Too illustrative, too offensive? The Liberal comms strategy on this IS full of holes I’m sorry to say.
Yesterday, I went on Evan Soloman’s Power & Politics show to talk Photoshop faux-pas and the illustration that was put on the Liberal Party website showing the PM in a Liberal partisan “assassination fantasy”. I mentioned that ad hominem always fails in communications; personal attacks such as the Liberal photoshop failed and the Conservative poopin’ puffin failed too.
Soloman mentioned another illustration (which was not available at airtime) of “bullet holes” around Stephane Dion’s head that appeared on the Conservative Party website.
Here is the is the illustration in question, held up by Kinsella on P&P yesterday and today on CTV’s Canada AM:
One of the tools in a web designer’s toolbox is the stock photo. For a buck or two, a designer can grab a professional illustration or photo to accent a base illustration or photo. In this case, a Conservative web designer grabbed a stock photo of
“holes” from a website called iStockphoto (a website I highly recommend, btw).
Here is the image from iStockphoto:
and the name of the file on the iStockphoto website? Not “Bullet Holes” but “Paper Holes“:
Holes in Dion’s plan, holes in Dion’s platform?
Why do the Liberals only see death?
Let’s consider the process of the Liberal apology:
1) An apology from “The Web Team” at Liberal.ca if the assassination photoshop may have offended some people.
2) An apology from Ralph Goodale suggesting that social media does not allow for editorial control. This is so absolutely wrong and misleading. The Liberal.ca photoshop contest had a screening process (ie. “editorial control”)
3) An accusation from Warren Kinsella that the other guys are just as bad so let’s all just forget the Liberal transgression.
When the poopin puffin was released, the Prime Minister apologized to Stephane Dion. When will Michael Ignatieff apologize to Stephen Harper for a mock assassination photo that appeared on the Liberal leader’s website?
In the dark world of politicking, political gamemanship and attacks on political opponents, the new Liberals are a bit more sophisticated that their purged Dionista bretheren. With the backdrop of a global economic crisis, governments working together to “rescue” (that’s another debate) the worldwide economy through spending and bailouts, political parties in Canada are somewhat reluctant to play partisan games to avoid being cast in a bad light themselves among the voting public that does not have an appetite for attacks.
For this reason, the Conservatives post-Dion have been relatively quiet on defining the new Leader of the Opposition. Every opposition leader from Manning to Day to Harper and yes, Mr. Dion, has been ruthlessly defined by the governing party of the time. We have yet to see the Conservatives unload on Mr. Ignatieff with even a hint of the fire they rained down on the hapless Stephane Dion.
No party can been seen to have initiated a wave of negativity during this time so perhaps the Conservatives have strategically been holding off on firing the first volley.
Though, as I’m coming to realize, the Liberals may have been sniping at the Conservatives for a few weeks now though as insurgents that have shed their Liberal uniforms.
Take, for example, this video by “theGritGirl”:
theGritGirl joined YouTube on March 10, 2009 but is already cranking out broadcast quality vignette’s attacking the Conservative government. Surely skill doesn’t automatically mean that a big P partisan professionalism is at play here. But go to 9 seconds into the video to committee testimony by Minister Jim Flaherty. If you exist off of the Hill, you might have seen this testimony on CPAC and if you exist on the Hill, you may have seen it on that same channel or through the internal House of Commons feed. Note that this TV-quality feed lacks “CPAC” designation meaning that this video capture likely occurred on the Hill from the House of Commons feed. This professional video (with titles produced with a professional video suite like After Effects) was also first seen on Warren Kinsella’s blog. The lack of CPAC designation and Warren Kinsella’s distribution may mean that the Liberals produced the video and are the first to “go neg” during this time of economic crisis. If the Conservatives are looking for an opening to unleash a barrage against Ignatieff and the Liberals this may be it as their actions would appear to be defensive rather than offensive.
