The Electric Pencil

Image already trumping issues

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Vincent Marrissal has it right this morning. The La Presse political columnist points out that he can’t remember a more negative start to an election campaign, with nearly all leaders, except perhaps Elizabeth May of the Green Party, going negative in the first two days of campaigning. He chalks it up to the image setters (or, conversely, the image breakers, as he puts it) – those PR gurus who help party leaders set their messages and frame their campaigns. But he leaves a big part of the equation out: the media’s willingness to play into the trap. Within all the attacks yesterday, there were some important policy questions that came up: Stephane Dion, going hard on Harper, legitimately called into question whether or not our gun control policies are working when Kimveer Gill can get his hands on a semi-automatic weapon and shoot fellow students and teachers at Dawson College. Stephen Harper, tearing into Dion and side-swiping Gordon Campbell over carbon taxes opened up a window for an actual analysis and debate on how to protect the environment and at the same time allay the population’s economic concerns.

The picture above, though, is the above the fold of today’s La Presse. More Julie Couillard, and an exposé on a Conservative candidate (in my hometown riding, no less) who is a member of Opus Dei, the secretive Catholic sect that sprang to notriety through the Dan Brown novel/movie sensation The Da Vinci Code.

Marrissal probably had little idea of what his newspaper would look like the next day as he wrote his column, but hopefully it will lead to a little self-reflection on their own election coverage.

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