Election 2008: Day Six

At the end of Day Six you have to wonder what is happening in this campaign. For Mr. Control Freak, Stephen Harper, it has been a week of gaffes. First, the pooping penguin. Then the attempt to block Elizabeth May of the Greens from participating in the debates by threatening to pick up his marbles and boycott the debates ( Yes, Jack, you didn't win any points on this one either). A public backlash forced Harper, Layton and the networks to reverse themselves. May will now participate. She got lots of favourable airplay from the big boys' antics.

Then Ryan Sparrow, Director of Communications, for the Conservatives took a swipe at a father who had lost his son in Afghanistan. The father, Jim Davis, criticized Harper for reversal of position on Afghanistan, saying that his son's sacrifice would have been in vain. (Harper, pandering to Quebec voters, had announced that Canada would pull out of Afghanistan in 2011 no matter what the circumstances by that time). Sparrow tried to smear Jim Davis as an Iggy supporter. Harper had to apologize and suspend Sparrow for the duration of the campaign. All in all, on the surface not an auspicious beginning for the Conservatives.

Harper's policy announcements/ the diesel tax cut and the Afghanistan policy reversal/ kind of got lost in the furore generated by the missteps.

Stephane Dion soldiered through the week, coming across as the victim of a mean-spirited Conservative campaign whose ads continue to consist of personal attacks on Dion's leadership abilities. His explanations of the Green Shift became more articulate and catchy as the week progressed. He survived all the pundits wink/wink stuff about the slow start to his campaign and the delay in securing his campaign plane.

Jack Layton continued to assert that he is campaigning to become PM. Overall, his campaign so far has been assertive and effective. The NDP bounced back to pick up additional support in BC. Today Jack took the most aggressive swing at the oil companies for the sudden overnight increase in the price of gasoline by 13 cents a liter, allegedly due to Hurricane Ike. This probably struck some resonant chords with voters who generally found the companies' explanation a bit far-fetched.

BQ leader Gilles Duceppe is being pushed hard by the Conservatives who hope to forge a majority by taking seats from the Bloc in Quebec. He was not helped by a PQ Cabinet Minister who declared that the Bloc had lost its relevance. Duceppe's main theme has been that Quebecers need to support the BQ in order to keep Harper from securing a majority.

Today Harper announced that Canada would welcome even greater foreign investment/ takeovers of Canadian companies by increasing the threshhold to trigger reviews of such takeovers from $250 million to $1 billion. No doubt this will go down well with the Fraser Institute and in his Alberta stronghold but what is its appeal for Joe and Jane Q Canadian?

Overall, it would appear that the Conservative campaign got off to a shaky start. But the latest poll today appears to contradict that impression. A new Canadian Press-Harris-Decima survey put the Tories at 41 per cent support, with the Liberals well back at 26 per cent, suggesting his Conservatives could be headed for a majority government (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080912.welxngaining0912/BNStory/politics/home)
But these early polls could actually turn out to be an albatross around Harper's neck. If voters get the impression that a Conservative majority is imminent, this could well cause them to rethink their voting intentions, given the apparent aversion to giving an autocrat even greater power to reshape Canada.


Anonymous said...

I fear that Harper will get his majority thanks to the Green Party who will siphon off votes from the Liberals and the NDP, and allow the Conservatives to sail up the middle.

Dame said...

Cool analysing and unfortunately it is a big concern. hope Dion can com up with more positive impact..
yes the left is divided but I blame mostly Layton he is the enabler for Harper and they Both know it...
only the public can save us from disaster with Voting strategically to overcome this situation.