Further to more Liberal attack, we see this entry by Liberal war room chief Kinsella on March 2 featuring a letter from James Turk, the head of the Canadian Association of University Teachers complaining to Minister Goodyear that a staffer told Turk and his colleagues them to “shut up” during a meeting. After looking into this incident, I learned that Turk and his associates had given the Minister a brow-beating for about an hour without bringing up new business (ie. that he hadn’t already read in published op-eds by Turk et al). The letter is carbon copied to Marc Garneau (Liberal S&T critic) Stephen Harper, Tony Clement, and Jim Maloway (NDP S&T critic). The document on Kinsella’s site is a scanned copy of the fax sent to one of those individuals (let’s say Garneau) and then passed onto Kinsella.
In today’s Globe and Mail, we read that Jim Turk has an immediate comment available regarding the balancing of one’s job as Minister of S&T and one’s own personal faith. Here’s Turk,
“The traditions of science and the reliance on testable and provable knowledge has served us well for several hundred years and have been the basis for most of our advancement. It is inconceivable that a government would have a minister of science that rejects the basis of scientific discovery and traditions,”
Outside of Goodyear’s tangential though unwise hedging on evolution, we see this Globe and Mail piece write up Turk on Goodyear without the context of their previous run-in. Turk is presented as an unbiased voice on Goodyear. Also, Turk and Goodyear didn’t spar over Goodyear’s unknown views of a particular field of science or how public policy is or is not informed by those views. Further, this Globe piece is timed perfectly for those that would gain from a Conservative stumble on Goodyear as the government held a high profile event last night honouring NSERC award winners. In communications, that was supposed to be the story that Conservatives wanted whereas, the Liberals got quite a gift today.
Finally, if we check out Kinsella today, we find him going along the same attack as that unleashed against Stockwell Day. Kinsella will be dusting off his Barney doll to chase away religious constituents that Ignatieff is said to be courting.
Have the Conservatives used proxies to level attacks agaist their opponents in the past? Of course. This is nothing new; every political party does it. But in this latest post-Dion, post-economic collapse round of the war where everyone is supposed to rise above, if the Conservatives are holding their fire so they won’t be blamed for playing politics during this economic crisis, the Liberals and their proxies have just given them the green light and the media wouldn’t hold much credibility if they said the Tories fired first.
6:59pm: PM’s address on Global delivered via Youtube!
7:00pm: Canadians selected the Conservatives on October 14th to bring Canada through the economic crisis
7:00pm: First points past intro are details of the Conservative economic measures.
7:01pm: January 27th will be a budget. Additional measures there.
7:01pm: “We are consulting with the opposition [on the economy]”
7:02pm: “Instead of a new budget, they propose a coalition that includes a party that wants to break up the country.”
7:03pm: “This is a pivotal moment in our history”
7:04pm: “will use all legal means at our disposal to protect our democracy”
7:06pm: Media coverage: Bob Fife of CTV speculates that if the GG turns down the PM’s request to prorogue, the PM may resign creating urgency for the GG to appoint a new PM.
7:07pm: Craig Oliver upset there was no contrition in the PM’s speech.
7:15pm: Fife suggests Conservatives are actively trying to poach Liberal MPs or have them miss the confidence vote on Monday.
7:16pm: Peter Donolo slamming the PM on CTV. CTV presents Donolo as a pollster instead of Jean Chretien’s former Director of Communications.
7:17pm: Fife complains that Dion’s hasn’t presented a tape to CTV yet. Lloyd complains that network time is expensive. They presumed that they’d be back to prime time television by now. Fife reveals that Layton wanted equal time as part of the coalition.
7:25pm: CBC says that Dion’s tape delay shows poor communications by the Liberals. Maybe Dion didn’t understand his own speech.
7:26pm: Liberal tape has a poor start.
7:27pm: Jeffrey Simpson’s global warming book on Dion’s bookshelf.
7:28pm: Dion mentions the Bloc and the Green party will support the Liberals (on issues of confidence – what?)
7:28pm: Dion: Consensus is a great Canadian value
7:29pm: “Rivals are working together elsewhere in the world. Why not here?”
7:29pm: Dion messaging against possible prorogation.
7:30pm: Dion outlining a potential economic platform.
7:31pm: Dion moves past allotted network time.
