Linda McQuaig's cognitive dissonance on negative campaigning
Dec 5, 2013

Linda McQuaig's cognitive dissonance on negative campaigning

The recent byelection in Toronto center - won handily by the Liberals' Chrystia Freeland in a race against the NDP's Linda McQuaig - ruffled quite a bit of feathers. Justin Trudeau's victory speech in particular gained a lot of attention, in part because of the controversy it drummed up of quoting Layton's final letter while accusing the NDP of running a negative campaign.

Linda McQuaig has now issued a post election op-ed, addressing the charge of the alleged NDP negative campaign head on:

"As the NDP candidate who ran against Freeland, I disagree. My campaign was heavily focused on issues, particularly rising inequality and the related housing and jobs crises in downtown Toronto. 
I did point to the fact that Freeland had lived outside Canada for the past ten years, raising questions about whether this left her sufficiently familiar with local issues affecting the riding, including the impact of deepening poverty here. 
I also noted that, as a senior executive at Thomson Reuters in New York, she had overseen the outsourcing of 25 high-quality, Toronto-based jobs to India, raising questions about her credibility as a defender of middle class jobs. 

In my concession speech Monday night -- even as Trudeau was denouncing my negativity -- I congratulated Freeland on her victory, and praised the exercise in democracy that had taken place in the Toronto Centre byelection."

This is supposed to be her defense that her campaign was not a deeply personal, negative campaign? That Freeland lived outside of Canada (remember the Conservatives' attack on Michael Ignatieff?), and that she once outsourced jobs, are practically the definition of going after the personal history of a person to give negative insinuations that they don't understand poverty or care about the middle class. These are not elements of a policy centric, issues based campaign. They are personal (and vapid) attacks.

It is rather odd that in trying to defend her campaign as being positive and policy based, she repeats the same negative personal attacks that formed such a basis for her campaign.

Note that I am not far from impressed with Justin Trudeau's constant empty rhetoric in this election as well, as I wrote about here.

 As a final aside, it is worth noting that byelections often get a heightened level of scrutiny as all sides try to paint their picture of how the political landscape looks relying on only a couple datapoints. While in many ways the Brandon-Souris byelection (which saw the Liberals make phenomenal gains only to end up just shy of overtaking the Conservative stronghold) told the more compelling story of the shifting political landscape than Toronto center, that both Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair jumped so publically into the Toronto center election made this one have even more national attention. It became, undeservedly, a litmus test for nothing less than whether it was the NDP or the Liberals poised to be able to beat out the Conservatives in 2015. A dose of realpolitik as to the limited information byelections deliver and a splash of cold water to cool tensions could do some good, at the very least for Linda McQuaig. 

Thoughts on this post? Comment below!

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Anonymous said...

Check that dictionary. Probably still set to the default US. :-(

"This is supposed to be her defense …" In Canada, that should be … "This is supposed to be her defence …"

And "… shifting political landscape than Toronto center …" should be "… shifting political landscape than Toronto Centre …"

I presume "A does of realpolitik …" was supposed to be "A dose of realpolitik …"

bazie said...

Lol. The exposure to American English, particularly for someone like me that reads so much daily from American sources, is so high that spelling crossovers happen and aren't really a bit deal imo.

Anonymous said...

Is this is supposed to be your defence that the Liberals' campaign in Toronto Centre was not personal and negative? All political campaigns have aspects that are personal and negative, and to pretend otherwise is to be disingenuous or naive.

bazie said...

Emphatically no. A couple days ago I blasted Trudeau on the emptiness of HIS claims of running a positive campaign ( I certainly agree things like the "Too Angry" Mulcair pictures were precisely the kind of vapid, negative personal attacks that everyone (Layton, Trudeau, McQuaig, you, me) agrees are bad, yet seem to be so common. So this post wasn't meant to be partisan, more one that identified a little bit of hypocrisy on this issue.

You are undoubtedly correct that these are common aspects of campaigns and we shouldn't pretend they don't exist. However, it is worth at least trying to hold politicians to a higher standards and this was an example of double speak too egregious not to point out.

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