Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sue-Ann Levy's Campaign Strategy: Anger

Levy hopes primal emotion will delvier her victory

Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak's candidate in today's by election in St Paul's seems to have found a thematic niche for her campaign:

People are very, very angry.

“When I do go out, there is a lot of anger about David Miller. I have even had people say to me, ‘If you are a critic of David Miller then I am voting for you,’” Levy says. “There is still resentment about the garbage strike to be sure.”

Others, of course, are angry about the ongoing eHealth, Ontario Lottery Gaming Corporation and Property Assessment Corporation scandals.

For his own part, Dr Eric Hoskins, the Liberal candidate in the contest, seems to understand this. He even seemed to echo Hudak's accusations of a culture of entitlement (an accusation that itself echoed Stephen Harper's treatment of Paul Martin).

“Both with eHealth and OLG what happened was unacceptable and in the case of eHealth, mistakes were made. In the case of OLG I think a culture was allowed to develop there and be sustained over a long period of time,” Dr Hoskins said.

If these scandals aren't what the by-election is about, Dr Hoskins isn't about to force that issue. He'd rather let St Paul's residents decide what the by-election is about for themselves.

“I’m so respectful of the views and the opinions of the residents that live here that I am not going to try to presuppose what this by-election is or should be about,” he continued. “I think it is most important that the residents of St Paul’s themselves decide.”

Even with all the anger bubbling toward Ontario's scandal-beleaguered government, Dr Hoskins may be choosing the better part of valour in not making it an issue himself. As Chris Selley suggests, Levy might not have a chance of winning this election.

"[Joe] Friesen’s description of Ms Levy standing on a streetcorner in Forest Hill Village complaining about the excesses of the “nanny state” illustrates the problem beautifully," Selley writes. "I grew up with the people of St Paul’s. This is not libertarian country. This is the very spiritual home of Ontario’s nanny state. Helmets, knee pads, mouth guards, booster seats, organic milk and EpiPens for everyone."

Selley notes that anger over the recent scandals, the Harmonized Sales Tax, and David miller may not be enough to decisively tip the polls.

"Heading into the new session at Queen’s Park, there has certainly been a lot of talk in the media that Dalton McGuinty is losing purchase," Selley concedes. "But the last poll of provincial voting intentions I’m aware of was taken in late July -- before the latest lottery scandal broke, but in the depths of the e-Health fiasco and considerable economic turmoil. Of those polled, 45% said they’d vote Liberal."

But that was before the OLGC scandal. That was before the Property Assessment Corporation scandal.

Anything can happen in the St Paul's by-election, but it may be the first verdict delivered on the stream of scandal enveloping the McGuinty government. Anger may be enough to help Sue-Ann Levy give Dalton McGuinty a shock.

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