Canada's surliest political blogger, TDH, doesn't like the Liberal strategy of constantly calling Stephen Harper a mean-spirited Bully, or comparing him to Attila the Hun:
Has the party's strategy really got to the point where accusing the Prime Minister of being "mean" is the best that can be offered?
The indignance that the Liberal caucus has shown towards Harper's tactics over the past week does not translate into the same level of anger within the general public. And yet, the powers that be continue to walk down the path of demonizing the man, a tactic that is played out and no longer applicable.
Whoa! Terrible advice, and from a professional, too.
The Tory's election strategy for any Spring election seems to be this: get issues off the table, and run on capital "L" Leadership. Hence, as an example, $1.5 billion gets thrown Ontario's way "for the environment". The Tory message will be: since we're almost as liberal as the Liberals, you don't need the Liberals, and anyway their leader is a Frenchie wuss.
Given these intentions, it only makes sense to attempt to define the Tory's leader right back at them. How well will it work? I don't know, but certainly "demonizing" Harper is still "applicable". The debate over renewing anti-terror provisions last week demonstrated this. The Tories were "winning" this debate, it seemed, and then Harper got up in the House and, on national television, smeared the family of a Liberal MP, an act so jaw-droppingly vulgar and stupid that even some of his natural allies called him on it. For a day or two, the debate shifted from the content of the provisions to Harper's actions, which frankly gave the Libs some relief.
So you might say that when Ralph Goodale compares Harper to Atilla the Hun, he is trying to establish a theme in the minds of Canadians. Look at it as a kind of attack ad on the ultra-cheap. Of course, I hope the Libs have other arrows in their quiver should we get into a Spring election, but they would be fools not to work this angle, especially since Harper really does have a habit of popping off at inopportune moments ("Paul Martin is soft on child-porn", for another example).
In an election about "character", the Liberals will attempt to recall the "scary" Stephen Harper, and if possible, to draw him from his lair.