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Thursday, May 27, 2004

Spinning the gaffe dials

We've got gaffes coming out of our whatzits (whatzi?). Let's review the scoring.

First up, Layton's homelessness comments. There's been some excellent and interesting comments posted here and elsewhere on the issue. Some wonder if it was a mistake at all, but I have to come down on the side of "gaffe". I've decided this because the NDP was obviously not looking for this to become the issue of the day. All their messaging over the day was on the "price tag". The NDP have told us their platform, now here's what it costs, and here's how they'll finance it. Easy! Good, simple, moderate message. Nail down the left-Liberals you've been courting for four days.

Layton took two days of NDP momentum and distracted from it... now the issue is not about policy, but about Jack himself. Stupid, stupid. He didn't make the issue of homelessness high-profile, like some are congratulating him for. The only issue he made high-profile is Jack Layton - is he responsible enough to lead? I'm certain that at some point along the line, the NDP was readying a day's worth of messaging on homelessness. Probably would have been good, too - pie charts and stuff. On a day like that, after the media's exclusive campaign bus PowerPoint presentation, Jack could have said much the same thing he said yesterday - "Paul Martin cut this program, so he has to take responsibility for these deaths" - and no one would have batted an eye. PROM=3, SIG=2. Total GP: six for my team. Hate to do it to you, jack, but you brought it on yourself.

(I'd like to point out that while I'm trying to entertain, others are taking on the issue of homelessness directly. For more on the issue, an excellent start would be Vicki Smith's thoughtful overview of the roots of the problem, via the election blog.)

Close on Jack's heels are the Conservative Party. Today, their language policy critic, Scott Reid, said that a Harper government would remove availability to bilingual services in some parts of the country. Harper tried to distance himself from the comment: "They're his views. But, as I said, they are not party policy." And yet, Scott Reid, author of Canada Remapped: How the Partition of Quebec Will Reshape the Nation is still language policy critic. Kinda like how the strange little homophobe Larry Spencer was Family Issues critic.

Scott is evidently done with talk of partition, at least during this particular gaffe moment, but his position as the critic responsible adds to the significance of this error. All of a sudden, when Harper should have had a lovely opportunity to smack Layton around for the homelessness stuff, he instead has to run damage control. Otherwise, the Conservative Party will be cast as the old Reform Party, regressive on Quebec and French, among other things. I'm starting to think Harper can win this election if he can avoid that sort of casting. But it won't take too many Spencers or Reids to make that task impossible. PROM=2, SIG=2, so four for Parti Bande d'Mobius.

I'll update the counter in the morning, or when I can finally figure out why my jpegs are saving so dark... whichever comes first. But to review: NDP 6, Conservative 4, Liberal 1, and the Bloc (unless something is popping up in the French press that I haven't seen) remains lemony-fresh after four full days of campaigning.

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