Friday, June 19, 2009

TOUCHDOWN: HARPER AND IGNATIEFF BOTH SCORE

Stop any average person on the street and ask them what the substance of this week’s high-wire act between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff was all about, and you can probably watch their eyes glaze over on the spot. I follow politics more than most, but I was still left with a headache over the whole EI issue which touched off the whole thing. Which is why I'm very happy that I only need to comment on the communications aspect here at TD&F, so here’s my take: what the whole thing was really about was positioning for both leaders. Ignatieff leveraged the issue into an opportunity to get himself what any opposition leader needs most – exposure. He was the man of the hour for a few days, basking in the spotlight of the media of a nation desperately hoping that he wouldn’t make us all have to put up with an election just as the weather’s starting to get nice. Ignatieff was also able to position himself (setting aside the political dimension/debate about how truly effective the effort was) as on the side of jobless Canadians, and as the guy holding the PM to account on their behalf. Touchdown. But I think Harper got equally good mileage out of it, by using the dispute as an opportunity to appear co-operative and conciliatory (something his personal brand strongly needed), meeting with his rival, suggesting and agreeing to a compromise, and in the process creating a platform from which he could tell the media that he’s always open to good, constructive ideas from any side of the Commons. Touchdown. Now, back to your lives, citizens …

No comments: