On one hand Prime Minister Stephen Harper appears to be a mature, sober leader, on the other, the federal conservatives look like vicious bullies.
In my last post I wrote about multimedia on the Liberal’s website and concluded that they can make a strong impression when they controlled their message. Today I’m writing about the equivalent video on the two main Conservative websites. The office of the PM website focuses on policy and has video of speeches and announcements, the Conservative Party of Canada website has a little bit of policy and a lot of attack advertising against Stéphane Dion.
The office of the PM website has a video of Prime Minister Harper’s statement supporting the recommendations of the panel headed by John Manley on Canada’s future in Afghanistan.
“Through their work Mr. Manley and his colleagues affirmed the strong belief that Canada’s commitment in Afghanistan matters. It matters because it concerns Canadian and global security, it matters because it concerns Canada’s international reputation, as well as obligations that we have undertaken for the well-being of one of the world’s most impoverished and vulnerable people. And it matters in no small measure because of the dedication and sacrifice of Canada’s finest men and women as they work to safeguard our world and bring hope to the Afghan people,” Prime Minister Harper says.
In the statement he is defining the terms of the argument over Afghanistan as to stay equals that it the mission is important and winnable, and to end the combat role equals deserting the troops and Afghanis. He is also seeking to define the independent report, by applauding the panel and adopting one recommendation, as supporting his position, when in fact it is critical of his handling of the situation to date on two major points–that the troops are too few and are ill-equipped, and that the Canadian public is kept in the dark.
By defining the terms of the argument he can win it, and that is the political strength that makes that speech, and his message in general, so successful.
The tone of the statement is sober monotone. The excerpt quoted above could have been said with genuine passion. Maybe it is done on purpose to make him seen like a serious leader, but it is far from inspiring.
The most passion coming from either of the Conservatives’ websites is the ads on the party’s website attacking Dion. In the place of the Liberal TV on the Liberal Party website, on the Conservative Party website are TV ads and radio ads that say Dion is “not a leader” on a variety of issues.
They rely on an embarrassing 30 seconds from a debate with Michael Ignatieff and a picture of him, plastered everywhere, with his hands up, shrugging as if he doesn’t know what to do. Even though they are cheap shots–his English skills must have contributed to the dumb statements in the debate and the clip is taken out of context–they contribute Dion’s reputation as a weak leader.
Even though the election has not been called, campaigning has begun.