The Liberals’ communication strategy


“Each evening they come back, howling like dogs… snarling invective, drawn daggers in their teeth. They think they’ll never get caught.” – Psalm 59:6-7

Chronicle Herald Associate Publisher Ian Thompson, opening with a bible quote of his own from the Book of Matthew, says the NDP government has gone Biblical. It acted decisively to calls for urgent action on issues concerning citizens, and somehow this is wrong. That some of those calls for action came from the Herald itself, some just days ago, is testimony to the fickle times we live in.

But the real biblical story will come this morning, moments after acting Finance Minister Graham Steele issues another steady-as-she-goes fiscal update.

  • Stephen McNeil will howl wild allegations of trickery on the part of 30-year civil servants in Finance and Treasury Board who prepared the fiscal update for the NDP.
  • Liberal staff will take to Twitter to howl heaps of text at the Bond Rating Agencies who must be conspiring with those same civil servants and the NDP to lie about the Province’s credit rating being at an all-time high.
  • They will howl hypocritical harangues about “corporate welfare,” while simultaneously taking credit for $20 million in government support secured for the new ferry in Yarmouth, and posing for photo-ops at the Port Hawkesbury mill (that would be closed if they had the chance, taking nearly 3% of the economy down with it).
  • They will howl “foul play” at government announcements of recent months, like funding for children’s dental care, the Main Street program for tourism, and funding for mental health in schools – things they cut when they were in office.

The Liberals are promoting a politics of negativity in Nova Scotia, where they cheer for bad news, and attack good news as spin.

So we agree with Mr. Thompson: call the election. It’s time voters understand that Mr. McNeil’s bite will be quite a bit worse than his bark, and that Nova Scotians don’t dare take the risk.

How’s September?


The Bees’ Knees – Prizes for Week Seven

Each week the Legislature is in session we’ll give out  prizes for the best and worst moments, as recorded in Hansard.

Honey Bee

Chester – St. Margarets’ NDP MLA Denise Peterson-Rafuse introduced Nova Scotia’s first long-term housing strategy in the Legislature, presenting a very good blueprint to build better housing options for Nova Scotians.

Peterson-Rafuse: As the Minister of Community Services and the minister responsible for housing, it is my priority to make life better for Nova Scotians through safe and affordable housing. On Monday our government announced the province’s very first long-term Housing Strategy. I don’t know why previous Liberal and Progressive Conservative Governments have always operated without a clear plan to deal with this crucial issue, but those days are finally over…

Saving money for a home can seem like a distant, if not impossible, dream for many hard-working families. We will be there to help these people who need a hand up, not a handout. Nova Scotia will become a leader in innovative financial solutions to help Nova Scotians who may not yet be in a position to secure a mortgage from a bank or a credit union. We will enable Nova Scotians to save for a down payment, build equity and buy their home. We will offer lease-to-own options such as dedicating part of a tenant’s rent to building equity in their home. We will offer a graduate home ownership program that lets recent graduates get a jump-start in building equity and provide an incentive to stay right here at home.

Peterson-Rafuse wins this week’s Honey Bee prize for good work on the NDP’s Housing Strategy.

Drone of the Week

1 drone noun \drōn\
a stingless bee that does not gather nectar or pollen

2 drone intransitive verb \drōn\
to talk in a persistently dull or monotonous tone

Bedford Liberal MLA Kelly Regan had nothing positive to say about the largest investment in affordable housing in Nova Scotia’s history.

Kelly Regan: Let’s be clear – this isn’t a strategy. It’s a framework. It’s a wish list.

A strategy is a framework. You build regulations and programs and services by following a strategy. And let’s be clear, Kelly Regan and the Liberals have not presented a strategy or a framework or a blueprint of their own.

Kelly Regan wins this week’s Drone of the Week prize for continuing on with the Liberal Party’s Politics of Negativity.

The Bees’ Knees – Prizes for Week One

Each week the Legislature is in session we’ll give out four prizes for the best and worst moments, as recorded in Hansard.

