Jared Wesley's blog

Why Attack Ads? Because They Work.

By Jared Wesley on Sep 28, 2008

A reporter from our university newspaper once asked me, "Why do parties run attack ads?  Don't they just turn people off?"  A friend offered a similar comment in reaction to the Conservatives' latest round of 'Weak Dion' ads:  "I wasn't voting Conservative before I saw them," he said.  "Now, I'm really not voting for them.  Why would they run these ads?"  My response:  Because they work.... but not in the way most people think.

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Alternatives for the Divided Left: A Short-List of Strategies

By Jared Wesley on Sep 24, 2008

These days, we hear a lot about the divided left in Canada.  The Harper Conservatives are poised to win a number of close seats by virtue of vote-splitting among Greens, New Democrats and Liberals.  In Alberta, the Provincial Liberal Party is debating the same issue: how to unite a fractured, left-leaning opposition to defeat the 36-year Conservative dynasty.  If the history of Prairie provincial politics is any guide, below is a short-list of the options available to these opposition parties:

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The Politics of Hope vs. the Politics of Uncertainty

By Jared Wesley on Sep 24, 2008

I'm not sure whether many people noticed, but Barack Obama's speech this afternoon marked a major shift in the American presidential campaign:  It's become a little more like Canada's.

The second line in Obama's statement -- "This is a time of uncertainty" -- officially shifts his campaign from one emphasizing "hope" to one focusing on "ambiguity" and "instability" (at least for the time being).  It's the same theme Stephen Harper has been stressing for the past two weeks.

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May's Roots Run Deep

By Jared Wesley on Sep 24, 2008

God bless the CBC Digital Archives.  The folks over there uncovered a gem in a 1978 Fifth Estate documentary on the Nova Scotia forestry industry.  In it, we're introduced to a 23-year-old Elizabeth May -- a young, anti-logging, women's rights activist. 

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The Politics of Endorsements: Pro-lifers in Winnipeg

By Jared Wesley on Sep 23, 2008

To accept, or not to accept.  That's the question facing Tory candidates in two of Winnipeg's closest ridings, as they ponder whether or not to accept the endorsement of a pro-life interest group (Campaign Life Coalition).

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CPC & NDP Agree on Crime: Download it to the provinces

By Jared Wesley on Sep 22, 2008

In separate platform planks released on the same day, in opposite ends of the country, it looks like Jack Layton and Stephen Harper agree on one thing:  Let's get tough on crime, but tiptoe around Alberta and Quebec.

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(Not So) Permanent Memory: The Impact of the Internet on Political Research

By Jared Wesley on Sep 21, 2008

Harold Jansen is right:  The Web is a treasure trove for politicos and campaign junkies.  From a research perspective, though, there's one major drawback to the Internet age... 

As someone who's spent the last three years collecting political party platforms (from archives, attics, basements, car trunks, etc.), the internet has been both a godsend, and a source of worry.

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Who Framed Stephen Harper?

By Jared Wesley on Sep 18, 2008

Let's recap:  In the first ten days of the campaign, the Conservatives have managed to offend the families of fallen soldiers, victims of the Listeriosis outbreak, "sober" Aboriginals, sweater-vest manufacturers, and incontinent puffins.  My prediction:  The list won't end there.  The reason: the Tories have fallen victim to their own campaign frame.

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Facebook Politics: Some Misconceptions

By Jared Wesley on Sep 18, 2008

We've heard a lot about the impact of Faceboook on this year's campaign.  Some of the reports are valid, while others deserve a closer look.  Here's a list of what I consider to be some major misconceptions about the political side of the social networking site.

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NDP Narrowcasting

By Jared Wesley on Sep 17, 2008

I asked the students in my Canadian Political Parties class what they thought about the "air war" thus far.  Almost everyone reported having seen the Tories' famous "blue sweater" ads.  (This is hardly surprising, given that they were released on most major networks in the weeks before the writ-drop.)  No one had seen the Liberals' "Turn the Page" ads.  (Again, not surprising.  I have to admit, I have yet to see a live, TV version.  For his part, Dion vetoed the release of an earlier version on the opening day of the campaign.)  Yet, I was surprised that none of my students had seen Jack Layton's "New Kind of Strong" ads.  This was interesting and somewhat embarassing for me...

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War Rooms and Democracy

By Jared Wesley on Sep 13, 2008

If Kim Campbell is right, and election campaigns are hardly the place to talk policy, they’re certainly no venue for political philosophy.  So, please forgive me as I wax (not so) poetic about the impact of modern campaigning on the quality of democracy in Canada.

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October 14: The Date

By Jared Wesley on Sep 13, 2008

Aside from a few minor media stories at the outset of the campaign, few observers are making much of Stephen Harper's decision to send Canadians to the polls on October 14.  The date, itself, holds several strategic advantages, however.

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Palin vs. May -- a different angle

By Jared Wesley on Sep 13, 2008

Beyond references to their attacks on "the old boys club" (overt and rhetorical in Palin's case, and more symbolic in May's case) comparisons between the Republican Vice Presidential nominee and Canadian Green Party leader have been few and far between.  Perhaps this is because few people would place the two in the same political league.

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The View from the Centre: Manitoba '08

By Jared Wesley on Sep 12, 2008

While most observers are ignoring ridings between the Rockies and the Canadian Shield, a few in Manitoba may be worth watching over the next few weeks.

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Intramural Politics: Star Athletes as Candidates

By Jared Wesley on Sep 12, 2008

Stephen Harper has been courting hockey dads ever since he became leader. (His sponsorship of a CASCAR, book on hockey history, and photo-ops at Canadian Tires and Tim Horton's are evidence enough.) Who knew the plan would include - or perhaps, lure - several high-profile sports personalities to run under the Conservative Party banner?

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