In entering what appears to be a fall election, the immediate requirement of the Liberal Party of Canada is going to be to sell Canadians on the fact that we need an election. This must not be understated nor undersold. Just as the party and Michael Ignatieff need to work to convince a majority of Canadians that they are the correct choice, they must first convince a majority of Canadians that they need to get out and vote.
Making a case for calling an election is the principle matter at hand, not only because the Liberals want to win and want to take advantage of relatively strong polling numbers, but because if an election is called, it is the Liberals who are the perpetrators and they’ll need to vindicate themselves for forcing an election. If they can’t convince Canadians that such action is required, they’ll have an impossible task of convincing Canadians that they should receive their vote. On the other side of the debate, Stephen Harper will be working with his team to convince Canadians that there is no need for an election, that an election now is a waste of money, effort and resources, and finally, within the guise of this unfounded election, clearly he is the wisest choice; in that order.
‘Need’ has been poorly conveyed in each of the last several elections – clearly indicated by lackluster voter turnout. Politicians repent that they wish Canadians would be more engaged politically, but it is my opinion that the interest and energy is there, if only they felt the need. Quebeckers are a good example of this attitude: if an issue really gets to them (whether belligerent Conservative politicians taking them for granted, or matters of distinct cultures or sovereignty) they passionately show up in droves and unequivocally make their opinions known. If an issue is absent from a debate, the sentiment is almost the opposite – one of resentment. And it is widespread resentment that the Conservatives have leveraged as a platform from which to attack wasteful spending from otherwise opportunistic opposition parties in the past.
If the Liberals can effectively convince Canadians that there needs to be an election; that another month of Harper would be inherently bad and detrimental to the country; then I think the next step of selling the party and its leader as the wise choice to replace him would be a piece of cake.
Again, as with my previous posts, the emphasis on making a successful case for calling an election falls on clarity and sound argument. There can be no mistake or confusion on calling Harper out for being a dangerous politician who is directing our country towards irreparable economic damage and does not have the interests of Canadians at heart. The Liberals have already done a fair job of crying foul over stimulus spending, but within the framework of a non-confidence vote in Parliament, that rhetoric must be shifted into high gear. There must be examples, sound bytes, quotes, and otherwise evidence to help earn the support of the entire Liberal caucus, the other opposition parties, the media (to help frame the debate) and finally, voting Canadians.
In some circumstances the performance of the sitting prime minister and his party provide all the ammo necessary to bolster voter support – such as in the United States with George W. Bush’s performance and subsequently Barack Obama’s victory; though such obvious malpractice is not often apparent in Canadian politics. Not since Paul Martin and the sponsorship scandal, anyway. Thus, it is incumbent on the federal Liberals to convince Canadians that the need is there – that the requirement of an election is valid and reasonable.
Let’s see how this all transpires.