Wednesday, October 16, 2013

You Win This Round, Conservatives

Despite some naysayers saying that no one really cares about today's Conservative Speech from the Throne, or about the Conservative's new "consumer" focus, the fact is that some parts of it are a brilliant move to engage Canadians from coast to coast, and more than likely grow the Conservative's support.

Why do I say this? Well, very simply, the average Canadian voter is not concerned about fringe issues such as the future of the Senate, the environment, foreign affairs, and so on. Some don't understand these issues, though many more do understand and simply don't see how it affects them, or how they can affect it. They trust their government to do something about it, and for the most part, the government does.

So what do Canadians focus on when it comes to the government? Very simply its what the government can do for them. There is a reason why promising to lower taxes or protect consumers is such a popular thing. Canadians want the government to help them save money, or buy things cheaper. Yes, they're concerned about healthcare and education and generally don't like slash and spend tactics on their - and its an unfortunate word, but accurate - entitlements. But you want to cut funding to a bunch of scientists? Pft, most couldn't care less.

The right, in this case the Conservatives, have usually done very well by appealing to this sentiment. The challenge for centre-left parties (not so much for left-wing parties, whose rhetoric can match the right's) is to show Canadians why this, that, and those actions are dangerous to their way of life, maybe not now but down the road. Its a challenge that, to be honest, we don't often win.

So with the Speech today, the Conservatives have signaled to us here on the opposition side their chosen tactic, because they know we don't often win. If they can't smear Trudeau or Mulcair effectively, they'll rely on a campaign of consumer protection and good ol' fashioned conservative principles, such as pumping up public safety, saying they'll reduce government waste, and so on. Stuff they know will appeal to Canadians.

Getting rid of mandatory cable bundles? Hell yes. Reducing cellular roaming costs? Sweet. Closing the US-Canada price gap!? I don't even completely know what that means, but I know stuff is cheaper in the US, so bring it on!

There are terribly stupid things in the Speech, not to mention overall in Harper's Ottawa. But if I did not know or care about politics any more than the average Canadian, the Conservatives would likely have my vote. I want cheaper cable, I want my expenses reduced (mostly so I can get more stuff). I want my money to go farther, and I want my government to help me do that.

And unfortunately, right now all I see from the NDP is stuff about a Senate scandal that has mostly blown over, and the Liberals making some vague promises about helping the middle class, which I like but frankly I really want cheaper cable, Cogeco is killing us some months.

Dismiss the Speech if you wish as nothing but pandering from a tired government (which, in all honesty, may be true), but you will likely come to regret it, because this is the kind of stuff we need to be saying ourselves. Not on issues such as "contempt of Parliament," or whatever fringe issue you can think up. It will not win us an election. What is in the Speech will.

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