This ain’t your hippie father’s NDP

The New Democratic Party is meeting in Halifax this weekend for their federal convention where they will discuss policy, hand out literature and hit up Pizza Corner at 3am.

The NDP is looking to, among other things, rebrand itself as a more palatable alternative to the Liberal Party on the left.  It’s going to be a tough slog for the dippers (we’ll still be able to call them that if they rename themselves as the Democratic Party) and many observers note that this will be Jack’s last chance if he doesn’t deliver tangible gains during the next election. They’ve been given a gift in that the Liberals have the most right-wing leader in recent memory, so some re-configuration may be on order along with seafood this weekend. However, are they selling out in order to make their policies easier for Canadians to swallow?

First, let’s look at Jack Layton’s obvious flip-flop on sweaters.

Jack’s party has been particularly guarded on releasing draft policy resolutions from his party’s EDAs this time around.  This is likely a result of what happened last time the NDP had a convention.  But, it allows us to ask if there’s some platform sweater stuffing going on here.

Next, we can’t help but notice that the NDP is leaving those hard-working families™ behind and showing a strong nod towards those that sit around boardroom tables rather than kitchen tables as the rich fat cats in Jack’s party can pay $300 for a chance to sit in the “winner’s circle” and attend an “exclusive” (read: exclusionary) reception with Betsy Myers, the COO for Obama for America.  According to her agency, Betsy’s fee is between $15-$20k per gig.  Let’s hope that enough NDP “suits” fill the Bluenose room at the Delta (my, oh my) to pay her fee.  It is unknown why the NDP is cozying up to an American political party that is currently pushing for two-tier healthcare in the US, and one that supports increasing troops in Afghanistan.  For those outside of the “winner’s circle” (read: drum circle) there’s an alternative event for $10 where they’re be some traditional Maritime music.

If you’re thinking about lighting up some of the green stuff while you listen to another rendition of Barrett’s Privateers at the Lower Deck, think again.  Word from the convention this weekend is that the NDP has barred Dana Larsen from attending Dipperfest this year.  Some will remember that Larsen was the NDP pro-drug candidate that was dumped during the last election.

But more seriously, is the NDP shifting the the centre-left to fill a perceived vacuum left there by Michael Ignatieff? Remember, if Ignatieff supported Bush, it might as well be safe to embrace for the NDP to embrace Obama (as a majority of Canadians still do).

If the Canadian media were a focus group…

…the Conservatives would never run negative ads. Heck, we’d just surrender to a few more decades of Liberal rule.

On Macleans Capital Read blog, journalist Aaron Wherry breathlessly tells us what our betters think of the latest round of Conservative ads. Wherry headlines the article “Schoolyard tripe! Poisonous! Demeaning! Anti-American!” and proceeds to list criticism from non-partisan voices such as Jim Travers, Angelo Persichilli, the Edmonton Journal, the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star! Who are these voices of reason? Reading them makes it so clear that to armchair political analysts, the Conservatives have made a disastrous misstep in running negative advertising, because nobody likes negative ads, and of course, such ads don’t work.

Thousands of dollars worth of focus groups studying the reactions of average, everyday Canadians would seem to indicate otherwise. The decisions that go into these sorts of adverts are not made on a whim. Political calculations are much more involved than started from one’s prejudices against conservatism and then spewing under-informed analysis in 750 paid words or less. There is a method to the Machiavellian madness. From the gender of the narrating voice, to its tone, to the imagery of the ads and the theme, it would seem that the Conservatives have concluded through some expensive research that Canadians seem to have a problem with Michael Ignatieff’s seeming self-serving interest in returning to Canada. “The ads will backfire”, “Canadians are turned off by negative ads”, “This isn’t the United States (oops)” are the sounds coming from the Parliamentary Press Gallery and other members of the media elite in this country. They claim to tell us what we think when it’s clear that they’re out of touch with the effect that those ads will have on us as Canadians.

The other elites — those that reside in the Liberal Party — tell us who should raise our kids, what kind of cars we should drive and whose feelings we should not offend, are of course the producers of these ads:

This may only be the first government that Mr. Wherry’s has covered, but some perspective please. The difference between these two ads and the latest round of Conservative advertising? The Grit ads were baldfaced lies; how’s your healthcare, your “scrapped Kyoto accord”, your right to choose and who was it that was prepared to work with the Bloc Quebecois? Where are the soldiers with guns in our streets?. In contrast, the Conservative ads are true. Michael Ignatieff was out of the country for 34 years, has mused that taxes will go up and the video wherein he says “you have to decide what kind of America you want, right? You have to decide. It’s your country just as much as it is mine” is undoctored. These are Michael Ignatieff’s own words. In fact, they’re so true that the only line of defense is to attack the process.

Funny that the Liberals are silent on this and it is the media who comes to their defense.

Ignatieff.me

Jane Taber wrote last weekend,

For all those Canadians who think Michael Ignatieff, the newly-installed Liberal Leader, is an intellectual snob, read on: He enjoys keeping up on all the celebrity news and gossip in tabloid magazines, including Star Magazine and HELLO! Canada. As a result, he says he knows all about the ravages of cellulite, the dimply-skin problem that affects mostly women. Indeed, his knowledge of that issue is as rich as it is of the carbon cap and trade system. However, he is just enough of a snob that he refuses to be seen buying the magazines; his wife, Zsuszanna Zsohar, does that.

Dr. Ignatieff will be spending a lot of time on this mag. It’s Ignatieff.me!

UDPATE: Here are some of the videos from the site

Elitism from… the NDP

From Pique Newsmagazine (Whistler BC),

Helen Kormendy, a councillor with the Village of Ashcroft, will be taking [Conservative Chuck Strahl] on under the NDP banner, while Barbara Lebeau, a veteran of the legal profession, will carry the flag for the Greens. The Liberal Party has not yet appointed a candidate in Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon.

Kormendy currently serves as a councilor with the Village of Ashcroft, where she lives. A lifelong New Democrat, she has also worked as a social worker in child protection and family support, and has also worked as a mediator for people who were divorcing.

But what really separates Kormendy from Strahl is education, according to her.

I guess the only thing that’s different about me too with Chuck Strahl is that I’m educated,” she said. “Not to say he isn’t in a formal way, I have three degrees.

“He comes out of a high school and goes into the workforce. I come out of high school, I work for a while and since then I have a formal education. I have a degree in political science, minor anthropology… I have a degree in social work… and I also have a master’s of social work from UBC.”

The mask slips

The Conservatives have run advertising comparing Liberal leader Stephane Dion to an out-of-touch academic who doesn’t care about the priorities of average hard-working Canadians.

In this video that I captured from a press conference Dion gave in Richmond BC just minutes ago, Dion says “I like to have a lot of PhDs in Canada but we need also to have plumbers, and all the skilled workers that are needed must have the ability to come here in Canada. Not only PhDs”

While Stephane Dion would like to have Canada populated by like-minded academics like himself, he seems to begrudgingly concede that Canada also needs plumbers.

Imagine if you were somebody with skills that the Prime Minister of Canada only needed rather than liked.

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