Are we on track?

How do you destroy a great idea? The first step is to share it with everyone. Don’t believe me? Be the first person to clap along in time at a concert. People who know how to join in will do so, and likely in time. Quickly this will spread throughout the audience until everyone wants to get in on the action. It will not take long to hear that entire second separate group clapping out of time, and then the third group who doesn’t have a notion of tempo or time signature joins in and it’s all over. The end of the breakdown better be up by this time, or the song better be over, because this is just applause at this point, not an addition to the music.
I am sure, right now, you are thinking – how can someone be so stuck up about clapping at a concert? It’s the idea which is important to me, and it is one of the fastest examples of initial influence, an action spreading, and what market saturation could mean for a given product. Although out of time clapping peeves me, it is merely an observation I must make because I am also a musician and as such it is impossible to ignore.
People take ideas and apply them in their own ways, for better or for worse.
A little aside about those who start the clapping rhythm at concerts – these are the people who are willing to take a chance to spread an idea because they know it will work. When it comes to marketing, it takes the same kind of confidence and timing to know when an idea is appropriate and how it will catch on to achieve a certain effect. Not everyone leads.

Speaking of following

On Sunday, the Governor General of Canada dissolved parliament and a federal election has been called for October 14th. I am not sure about you, but after watching the Americans wind up over the last year with nominations and competition within each party, it scarcely seems like we know our candidates in comparison. I hear a few suggestions to turn off CNN or to stop looking at international media so that we can concentrate on our own election, but I think an important question at this point is how much time do we need to get to know our choices? in 2006 we had an 8 week campaign, which was referred to as one of the longest campaigns in history. October 14th will be the 3rd election we’ve had in 4 years. It would appear we are rapidly making decisions about the leadership of our country but they’re clearly able to stick. Perhaps we should be slowing down?
Right – so in that capacity, our last (and current?) government legislated a further away election time. That time was supposed to be Fall 2009 according to the new law. This has been ignored somehow, and I wonder what it means to communicate something as law and then, while still in government, be the first to break that law. I find it confusing to say the least. What does legislation even mean?
I have brought up more questions than answers here because I don’t know the answers, or I used to think I knew the answers, but recent events have caused me to question what I have been taught in law class.
Back to the point – following. There has been much speculation that the current government wanted to renew its leadership before the influence from the south would effect Canadian’s voting. Sound ridiculous? See here, here, and most prominently here. This kind of sweeping influence is not imaginary, yet it will extend to everyone’s imagination when they think of the future of our country. That is powerful stuff right there, so how do you harness it? Well, if you are aligned with the emerging influence, you wait and gain power in the process. If you are not aligned wit the emerging power, you act hastily and call a premature election to pre-empt the spilling of a different way of thinking.

Time to market

On Sunday, the announcement to dissolve parliament was made. The same day, the highway boulevards were pummeled with red, green, orange and blue signs. In a 35 day campaign, losing even a day of time means wasting 3% of a marketing budget from the time coverage basis. Campaigning isn’t cheap, so getting the most bang for your buck means maximizing up-time for advertising material. It doesn’t matter if you want to wait a bit, the call has been made for a federal election on October 14th.
The various parties are not messing around with this. They would be fools to – the hands have been dealt. So how far ahead of the announcement did they know about this? I suspect that since they have been a part of the legislature, they must have suspected all along that confidence would fail it. The writing was probably on the wall for a long time. They were ready to go.

Are we ready to go?

From my events planning point of view, 5 weeks is barely enough time to promote a small concert, but yet we say it’s enough to plan the future leaders of Canada. How can this be? From my experience, people need more time to get to know their choices, to learn the issues being championed, and dare I say, be inspired.
The politicians of Canada have a big job ahead of them, a job that relies completely on their ability to communicate with all eligible voters in Canada, and possibly other places as well – as we’ve seen Obama campaign as remotely as Berlin, Germany. It will be fascinating to see how it is managed, and what the communication ambitions of our future leaders might be.

Join the Conversation


  1. Great post. Lots to to think about.
    Here is another possible reason the election was called early. The Tories are still in a court battle about their campaign over-spending last election.. What is this about? From what I’ve read, Canada has a limit to how much each party can spend to campaign for an election (because they are paid back from Elections Canada… by our tax dollars.. for their campain… and to give smaller parties a somewhat fair starting point). The Tories came up with a scam to move money from the party to their individual delegants (which is legal) but then back into the party for campaigning (not legal). Elections Canada has them in court over this. Apparently they spent a few extra million over their allowed budget last time… for extra TV ads and stuff.
    I’ve seen a few editorials that think they want to sneak out this election before the verdict comes back on *their* scandal. Sad really. I hate politics. The more I see how our government should be concentrating on fixing our country’s problems (health care, homelessness, etc)…. the more I see it just concentrating on dirty tricks to remain in power. Democracy never seems to work the way it should.

