Meanwhile, a lobbyist for a communications company told Ontario Liberal MPs at their caucus meeting yesterday to expect a negative campaign both from the opposition and the news media.
Gotta thank the Liberal mole that leaked the events in a private caucus meeting. I would be steaming mad right now if I were a Martin loyalist.
Charles Bird is a lobbyist for Bell Globemedia (owner of The Globe and Mail and CTV) and is the Ontario campaign chairman for the federal Liberals. He told Ontario MPs the electorate is "very volatile" and warned that "it's going to be a very negative campaign."
The Liberals ran a negative campaign in 2004, painting Mr. Harper as a scary, right-wing politician.
Mr. Bird also warned MPs to expect that in the first few weeks of the campaign the news media will be negative toward them in an effort to turn the election into a horse race. He told them to "be careful" about how they spend their money ". . . because you'll get a greater bang for your buck post Jan. 2." According to the insider, he warned, he warned them "if you can, hold off spending until then." (link)
And now we know what the internal Liberal strategy is in the next election. Each MP of course will make up his own mind as to wether or not to follow the Ontario Campaign Chair's friendly advice of course. However, that advice is meant to complement the National campaign, and I'm betting most MP's will follow along.
I also makes sense that the Liberals would save up everything for that final week.
See what Byrd is describing is pretty much what happened in the 2004 election. The first couple weeks of the campaign Harper came off shinning, and the Liberals were treated relatively badly by the press. I remember even reading a couple nice exposes from the Left wing media on Harper which really surprised me.
This helps to explain why the campaign easily imploded in the final week of the campaign. Of course there were things the Conservatives did to precipitate the disaster like Ralph Klein's meanderings on wanting to bring in Two-tier healthcare. In the end I never thought that's what did Harper in. There was the press release that many said claimed Paul Martin supported Child pornography. The press release was just a simple release that just had the voting record of Paul Martin on every bill put before parliament that tried to restrict Child Pornography. Let's just say the voting record looked bad. That's not what the media latched on to however. They latched on to the headline "Paul Martin Supports Child PornographY?" I've heard joked that it shoud've been "Paul Martin Supports Child Pornography!"
The truth is that Martin's voting record on the issue was atrocious. He should've had to respond to that. Afterall it wasn't like there was any implicit claim made there, just the question was asked. It's up to Paul Martin to explain himself. That unfortunately didn't happen, and instead the media turned on Harper in that last week inexplicably.
This explains it. The media was friendly to Harper to begin with only to make it seem like a horse race. Which means we can expect the same the next time around.
Everybody loves to be a bleachers coach, so here's what I think the Conservative counter-strategy should be: ingnore all of this crap.
Run hard and fast. Candidates should be stomping... no storming the hustings meeting as many people as they can in those first few weeks of the campaign. They should raise money, get volunteers to sign their lives away, and get ready for the hailstorm that will come in that last week.
That last week. Where Liberal attack ads will rip through Harper calling him anything and everything they possibly can. They will say he has a hidden agenda, then he will have a clear "extremist" agenda, and then he'll be an evil reptilian alien from the Planet Zorlon for all I know...
Forget all of that crap. Get ready for the barrage. Get ready and fight like mad from day one. And hopefully, while the Liberals are sitting back waiting it out, we'll be able to meet enough people, shake enough hands, and kiss enough babies, that they can throw everything at Harper and nothing will stop the looming tide.