A Liberal spark? What on earth is she talking about? Well, cynics, this post is not for you. Beware, earnestness ahead.
I have posted two communications pieces here that Toronto-Danforth Liberal candidate Grant Gordon has produced for his campaign. There's a video where he gives an impassioned pitch about why he's running and what he wants to accomplish. There's also an embed of the most recent literature that the campaign is distributing.
In both pieces, I would submit, Gordon is speaking great language for Liberals. Gordon is speaking the language of empathy, community and responsibility. Watch the first bit in the video, where he says: "We need to help people, right here, right now...We have to be a community. We have to help each other. We have to show Stephen Harper what true Canadian values look like. People helping people." Canadian values! Yes, progressive Liberals speaking about what Canadian values are! More please!
Then he goes on, in the video and in the literature below, to articulate what those values mean. How he's going to take actions that put those values to work in the riding: Addressing the problem of kids going to school hungry; a mentoring program for youth unemployment; a 'Buy Local' campaign (among other targeted solutions) to aid small businesses who are struggling in the riding.
This focus carries through in the lit piece as well. The "People. Planet. Profits." slogan captures well what Liberals are about. Blessedly, there's no talk of centrism here, no resort to typical tired platitudes. This is Campaign Lit 2.0 that is fresh. What the heck are the empty half pages about, I asked myself. I think it's that he's not trying to jam essays that won't be read into your mail slot. It's like a visual puzzle people are invited to figure out. He can get the message done in half the page. With clarity. It's fun. "What planet is Mr. Harper planning to live on?" "Does Mr. Harper give a buck about your family?" "Created the FLICK OFF global warming campaign...will tell Mr. Harper to FLICK OFF on a daily basis."
What is going on here? Is it possible that someone in Canadian politics is trying to make people interested in voting again? Challenging them. Giving them something to raise their eyebrows about. Yes, by all means, more fun in our politics please! And that's not to say it's fluff. The serious messages on the environment, child care and pensions come through. But it sure helps when it's not a chore to take a look when people constantly tell you how busy they are and how they don't have time for politics. It's not the same old, same old.
This is also not to say that this candidacy is just about communications strategy. All of that is a reflection of the candidate, sure. But if you watch and listen to Gordon, he's done a very good job in this campaign in showing that he could be a solid MP. He seems comfortable, has an ability to connect with people, there's some natural politico skill there. He's a real community guy. It's not an accident that all the campaign videos are shot on the street, he's comfortable there. I don't think the Liberals could have hoped for better in terms of a candidate running in Toronto-Danforth post-Jack Layton.
Wanna do politics differently? Challenge the national conservative narrative boldly and in a positive, interesting way? These are the types of people we should be electing from the progressive side of the spectrum.
A fresh new voice - Grant Gordon - Campaign Literature