Oct 19, 2007

Growing the Brand

If you are Stephen Harper, in a minority government situation, and want to grow your market share amongst Canadians, would your strategy be to:
  • Show voters that you don't have scary agendas, let alone any "hidden" ones; and
  • Demonstrate that your governing policies are forward-thinking, responsive to the real needs of your constituents; and
  • Illustrate that you and your party have a firm understanding of this great nation, its achievements and its strengths; and
  • Clearly reinforce the point that you are the only party in recent times to keep your promises; and
  • Constantly draw a (self-evident) comparison between your party and the ineffective, self-centred and unprincipled opposition parties?
If you answered "Yes!" to all these points, then you have a fine appreciation of how the first week of this parliamentary session has played out for the Conservative Party of Canada.

Two Throne Speeches have now clearly demonstrated realistic and non-threatening legislative priorities for the nation. Hardly "scary", certainly not "hidden", and the "soldiers in our streets" theme and its purveyors are thoroughly disgraced. Nevertheless, this didn't stop the hapless Dion and his bunch of misfits from using the same hackneyed innuendo again in his reply to the Throne Speech. Some dolts never learn, I guess. And ex-professors are certainly thicker than the average Canadian.

Similarly, the legislative agenda advanced by the Conservatives has to strike a chord in the Canadian psyche. Artic sovereignty, tougher crime legislation, a practical approach to greenhouse gases and pollution that won't plunge the nation into a recession, tax relief including the second half of the commitment to reduce the GST rate, and economic stability and fine tuning of trade processes. And realism, not populist rhetoric, on the Afghanistan mission.

All this has been carefully choreographed. Take the Afghan mission for example. It is certainly not coincidence that creating the Manley task force, hearing the highly favourable results of independent polling of the Afghan people, and the Throne Speech indicating that an extension of the mission until 2011 may be required to continue training their army to take on primary responsibility for that nation's security ... all converged on the ears of voters during this week. Masterful orchestration, reflecting planning done some time ago. Well done.

Contrast this to the bumbling and stumbling Stephane Dion and his mendacious Liberals who, for the upteenth time, have clearly shown that they have no principles that they are willing to stand up for, and that continuing their fat paycheques is their only priority.

Tagging along for the ride, as usual, is Jack Layton and the NDP who continue to show Canadians why they are not a serious political party. Their Afghan demands are ridiculous ... cut and run now. Full stop. No Phase Two, unless "negotiating" with the Taliban (on how they will return that nation to the Stone Age) is taken seriously as a viable second step. No troops, no leverage, Jack. Never big on consequences, are you Jack? Just the usual glib "demands". Nothing is impossible for he who does not have to do the heavy lifting, our Jack has found out.

How Harper must have smiled when the Liberals elected Dion their new leader. A new leader without substance ... only arrogance, a pampered life, and a total void of how ordinary Canadians think, work, play, and view their government. So out of touch with Canada.

So Harper and the Conservatives have the best of both worlds. A minority government that can operate (within reason) as a majority government, and the spectre of increased seats if the three opposition parties foolishly combine to bring down the government.

Meanwhile, the government's agenda is advanced, the Conservative brand grows stronger, and the Liberal Party continues to demonstrate that it stands for nothing, and self-preservation is its only goal.

I am all for strong, effective, and reasoned opposition in parliament. Too bad that the Conservatives have to do all this, as well as their regular job, while the Loony Tunes parties rearrange deck chairs.

I don't think anyone is underestimating Harper, his style of management, or his strategic skills anymore.

Oct 17, 2007

The Libranos - Epilogue


There's a reason that columnists are paid big bucks ... their ability to conjure up images through their prose. To write the bon mot, the twist of the phrase, and to provide us rare insights into the psyche of the moment.

Read Don Martin's chronicle of the new Captain Chicken, a.k.a. Stephane Dion, who has assumed this dubious mantle from his predecessor, Paul Martin.

This moment has been a long time coming, so be sure to take a moment to savour it.

Soldiers in Our Streets

As my wife and I sat on the porch last night after viewing the Throne Speech, we talked about how changed the political landscape had become since Harper first lead the CPC in an election.

No longer were there insidious accusations of Hidden Agendas, Right-Wing Christian Fundamentalist conspiracies, or that old chestnut "Bush's lapdog". Moreover, all Canadians were still awaiting the appearance of the tanks, soldiers and artillery on the streets ... the subject of another smarmy Liberal election advertisement so swiftly derided by the media, ordinary Canadians, and all barnyard animals with one brain cell more than the unicell Liberal campaign war room.

Actually, my wife and I decided, the current state of well-managed government had begun with the lampooning of that "Soldiers in Our Streets" commercial. Lacking a record to run on, the Liberals had resorted to their favourite tactic of scaring Canadians away from other choices. "Liberal Values are Canadian Values", they pronounced.

I think Canadians were outraged, but prepared to accept in the end, Liberal sponsorship transgressions. But with that "Soldiers" commercial, the Libranos went way over the top and far beyond the credibility line of average Canadian. Oh, this isn't to say that Canadians didn't have other reasons for turfing these clowns, it was just that the Soldiers advertisement was probably the tipping point.

So here we are now, 19 months on, and the sky hasn't fallen, Harper has met kept most of his promises, soldiers aren't in the street, and Paul Martin's companies are still receiving favourable tax savings by keeping the ships registered offshore. Nothing has changed in LiberalLand (nor DipperLand for that matter), and Canadians have been treated to good, clean and transparent government.

We have a prime minister who looks like, acts like and strategizes on par with any other world leader, who has placed Canada on the map again after a drought characterized as mealy-mouthed, lilly-livered double-speaking, the mortgage on the national "house" is being paid down rather than buying a new SUV for every Liberal insider, and as a nation we are addressing the things that really matter.

I don't know about you, but I kind of like having a clean, principled and intelligent political administration in Ottawa again. And being treated to the spectre of the Liberal Party of Canada behaving like the 2007 version of The Three Stooges. More fun than a barrel of Buzzards circling over "dead leader walking".