Monday, May 17, 2010

Kinsella: Tory hating spin-doctor or savvy political strategist

With the time-out on Parliament Hill this week I looked through my notes to see what recent stories were not commented on in this blog. One that stood out was Warren Kinsella’s departure from the federal Liberal party’s war room.

In January 2009, the Liberal spin-doctor Warren Kinsella was reported to be the head the LPC’s war room. Michael Ignatieff was the newly appointed LPC leader and was, apparently, hoping that Kinsella would repeat the campaign successes he had when he worked for Dalton McGuinty during the 2003 and 2007 Ontario general elections. That was then.

Fast forward 16 months to May 10, 2010 and we read that Kinsella is out and will not lead the LPC’s war room in the next election. Apparently, he quit as head of the war room, at least in part, because he “was unhappy about the way in which some people [at the Opposition Leader’s Office] were dealt with.”

Readers will remember that Ian Davey and Jill Fairbrother left the OLO last year after Michael Ignatieff replaced Davey with Peter Donolo. There were suggestions at the time that Davey, one of Ignatieff’s most loyal staff members, was treated shabbily—notwithstanding the fact that Davey was widely reported to have been one of three men who persuaded Ignatieff to leave Harvard University and try Canadian politics.

Kinsella remains involved with the Ontario Liberals and has been making speeches for the Alberta Liberals as well. He’s apparently providing western Liberals with advice on political tactics—including some pretty nasty stuff. We’ll have to wait to see how that plays out.

His style is offensive. He is the master of the loaded question, the informal fallacy—the classic sort of “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” questions. These he used regularly on political programs such as CTV News’ Power Play.

So will the spell this Liberal Party ultra-partisan cast over political talk show hosts like Tom Clark now be broken? And will the use on Clark’s show of spin and graphics to bolster trumped up controversies finally give way to substantive debate on real issues? I won’t hold my breath.

Kinsella may have been effective at some point in the past, but his smart-alecky spin never impressed me. And except for a brief period in December 2009 and January 2010, the polls show his tactics didn’t really help the LPC. Perhaps that’s the real reason he packed in federal politics.


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  1. I agree that liberal spin master tactics are not helping the LPC to power but they are clipping the wings of conservatives especially since there exists no voice for us in the media. That is the end game that I see in their tactics, the liberals have nothing to offer voters, so trip up the conservatives instead. (real conservative)

  2. I know of few people with as massive an ego as Warren Kinsella. It has been my experience that such people -- whatever their talents -- are best avoided. My guess is that Iggy figured that out as well.

    At any rate, I've always thought that Kinsella was a bit tone deaf when it comes to understanding the voting public. As an attack dog he's great, but that's not enough for an election strategist.