Trudeau’s allegory of the escalator: An (over)analysis of the new Liberal campaign ad


In a new Liberal party campaign ad, is walking the wrong way on an escalator. But it is clear that this is not about an escalator.

Canadians, he says, have been stuck on their own metaphorical escalators for ten years under Stephen Harper.

“(Harper’s) ideas to give benefits to the wealthy but make cuts to everything else has made it harder for most people to get ahead.”

The escalator stops.

“And (NDP Leader Tom) Mulcair promises more cuts. Now is not the time for cuts,” he says. The escalator, as if awoken by his words, restarts and lets Trudeau finish his walk to the top.

“In my plan, we’ll kickstart the economy by investing in jobs and growth and lowering taxes for our middle class.”

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It’s a classic campaign advertising tactic, making the viewer “construct the premise in his or her own mind,” said Jonathan Rose, a Queen’s University politics professor.

Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1964 “Daisy,” for example, used a little girl and a flower to discredit his opponent’s pro-nuclear stance.

“The most memorable campaign ads are ones that use metaphors to convey complexity,” Rose said.


The escalator is one of two metaphors Trudeau used Tuesday amid news that Canada is in a technical recession. He also said the economy has “been stuck in neutral for a long time. And now, it’s going backward.”

The Liberals have separated themselves from the NDP and Conservatives by pledging to run deficits in an attempt to stimulate the economy. Mulcair and Harper have both promised to run balanced budgets.

“Mr. Trudeau has made tens of billions of dollars of spending promises … he has no idea what he’s talking about when it comes to these things,” Harper said after Trudeau revealed his economic platform plank last week.

With files from the Canadian Press

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