Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Is it the Same Advisor that Dion had from Quebec Perhaps?

Seems to me this story has been told before. Different leader. Same result. Anonymous gutter sniping from "Senior Liberals, Sources close to the leader, Liberal Advisors, Liberal Insiders, etc. etc. etc"

I agree, going to an election on a 9 week EI reform is not a winner. Never will be. Hardworking Canadians just don't want to hear about it. Sorry, that's the way it is.

The Green Shift wasn't a winner. This EI thing ain't a winner. But, what's really not a winner is when they start comparing you to Dion.

Ignatieff earns same rating as Dion pre-election
Advisers fear Liberal Leader hasn't offer voters sense of who he is, how he diverges from Harper

Campbell Clark

Ottawa — From Wednesday's Globe and Mail Last updated on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009 09:56PM EDT

Look where Michael Ignatieff is now – right where St├ęphane Dion was just over a year ago.

Two points behind the Tories in the polls, perhaps just a few months from an election, and so far unable to convert the groups of potential supporters – young, female, and urban – that Liberals typically need to win.

Mr. Dion's election debacle was followed by a further slide in the polls, to 24 per cent.

Mr. Ignatieff, as the new opposition leader, took the Liberals up to 35 per cent in May, and has drifted slightly down since.

His party now trails Stephen Harper's Conservatives by two percentage points, 32 to 34, according to a Strategic Counsel poll published in The Globe and Mail Tuesday .

But in June, 2008, the same pollster found Mr. Dion only two points behind .

That was before his Green Shift policy and a weak performance, exploited by Conservative ads, led 800,000 Liberal supporters to stay at home on voting day.

Mr. Ignatieff has returned the party's traditional core support levels – and revived it in Quebec – but the Strategic Counsel poll found they have lost the traditional edge among women, younger voters, and Canadians who live in cities and large towns, crucial to their hopes of victory. The NDP vote has remained firm.

“The Liberals have plateaued,” said The Strategic Counsel's Peter Donolo.

“The constituency that Ignatieff needs to rebuild is primarily more female, more urban, younger, centre and NDP voters.”

But those who don't back Liberals by reflex just haven't seen a reason to yet.

Some of Mr. Ignatieff's own advisers admit he has yet to offer a clear, defined political identity to grab them.

“They don't know who this guy is, and what he stands for,” said one, who only spoke on the condition that he not be named.

Most Liberals are wary of filling the gap by putting out detailed policy platforms, fearing it will make the same kind of target that Mr. Dion's Green Shift plan did, when it was released months before the campaign.

But they also fear Mr. Ignatieff hasn't given tentative voters any sense of his identity, and how it differs from Mr. Harper's.

One Liberal strategist noted that Jean Chr├ętien's winning 1993 campaign included policy details, but what mattered was the core message that he stood for jobs and growth.

“It was, ‘Buy me, and this is what you get. Jobs and growth,' ” the strategist said. “If you buy Liberal now, what do you get?”

Mr. Harper's Conservatives, under minority-Parliament pressure, have unveiled massive stimulus-spending packages, at the Liberals' insistence.

It has left Liberals searching for something to differentiate them.

The Liberals could view this as a reason to shift left, but most believe the perception that Mr. Dion's move left had opened them to Conservative attacks for the centre.

“Tacking left is almost too simplistic an approach,” Mr. Donolo said.

“You can represent values without being either right or left. You can polarize the vote over Stephen Harper without being doctrinaire.”

One chance that he and others cited as a lost opportunity for Mr. Ignatieff was the United States debate on health-care reforms.

When U.S. conservatives criticized Canadian medicare to attack President Barack Obama's plan, Mr. Ignatieff could have leapt to its defence to portray himself as champion of the Canadian institution.

Mr. Ignatieff's call on the government to review the sale of Nortel assets to a foreign buyer was cited by one adviser as that kind of values-defining sortie – a “Captain Canada” position – though Liberal critics say he should have done it sooner, and stronger.

His most noted stand, Mr. Ignatieff's call for national, lower qualifications for employment insurance, has some of his MPs fearing it will backfire.

“Eight per cent of my constituents are unemployed, but 92 per cent are working,” said one MP. “And they don't think that warmly of employment insurance.”


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