OK, PC party, listen up.
I’ve been cheering for your demise ever since Peter Lougheed stepped down, so I really shouldn’t be giving you any advice. And please, don’t take this as any kind of endorsement.
But seriously, people. You guys just do NOT know how to campaign.
I mean, c’mon. You’ve got one of the most inviting targets EVER in Danielle Smith, and you’re not doing a thing about it. Staying away from attacking Smith is like Don Rickles saying only nice things about a fat guy in the audience — it’s totally unnatural.
So listen up. If you want to stop this Smith woman, you gotta go negative.
Oh, I know. Everybody says they hate negative advertising. Tsk tsk, it’s so bad. Everybody wants positive messages, right? Well, those ads of Alison Redford, smiling unnaturally before the cameras? How are those working out for you?
Let’s be blunt. Everybody says they hate negative ads, but the simple fact is that they work. Watch some negative American TV ads, and you’ll be convinced that Candidate So-and-So is a tax-and-spend liberal who wants abortions for all and burns American flags in his spare time. And remember, Stephen Harper destroyed both Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff through a series of negative ads.
God knows Smith has given you the ammo. And if you don’t have it, let me help.
First, find as many unflattering pictures of Smith as possible. You know the ones, where her hair looks especially stringy and her eyes are half open, that kind of stuff. Now, put it in black-and-white. Ad some ominous music, and what appear to be newspaper headlines saying things like “Smith wants private health care”, or something equally scary.
From the first day of the campaign it was apparent you guys have some ammo. When the Ontario Supreme Court made a pro-prostitution ruling, you immediately went back into your Danielle file and proclaimed that she was in favour of legalizing prostitution. The charge didn’t stick, since prostitution is a federal matter, and she just batted it away. So yeah, you screwed up. But there’s WAY better stuff than that available.
Here is some suggested ad copy for your negative ad campaign:
“Danielle Smith and the Wildrose want to “open delivery of publicly paid services to any accredited private and non-profit provider” (Wildrose campaign promise). Open delivery means you’ll open your wallet for health care. Danielle Smith wants to bring American-style health care to Alberta.”
“Danielle Smith wants to send even the tiniest human rights dispute to court. They want to clog up our already overburdened court system and add dozens of highly paid judges to decide cases that can be handled by simple communication. Danielle Smith and the Wildrose: Good for judges, bad for Alberta.”
“Danielle Smith and the Wildrose want to create “a one-window policy for fast regulatory approvals” of oil and gas projects. They want to bulldoze your rights so big corporations can bulldoze your forests. Danielle Smith and the Wildrose: Bad for the environment, bad for Alberta.”
Since it appears you have the best chance of retaining seats in Edmonton, how about some Edmonton-centric commercials?
“For years, the Federal Building sat empty, a blight on downtown Edmonton. The PC government wants to make a showcase for downtown Edmonton… but Danielle Smith considers it a waste of money, and would rather have empty buildings in downtown Edmonton. Danielle Smith: no friend of Edmonton.”
“Alison Redford wants a showcase, world-class museum for downtown Edmonton and all Alberta. Danielle Smith thinks museums are a waste of money. Danielle Smith: no friend of Edmonton.”
And finally, use her words against her. Back in March 2010, I wrote an article for Alberta Views about Smith’s background. I dug deep into her background and read columns she wrote for the Calgary Herald. Here are few incendiary quotes, which you can easily use. (I also found some examples of perfectly reasonable statements, but you’re not interested in those.)
• Smith was managing director of the Canadian Property Rights Research Institute, whose main goal was “oppose federal endangered-species legislation and municipal anti-smoking laws” (Source: the Ottawa Hill Times).
• Smith said privatization of health care is “a must” for Canada. (Actual quote: “The sooner Canadians realize that privatization is a must, the sooner we can move to the more crucial debate over how to refinance the system” (Herald, April 23, 2005).
• Smith says Alberta should abolish school boards. (Herald, March 14, 2006)
• Smith says kindergarten is “just another way to get taxpayers to pay for daycare services” and having a dedicated TA (teacher’s assistant) “for every special needs student is unreasonable”. (Herald, Oct. 19, 2003)
Yes, you’ll be accused of fear mongering. But fear is a perfectly acceptable product to monger. And of course, they’ll go negative on you. After all, Redford promised fixed election dates and didn’t deliver, promised a judicial inquiry into health care and didn’t deliver, and bought the votes of thousands of teachers by pumping $100 million into education just to get elected.
And, with both the Wildrose and PCs slinging mud at each other, there’s always a chance that voters will just say “a pox on both their houses” and vote …. oh, I don’t know, Liberal? Well, that’s a chance you should be willing to take.