VOICEOVER: Un vote pour le Bloc Québecois… bloque l’environment, bloque les familles moyennes, bloque l’économie, mais surtout, bloque l’avenir du Québec. (A vote for the Bloc Québecois… blocks the environment, blocks average families, blocks the enconomy but more than anything else, blocks the future of Quebec.)
JACK LAYTON: Un seul geste pour débloquer les choses. Joignez vous a nous, votez pour l’NPD.
(One single gesture to unblock things. Join us, vote for the NDP)
This ad carries a theme that the Conservatives initiated last election; like the Conservatives, the NDP are focusing on the decreased mobility of Quebeckers and their province when they vote for the Bloc Quebecois. We see a similar image in the bicycle with square wheels. Comparatively, during the 2006 campaign, the Conservatives showed an image of a bicycle with one wheel in cement as a cyclist tried with futility to move forward.
This campaign is seeing a few new developments in Canadian politics. During the last week of the campaign, the NDP usually runs out of cash and can’t finish with a heavy ad buy during this critical time. Now that they plan on spending the limit (something past their reach previously), the NDP is able to buy critical air time for ads right up to election day. However, I question the value of the NDP buying ads in Quebec. Even behind a surging Bloc and resurgent Liberal Party, the NDP still runs fourth behind the Conservatives. Close races for the NDP will be won or lost in BC and Ontario in this final week. Perhaps the NDP is making a long term investment in Quebec to establish a beachhead to show that Mulcair’s byelection win wasn’t a fluke.
Speaking to a senior NDP official in these past couple of days, the NDP has confirmed to me that they are planning an ad buy specifically targeted against Dion’s 43 abstentions in the House of Commons and these missed opportunities for the opposition to bring down the Conservative government.
The NDP could become a spoiler and this is evident in their focus during this last week of the campaign. At first, Layton said he was running for Prime Minister — a theme he will still carry this week though muted. This message served to wedge the Liberals to provide Canadians with a choice between left and right between the NDP and the Conservatives. Now that it’s crunch time, we’re seeing the NDP focusing regionally and against left-wing opponents in order to fight among a crowded field, against the inevitable perennial Liberal call to think twice to stop Harper and against the Bloc for progressive voters in Quebec.