Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Striking a contrast

Word has begun circulating about a Liberal ad campaign to start after Labour Day. First reported on Sunday afternoon, a bit more detail is starting to seep out and it looks like it will make for a nice contrast with what the Conservatives have offered the country over the past few years in the way of such campaigns. From Le Devoir today (excuse the translation, you can likely figure it out):
The most visible part of the communication strategy of the Liberal Party will be a huge advertising campaign on television and radio to be launched after September 8. According to information obtained by Le Devoir, the campaign will be broadcast in both languages and in all provinces. A source claims that liberal is a campaign "fact" that does not "dirty" Stephen Harper. There would be no personal attack, they say, but the government would still be in the spotlight.

The objective is to hound the government on specific topics like the economy, while placing leader, Michael Ignatieff, in value. The PLC would show he is a credible alternative to Stephen Harper in this difficult economic period. "It is Michael Ignatieff define ourselves, if the Conservatives will do." "It should fill the space,"argued the source Duty liberal.

A rumor in the Liberal ranks reported an advertising campaign worth two million dollars, which would make a major national campaign. It was not possible to confirm this figure. The PLC would benefit from the fact that its finances are healthier for launching this offensive.

Another component of the communication plan: make Michael Ignatieff as a leader who has a long-term vision of the country and that does not just "small weeks". The 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, would be used as a horizon for the Liberal Party, which will focus on four pillars: education, research and development, business productivity and social justice.
If all these reports are accurate, the ads sound like a night and day contrast to what we've seen from the Conservatives. They sound forward looking, positive, hitting big nationalist type themes.

A more specific sense of the direction Liberals will be taking in critiquing Conservative economic stewardship is also coming to light. For e.g., in the Globe last night, the reference to "pushing hard on the government's handling of foreign acquisition of Canadian companies, such as Nortel and Vale Inco." Not that this point comes as a surprise, the contrast with the government stance on Nortel has already been struck, for e.g., as articulated here:

Nortel has been a cornerstone in the Canadian high-tech industry for decades. It has been the single largest source of private R&D funding, and its innovative technologies have led the world. The bankruptcy of this company and the sale of its assets represent a significant loss to Canada’s high-tech sector and to the many industries that emerged as spin-offs from Nortel’s success.

The Liberal caucus believes that the proposed sale of Nortel’s wireless assets to Ericsson Canada must be subjected to careful review under the Investment Canada Act to determine whether the sale is in fact of “net benefit” to Canada. Nortel has been Canada’s largest source of private R&D funding for decades. The sale of its assets – particularly its patents and intellectual property – would be a significant loss to Canada’s high tech sector. The Canadian people have a genuine interest in ensuring that this property remains in Canadian hands.

We also have significant concerns about the treatment of Nortel’s 17,500 Canadian pensioners and 400 Long Term Disabled employees, whose pensions and benefits are not secured. These groups are not on an equal footing with other Nortel creditors. We believe it is essential that this issue be considered as part of an ICA review.

Who is standing up for those pensioners?

And on the foreign acquisition front, there's also Atomic Energy Canada Ltd. in the background which the Conservatives are seeking to privatize. There are concerns that it too could be bought by a foreign interest (French or U.S.) and that Canadian high tech jobs and technology could be lost. Rounding out the precariousness on the nuclear file, the government's failure to pursue options here in Canada to back up medical isotope production may already have caused damage to Canada's nuclear medicine industry. That is because the Americans are now entering into isotope production, something they'd relied on Canada for, and may end up draining many Canadian nuclear researchers south. This is why it's important to signal that a new government will act, as Ignatieff did yesterday.

Consider all of the above, the sense of national themes and key economic issues at the forefront of the Liberal approach. Then consider this very small, silly news item that appeared last night. Makes for a very nice contrast.