Sunday, March 25, 2012

Note to Bob Rae: Get a little tougher

We have been hearing that the Liberals won't take any more crap from the Conservative attack machine: Rae has said that he is prepared to give as good as he gets. Rae is such an effective and feisty politician that I believed him.

Then we had our first Conservative attack ad against Rae, and the response was a video about the Conservative record on buying military jets. I'm a political junkie and I couldn't completely follow the video, or get its relevance. It certainly didn't seem like much of a response to me.

Rae is a principled, ethical guy, and he has stated in public that personal attacks have no place in politics. But when they attack us personally, we need to respond in kind. That doesn't mean that we lower our standards forever, but in the moment we need to drop the gloves and (in Tom Mulcair's words) hit to hurt. Or if that seems too mean, we could at least do a parody of the Conservative attack ad. Something effective is needed. Timing is everything. We have to be prepared, either with some already created video, or at least with a team that can work fast.

Conservative attack ads have taken a toll on the Liberal party. I have recently read articles arguing that attack ads aren't the sole reason for a leader's defeat, which is such a red herring: of course they're not the sole reason. But they're debilitating, especially when the timing and execution is just right. They strengthen the resolve of our opposition; they make us second-guess our leaders; they reduce the confidence of our leaders; they throw off our momentum; they diminish our support perhaps only temporarily, but sometimes they cause it fall just when it's needed most.

Conservative attacks go beyond ads aimed at the leader. For example, I suspect that the Conservatives realized that Sheila Copps was their biggest threat as party president, and so their trolls ridiculed her. We need to strike back at the big attacks so that we can start to build up our defences against the little attacks too: and the only way to defend ourselves is to immunize our ranks. And to let the bastards know that when they hit us we hit back - double.


Cross-party cooperation

The leader of the NDP is a former Liberal, and the leader of the Liberals is a former New Democrat. Both leaders joined their new parties within the last six or seven years. Tom Mulcair is to the right of the NDP; Bob Rae is to the left of the Liberals.

Both Mulcair and Rae were my personal first pick for leader of their respective parties. Both are smart, prepared, experienced, and responsible. Both are pragmatic progressives, and that's the sort of politics I support.

Just looking at the leaders, you might wonder what the difference is between the NDP and Liberals at this point. I think the differences are still there, but the differences are mostly in the members and supporters of the two parties.

The NDP continues to be much more ideological than the Liberals. It represents unions and other interest groups; it is truly the Left. The party is largely made up of activists, unions, students and academics.

The Liberals, on the other hand, continue to be a Centrist party in that they stand for good governance above everything else. The Liberals are all about finding a balance between fiscal responsibility and progressive social policies. The membership crosses all boundaries. (And currently, being the party of good governance with 20% popular support is sort of a sad situation.)

I support the Liberals because I think they form the best governments. I used to support the NDP (and continue to like the party) because they generate great policies. I supported Mulcair not just because I liked him best but because - for the first time - the NDP has a chance of forming a federal government, and he was the only candidate who is qualified for that eventuality.

I'm still of a mind that both parties have a place in Canada and we'd be worse off if they merged - but I'm starting to waver. In any event, the leadership has become so similar that I don't see how either party can compete in an election without some sort of cooperation. The big question is how to do that, and luckily we have some time to sort it out before the next election.


Friday, March 02, 2012

Rally against voter suppression by robo-calls

Sunday, March 11, 2-5

Here's the Toronto rally's facebook page: (Yonge and

There's a local group that seems to be setting something up: