Dumbing it down... just how simplistic are Canadians?

By Tammy McCausland on Sep 18, 2008

In response to the slate of announcements by the Liberals and the NDP in recent days, Prime Minister Harper has questioned how the parties are going to pay for their promises. On one hand, it's an ironic comment from the PM considering he made several spending announcements in the days leading up to the election. On another level, it's a rather clever ploy, in my opinion, to appeal to Canadians by scaring them. It may prove to be an effective tool given what is happening in the US with its imploding financial system, the persistent hangover from the credit crisis and the shaky economy (not as sound as John McCain would have us all believe). There is talk of a spillover effect into Canada, which means spending announcements might not translate into votes.

By contrast, the candidates for Prime Minister (not Harper) assert that the Conservatives have mismanaged the nation's state of affairs. The record surpluses under the previous Liberal governments have disappeared under Harper, according to Stephane Dion. He also says the economy is not in good shape and the tax cuts have hindered, not helped, the economy. Further, Dion and Layton argue that spending on instrastructure (which would include child care and education) are necessary long-term investments for the country.

I'm sure most people would agree that politics is about "how you sell your message" (called spin). Harper's simplistic message of "we can't afford it" may actually be more heavyhitting in the current economic situation, whereas the others' message, "we need to spend now for future prosperity" may be a harder sell. Stephane Dion is a very intelligent man, and his carbon tax policy may very well be good for the country, but why isn't anyone buying it? Perhaps he needs to "dumb it down" so the average Canadian finds it palatable. 

Double "e": economy and environment are the two top election issues as identifed by Canadians (in polls). This election may very well be won, or lost, on who can best speak to Canadians at their level.

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