It has been fascinating to watch the Conservative campaign strategy evolve over the past two weeks, working in tandem with Sun TV in a quest to secure a Harper majority, and to destroy the opposition leaders.
Aside from the standard issued talking points submitted by the Conservative war room and subsequently written into Sun TV scripts, the Tories are running a co-ordinated effort with their Sun Media counterparts as they try desperately to reach that magical number of 155 seats.
Take for instance, week number one (April 18-22) where the focus was entirely on Michael Ignatieff, the Liberal Party, and the 'threat' of a coalition:
Brian Lilley, on Ignatieff and the Liberals:
"Michael Igantieff wants to be in power, but do we know where he stands? He has flipped and flopped on so many big issues that it's tough to know. Look at his parliamentary record. Look at where he and his party stands. A quick glance shows that they would bring about a national daycare program to raise your kids for you, and they'd regulate what you can do with your own children by outlawing spanking and any use of force.
Now that part's important.
Any use of force would be illegal. That could include making it illegal for you to strap your two-year-old, your wiggly two-year-old, into their car seat against their will ... no parent would be allowed to strap their screming kid into a mini van.
The Liberlas would also expand 'harm reduction sites' from Vancouver to other major cities across Canada. What does that mean? Government sanctioned (drug) shooting galleries in a neighbourhood near you.
Oh, and convicts in jail? They’ll get 'harm reduction' as well. That’s right, free smack for junkies in jail and a needle exchange program to administer illegal drugs in Canada's prisons."
Note, that the 'harm reduction site' Lilley despises so much refers to Insite, Vancouver's safe injection site which Harper has been fighting to have shut down despite clear, scientific, evidence the program saves lives.
You can listen to Lilley, Adler, and Levant discussing this issue, and alternatives to Insite (such as dumping drug addicts in a deserted place -- yes that what Lilley actually proposes), by clicking here.
Lilley along with Jose Rodrigues, editor in chief at both the Calgary and Edmonton Sun, regarding coalitions:
Enter the weekend, a monumental surge in the polls by Jack Layton and the NDP, and a shift in strategy for week number two (April 25-29), the week of Sun Media's "Layton caught in bawdy house!" smear campaign.
Charles Adler, on Layton and the NDP (April 26):
"Jack Layton's resemblence to Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou -- it's uncanny, both in appearance, and in policy.
NDP love for big government has the potential to turn Canada into the next Greece, with a top heave public sector that could break the neck of the economy. This prospect is scaring a lot of citizens of Adler Nation.
From Peter in Port Rowan, Ontario, he says 'in my youth I lived in Communist East Germany and we had to adore Vladimir Lenin -- now I see a remarkable physical likeness in Layton to Lenin -- their socialist policies are pretty close also. De we really want that kind of a country? God help us and do not let this come to pass.'
Wait a minute ... Jack Layton, George Papandreou, Vladimir Lenin -- it's getting a little eerie, don't you think? Three men, three moustaches, three power alley hair-do's ..."
"Layton doesn't need 100 (seats) to become prime minister. He could do it with fewer than 80. What are the consequences of a coalition led either by the NDP or by the Liberals? David Frum made that clear last night, said that Harper would not govern if he gets a minority. And the premise is, if Harper doesn't get the magic 155 seat total, Jack -- with the help of Igantieff and Duceppe -- Jack could move into 24 Sussex with Olivia.
The 'Stop Jack' campaign, in the next few days, may proove meaningless if the blood is already in the water."
Adler and his favourite (not-an-actual) Liberal Dan Donovan, on Layton (April 29):
Adler -- "At this point, what's most important, I think you and I could agree, what's most important is not having the NDP at 24 Sussex, I think that's what's crucial. So here's my question to you: If the Liberals end up in the number three spot as now appears likely, if they're number three will they be willing to do some sort of deal with Stephen Harper, to give the country as much stability as possible, and to keep Jack and Olivia out of 24 Sussex? I think that's the question tonight that most people are most interested in pursuing."
Donovan -- "We've agreed and disagreed on many things over the past year, but I think one thing we both can agree on is that Jack Layton would be an absolute calamity for this country, and I think a lot of Liberals, like myself, who want reform in the party and want us to reach further and do things better do not see a Jack Layton led coalition."
Take note of Adler's statement from April 26: "The 'Stop Jack' campaign, in the next few days, may proove meaningless if the blood is already in the water."
Two days later, on April 28, the domain www.liberalsforharper.ca was registered, and the 'stop Layton' Astroturf campaign was officially launched. That evening, Stephen Taylor, director of the National Citizen's Coalition (NCC),wondered aloud if there were "Liberals out there who would rather vote for Harper than see Jack Layton form any sort of government."
On the morning of April 29, Taylor introduced liberalsforharper.ca to the public for the first time, feigning ignorance of its origin in the process.
That evening Adler spent a good portion of his show promoting the liberalsforharper.ca cause (as detailed above), building on a plea he issued to readers earlier in the day:
"A few years back, (Ignatieff) cracked a few standing beside Stephane Dion. There is very little doubt that when the clock strikes 12 on Monday night, the party of Chretien and Trudeau will have struck out, finishing No. 3 for the first time ever. The big question on Tuesday morning will be, how does the Grit family deal with sickly Uncle Grit?
On Tuesday morning, Dr. Stephen Harper must scrub up, then go into the operating room.
The PM needs to find the right scalpel to save Uncle Grit's life. If he can find a way to give Michael Ignatieff a shred of dignity, he might be able to prevent Ignatieff from seeking revenge by cutting a deal with Jack Layton, making the NDP leader prime minister.
There is a coalition government in Britain today. It was formed by the party that got the most seats with the party that got the third-most. It was formed by the Conservatives and Liberals. Do we still have a British parliamentary system?
Suck it up boys. The country is surely worth it."
"I believe that as the choice becomes clear … a lot of traditional, Liberal, moderate voters, are going to look and going to say that the Conservative platform -- and where the Conservative Party is taking the economy -- is a hell of a lot closer to what I think than what the NDP has in its platform ..."
"I think a lot of Liberals who understand that, are going to think twice and I think ultimately, rather than follow their party blindly down an alley toward the kind of merger with the NDP that Mr. Ignatieff mused about, I think they will take a hard look at voting for this (Conservative) party, and I welcome that."
As Canadians head to the polls in what, by all accounts, promises to be an historic election, it'll be interesting to see how the partnership bewteen the Conservatives, Sun Media, and the NCC continues to unfold.
If Harper fails to get his majority, you can be sure Sun Media will be urging Liberals to 'do the responsible thing' and 'save the country from Layton,' knowing full well a full merger between the Liberals and the NDP is a very real possibility.
And if that happens, the prospect of a Conservative government completely evaporates, not only for the current election cycle, but quite possibly well into the future.