Politics 101 – Trying to Change the Channel

Dalton McGuintyTHUNDER BAY – Editorial – Over the past several days, the McGuinty Liberal war room has ramped up attacks on Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak. The Liberals need you, the voter, to change the channel.

So the Liberals are on the attack over the abortion issue. A report in the Ottawa Citizen seems to have generated the impetus for the Liberals to go on the attack on the PC leader.

“In Ottawa to announce a new anti-crime initiative, Hudak clarified comments he made Monday on an abortion pledge he “may have” signed. He told reporters he did sign the pledge, but stressed the issue would not become part of the government agenda if he wins the Oct. 6 election.

” ‘It was a petition that came from my church in my riding back in 1998 that I brought forward as an individual member,’ Hudak said.”

” ‘But as premier I will not reopen that debate …’ “

Why would the Liberals go after an issue like abortion? First it is a hot button issue. People usually have strong views either for or against abortion.

It could signal that the Liberal’s internal polls are showing voter slippage to the Progressive Conservatives. Perhaps the answer is found in the latest RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook Index?

“The RBC CCO also found that Ontarians’ job anxiety is the highest in the country at 27 per cent. In terms of the Canadian economy, Ontario residents see the light at the end of the tunnel. Over two-thirds (68 per cent) of Ontarians feel the current Canadian economy is good and their thoughts on the future remain steady, with 40 per cent saying they expect improvements over the next year.”

In other words the issue that the McGuinty Liberals are likely the most vulnerable over, the economy, is on the minds of voters. The Liberal war room needs voters to change the channel. They have to get voters thinking about things other than issues that can hurt them.

In war room politics, that means it is critical to start working to distract voters. Likely however the problem for the Premier is that there isn’t much that the Liberals can do about the economy between now and election day. The polls have shown that over the past two years, the previously unflappable teflon Premier McGuinty has seen that “no-stick” coating wear off.

Remember how those T-fal Teflon pans used to get when the coating wore down? Those eggs that slide around ended up sticking. For a politician, it is a time when political egg starts sticking, and it can cause desperate supporters to make mistakes.

As it has, many of the issues that used to slide off are now sticking to the Premier. The economy is usually an issue that tops the list of concerns when consumers are nervous.

The RBC CCO says that “In light of current economic conditions, Ontarians (34 per cent) are most likely to delay vacation plans; residents in Quebec and Alberta (26 per cent) are the least likely to delay these plans”. In otherwords, it is very likely that without a break this summer, voters may be very open to seeking political change.

The other issue is making major purchases, “Sixty-two per cent of Ontarians have delayed making a major purchase in this economy, up two per cent since last quarter and four points above the national average of 58 per cent”.

People are feeling the pinch. It could be the perception of the HST causing prices for some items to increase. It could be many things.

For the McGuinty Liberals, it means getting voters looking at other issues. That is likely the reason that the attacks on the Ontario Progressive Conservatives are on issues like Abortion, or in trying to tie Tim Hudak to former Premier Mike Harris.

Sometimes it seems for both the federal Liberals and now the McGuinty Liberals that trying to use the “scary” politician card is one of the only cards they have left to play. It might explain why the latest polls are showing the Liberals sliding toward defeat.

That of course is just my opinion, as always, your mileage may vary.

James Murray
News Director