The Comeback Kid?

The good people at The Mark asked me to pen a short essay on a Canadian historical comeback Michael Ignatieff could learn from. So I took the most recent example, focusing on Stephen Harper circa 2005 – that infamous “Glad as Hell” tour when Harper went coast to coast to try and humanize himself, and ended up a laughing stock. But here’s the take home message from that:

I would argue the real lesson to be learned in Harper’s comeback wasn’t that he rode the wave of scandal to 24 Sussex. It was that he only won after presenting a clear vision that resonated with Canadians. Harper’s “all scandal, all the time” campaign in 2004 didn’t work, so in December 2005 he started to campaign with a policy announcement every morning. He had priorities that showed he stood for something: lower taxes, cleaner government, and getting tough on crime. Suddenly, Stephen Harper didn’t look so scary.

You can read the rest of the article, and the mandatory leather vest jokes here. Also on The Mark are comparisons to Jean Chretien (by Misters Jedras and Silver), Robert Borden, and Pierre Trudeau.

To that list, I’d add one more case study, which I considered writing about – Mike Pearson. Think about it. Before the 1963 election, he’d already lost twice. He certainly wasn’t charismatic. He was an academic who had lived in Europe and the US.

Yet somehow, he won. And he only won after promising “60 days of decision”.

I know I’m beating a dead horse here (hey, it could be worse, this could be another post about the Census) but I’ll make the point yet again – to win, Ignatieff needs to show Canadians what he stands for.

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