when Harper refused to apologize for a release claiming that Paul Martin supported child pornography.

Well, that's one way of looking at it, I suppose. But let's make one thing clear: neither of these were isolated incidents. Neither of these were overzealous junior staffers lacking supervision. Both incidents reflect the attitude and modus operandi of the Conservative campaign, from Stephen Harper and Doug Finley on down.

The puffin thing is tame compared to the crap that the Conservatives have been putting on the Web for two years at least. This wasn't some guy freelancing, he/she was working within the well laid-out boundaries of Conservative web strategy.

And Ryan Sparrow is not some junior volunteer. He has been one of the senior Conservative spokespeople for at least a year now. He was the CPC's director of communications for crying out loud. And as disgusting as his comments were, they're not surprising to anyone who has been paying any attention to this Conservative Party for these last three years. Stephen Harper called the Liberals Taliban sympathizers. Peter Van Loan said only Conservatives are real Canadians. Kory Teneycke is an accident wating to happen. Sparrow was merely displaying the same level of dismissive arrogance and politicization that has always characterized Stephen Harper's Conservatives.

The story here is that the carefully controlled and scripted Conservative campaign is starting to come a little unglued, and Canadians are starting to get a look at the true nature of the Harper party. The Cons can keep quickly apologizing all they want; Canadians are seeing them for what they really are.

And from a strategy point of view, once again today Harper is going to be answering questions about a staffer mis-step controversy instead of getting his message out. If he keeps having days like that, well, it won't be good for him. No matter how much they say they're sorry.

P.S.: Really Stephen, attacking Stephane Dion on national unity? Really? Good luck with that one buddy.

Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers


Steve V said...


Do you think are purposely planting all these gaffes, to make it look like they're off message? Just trying to think like a chess master, I think they're up to something....I bet Robert Fife knows.

Top Can said...

Robert Fife has been in cahoots with the Conservatives since Day 1, as well as the entire CTV.

As for Sparrow, doesn't he look like a fat, decidingly unhip version of John Baird from that MacLean's photo?

I don't get it. This Davis guy was essentially preaching more war, something that the Tories are more supportive of. Why would the war room take offense to that?

Anonymous said...

A few minutes ago the CTV newsdesk had a call from Fife who said, somewhat breathlessly, that he was being pushed away from Harper by the RCMP because he wanted to ask Harper about it. He (Fife) sounded more than a little pissed off, and said that he's going to try again later today.

Harper may be rethinking his 'brilliant strategy' of forcing this election.

Steve V said...


What, no more fireside chats with reporters? Shocking.

Pal Hal Pall said...

I still can't see the Liberals capitalizing on these gaffes. They seem like a shell shocked party. If it were they that were putting their feet in their mouths day after day, the Tories would have already buried them

Archie said...

BCer can you explain the liberal MP's support for this convicted drug dealer and gangster. I think this a bigger story pertaining to people in BC.
Sparrow made a mistake and he paid for it, and the PM acted quickly to right it. Fife has been calling for the down fall of Harper for over a year and is mad because he couldn't question the PM when he wanted to. He has the attitude that the PM should cater to the media.

Jason Hickman said...

Jeff, I'm going to surprise you, perhaps, by saying that Sparrow had to go, no if's and's or but's. What he did was awful, and dumb. (The guy Sparrow went after showed more class than I would have, by the way.)

Without justifying Sparrow's behaviour, or the notion that all the Tories have to do is attack-attack-attack, I would say this: nobody's perfect in this. Dion just had to fire a candidate. Another one of your team had to apologise for comparing Harper to Hitler. If we get some more political-time-bomb candidates (not even back-roomers, mind you) on the Red team, do we all get to say the same thing about Dion that you're saying about Harper?

That said, idiocy on the part of Liberals doesn't excuse it on the part of Tories, and vice-versa. Believe it or not, a lot of CPCers were pretty pissed off at today's developments, and not just because it took the Conservatives "off message". I'm personally hoping that everyone, my team definitely included, takes a deep breath and settles down a bit. But all's not rosy in Liberal land, either.

Archie said...

The liberal day just went bad to worse. I know Dion has dropped him, but to have a Liberal say they should wipe out the Mohawks, makes you think. I would say the Sparrow thing (although bad ) is a cake walk compared what is happening with the liberals

Mike514 said...

I would say the Sparrow thing (although bad ) is a cake walk compared what is happening with the liberals

That's a fair opinion, but which one do you think will get more media coverage? The Globe, CBC, CTV, etc all have Sparrow as headline news, but the Liberal firing is relegated somewhere just before sports and the weather.

Gayle said...

You people do know the comments about Natives, while completely inexcuseable, were made in 1990, right?

What was that CPC guy from Saskatchewan saying about gays in the 1990's? Oh yeah...

Point being, attitudes change apologies are made, and what people said and thought 18 years ago might not actually be a reflection on the party they represent now.

What the communications director for the party said today IS something the party can and should be held accountable for.

nbt said...

Even as a conservative, I hope decorum improves, for the sake of the election and Canadians.

Jason Hickman said...

Gayle, if you click the link I provided it takes you to a Macleans site. Click the link on that page and it takes you to a story which said that said he basically re-affirmed his remarks THIS WEEK.

(Anyway, Dion did the right thing by canning him regardless.)