“Erin O’Toole needs to show leadership by removing Conservative MP Derek Sloan from his caucus, and refusing to sign his nomination papers as a Conservative candidate.”
The howls of indignation heard across social media are entirely predictable, and they’re also entirely irrelevant.
The Liberal Party’s call for Derek Sloan’s removal from the Conservative caucus have nothing to do with Derek Sloan and everything to do with framing Erin O’Toole in the minds of left-leaning voters.
While conservatives and pundits rage about hypocrisy, the message’s intended audience largely shows indifference. They refuse to hear any criticism of the Party or the demand for Sloan’s removal.
The key to why the Liberal Party’s hypocrisy is irrelevant is found by answering two simple questions.
- Who is the target market for this message?
- What is the purpose of this message?
The Target Market
The target market for this message is voters on the left of the political spectrum, and for these voters, Justin Trudeau is generally seen as inclusive, supportive and caring.
“Together, we’ll keep working together to build a better and more inclusive future, and a Canada that supports the fundamental rights of everyone.”
The majority of these voters either forgave Justin Trudeau for wearing blackface, booting Jody Wilson-Raybould from caucus and his repeated ethics violations or they ignored those atrocious actions because of Trudeau’s “admirable intentions.”
This is also why Justin Trudeau won the 2019 federal election.
In contrast, Derek Sloan is seen as divisive, uncaring and racist, as are Conservatives, in general.
Whether either of these views are truthful or not is completely irrelevant. They are views the Liberal Party can sell to its supporters all day long – and raise tens of thousands of dollars in the process.
The Purpose of the Message
The purpose of this message is threefold:
- to frame new Conservative leader Erin O’Toole as heartless and uncaring in the minds of voters;
- to build a mailing list of people who are receptive to this message;
- to raise money for the upcoming federal election.
The strategy is beautiful and was clearly planned long before Sunday night’s announcement since the Party leader’s name is irrelevant. The message applies to three of the four candidates. Just swap in the correct leader’s name and hit “Send”.
1. The only way for Erin O’Toole to “show leadership” is to boot Derek Sloan from the Conservative caucus. Failure to do so “proves” Erin O’Toole is heartless and uncaring, or worse, downright sexist and racist.
2. Readers of the email signed by Liberal MP Pam Damoff and its corresponding social media posts are NOT asked for money.
They’re asked to add their name to the list of reasonable Canadians who agree with the sentiment expressed in the message.
When a person adds their name to the list, they’re thanked and praised for their virtue.
“Thank you for adding your name — your voice is at the heart of the Liberal team’s work to build a better future for all Canadians.”
3. Finally, yes, the reader is asked to donate money, but only after being added to the Liberal Party mailing list and, most importantly, after being affirmed as a caring individual who supports building a better future for all Canadians.
Who doesn’t want a better future for all Canadians?
Why those evil Conservatives like Derek Sloan and, by extension, new Conservative leader Erin O’Toole, of course!
That’s the answer implied by Erin O’Toole’s refusal to bow down to the Liberal Party’s demand, and it sets the stage for how the Liberals will frame O’Toole for voters in the next federal election.
Contrast all this with the methods of the Conservative Party.
I’m a longtime Party supporter who donates between 20 and 40 hours every month to my EDA and, one one level, the Liberal message that the only thing Conservatives care only is money resonates deeply with me.
If you’ve received any of the dozen or more email messages sent since Sunday night’s announcement, you know exactly what I mean.
It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to understand how and why this message will resonate with non-conservative voters.
Masters of Language
Political operators on the left are masters of language, and they use it very effectively to define every issue and every candidate opposed to their leftist agenda and vision.
This is a lesson Andrew Scheer and his team never learned. It’s why Scheer lost the 2019 election. It’s also why he’s no longer leader of the Conservative Party.
It’s a lesson Erin O’Toole did learn, which is why he, from the second he won the leadership of the Conservative Party, he began framing himself in the minds of the electorate instead of allowing the Liberals to do it for him.
Whether he can effectively frame himself in an appealing way for the majority of voters remains to be seen, but at least he’s cognizant of the hurdle he faces.
An October 2020 Federal Election?
Justin Trudeau may be hated by conservatives (and even some Liberals) but he’s either a shrewd politician or he’s smart enough to follow excellent political advice.
The next federal election will come if the government fails to survive the widely-speculated non-confidence motion following September 23rd’s Speech from the Throne.
Whether it happens or not, Justin Trudeau still wins.
If a motion of non-confidence is put forward, regardless of whether it’s tabled by Bloc Québécois Party leader Yves-François Blanchet or Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole, Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party wins.
Because the plan to frame the federal election as “Liberals Care About Canadians, Conservatives Don’t” will be successful and, barring an electoral awakening of which there is no sign at all, Trudeau will be re-elected with a majority government.
If a non-confidence motion is not tabled, then Justin Trudeau wins the “mandate” he seeks to implement his plans without a federal election.
Boiled down to their essence (at least for the purposes of this commentary) Liberals care about virtue, Conservatives care about action.
Action is far less important than well-displayed virtue.
This is a critical distinction between voters on the left and the right.
Roughly two-thirds of the country – left-leaning voters – believe leadership means telling voters what they want to hear – delivering well-spoken platitudes designed to “make Canadians feel safe.”
This helps explain the cognitive dissonance of the Liberal Party’s messaging on Derek Sloan.
- It’s virtuous to proclaim support for minority rights, the Liberal Party’s refusal to boot Justin Trudeau from caucus for wearing blackface so many times he lost count notwithstanding.
- It’s virtuous to proclaim support for Indigenous Reconciliation, Justin Trudeau’s firing of Canada’s first Indigenous Justice Minister notwithstanding.
Only one third of the country – conservative/libertarian voters – believe leadership means taking action based on evidence – that effective action is more important than press conferences and photo ops.
This is why we see virtue-signalling announcements like the Liberal government’s May 1st gun ban by Order in Council.
“Every one of us remembers the day when we realized that even in Canada, a man with a gun could irrevocably alter our lives for the worse,” Justin Trudeau told Canadians on May 1st, 2020.
Being seen to be doing something about “gun violence” will always be more important to the majority of the electorate than taking concrete action to keep guns out of the hands of violent, criminal offenders such as drug dealers and street gangs wreaking havoc on the streets of Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg, Edmonton or Vancouver.
That the actions taken have no rational connection to the problem Liberals claim they will solve is, as always, irrelevant.
The goal of the gun ban was never to make Canadians safe, but to make Canadians “feel safe” – a critical distinction.
In similar fashion, the goal of the Liberal Party’s call for Derek Sloan’s removal is not Sloan’s removal, but to frame the new Conservative Party leader as cold and uncaring in the minds of voters.
Screaming “hypocrite” will have limited effect in the minds of this intended audience because honesty and integrity, in the context of politicians during an election, is not a major factor for many left-leaning voters.
This is not because honesty and integrity aren’t important, but because well-signaled virtue and intention outranks those values in the voting booth for the majority of Canadians.
- The Liberal attack also sparked a fundraising email from Derek Sloan. Shocking, right?
- Derek Sloan says Pam Damoff should address her own record before looking across the aisle: https://www.dereksloan.ca/pamdamoff