  2. v. interesting. In a minority government, you’re always facing imminent elections. Usually, however, it’s the opposition that brings down the government when nothing gets done because no one can agree on anything, or the opposition sees an opportunity to gain (or regain) power. In this case, however, Harper sees an opportunity to gain a majority government, which is why he toppled it himself. in a minority government, parties should be ever-prepared to have to campaign, and I think the Liberals have done a terrible job preparing for this. They still don’t have any money (spent it all in the last elections), and their own party is split over their leader (what I think about Dion will be left unsaid for now). Frankly, I think Harper will get his majority, and part of me hopes he does because having the Conservatives earn a majority appears to be the only way to provoke the opposition parties to get their acts together.
    The American election certainly is political porn – we all wish we were a part of that action, don’t we? It is a shame to see what we have to deal with (and vote for) up here.

  3. I’d have to say that I’m with Craig, at least as far as calling an election is concerned. Calling an election is basically done when the party(ies) pushing for it see an opportunity to increase their own political influence, and decrease those of their opponents’.
    Personally, I’m a fan of the minority government – if nothing else, it certainly makes governments more accountable to their actions, and encourages better attempts at compromise. Look at the junk that’s been getting pushed through down South to see an example of what can happen when you get one ruling party that can rollback rights and bills with a minimum of checks and balances to move past.
    Maybe this comes down to a dichotomy of decided whether it’s better to enable fast decision making, but at a cost of a lower requirement in thinking those ideas through, or to slow down the decisions being made, but ensure that the consequences of those decisions are well thought out and a compromise be reached. I don’t think there’s an easy decision to be made there.

  4. Good points about the timing. It could go either way from where I stand. On one hand, it is frustrating to watch a legislature with no confidence. On the other hand, I know a lot of low-end bills (C-60 and C-61) were met with appropriate opposition because of it, so they were doing their job in a different capacity.
    Craig: What do you think is preventing the other parties from getting their acts together currently? Is it lack of organization, or motivation, or poor leadership, or all of the above?
    Adam: That’s a good way of describing the election timing. The strategic element caught me off guard, but the way you word it makes perfect sense. As a result, my overall feeling is that we are far less organized than in the States, but they’re really a two party system (sorry Nadar) down there so things are a bit more cut in dry in this particular regard.

  5. don’t forget, Davin, that in the States it’s basically in their constitution as to when elections happen… Fixed rock solid. Ours were meant to become fixed dates only in the last term. These fixed election dates were broken by the guy who tried to set them and basically for his own advantage… Even when Clinton was found with lipstick on his pants, they tried to impeach him and still didn’t affect the election date.
    As for why I think the current opposition parties are limp noodles, well, I’ll need some time to write all that down and keep it civil so standby for a post on my site perhaps… (and for those that don’t know and think they’re figuring out where I lean, I’m a card-carrying federal and provincial, left-of-centre liberal) In a few words, however, the Liberals are sunk because there’s a split opinion on their leader and due to that friction there’s little allegiance or organization within the party as a whole – and they have very little money saved up for their campaigning (the Conservatives have, on the other hand, a few million to spend, all from donation). The NDP, in my opinion, don’t have a platform nor a brand that are either a) clear, concise and their own nor b) clearly communicated to voters. In my opinion, the NDP wastes too much time complaining about and telling people why the Conservatives don’t deserve votes instead of why the NDP do. They always seem to come across as wanting people to vote for them as a lowest common denominator rather than a real choice… And the Bloc, well, they only run in Quebec, so they physically can’t win an election and all they can do is play spoiler.

  6. The sentiment about the NDP trying to lower others down instead of trying to raise their own platform up is one that I also feel prevents them from campaigning properly. If I remember correctly, in the last set of debates everyone was doing this. It was terribly uninspiring and I found all my choices to be weak as a result.

  7. found out too late about this sudden vote – actually via this post – otherwise i would have wanted to get in on it from china. but there isn’t enough time (as far as i know).
    thanks for sharing your thoughts about it, i am inspired to think more critically about our government back home, as well as the government we exist within here.
    working primarily with americans here, and remotely (via ftp and http) with fellow artists in canada, i am pretty disgusted about politics in canada, as there are a lot of obfuscated facts. i can only imagine how much more the bullshit is obscured in the states, but at least they speak with faith and personal conviction, instead of with a maze of lies and accusations.
    i’ve always been disgusted (to some degree) by canadian politics—and politics in general—but i’m becoming more aware of its fundamental flaws, while living abroad. and i’m thankful for those who post about it, outside of mainstream media (thanks, davin).
    the most important thing to notice about politics is the circular pattern. generally, people do not want change; the majority WILL ALWAYS want things to be as similar to the immediate past as possible, with agreeable/acceptable amounts of “change” injected into it (often superficial).
    this amplifies the importance of our involvement, as the minorities, to swing the majority in droves. this is why i am hoping obama wins, and why i’m voting with the hope that one day, canada’s alternative party campaigns will deliver enough weight to challenge the majority.
    actually (someday), this kind of change is either inevitable, or else government will be destroyed by the people.
    china is the most immediate example of this reality.

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