Election posturing a ‘game of chicken’: observers

OTTAWA — When the prime minister starts wandering around his office on camera with a Beatles mug in hand, can the blue sweater-vest be far behind?

OTTAWA — When the prime minister starts wandering around his office on camera with a Beatles mug in hand, can the blue sweater-vest be far behind?

It’s beginning to feel an awful lot like federal election season in Canada, complete with leaders’ tours, policy roll-outs and television ads.

Canadians who remember Stephen Harper’s benign, fatherly sweaters from the 2008 Conservative campaign might see some similarities with that hard-working fella at his desk in the latest round of Tory TV.

“We’re in safe hands with Stephen Harper,” intones a folksy baritone.

Opposition leaders might see a pair of steel fists instead. A flurry of five other Tory ads released Monday all pummel, in turn, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, NDP Leader Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc Quebecois.

Ignatieff, in particular, takes a personal pounding for years spent as a public intellectual in the United States.

The Liberal leader responded by calling the ads “rubbish.”

Neutral observers see it as part of a phoney, pre-writ war — “a game of chicken” in the words of Queen’s University political scientist Jonathan Rose.

A poll Monday does nothing to amplify the election war drums.

The survey by The Canadian Press Harris-Decima found the Conservatives had opened an eight-percentage-point lead on the Liberals, 36-28, with the NDP at 15 per cent nationally. It looks good for the Tories until you consider it’s less than their minority margin in the last general election.