Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mr. Harper is now more vulnerable

The departure of Mr. Sparrow and the apparent unravelling of the Conservative war room will have a negligible effect on the the immediate Conservative campaign. Mr. Sparrow's comments will not cause a huge shift of support away from the Conservatives.

The effects of these events will be felt much later in the campaign.

This situation leaves Mr. Harper as THE Conservative campaign. There appeared to be some strategy behind the War Room where it launched the most outrageous Conservative attacks on the Liberals, going so far as to peddle bald-faced lies, while Mr. Harper could go around looking "Prime Ministerial".

That is no longer the case. Mr. Harper finds himself in the position of having to perform two equally important but largely incompatible functions of this campaign. Appear like a PM and be an attack dog.

Misleading Canadians in the most blatant fashion is part of the Conservative strategy and as long as it was coming from the war room in Ottawa Mr. Harper was insulated from it. Now he has to do it himself and that could put him on the hook personally for any lies he is caught telling. An example of that is his assertion of The Green Shift Plan being a trigger for a recession and being a threat to national unity. The Globe and Mail called him on it today, although in a very gentle fashion. However, if he keeps doing this eventually even this compliant media will have to call him on it much more forcefully just to maintain its what's left of its credibility. If that happens Mr. Harper's credibility is toast and so is the Conservatives re-election chances.

The pressure on Mr. Harper is now much greater than it was at the beginning of the campaign. Now more than ever the Liberals have to find a way to make him mad and they have to be on top of everything he says from this point forward, ready with quick and factual rebuttals of what will likely be more fabrications by Mr. Harper.

This is an opportunity for the Liberals. Mr. Harper is now completely exposed and the Liberals have to find a way to take advantage of that situation.

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