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Canadian Election roundup for 19 september September 19, 2008

Posted by tomflesher in Canada.
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It’s been difficult to keep abreast of the Canadian federal election this week because so much of the news has focused on American economic troubles. Here’s a quick roundup of the editorials that have been written.

Jeffrey Simpson: The Liberals’ old hands assert that running on the Liberal Party “brand”, rather than on Stephane Dion’s reputation and leadership ability, is the way to win seats in Quebec. The Grits lost a recent by-election in Westmount, Quebec, to the New Democratic Party, which Simpson takes as evidence that the brand is failing to sell in even its former strongholds. (Once again, the issue that arises is one of a divided left.)

Lawrence Martin: Martin approaches the Dion-versus-Brand discussion from a different standpoint, opening with a story about an MP approaching Dion and saying he wouldn’t run for party leadership until after the upcoming election. The implication is that Dion’s party is splintered, but that he should be running based on the strength of his party rather than his own leadership prowess. I can’t say I disagree – Dion’s strength has never been personal charisma, and the strength of the Liberal Party in any incarnation is not supposed to be the ability of one person to lead.

Listeriosis, the tormentor: The Conservative Party loses yet more steam apologizing for foolish gaffes, this time when the Agricultural Minister couldn’t resist making a cold cuts pun in reference to a food-safety crisis in Canada. The editorial makes note of two prior gaffes by the Tories: the pooping-puffin ad, and the insinuation by a communications official that the father of a Canadian troop killed in Afghanistan was causing a ruckus because he was a leftist.

Rick Salutin: The Tories are running on Stephen Harper’s small-government aspirations. Salutin is one of many who blames deregulation for the current US mortgage meltdown and for the listerosis oubtreak referenced in the Globe and Mail editorial, above. Salutin predicts that Harper will fail to get a majority, though seems mostly partisan in that reasoning.

Jeffrey Simpson, again: Stephen Harper’s campaign bears a strong resemblance to former Australain PM John Howard’s in government methodology (many tiny tax cuts to favoured constituent groups being courted) and to Karl Rove’s in image (attacking the opposition relentlessly without regard for honesty):

The Liberal proposal will raise taxes on carbon-producing products (but not gasoline) and lower taxes on incomes and companies. Mr. Harper says, however, that there will only be a “carbon tax,” a distortion of the Liberal position. Nobody, Mr. Harper insists, should believe any politician who says the new revenues from a tax on carbon would be used to reduce other taxes. Never happens or has happened, he says, even though B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell is doing a similar tax shift. Is Mr. Campbell a liar, too?

The overarching themes of the week are, for Stephane Dion, a party in trouble (he lacks the confidence of his party colleagues and the strength to sell the party) and for Stephen Harper, a party’s strength being sapped by negativity.

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