The fundamentals of a controlled and focused attack are there. The meting of information in tantalizing media-packaged portions, day after day, the directing of the debate in the Commons around the scandal, and the revelations of surprise special guests in the affair (Dosanjh and Martin).
Conservative strategists are dominating multiple news cycles in a time when released polls reveal that the Canadian public trusts Martin least out of the four party leaders, that Martin would be the most likely to cheat to get ahead, and most importantly (and tragically), that Canadians are losing faith in their democracy. Daily, we hear of the “lack of civility” in the House of Commons and the “real tragedy” of recent events. Never mind the most significant scandal in Canadian history, say Martin and Layton, Gomery has become all but white noise to Canadians. If this is so, not forgetting that Canadians are aware of the corruption, Conservative strategists are focusing this general malaise squarely back upon the Liberals like a laser with these allegations, and now proof beyond a shadow of a doubt, of bribery of the elected members of the opposition by the Prime Minister’s office.
What is the effect?
Canadians know that the Liberals are corrupt, but yet the Liberals still lead in the polls. Thus, Conservatives have started a two-pronged approach to win the future election.
First, and currently, they are quite rightly showing day-by-day, week-by-week, and opportunity-by-opportunity that the Liberals will stoop to any low to retain their grip on power. The Grewal episode is dampening the devastation of the Belinda defection, showing that the billionaire was bought with power and that the defection wasn’t rooted in disagreement with Conservative Party principles. Rather, it is now evident that Belinda bolted simply because the party was sitting on the wrong side of the House at the time. And besides, a limo just isn’t a limo unless it’s of the Cabinet variety. Further, Grewal-gate has the effect of masticating the morale of Liberal voters as more are now unlikely to show up on election day to vote for the Liberal Party of Canada. Of course, this has the opposite effect on Conservative voters who will march to the polls (through a snowstorm in February, no less) to rip Liberal hands off of the reins of power.
Second, Conservatives will be offering a positive plan to the electorate to offer a reason to vote “for” instead of simply “against”. In the past few days, the Conservative Party has prominently featured it’s newly minted (March 2005) policy document on its website.
A recent unscientific poll on the CTV website asks whether the Liberals, Conservatives or both appear in an unflattering light given the Grewal incident. While most pick the Liberals, “both” comes in just behind, and a few pick the Conservatives. While those who picked “Conservative” likely represent partisan Liberals (or the generally unaware), those that picked “both” show that the Conservatives are spending electoral capital on this scandal. Hopefully, for Conservatives, when the dust settles, the balance of the diminished electoral support will favour our party. I advise that it certainly will not unless we bolster the negative campaign with our positive plan for Canadians.