“The Visitor” ad, above, seems to be a creation of a Liberal supporter and is being distributed on YouTube. It spoofs the “Just Visiting” spot, below, which is a creation of The Conservative Party of Canada and is being shown as a paid ad on Canadian network television.
It seems clear that Liberals (I assume they are Liberals) are having a certain amount of fun riffing off of the Conservative “Just Visiting” attack ads. Here’s one from the Libs that accuses Mahatma Gandhi of being a mere arriviste for Indian independence. I’ve put up the YouTube links to both ads here on the assumption that you need to see the original (on the bottom) in order to get the joke (on the top.)
Now, here’s a great article by a columnist for Forbes magazine in the United States. In her piece titled “Cosmopolitan Patriot – Michael Ignatieff’s love letter to Canada”, Elisabeth Eaves makes the point beautifully that I would make to the attempted equivalence made above.
If your country is plagued by chaos and autocracy, no one thinks there’s anything wrong with your spending many years abroad before returning to take charge. Witness the post-Soviet leaders who returned to Eastern Europe, or one-time exiles like Jose Ramos Horta or Benazir Bhutto. There is an acceptance that whatever ideas about governance one may have picked up abroad, they can’t be any worse than the modus operandi back home, and that in any case, if the returning politician had stayed home, he or she would be dead.
When you come from a thriving democracy with a high standard of living, though, and try to pull off the prodigal son routine, you have a little more explaining to do. Such is the conundrum in which Michael Ignatieff finds himself. British radio and television host; American public intellectual; author of 15 books of history, biography, memoir, politics and fiction, “Iggy” returned to Canada in 2005 after 27 years elsewhere, ran for office, and in 2006 became a member of parliament for the opposition Liberal Party
When Prime Minister Stephen Harper described last Fall’s stock market dive as “a great buying opportunity,” it was seen by many as a bit insensitive, given the number of Canadians who had just seen a good chunk of their retirement savings melt away.
On Feb.10, when the S&P/TSX hit 8,817.89 – one of the lower points since Harper’s comments – an anonymous tech savvy individual registered the web address and created the Harperdex, which set out to track how much the $1,000 invested the day after Harper’s comments would be worth.
But stock markets are like public opinion polls and what goes down eventually goes up again. At noon today, the Harperdex shows that $1,000 is now worth $1,003 – probably not what the creator of the Harperdex had in mind.
Ottawa Citizen reporter Glen McGregor quickly put up HarperDex.ca (mostly, he says, as a fun exercise in some Web programming techniques). The idea was simple: If you had invested $1,000 in the S&P/TSX Composite Index the day after Harper said “Buy”, the HarperDex will tell you what that $1,000 is worth.
It’s good to see that the Liberals are getting some help creating anti-Harper mini-sites. Now, if only we could find out which journalist is moonlighting as Perez Hudak?
When Guy Giorno took over the chief of staff’s office to the Prime Minister, he rounded up the Ministerial chiefs, the directors of communications and senior PMO staff and told them the same thing: this is essentially an election year and everything that we do from now on will be proactive, direct and obviously political. Giorno’s “be political” theme will set the tone of this government as it moves into the fall when opposition leader Stephane Dion blusters about defeating the government, into the winter when Dion threatens to defeat the government over the budget and into the fall of 2009 when the government’s mandate comes up for renewal due to the fixed election date legislation the Prime Minister’s tabled early in this term.
Today, in the National Post, David Akin writes about Conservatives cutting travel grants to Canadian artists. Surprisingly, at least to this observer, is that this money comes under the mandate of Foreign Affairs. Sending artists to film festivals and to columnists to give lectures in communist countries would more appropriately be fixed in the department of Canadian Heritage but that’s another discussion. The government’s political staffers have found some cash that is sure to enrage the arts community and as a side-benefit, show ordinary hard-working 9-5 Canadians that their tax dollars are sending others overseas while they put together their savings (after filing their income tax) over the months to put the kids in a minivan and drive down to Disneyworld for a week.
You can tell that Giorno’s people are executing the “be political” strategy in the quotes provided to David Akin by government staffers.
On Gwynne Dyer’s government grant to travel to a popular Canadian vacation destination to “[create] greater awareness and appreciation of Canadian foreign policy … within key audiences of Cuban decision makers and opinion leaders.” political staffers explained that
“[Dyer’s] a left-wing columnist and author who has plenty of money to travel on his own.”
On the North-South Institute
“[it’s] a left-wing and anti-globalization think-tank … Why are we paying for these people to attend anti-Western conferences in Cuba?”
Canadian artists are not on PMO director of strategic planning Patrick Muttart’s radar as these folks have never likely voted Conservative and never will. This move to cut taxpayer money from these groups for foreign travel will cause outrage among that community and will in turn, the Conservatives are predicting, will show other Canadians that the government is defending their interests instead.
This is an obvious political move by PMO and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Conservative Party comps Sarah Polley’s airfare the next time she comes to Ottawa to hold a press conference.
Here’s a summary of the Arts Promotion Projects funded in 2006-2007: