Determined determination, eh?

December 11, 2008

Michael Ignatieff held the most important news conference of his life so far yesterday, an hour after he was acclaimed as the new leader of the Liberal party. One would think that he would learn his lines properly for this solemn occasion.

Threatening to pull the plug on the minority Harper government, the newly minted leader says “he must not doubt my calm, quiet, determined determination that he has to walk back down the hill.” His expression made it clear that he knew he had just screwed up his big line.

Mr. Ignatieff was trying to use the Rule of three, a favourite gimmick of speechwriters and academics. “Calm, quiet and resolute determination” perhaps? Unflinching? Righteous? Churchillian? Napoleonic?

I hate to throw stones at a public figure flubbing a line. Hey, most of us arrogant flacks would get slaughtered if put in similar circumstances, like the Toby Ziegler character in The West Wing. But it’s more than the screwed-up line. Ignatieff is okay behind a podium, but in interviews his non-verbal sucks. We barely see his eyes because he looks down a lot, he seems to be hunched over (a common trait in tall people in a sit-down interview). I’m not a make-up guy, but it seems to me something could be done on that front too. The whole thing leaves a bad impression.

The man needs a two-day media training session with some heartless flack who will break his bad habits. Judging by the performance of the previous leader, that person is not available within the Liberal brain pool. They need to bring in somebody from outside.


Speaking of The West Wing, is anybody in PR using this book? I’m curious about it.


It’s a good news / bad news kind of week in the Hill Times

December 8, 2008

You can count on the Hill Times to cover every angle of a political story. This week, Ottawa’s favourite insider rag leads with a headline that is sure to send chills up the spine of all serious civil servants:

Prorogation now grinds government’s legislative agenda to a halt

On the other hand, there’s also this text on the brighter side of the crisis:

Hundreds of Cabinet and PMO staffers to lose jobs if PM defeated

Cynical? Maybe. It’s just the times…

Canadian citizens collateral victims of ruthless Conservative PR

December 5, 2008

Well, the idea of a coalition government seems to be all but over. It’s been killed by incompetence within the Liberal PR team, a leader trying to improvise his way out of a crisis and an absolutely ruthless Conservative flack team.

I like ruthlessness. It’s when your opponent is flinching that you need to hit him the hardest. But we’re not talking about boxing on the Wii here. This is the national political scene and Canadian citizens are taking the hits.

The Prime Minister lies in a national address to the Canadian people. Some of our MPs are calling others ‘traitors’. The ruling party attempts to bludgeon the people into compliance with ads designed to propagate fear among a population already worried about the economic situation.

Ugly PR. Bad politics.

Further reading:  Conservative propaganda won, I lost: Dion

Stephen Harper’s address to the nation

December 3, 2008

I just watched Prime minister Stephen Harper make his “address to the Nation(s)”. Actually, I just watched the Prime minister get a free TV commercial.

In a poised manner, M. Harper simply mouthed the spin he and his people have been using for the last 36 hours. He had no new information to communicate, nothing about what he intends to do to resolve the current political crisis and certainly presented no extended hand to the opposition parties.

So why use his prerogative to send a message on the country’s broadcasting system in times of crisis? Heck, it’s free TV, why not? By the time the opposition gets their message ready for broadcasting, people will have switched to something else.

It’s pretty good PR. It’s terribly bad politics. It has nothing to do with democracy.

Elsewhere-on-the-blogosphere update: Follow the conversation on these blogs-


Mirabile dictu:

DECAPITATION UPDATE: I just saw the French version of Dion’s video reply. The frame is completely off, he looks like he’s been decapitated. Geez, can’t these guys do anything right?

Liberal-NDP coalition agreement signed, post 2

December 1, 2008

I admit I’m impressed. Dion, Layton and Duceppe had a very good news conference. Dion got the reporters to laugh (with him, not at him this time) and Layton was inspiring when he talked about how this is how politicians should work together.

The ‘coalition’ (of the willing?) is going to have good TV for a few hours. The pundits and minor MPs (hello Scott Reid) the Conservatives have sent on the political shows can’t compete with images of the three opposition leaders making common cause. They need to get out with their big guns, but do it intelligently. Stephen Harper wasn’t too good in Question Period (he can’t get rid of that damned sneer apparently), they need to provide better clips of him than the one when he addresses the Speaker as “Mr. Prime Minister”.

Dec 2 UPDATE: The letters from the opposition leaders and agreement are available here on the Liberal website and here on the NDP’s.

See also: Liberal-NDP coalition agreement signed