a weekly blog for all interested in professional communications issues

Monday, September 6, 2010

No election but the battle for your mind continues

An election this fall may be unlikely. But a struggle seems to be shaping up for the hearts and minds of Canadians just the same.

To understand what is going on between the two major parties visualize a couple struggling to control the TV remote. Each wants to change the channel to suit themselves.

The Conservatives seem bent on taking us back to the Cold War and a frontier mentality as they plan to build more prisons, despite a falling crime rate, and spend billions on military equipment to protect us from the Russians.

The strategy would appear to be one of keeping us preoccupied with our security and physical well-being so we won't think about gaping holes in the healthcare system until after the next election.

The Liberals are trying to cash in on Tory heavy-handedness by scaring Canadians into thinking the Conservatives have a hidden agenda for a dictatorship built on the politics of meanness.

In addition, Liberal leader Micheal Ignatieff is inviting us into his " big red tent" of a political party in which all Canadians are welcome, not just those who happen with agree with the leader. With a bit of luck, Canadians may even forget they kicked the Liberals out of office just over four years ago.

It has been a terrible summer for the Tories with one miscue after another. The Liberals believe they are finally on to something now that the Tories' 11-point lead in the polls has evaporated over the summer.

Up until recently, playing on people's fears and anger has kept the Tories well ahead of the Liberals. Now that the two parties are neck and neck in the polls, it's the Liberals' turn to play on public paranoia.

Unfortunately, issues that really do matter to Canadians, like a sustainable healthcare system, are going to have to wait until one of the two parties gains the upper hand and feels comfortable enough to start proposing solutions.

In the meantime, watch for an image makeover of the Prime Minister to make him appear kinder and gentler. As for the Liberals, now that their guy has had his transformation, the challenge will be to convince the public they really have regained the capacity to be Canada's natural governing party again.

Sadly, Canadians may not really know what either party stands for until after the next election.

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