Killer Bee

During a series of questions about Muskrat Falls by Liberal MLA Andrew Younger, including the cost of energy imports from Hydro-Quebec, the Energy Minister gave a nod to the NDP’s new commercial ‘Ask Newfoundlanders’ about the Liberal’s pledge to buy power needed to meet renewable energy targets from the 4th largest energy utility in the world.

Charlie Parker: Mr. Speaker, I guess the honourable member probably has a better direct line to Hydro-Québec than others would have.

The quip wins Pictou West MLA Charlie Parker this week’s Killer Bee prize.

Bumble Bee

When the NDP recently announced they would be introducing tougher animal care laws, the SPCA and others applauded them. But not everyone cheered. The Liberal Caucus Office’s Director of Communication took to Twitter say legislation is not needed to deal with those who abuse animals. Disturbingly, the staffer went on to say the NDP was “screwing the pooch” on the issue, a bad choice of phrase considering the topic.

In Question Period, Kings West Liberal MLA Leo Glavine was more careful in his choice of words when questioning of NDP Agriculture Minister John MacDonell. However, Glavine too said legislation wasn’t needed.

This misstep by the Liberals further illustrates a fog of negativity that seems to have blinded that party. Just because you are the Official Opposition, does not mean you need to oppose everything.

Honey Bee

While most observers said the buzz words from Darrell Dexter’s Speech From The Throne last week were “turning the corner”, we preferred the repeated phrase “for the first time”. Gathered together in one speech, the NDP have quite a record of “firsts”.

For such a positive speech, without even a modest attack on the opposition, Darrell Dexter wins this week’s Honey Bee prize.

Honey Bee #2

Normally, we give a Drone of the Week award, but this week in the Legislature was quite spirited, with little nonsense. And MLA Chris d’Entremont had his best week in years – we felt he was also deserving of a Honey Bee prize.

We’ve posted d’Entremont’s questions about the Liberal trust fund here, but he showed he is more than willing to hit back against Stephen McNeil on policies too:

Chris d’Entremont: You know, the Liberals take the cake. While the Liberal Leader has no original ideas, only they could take a failed idea from one province and make it the centrepiece of their energy policy. In fact, it takes a special kind of talent to borrow a policy from another place that abandoned it because it was proven to drive up rates and impede the move to cleaner energy at the same time.

While we think the Conservatives’ promise to freeze rates hard to believe (how much will that cost the government?), d’Entremont is right to raise concerns about the Liberal’s commercial-sized plan on energy.

New Years Resolutions for Nova Scotia politicians

1. Stop saying you will freeze power rates if elected. 

Opening up the power grid to competition led to skyrocketing rates in Alberta and Ontario. Saving rate payers from the cost of executive bonuses just limited the rate increase. And going slower on renewables? Unless you are going to tear up the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act and the agreement with the federal government to cut green house gas emissions, then Nova Scotia will continue its move into the 21st Century. Thinking about tearing up those pacts anyway? Well you are out of luck – coal prices are driving rate increases higher than the move to renewables, and the federal green house gas emission agreement that Darrell Dexter signed saves our province billions in future energy costs.

2. Stop nominating candidates for seats in the Legislature that will not exist in the next election. 

Why declare a candidate in Cape Breton Nova when the Boundary Commission created Cape Breton Sydney? Will the party membership expect a new nomination meeting there in 2013?  Why schedule a nomination meeting for Halifax Fairview when it’s been split in two? Will that candidate run in Armdale? Or Fairview – Clayton Park? The new electoral boundaries will be in use when the election writ is dropped. Parties need to prepare properly for the 2013 election.

3. Stop contributing to the Politics of Negativity in Nova Scotia.

Seeing opposition parties cheer bad news or critique decisions without offering alternatives feeds the public’s cynicism about politics. Take Collaborative Emergency Centres as an example. This model of care is helping to reduce emergency room closures in Small Town Nova Scotia. If you like them, talk about how you would make them better. If you dislike them, tell the people what you would do instead. But pick a side. Giving the media an angry sound bite without generating any platform or policy of your own does not tell the undecided voter anything about you other than your party colours.