7:32pm: Dion describes his letter to the GG. Outlined his suggestion to her not to prorogue. “If [Harper] is to suspend parliament, he must face a vote of confidence.”
7:32pm: Dion says he’ll work day and night on the economic crisis.
Consider the following talking points from the Liberal Party website:
and consider this set also from the Liberal Party website:
The “Issue” from the first reads:
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion, New Democrat Leader Jack Layton and Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe have agreed to form a cooperative government to address the impactof the global economic crisis on Canadians. The NDP will support this agreement until June 30, 2011.
and from the second, the issue reads:
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion, New Democrat Leader Jack Layton and Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe today announced that an agreement has been reached among the
three opposition parties to support a cooperative government to address the impact of the global economic crisis on Canadians.
A subtle difference but it does concede that the Bloc Quebecois is part of this proposed coalition government.
The Liberals must be scrambling around this calming members of their own party. Yesterday, their website featured a picture of Dion, Layton and Duceppe at the signing ceremony to compliment their featured story on their homepage. The picture was quickly dropped for the image of the Canadian flag that is now displayed instead.
The stereotype of Scarborough as a crime-ridden area is been perpetuated by a federal Liberal candidate running in Mississauga.
In a recent interview on CPAC (Cable Public Affairs Channel), Mississauga-Steetsville Liberal candidate Bonnie Crombie made a disparaging comment about Scarborough when asked about crime and violence in her city.
“Of course there have been isolated incidents … Most people go to sleep at night rest assured they live in the safest city in Canada,” she said.
When asked about the impression that Mississauga is a crime-ridden area by the interviewer, who cited a recent shooting as an example, Crombie went on to answer that there are “isolated incidents” and reiterated Mississauga is the safest community in Canada.
“I think you’re confusing us with Scarborough,” she said and then laughed.
For the record, I would like to clarify that at no point during his September 12th interview with Elizabeth May did Steve Paikin express such a personal opinion.
We feel this use of Mr. Paikin’s name – and by extension, that of TVO’s – is inappropriate. We ask that the above mentioned blog posting be corrected, along with any other Green Party of Canada postings or communications of a similar nature.
One thing that we can all agree upon is that Elizabeth May talks too fast and this has got her into some trouble in the past surrounding her February 2007 comments on TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin where she says “All the other politicians are scared to death to mention the word ‘tax’. And they think Canadians are stupid — and cannot — and I fundamentally agree with that assessment.”
As I mentioned in my interview on CBC, I was never of the mind that she had said “I” rather than “they” in the sentence where she says “they think Canadians are stupid”. What stunned me was the part where she said “and I fundamentally agree with that assessment”. I didn’t realize there was ambiguity over the pronoun until it was raised by other who saw my video and made comment over at Buckdog.
Now, as it has been confirmed, the audio was “they” but now May reveals that the real difference in interpretation was that she either meant “agree” or “disagree with that assessment”. In Steve Paikin’s Friday interview of May, the Green Party leader explains that she said “disagree”.
However, on Sunday’s CTV Question Period May has a different story that contradicts her explanation to Paikin. May said that she said “fundamentally agree with that assessment” in reference to another panelist who had made an observation that wasn’t recorded.
Most people that run for political office do it out of a love of service for their fellow Canadians. I do not doubt that May’s heart is in the right place. However, her reported off-hand comments after the panel discussion might reinforce for us another element of her thinking. She said “No I want [Hummer drivers] shot actually, jail is not good enough for them!” Of course, any reasonable person would understand that May was joking. However, some might interpret this as a streak of elitism in Ms. May. Some Canadians may get the impression that while she wishes to serve Canada, she likely thinks she knows what’s best for us.
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.
I received an email from a reader which reads,
Professor Dion showed his true colours on the issue of immigration– He would prefer Professors coming from other lands– but knows that he needs plumbers etc.
This is elitist and reveals the true attitude towards the Liberal Party’s view of immigration. We are looked down upon– by this elitist group. Incredibly this elitist view makes the “beer and popcorn” seem tame in comparison.
An Immigrant that came to Canada on December 20th 1959