Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mr. Harper won't be Making Poverty History

Make Poverty History, a global lobby group aimed at eradicating poverty opened a chapter in Canada in 2005. As part of their lobbying efforts, the group recently forwarded 5 questions to federal party leaders. Leaders were given a chance to pass the questions off to their spin doctors who would draft answers. The leaders, now armed with effective key messages, have appeared via video on the MPH site. Er,.. that is .. All but one party leader... Any guesses? lol.

The questions didn't look too tricky to me, but apparently they were too tough for Harper's highly paid communications staff. His advisors argued that questions like "Do you support adopting a national plan to end poverty in Canada?" were "too specific" ie could force him into actually saying something. They politely turned down the invite.

Now, during any election campaign, political war rooms concentrate on holding on to their base -those faithful folk who cast votes for the same party every election, seemingly no matter what - and tipping the undecided. Undecided voters are profiled and grouped into voters who can be captured, and those who are unreachable. Efforts concentrate on the first type. Those considered unreachable aren't worth wasting resources on.

The Conservative war room has probably decided that the kinda folk who wanna see a national plan to address poverty would rather stab needles into their eyes than cast a vote for the Conservatives - and they are probably right. This is not a vote they can capture. But it's still not smart strategy.

Last election cut through the "sceery Stephen Harper" label , with their 'policy a day' election strategy. Harper still wasn't all fuzzy kittens, but he did look less scary. This election, little gaffs like the Make Poverty History flop, just make Stephen look mean. And it's not like he doesn't already have a reputation to live down.

I was fully expecting (and wincing) two weeks ago that we were heading for a conservative majority. But a number of small slips, in what promises to be a tight race may just cost the conservatives a majority. The old Tory war room just ain't what it used to be.


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