The scene unfolds easily in front of you. The Government has fallen, a minority Parliament ends in a vote of non-confidence. The governing party is reeling from scandal, yet the polls say the election will end much as it began, with the current Prime Minister returning to Ottawa with a minority mandate. Radio shows ask the question: why would the opposition force an election they can’t win? Why waste this money on a vote that will end in the same Parliament as it began?
The leader of the opposition was on the defensive. Canadians don’t want this election, don’t need this election. His patriotism had already been called into question and he was gaffe prone. On day one of the campaign he makes, the media assert, another gaffe. Without prompting, without a clue, he says there will be a free vote on gay marriage in the house under his government.
Why, why would Stephen Harper give such a gift to Paul Martin? Why would he make it about his scary agenda instead of Paul Martin’s corrupt, bag of money under the table, Liberals?
In reality, what that statement did was take the question of gay rights out of the debate. It took from the Liberals the, “those scary Conservatives and their hidden agenda want to take away your human rights,” attack. It saw what was coming, and neutered it. It was a well thought out strategy, and served warning that the Conservatives were ready and serious about the 2005/06 campaign.
They ran a brilliant campaign focusing on five core policies and announcing one new policy initiative every day. They were lean, they were direct, and they spoke to voters with simple policies that resonated. And when the going got tough, when the very nasty Liberals personally attacked, they ignored it and stayed on message. It worked, and the Conservatives won.
Now the roles are reversed, the Conservatives have the dirt of governance on their hands, the attack ads, the scandals involving accounting tricks with their own money. Things are so bad in Ottawa, even Jack Layton is indignant. Yet the polls say the Conservatives will be back, probably with a minority. Why would the opposition risk so much?
Like Stephen Harper, Michael Ignatieff is going to answer to charges he has a scary hidden agenda. In Harper’s case it was a social conservative agenda. In Ignatieff’s, it is the question of forming a coalition that includes the Bloc. It is there, it will be in the ads, and Ignatieff had better answer the question directly and honestly right off the bat.
- blue serge suit dry cleaned – check
- non-confidence voted – check
- have answer to sticky question ready…
There is a blue door, there is a red door. We’re gonna elect a Liberal Government.
Here’s a hint Mr. Ignatieff. The answer to every single question you ever get asked in politics is not a quote from Go Dog Go!
Someone please, get on the phone and explain to the Count that it is a yes or no question: If the Conservatives get a plurality, but not a majority, will you enter into a coalition with the NDP and Bloc? Yes/No.
And here’s a tip, the right answer is no. The worst answer is, “The light is green now, Go Dogs Go!
Brian Gardiner can be found AT HOME IN HESPELERTags: Michael Ignatieff, Paul Martin, Stephen Harper