It was only a matter of time before the Conservatives would try to paint NDP leader Thomas Mulcair as an environmental radical but in an unexpected turn, the NDP have struck back, hitting the Conservatives where it really hurts.
If you have been reading this blog for a while now – archives are always available – you will know that the Conservative economic record is non-existent and frankly a contradiction to everything they supposedly stand for.
NDP leader Mulcair made a blunder trying to label the Alberta Oil Sands as the cause for a high dollar that has been hurting other industries across Canada – which wasn’t the case and still isn’t. Without surprise, his Dutch disease comments came back to bite him when the Conservatives asked if we could afford “risky” policies from the NDP.
In response, the NDP have been clever enough to do what the Liberals, to their peril, couldn’t do. So Michael Ignatieff had a half-hour program on a Sunday morning on Global at a time when no one paid attention, but they couldn’t afford to fire back and defend his integrity when he was attacked? Decent Canadians know that a record outside of Canada is not opportunist, it is an achievement and brings a higher perspective. But the Liberal organizers really blundered bad. Instead of effective Liberal spots to counter the Conservative ads, they came with a 30 minute Liberal program which anyone who is channel surfing won’t bother to watch – but a political guy like me (we are a minority). As a result, the Conservative narrative, an effective one, took the campaign by storm: “he didn’t come back for you.”
So the NDP learned well, and they learned how to properly manage their funds to create an ad to prevent history from repeating itself. And this ad is effective. Who can disagree with their claim? During a recession, Harper attacks pensions and employment insurance, what kind of plan is that? “What is his solution?”
The NDP spot is available in French and English and can relate to anyone. The ad isn’t a left or right wing ad, it is an ad that asks why Harper is attacking those without jobs when there are no jobs available. It’s an ad that speaks to common sense and uses the same final touches that have made previous Conservative ads so effective. The unflattering look, the ominous voice, the gloomy music, and the quick thinking. “You will pay the price.”
The Conservatives have no economic record, they are just fortunate that the previous Liberal government was good with finances and left them a $13 billion surplus to squander. Otherwise, the record deficits, the job losses, and the record growth in government size and entitlement would only just be the tip of the iceberg.
The Conservatives took some jabs at the NDP and thus far, their site and ad haven’t been effective. The NDP are climbing in the polls – not at the expense of the Liberals but at the expense of the Conservatives. This NDP ad strikes because it hits home. We will have to see how their messaging evolves and if their messaging will translate into policy. If they start with tax hikes, then we can easily say that the Conservatives will have won with their own “you’ll pay the price” ad.
But if the NDP address the issues of the day and present sound solutions based on common sense, they may not only be poised to make electoral gains, they may also be poise to form the first national NDP government in history and wouldn’t it be a slap to Harper’s face if they won a majority on their first ever try?
Time will tell how this will play out, but one thing is certain: the attack ad was not only necessary, it had to be done right and the NDP nailed it – something the Liberals couldn’t do. The NDP saw what happened to Dion, Ignatieff and Rae and they cleverly changed the course of history for themselves. Whether you agree with their policies or not, the ad was clever and tailored to give the Conservatives a taste of their own medicine.
But now for the Conservatives, it may be time to turn up the heat. Recent attacks have been weak and ineffective and they are the only reason they have lasted this long – especially on the fake and inflating bubble that they put the Economy in. Perception is everything.