Friday, September 12, 2008

"Systematically misleading the public"

"Tory lead strengthening, poll shows." Really. After the week they had, that's news that's a little hard to take. Time for some perspective but first, details:
The Canadian Press Harris/Decima survey conducted from Monday through Thursday this week shows the Conservatives leading its opponents nationwide with a 41 per cent approval rating.

That's a 15-point lead over the Liberals who trail behind at 26 per cent, the NDP at 14 per cent, the Greens at 9 per cent, and the BQ at 8 per cent.
I am inclined to go with this little bit of cautionary advice from this pollster:
"If the Conservatives sustain this, they will win a majority government, but Anderson cautions that after just week one of the campaign, the Liberals cannot be counted out. 'A month to go, you've got lot of this campaign has yet to be developed.'"
Additionally, there are other polls showing not so pronounced a lead for the Conservatives today, yet still showing them leading, nevertheless. A quick look at this poll tracker shows that today's Harris Decima is the first to put the Conservatives in the 40's. So, a few thoughts...

The Conservatives have been advertising heavily and the results are clearly reflecting that. Meanwhile, apart from some released ads that have circulated online, we've yet to see much at all in the way of advertising from the Liberals in particular. This is a risk that's being taken. Cede the airwaves entirely and that vacuum's going to be occupied by masquerading ideologues in sweaters. Voters wonder where the other ads are and why they aren't seeing them. It raises questions. And there's a risk that you won't catch up, that the numbers might get out of reach.

It is early and it's been a good week for Dion. He's performed well in the daily scrums, he's clearly standing up and fighting every day with a positive message and he's countering the Conservative negativity as it comes. It is his first national campaign but he's showing a solid footing. I note from the Strategic Counsel battleground article last night in the Globe that there is majority support for the Green Shift in Ontario and B.C. With the addition of the Green party into the national debate, I wouldn't be so certain of the conventional wisdom that their presence will only serve to further splinter the parties opposing Harper. The additional focus on green issues may rebound to the Liberals benefit, especially if they continue to pound a consistent green message, as is evident today.

The Conservative negativity that remains in their campaign, despite their dumping of Sparrow, may also wear thin with voters because they've gone negative so early and so heavily. Sparrow may be on a few weeks of vacation...
But that left intact all the rest of the attack ads that are not merely tasteless and inappropriate, but also mendacious and corrupt. And Mr. Harper in his speeches has been repeating the same fraud committed in the ads.
These attack ads are not merely one-sided — that is expected in an election campaign — but they are utterly misleading and dishonest. But in his speeches, Mr. Harper continues to repeat the unfounded charges of the ads. In a campaign speech in Toronto Wednesday evening, a day after Mr. Dion had announced that he would double to $2,400 the current allowance of $1,200 per child under six, Mr. Harper said in English that Mr. Dion had said he would eliminate the $1,200 allowance and raise the GST.

Then, in a speech on Thursday in Saint-Eustache, speaking this time in French, Mr. Harper turned Mr. Dion's supposed statement into a future fact, if the Liberals formed the government:

What will the Bloc MPs say after the Liberals will have taken away from parents their $100 a month? They will say, Pr├ęsents! What will the Bloc MPs say after the Liberals will have brought the GST back up to 7 per cent and maybe even higher? They will say, Pr├ęsents!

These distorted attacks corrupt our national political discourse by systematically misleading the public. They bring our already excessively partisan political culture down to a new low. That is far more serious than any scatology scattered by a bird.
"Systematicallly misleading." It's hard to believe that the halo from the sweater ads will continue if Mr. Harper and his campaign continue to peddle such outright duplicity. That's something that will get due attention if they continue down this path. Perhaps some reporters following Mr. Harper might ask a question or two about his representations, if they can get close enough.