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.