Sunday, September 2, 2012

Ontario Liberals Doing Harper-Like Campaign Tactics? Good on them.

Two Liberal bloggers - Scott Tribe and local Kitchener-Waterloo blogger Darcy Casselman, who I've read once or twice but don't have the greatest familiarity with - have come out saying that the Ontario Liberal campaign in Kitchener-Waterloo, and candidate Eric Davis, are not holding themselves up to what we'd call an "honest" standard.

And, frankly, they may be right. Davis and the OLP campaign have come out hard against the NDP and the teachers unions, and overall the McGuinty minority experiment has one been one fairly reminiscent of Harper's minority years (and even his majority years). Omnibus bills, a twinge of paranoia and reactionary tactics against the Opposition, some fairly obvious politically motivated stunts, etc.

Casselman has a great post, and his position is sound. Scott Tribe also has sound reasonings. I can see why they, or in Casselman's case won't, vote for the Ontario Liberals in these by-elections. So when I say the next few things, don't take it to mean that I'm attacking those reasonings, or them personally.

But let's all get one thing straight here: Harper's politics work. There is no way around that fact, given the current government in Ottawa, and the major changes we've seen over the past decade. The campaign tactics of the Harper Conservatives are effective; the governing tactics are effective versus an enfeebled opposition; the pure political appeal that Harper and the Conservatives make works, whether that appeal is through fear or not. Even if it is deceptive, it's still effective. This is politics, after all, and you do need to play rough.

People may disparage "American-style attack ads," and I'm not saying there is anything pleasant or right about them, but they are justified expenditures if they work, and given how many careers we've seen ended both south and north of the border because of it, they most certainly do.

And I for one applaud that the Ontario Liberals are willing to play the game, or the fact that they even can. After all, the only reason that the federal Liberals and New Democrats don't is because they can't afford to in most cases. Hence why we continually lose. The lack of effective communication of our ideas, whether positive about ourselves or negative about others, is one of the defining problems of major centrist and progressive parties in this century. Its about time we solved it.

But hey, I get that if you have a problem with this, you're not going to view the party favourably that does it. Its your vote and the way you allocate it is up to you. As I said, Casselman has several reasons for his decision to vote for Catherine Fife of the NDP - just unfortunately none that I agree with.

But the way I look as it is like this: I base my vote on what I've seen McGuinty and co. do for Ontario, for my community, and for myself personally. I've got some qualms with the way things are run, and I don't claim to be knowledgeable on everything, so I can't comment necessarily well on issues like the union matters that have dominated the headlines recently, though I'm not in general agreement with everything that's been going on. Its clear their government isn't perfect, and I'm willing to say that even as a card-carrying member of the Ontario Liberal Party. Things can be improved.

But will they be improved by the mess of the PCs under Tim Whodat? Or underneath Andrea Horwath, whose policies I barely agree with on the best of days? Not in my books. The best way to improve the McGuinty government is to elect someone who you can hold to account for their actions, and let the pressure work its way up the chain of command.

But I suppose we'll see come September 6th, whether or not others agree.


  1. "I base my vote on what I've seen McGuinty and co. do for Ontario, for my community, and for myself personally"

    I do as well, which is why I can never ever vote for McGunity.

    1. well written and appreciate the acknowledgement that the OLP is using the same tactics as the CPC. I'd like to point out that the LPC of old used the same tactics quite effectively when the opposition was listless.

      It is also interesting to point out the main players in the war room of the federal and provincial Liberal govts are the same ... and his consultancy is named after the most effective negative ad of all time.

    2. That's politics, for you. Just wait until Kinsella's new book hits the shelf, you'll see "similar tactics" for sure. The man is like Ann Coulter.