The only way to stop the Conservative attack machine is to hit it back, hard. This means creating an attack ad that will register with viewers, something that the Liberals have not been very effective at.
While it is good to see the quick response from Rae, it will probably not be effective, he mentions many interesting facts to counter the attacks, but nothing that could fit into a sound bite, which is what we need. We also know that the anti-Rae ads will be played repeatedly. Only a true attack ad counts as a response. Rae could have said, very clearly: Stephen Harper is the worst manager of taxpayer money and the economy that Canada has ever seen. Following this with some of the many facts that speak to this truth.
The Conservatives understand that perception is reality and they create the reality they want. I predicted the Conservative strategy of using the “coalition straw-issue” in the last campaign. Mainly because you could see it coming from a mile away. The Conservatives are incredibly organized and effective, creating simple, adolescent talking points and sticking to them. How many times did you hear the phrase, “reckless coalition” one year ago? Not just from Harper, but Baird, Clement, every libertarian cowboy and Mike Harris re-tread were speaking the talking points, getting their reality established. All of the pundits were saying how ridiculous it was at the outset of the campaign and that it couldn’t last as a strategy. Liberals only made it worse by responding in a way that reinforced the Conservative lie: that somehow coalition governments are bad. In parliamentary democracy coalitions are very common and often more representative than a one party government.
The Liberal response to these latest ads need to be a one issue response: financial incompetence; trust; the use of attack ads outside an election campaign, take your pick. Not only this but every Liberal must repeat the simple claim at the beginning of everything they say to the media, in the house, etc. Suppose a Liberal MP were asked about the government’s inaccuracies in the F-35 estimates, they would respond like this: “We all know that the Harper Conservatives are the worst managers of taxpayer dollars and the economy we have ever seen in Canada, it should not surprise us that they have gotten the figures wrong when it comes to these jet fighters...” When I say repeat, I mean repeat, over and over again, for months, years. If you doubt that this would work see the wreckage of Dion and Ignatieff.
Liberals never were able to define the narrative in 2011. Can they ever do it? Survival depends on it.