June 17, 2024
Forget the 'positive' approach, now the campaign is down to a few days and fear
If a Conservative austerity government looks unlikely, a Liberal-NDP spending surge looks only too possible.
If a Conservative austerity government looks unlikely, a Liberal-NDP spending surge looks only too possible.

“And always keep a-hold of Nurse
For fear of finding something worse.”
— Hilaire Belloc, Cautionary Tales for Children

After the loathing, the fear. For five weeks the Liberals and Conservatives have taken turns attacking each other’s leaders as, variously, a compulsive liar, an anti-woman American, a racist, a fool, etc.

But with the campaign limping to its inconclusive end, party strategies have turned, as expected, to fear of what lies beyond. Gone is the pretence, on either side, of a “positive” campaign, asking voters to support the party’s program of government because of all the good things it would do. We are down, rather, to the real election, in which the voters are urged to cast their ballots, not in favour of either, but strictly in fear of the alternative.

For the Liberals, the fear is simple enough: a Conservative government, and the grim age of “austerity” that would supposedly then dawn. The message is particularly aimed at those left-of-centre voters innocent or stupid enough to be considering voting for the Greens or the NDP — or any party, really, that is not the Liberals. You are not just throwing your votes away, the Liberals warn, in tones of escalating severity. You are literally electing the Conservatives.

Quite how it would help the Conservative cause to elect more New Democrat or Green MPs is left unstated, as is the premise underlying all such appeals to vote “strategically” — that the vote does not belong to the person who casts it, but to its rightful recipients; that a vote for one of the other progressive parties is really a vote denied to the Liberals; that the public do not have a right to vote for the party of their choice, but a duty to vote for the party that can “keep the Tories out,” which is how the Liberals like to say “keep us in.”

While this is a perennial Liberal strategy, it takes notable chutzpah for the party to be trotting it out this time.


See Also:

(1) Liberals face tough battle over wallets in key part of Ontario that will decide Trudeau’s fate

(2) Anything other than a Conservative majority ugly for Alberta

(3) Obama the hypocrite endorses Trudeau

(4) What you need to know about a potential minority government in Canada

(5) An unjustifiable American intrusion – and a gift to the Liberals