Will Ignatieff’s open campaigning approach work in Canada?

Despite the similarity of the Canadian and British political systems – far, far more similar than the US and British ones – it’s American rather than Canadian politics that usually gets talked about for political lessons for Britain. Hence in the run up to the general election TV debates there was plenty of talk of the US debates (Presidential system) rather than the Canadian ones (Parliamentary system).

The Canadian approach to cutting a large government deficit was briefly all the talk of London think tank circles last summer. That fashion for of Canada quickly moved on, even though the comparisons are still worth a look.

Yet canadian politics has more to offer in interest and lessons than these blindspots imply, and this year’s federal election looks like it may turn out to be well worth following closely:

Michael IgnatieffIn place of rigid message discipline, the Liberal Leader [Michael Ignatieff] is venturing into any number of unscripted and unpredictable situations. He’s taking more questions from reporters and from the public than he needs to; he’s throwing himself at the mercy of hostile restaurant-goers; he’s laying down challenges to the Tory Leader over Twitter.

Having seemed previously to lack stamina, Mr. Ignatieff appears to be actively enjoying the rigours of the hustings. And that sense of energy is rubbing off, not least on media looking to turn a potentially dreary campaign into a more compelling story…

But if he keeps it up and they don’t adjust, the Conservatives have a problem. It’s not that the Liberals are about to surge wildly ahead in the polls. But already, Mr. Ignatieff shows signs of fulfilling two prerequisites to a competitive campaign.

One of those, and the one that seemed like a Herculean undertaking at the campaign’s outset, is rallying his fractious party behind him … The results of this election will be determined less by national communications strategies than by the ground war in a small number of battleground ridings. The Liberals will not be able to match the Conservatives’ organization, which is infinitely more sophisticated than their own. But they at least need to match their energy and sense of common purpose in order to have a fighting chance…

The other big goal of the Liberals is to convey the impression of a two-way race. (The Globe and Mail)

The performance of the Liberals grassroots election campaign should also be of interest to the Liberal Democrats, as the Canadian Liberals are using the election campaign management software the Liberal Democrats in the UK are looking to purchase.

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in News.

One Comment

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • Peter Martin
    "..the proposed new policy of a 4% tax on the share buy-backs of big corporations listed in the London Stock Market." is a step in the right directio...
  • David Symonds
    It is depressing in my view that this dying Government have decided to declare war on those off work sick and it is a smokescreen to deflect from their own fail...
  • Peter Martin
    @ Katharine, " ...young people should be informed that, with the present Labour leadership, they should not expect too much from a new Labour government...
  • Steve Trevethan
    Well posted Mr. Gray!!! Why is it that an adult being offended in London gets lots of publicity while children in Gaza having limbs amputated without anaesth...
  • Chris Lewcock
    Seems a facile and false parallel is being drawn between imposing seatbelts and banning cigarettes. Requiring use of a seat belt doesn't ban driving, doesn't re...