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.

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