Canadian Politics. It's not so boring.

December 30, 2005

A sad election tale

A friend sent me this (below). Sadly, there is much truth to it:
While vacationing on a ranch, Paul Martin gets thrown from his horse, lands on a rattlesnake, gets bitten and dies because the emergency room at the nearest hospital is too understaffed to treat him in time. So his soul arrives in Heaven and he is met by St. Peter at the Pearly Gates.

"Welcome to Heaven," says St. Peter. "Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a Liberal around these parts, so we're not sure what to do with you."

"No problem, just let me in; I'm a believer." says Martin.

"I'd like to just let you in, but I have orders from the Man Himself. He says you have to spend one day in Hell and one day in Heaven. Then you must choose where you'll live for eternity."

"But, I've already made up my mind, I want to be in Heaven," replied Martin".

"I'm sorry, but we have our rules." And with that, St. Peter escorts him to an elevator and he goes down, down, down, all the way to Hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a lush golf course; the sun is shining in a cloudless sky, the temperature a perfect 72 degrees. In the distance is a beautiful clubhouse.

Standing in front of it is his Dad, and thousands of other Liberals who had helped him out over the years---Pierre Trudeau, Jean Marchand, Pelletier, St Laurent etc., everyone laughing, happy, and casually but expensively dressed. They run to greet him, hug him, and reminisce about the good times they had getting rich at the expense of 'suckers and peasants.' They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster and caviar.

The Devil himself comes up to Martin with a frosty drink, "Have a Margarita and relax, Paul!"

"Uh, I can't drink anymore, I took a pledge," says Martin, dejectedly. "This is Hell, son. You can drink and eat all you want and not worry, and it just gets better from there!"

Martin takes the drink and finds himself liking the Devil, who he thinks is a really very friendly guy who tells funny jokes like himself, and pulls hilarious nasty pranks, kind of like they pulled on the GST and Free Trade promises. They are having such a great time that, before he realizes it, it's time to go. Everyone gives him a big hug and waves as Martin steps on the elevator and heads upward.

When the elevator door reopens, he is in Heaven again and St. Peter is waiting for him. "Now it's time to visit Heaven," the old man says, opening the gate.

So for 24 hours Martin is made to hang out with a bunch of honest, good-natured people who enjoy each other's company, talk about things other than money, and treat each other decently. Not a nasty prank or frat boy joke among them; no fancy country clubs and, while the food tastes great, it's not caviar or lobster. And these people are all poor, he doesn't see anybody he knows, and he isn't even treated like someone special!

"Whoa," he says uncomfortably to himself. "Pierre Trudeau never prepared me for this!"

The day is done, St. Peter returns and says, "Well, you've spent a day in Hell and a day in Heaven. Now choose where you want to live for eternity."

With the 'Jeopardy' theme playing softly in the background, Martin reflects for a minute, then answers: "Well, I would never have thought I'd say this -- I mean, Heaven has been delightful and all -- but I really think I belong in Hell with my friends."

So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down, all the way to Hell. The doors of the elevator open and he is in the middle of a barren scorched earth covered with garbage and toxic industrial waste, kind of like Sudbury. He is horrified to see all of his friends, dressed in rags and chained together, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags. They are groaning and moaning in pain, faces and hands black with grime.

The Devil comes over to Martin and puts an arm around his shoulder. "I don't understand," stammers a shocked Martin, "Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and a clubhouse and we ate lobster and caviar, drank booze. We lazed around and had a great time. Now there's just a wasteland full of garbage and everybody looks miserable!"

The Devil looks at him, smiles slyly, and purrs, "Yesterday we were campaigning; today you voted for us!"

December 25, 2005

Tory campaign failing to gain traction with voters

A mid-campaign poll for The Globe and Mail-CTV News shows that Canadians actually like the Liberal campaign marginally better than the one run by the Conservatives, despite positive reviews of the Tory effort as mistake-free and heavy on ideas.
I'm surprised the Tories didn't see this coming but then again, nobody seems to pay much attention to the NDP and they're the party that usually runs positive campaigns with lots of ideas. Last federal election I was working on the local NDP campaign, we had around 14-15 issue sheets we passed out from the federal office. We did well locally at 19% of the vote (that's 3.5% more than the national numbers) but still came in at third place. The Conservative candidate had essentially NO platform and came in second around 30% (I don't recall the exact number).

A positive campaign with lots of policy isn't a bad thing but alone it won't win an election. That's because of the same reason that negative advertising works. During an election, you need to set your candidate and party as being different from you opponents. Policy can help with this but only to a certain extent because you can't really make your specific policy plausible without successfully criticizing the other guy's different policy.

Being positive helps the governing party since it's to their advantage to make everything seem OK. Nobody wants to get rid of an incumbent MP who has been doing alright. For the opposition it's better to emphasize what's wrong as a result of the governing party and just be positive about what you'd change to make it OK again. The Globe article says pretty much the same thing:
"[The Conservatives] have to get that general protest sentiment back up there," Mr. Gregg said. "The cornerstone of any opposition party is unhappiness with the status quo. It's the oldest cliché in the book, but it's true. Governments defeat themselves."
Of course, the real groundwar will be in the new year. Until then, Merry Christmas to everyone!