Missed Narrative Opportunities

I’ve been keenly watching the Liberal and Conservative ads on broadcast television, YouTube, and Facebook. Now that it is Election Day and the campaign is over, I see some opportunities both parties have missed.

O’Toole’s Delayed Introduction

I criticized the Conservatives for doing too little to introduce Erin O’Toole right after he was elected party leader. Finally, and much too late, they have posted two profiles, Erin’s Story and Meet Erin O’Toole: A Mini-Documentary. Both profiles are appealing, especially in dealing with O’Toole’s family of origin, military service, work in business, and his wife Rebecca and their own family. Still, some themes were not explored. O’Toole wanted to be a pilot but became a navigator; perhaps that was a life lesson. No mention was made of his attending law school or of his father’s nineteen years as a Conservative MPP in Ontario. The omission of the latter two strikes me as needless faux-populism.

The Conservatives’ final message, judging by the ads they are running, is that Justin Trudeau broke his promise not to call an election during the pandemic, therefore cannot be trusted, and should not be re-elected. We’ll see if this is sufficient to seal the deal for them.

The Liberals are running several upbeat ads contrasting Liberal and Conservative policies such as Forward Now and Forward. For Everyone. In addition, they are running ads on Facebook that consist only of text and graphics, some targeting likely NDP voters and urging them to vote strategically and others simply reminding people to go out and vote.

Liberals’ Pulled Punches

I think the Liberals missed an opportunity to develop an ad contrasting Trudeau and O’Toole on the pandemic, dealing with the choice between a vaccine mandate and personal choice and zeroing in on O’Toole’s refusal to require his candidates to be vaccinated or even divulge their vaccine status and O’Toole’s support for Alberta’s lackadaisical approach to the pandemic, which Premier Kenny now has had to reverse.

A second ad the Liberals could have developed would have focused on O’Toole’s numerous policy reversals or ambiguities during the campaign (on guns, vaccines, and carbon taxes) and treated them as evidence of his absence of conviction – a fatal character flaw. This ad would have targeted both swing ridings and likely Conservative ridings, the latter to drive Conservative voters to the People’s Party.

That’s the latest from the Borins War Room. I’m looking forward to discussing the outcome soon.

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