And they're being urged to participate direclty in an effort to prevent the province from helping to elect a "risky" new government, according to a letter provided exclusively Monday to the Vancouver Sun.
"They" being select members of the B.C. business community, the kind of folk that Lynton Crosby wants to find a relevant message for.
Expect more of this ABC-style approach to political campaigning as the season-long #elxn42 lumbers forward into fall. Identify your target market - only your target market, not (pejorative minority group) - they aren't your people anyway - and then close that deal. If you keep hammering at them, hitting the key emotional triggers and all that jazz, you'll push them into making a choice, and that choice will be in your favour.
Pretty simple, right?
You'd think so, at any rate. Apparently not, though. Despite having aggressive sales folk like Nick Kouvalis and comms whizes like Kory Teneycke at his service and despite having long-term loyalists like Jenni Byrne and, um, Chris Woodcock in his circle, Harper has decided to look further afield for the talent he needs to win this election.
It's not that, you know, he's ungrateful to his own people. He simply realizes it's a tough election and he could very well lose, especially if his campaign can't get on the right course. Staying the course isn't an option, because too much is not going his way. If they're too risky to guarantee a win, you have to look at other options.
Which is what a lot of Canadians, including traditional Tory supporters, are doing.
Harper's people, meanwhile - they're all about the free market and against national protectionism.
They won't be the slightest bit wounded or embittered about Harper's clear indication that he doesn't feel they're up to the job and preference for bringing in an Australian to do the job they are having trouble with.
Which is why Harper's whole team is surely embracing the simple message frame and proven track record of that Voldemort from Down Under, Lynton Crosby.
It doesn't matter whether he comes from up above or from Down Under, or how much skin he has in Canada's election. It makes no difference whether the policies and messages he picks as winners for the target he identifies create headaches for non-Con market voters. All that matters is that he can deliver the goods.
This got me thinking.
Harper's message is that the other guys - Trudeau and Mulcair, because he is loathe to mention Elizabeth May's name - are too risky. You can't be sure they'll do a good job, and if they don't, fire and brimstone will ensure from the ruptures that will form in the earth, sucking all that is good and traditional down the drain (like manufacturing jobs and the forest industry).
Thing is, though, Harper hasn't done so hot himself. He's continued and exacerbated the trend of poisoning the democratic well for partisan gain; he's made a mess of relations with provinces, the media and countless stakeholder groups; un- and under-employment are on the rise, aboriginal women are still going missing, pipelines are still pipe dreams, etc.
Can we really count on Harper to do anything other than what he's been doing already? That's what his campaign seems to suggest - more of the same, when that simple hasn't been good enough.
It's a bit risky, isn't it?
Maybe Harper has provided us with the extra option we needed. Perhaps we don't need to limit ourselves to the risky choices before us - Harper didn't, and as leader he sets the example, doesn't he?
There's no rule that says Canada's Prime Minister has to be an elected official. To be honest, the office of PM is one of convention, not one of legislation, so we have all kinds of flexibility on how to fill the role.
To keep things moderately in-house, though, what we could do is look at honourary Canadian citizens to fill this honourable role.
Here are some options:
Karim Aga Khan IV
Aung San Suu Kyi
and my personal choice:
The Dalai Lama
Of course, we don't have to look abroad to find the best fighters to conquer electorates, or to fight off our political representatives. That's another thing that's become convention, but is not and does not have to be the rule.
Perhaps instead of looking abroad for people to fight his battles for him, Harper should look to the past for some advice on what it means to be Public Servant #1, as the Prime Minister should be:
“Public service reminds us all that there exists a genuine concept of the public good in the broad public interest. While we value individual liberty and protect it, as Canadians we also maintain a strong tradition of the public good — that is, what is good for society as a whole, on balance, taking into account disparate interests and adopting the longer view.”
- the Honourable Jim Flaherty, 2011
As for the rest of us - maybe we have to stop waiting for someone to solve our social ailments. Maybe we have always had the ability ourselves, and just needed the opportunity and encouragement.
Now's the time for something different.
Now's the time for something different.