The slogans war is on. As we know, the Conservatives and Liberals are watching each other like hawks on the eve of every election. Both parties unveiled last week their television ad campaign for the next election. If Liberals ask voters to “choose forward”, Tories tell Canadians they want to help them to “get ahead”.
The big difference between their slogans is the image. In his video, we see Justin Trudeau riding public transit in an urban setting. He is meeting with constituents in his Montreal-area Papineau riding. From these images, it is clear that the Liberals are targeting seats in big cities like Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Quebec City where they can make gains on October 21st. On the other hand, Andrew Scheer delivers his message by sitting in front of a window overlooking a bright, wooded area. This staging suggests that the CPC hopes to reinforce its strength in rural regions while showing it is friendly to the environment. Let’s focus on the CPC slogan "It's time for you to get ahead."
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer delivers the affordability-focused message that the party says will be the campaign's central "positive" slogan. "My plan for Canadians? Lower the cost of living and leave more money in your pockets. “I believe that Canadians across this country are so frustrated because they're working so hard and they’re following all the rules, but they feel like they're falling further and further behind or that they're barely getting by," Scheer says in the ad, seated in front of a brightly-lit window with green trees in view. The ad begins with Scheer's name and title on the screen, as the party is still working on introducing him to Canadians after winning the leadership contest in 2017. He goes on to say that he has a plan to lower the cost of living and make life more affordable.
Affordability is set to be a central issue in this coming campaign, with each party offering its own plan. The Conservatives say the election will come down to who Canadians trust to put more money in their pockets.
Scheer's reference to Canadians feeling frustrated because they can't get ahead despite "following all the rules," is a knock on the Liberal government, which the Conservatives continue to try and frame as working in the interest of the wealthy and well-connected.
Scheer makes no mention of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in this ad, though in a statement accompanying it he says that Trudeau has "spent the last four years helping his political insiders get ahead. I think it’s time for you to get ahead."
The CPC slogan is quite the same in French. « Plus. Pour vous. Dès maintenant. » Which means “More. For you. From now on”.
In a short video, the Conservative leader unveils his "plan for Quebeckers", which he describes in these words: "Lower the cost of living and leave more money in your pockets". "My plan for Quebecers? Lower the cost of living and leave more money in your pockets," he says, looking directly at the camera, wearing a pale blue shirt. "I'm going to remove the GST from hydro bills, because in Quebec, it's not a luxury to heat your home," adds the Leader, sitting, again with a window behind him overlooking a bright wooded area.
Why are the Conservatives putting such efforts to reach the Quebeckers? Because the Conservatives have a realistic opportunity to make gains in Quebec during this election, going from the 11 seats they hold today to potentially 20.
To achieve this, the strategists acknowledged that they wanted to be inspired by the victory of the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) troops last October.
In fact, a Caquist told La Presse that there was a certain similarity between the Conservative slogan and the one chosen by the CAQ for its campaign, namely: "Now. Do more. Do better."
The Conservatives slogan is focusing only on economy. They are trying to avoid talking about social topics like abortion. Especially since Conservative MP Alain Rayes, who is also Andrew Scheer's Quebec lieutenant, contradicted is leader on this very controversial issue. Alain Rayes stated in a recent interview with the Journal de Montréal that "Andrew Scheer confirmed that he would not allow one of his MPs to introduce an anti-abortion bill". Mr. Scheer has always said that there was no question of reopening the abortion debate in Canada if he was elected Prime Minister. But it could allow its backbenchers to introduce any bill that is important to them and vote according to their own conscience.
Here is the problem. Rayes admitted that he did not present his party's correct position on the issue of abortion when he recruited candidates in Quebec. In particular, Conservative candidates Jessica Ébacher (Drummond), Isabelle Lapointe (La Prairie) and Sylvie Fréchette (Rivière-du-Nord) have stated in recent months that they are entering politics with the certainty that the abortion debate is over.
Be assured that the Conservatives' opponents will be happy to talk about women's right to abortion again during this campaign. And unfortunately for them, the leader has not been as clear or as forceful as he could be in order to take the issues off the table, and in fact he has kept the issue alive through poor issues management. And every day that the issues linger, it is another day closer to the election without Scheer being able to focus on, and get attention for his own campaign slogan and priorities for voters.