The Soapbox does not publish rants that appear uninvited in one’s inbox but this one raises some interesting questions for the 2015 federal election. Here it is:
I AM A CANADIAN
I am in the minority in Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto and every casino in this country.
I was born in the forties, fifties or sixties, yet I am somehow responsible for some First Nations people being screwed out of their land in the 1700’s!
I pay import tax on cars made in Ontario.
I am allowed to skydive and smoke, but not allowed to drive without a seat belt.
All the money I make until mid July must go to paying taxes.
I live and work among people who believe Americans are Ignorant…These same people cannot name their own country’s new territory.
Although I am sometimes forced to live on hamburgers and don’t have a pot to piss in, I sleep well knowing that my taxes helped purchase a nice six figure home in Vancouver for some unskilled refugee.
Although they are unpatriotic and constantly try to separate…Quebec still provides most of my nation’s prime ministers.
95% of my nation’s international conflicts are over fish.
I’m supposed to call black people African Canadians, although I’m sure none of them have ever been to Africa for that matter.
I am being told that paying a 200% tax on alcohol is fair.
I am also being told that the same tax on gasoline is also fair.
Even if I have no idea what happened to that old rifle my Grandfather gave me when I was 14, I will be considered a criminal if I don’t register it.
I am being told that spending $15 billion to promote the French language in the rest of Canada is fair when the province of Quebec doesn’t support or even recognize the ENGLISH language.
I am being told that paying $1 million for 3 Stripes (‘The Voice of Fire’ painting in Ottawa) by the National Art Gallery was a good purchase, even though 99% of this country didn’t want it or will ever see it.
When I look at my pension and realize that I take home a third of what I actually make, I say ‘Oh well, at least we have better health care than the U.S.A.’
I must bail out big corporations who drive their business into the ground and say, ‘yeah that’s ok.’ And when they move all their manufacturing plants and jobs to a third world country and say, ‘no problem.’
I must fork over my portion of the 11.5 million dollars to show the Queen of England and her family a good time visiting in my country even though I can’t afford to visit the province next to me.
Canada is the highest taxed nation in North America, the biggest Military buffer for the United States, and the number one destination for fleeing terrorists.
The Lord’s Prayer is not allowed in our schools anymore because of other religions who chose to move here. But prayer rooms for Muslims are provided.
I am an angry white person. I am one pissed off taxpayer, who is broke.
I am Canadian!!!
My name is Ben Dover…say it fast!!!
Oh Mr Dover
My first impulse was to dismiss this as yet another ignorant rant by…who exactly? Who is Ben Dover (yes I get it). More importantly who is he mad at?
At first it appears that Mr Dover is targeting progressives. He thinks his tax bill is too high and his hard earned cash is being frittered away on undeserving non-whites, stupid healthcare programs and elitist artwork.
He attacks Quebec for being hypocritical and the provinces for undermining his freedom by enacting seat belt laws.
But take another look. Mr Dover is also unhappy with conservatives. He resents corporate bailouts (eg. Harper’s $3.3 billion government bailout of the auto industry) and the loss of manufacturing jobs which migrated to other jurisdictions—a process that started with Mulroney and NAFTA and has been picking up momentum ever since. Harper’s Canada – EU deal and the proposed 31 year trade deal with China will exacerbate the problem.
I have no idea who Mr Dover blames for the fish fights, “African Canadians” or Canada being on the flight path between the US and Russia (God, maybe?) but it’s obvious that he blames Harper for being infatuated with British royalty.
It’s not just a rant
Richard Wirthlin, Ronald Reagan’s pollster, was the first political advisor to move beyond sorting potential voters into “types” (age, gender, ethnicity) and focus on their values. This allowed politicians to engage with voters on an emotional level.*
The beauty of the emotional connection is once it’s established a voter will support a politician even if he doesn’t agree with everything the politician says.
And that’s why Mr Dover’s rant is so interesting. Mr Dover is mad. This adds a ripple of uncertainty to Stephen Harper’s political-marketing machine.
The Master of the Marketing
When Mr Harper and his strategists prepared to seize power from Paul Martin they recognized that in order win they had to beef up the hardcore conservative voting bloc with votes from the politically disengaged. In the fall of 2005 they figured out how to do it.
Patrick Muttart, Harper’s chief marketing guru, developed a way to identify citizens who would support the Conservatives and those who would not. He segmented voters into four archetypes:*
- “Dougie”, a politically apathetic single guy in his late 20s who worked at Canadian Tire and might be interested in crime and welfare abuse.
- “Rick and Brenda”, a common-law couple with working-class jobs who might be concerned about rising taxes and keeping their home.
- “Fiona and Marcus”, a high-income, childless couple living in an expensive condo and not fussed about high taxes. They are Liberal and not worth pursuing.
- “Zoe”, a single urban female and yoga/organic food aficionado who lives in a Toronto highrise. She is a Liberal or New Democrat and also not worth pursuing.
Muttart’s archetypal strategy worked. Harper won a minority government in 2006 and a majority government in 2011.
But here’s the catch.
While Harper’s “tough on crime (and now terrorists)” bills may satisfy ”Dougie”, the stagnation of the middle class due to globalization does nothing to help “Rick and Brenda”. And as much as “Ben Dover” would like to see massive tax cuts, his quality of life will not improve. In fact it will deteriorate as the government withdraws funding from public services and infrastructure.
What are Rick, Brenda and Ben going to do? Will they succumb yet again to another round of promises of tax cuts and balanced budgets or will they feel betrayed and abandon Mr Harper? Will they respond to Mr Trudeau’s siren call (“protect the middle class”) or pile on with Mr Mulcair when he thrashes Mr Harper for misbehavior?
Whatever happens, one thing is clear. The 2015 election belongs to the party best able to package its message in punchy ads, short on substance and long on emotion, like the original I am Canadian ad introduced by Molson at the 2000 Academy Awards.
One thing is certain I’ll take Joe Canadian over Ben Dover any day.
*Shopping for Votes by Susan Delacourt, pp 110, 199