What Stephen Harper could stand to gain by saying Stephen Harper isn’t perfect

The elderly woman in a new Conservative campaign ad seems earnest when she says, “ isn’t perfect.”

“But when it comes to the economy, we can depend on him,” she continues, echoing the same line Mr. Harper delivered in an interview with CBC’s Peter Mansbridge.

“I am who I am. Canadians know me,” Harper told Mansbridge in the interview, which was taped Thursday and aired Monday night. “I’m not perfect, but you know, I’m dedicated to my country, I love my country.”


Whether they know it or not, the Conservatives are using an ancient rhetorical tactic designed to make a candidate look authentic by admitting his weaknesses, says Queen’s University politics professor Jonathan Rose.

“It’s seen as transparent,” said Prof. Rose, author of Making Pictures in our Heads: Government Advertising in . “It tries to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse.”

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The new ad, released over the long weekend, shows a series of interviews with seemingly ordinary voters, most of whom speak in Conservative party slogans.

“Justin’s promising to run deficits. Deficits. He says deficits are good,” says a concerned farmer with his daughter on his knee.


“He’s just not ready,” a blonde woman chimes in.

And while the people-on-the-street video is a well-worn theme for campaign ads, Rose said it might help Tory messaging trickle into everyday conversation.

“By having so-called average people, who of course are hand-picked Conservatives, it reinforces the naturalness of their slogan and their ideas,” he said. “The mix of people gives you an indication of who their target audience is.”

A Conservative spokeswoman confirmed that there were no professional actors in the ad, but could not immediately comment on the identifies of the people on camera.

About Jake Edmiston