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Friendly advice to Iggy

Ed Shiller

Ed's Blog

Policies and promises are the trappings of illusion that most of us cite to explain - or rationalize - our political choices. In the end, however, victory will likely go to the leader who pesents himself most effectively as sage, knowledgable, capable, steadfast, credible, and sympathetic.

Of the three national party leaders, the one seemingly most successful in pruning his image is the NDP's Jack Layton (though victory for him, which he may even have a chance to attain, is not to become prime minister, but rather to enter the next Parliament as the leader of the Official Opposition).

Whether it will be Stephen Harper or Michael Ignatieff who actually forms the next government, however, will depend primarily on how they perform during the wanning days of the campaign. So, for what it's worth, here are a few well intentioned tips, arising from the recent televised debates, that I offer to the Liberal leader:

1. Keep up the plain language and your focus on the central point of an issue, thus being brief and direct (as opposed to expressing the tortuous logic that brought you to that point).

2. You listen well, but avoid shaking your head when you disagree with what others may be saying and other behaviours that show impatience. You don’t want to appear over-anxious or upset by what others are saying, since this may convey the impression that you are not in full control of yourself and hence not a good leader in a crisis.

3. As a corollary to this point, do not interrupt a speaker. If a brief and subdued interjection doesn’t give you the floor, hold back. The shouting matches that occasionally occurred during the debates only eroded the images of the participants.

4. Less is more when it comes to displaying emotion, especially on TV. So when you’re feeling as though you must rush to get your thoughts out, take a breath and back off. You don’t fall into this trap often, but a couple of times during the debates you let your voice take on a slightly shrill quality and your pace of speaking picked up.

5. Personally, I resonate deeply with your emphasis on the contempt of Parliament citation and other anti-democratic actions by the PM, but I think that the electorate as a whole would tend to give these concerns a lower priority than the bread and butter issues of jobs and the economy. My advice therefore is to position Harper’s anti-democratic actions not only as a threat to our rights and freedoms, but also, and perhaps primarily, as a consequence of the failure of his policies to adequately address the severe economic and social challenges of the day.


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