A fact that should frighten us all: the Prime Minister’s cat positives/negatives and Ignatieff’s cat positives/negatives will actually swing a few votes.
The purpose of the cat photo-op for the Prime Minister is to show the “softer side of Steve” according to those that run focus groups. The sweater during the last campaign had the same objective. For years, the Liberals have tried to craft an image of the Prime Minister of a scary, mean and cold man. Kittens and sweaters? All that’s missing is the trolly to the land of Make-Believe, neighbour. Prime Ministerial image crafting aside, to most voters the PM has instead turned out to be calm, predictable and maybe even a little boring. But, against the crafted image of the fearsome ogre by his opponents, the realities both crafted and actual serve him well.
Here, Michael Ignatieff — in sweater — stares down his cat. Ignatieff’s perceived negatives — that he’s arrogant, aloof, crafty and out-of-touch — are not diminished by the cat photo-op. Stephane Dion named his dog Kyoto to emphasize a clear policy initiative of his leadership. Mr. Ignatieff has not carved out any bold policy direction on much of anything and naming the cat Nuance may be a move that only Ignatieff and the cat understand.