Thursday, September 16, 2010

May gets Harper's suppress the vote strategy

Lawrence Martin gives May some condescending keyboard time in a review of her speculation of a fall election. Even the title is a bit rude and more in keeping with a QMI piece. The points May addresses is important so I am going to quote extensively (MEIB).
The theory – shared by few – is that Stephen Harper will call an election this fall. People don’t understand what he is up to, Ms. May said. It doesn’t matter that he’s not even at 35 per cent in the polls and the Liberals are crowding him. The point we’re missing is that “he doesn’t think about elections the way the rest of the world thinks about elections.”

For him, it isn’t “I am trying to become more popular.” Rather, his strategy, she says, rests on “voter abandonment.He wants to drive the ever-diminishing participation in Canadian elections down further. Then it becomes a matter of which party can get its base to vote in the largest numbers. The Harper base, as she noted, is more committed.

In the 2008 election campaign, she maintained, Mr. Harper purposely drove down voter participation in several ways. He called a snap election, he had the minimum numbers of days for a campaign, he had election day right after the long Thanksgiving weekend, he had changes in the Elections Act that meant people couldn’t vote without additional ID, and his attack ads had increased cynicism toward politics. The result was that every party’s total vote number went down, except the Green Party’s. The Liberals’ dropped the most and Mr. Harper was able to increase his minority.

In the May view, the cynical plan this time is to drive down the numbers even more. Michael Ignatieff, Ms. May said, doesn’t know what is about to hit him. From his pre-political history, he has made more controversial statements than can be imagined. The Tories have them all stored and ready for attack-ad delivery. An example, she said, is some incredible statements the Liberal Leader made on torture when he appeared once on the Charlie Rose show. “The Conservatives must have a video archive of him saying things that Harper believes will make him unelectable.” The Prime Minister is saving them for the campaign because “he wants the shock value.”

She added: “I think we’re going to be into a November election. We’ll see it coming, when we start getting soft, warm friendly ads about how wonderful Stephen Harper is. They’ll probably feature him with the Queen and the G8 leaders. Then the attack ads will hit.”

Everybody thinks Mr. Harper’s right-wing manoeuvring, like his move on the census, has been disastrous, Ms. May said. “I bet he doesn’t think so. For his base, which is essentially the tea party of Canada, these are good messages.”

I am one of the few Mr. Martin refers to. I have been saying this since the last election. If you subscribe to conventional wisdom you will think that low turn outs make a mandate less legitimate. Since when has Harper cared about legitimacy?

Ignatieff's past comments are troublesome. The best way to cleanse this stain is for Iggy to go out and repudiate his past comments in a sincere and thorough fashion. Does he have the guts to do it?

Overall, I am glad Ms. May has highlighted this strategy and she is correct in her assertion that the way to defeat Harper is to get out the vote. Ideally Harper is defeated as a result of a massive turnout. But does it not raise a question? If he is success in his tactic, might May, Duceppe and Layton just as well wear buttons proclaiming that "I support Harper"?

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