Pubdate: Thu, 15 Oct 2015
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2015 Postmedia Network
Author: Tristin Hopper
Page: A16

In this regular feature until Election Day, writers capture a telling
moment in time from the 2015 campaign.


Polarizing figures pose campaign dilemma for all three major

On Wednesday, ex- Toronto mayor Rob Ford came out with the somewhat
surprising news that - only days before Election Day - Conservative
Leader Stephen Harper would be joining him for a Saturday campaign

"We're going to show ' em what a real rally is about," said Ford's
brother Doug, in a Wednesday interview with CP24.

By all indications, Harper is not a fan of Toronto's most well-known
political dynasty.

Admitted crack users are typically kept as far as possible from Tory
campaign events.

And the Ford's boisterous good-ol'-boy style clashes with the Harper
image of sober, responsible leadership.

But Harper's unusual decision reflects a conundrum faced by anybody who 
has ever run a campaign for the Prime Minister's Office: What to do when 
polarizing figures try to endorse you.

It's a situation that faced NDP Leader Tom Mulcair one month ago, when
a raft of prominent NDP supporters backed the Leap Manifesto, a
radical plan to overthrow capitalism.

Mulcair said only that he "welcomes debate" when questioned about the

The Liberals, meanwhile, have deftly tamped down an outspoken cadre of
pro- Trudeau marijuana activists.

When pot crusader Marc Emery was freed from a U. S. prison in
mid-2014, he vowed to immediately embark on an all-out cross- Canada
crusade in support of Justin Trudeau.

"The star power we could bring to the campaign alongside Trudeau,
that's powerful in an election when nothing else seems to get out the
vote," said Marc's wife Jodie Emery in comments to the National Post
at the time.

But Liberals put the kibosh on Jodie's race for the Liberal nomination
in Vancouver East and the couple has been conspicuously quiet since
the writ dropped.

Earlier this week, during an appearance on the Quebec talk show Tout
le monde en parle, Justin Trudeau looked decidedly uncomfortable when
the hosts played "Stoners for Justin," a satirical hip-hop song
endorsing the Liberal leader.

"We'll have to wait and see if those guys vote next Monday, if they
remember," said Trudeau, making a quip on the notoriously short
memories of heavy marijuana users.

Harper has usually been quite prudent about staying well away from the
polarizing fringes of the conservative movement.

In nine years as prime minister, he's effectively ignored the
antiabortion lobby, steered clear of religious gatherings and declined
interviews with the right wing press.

Despite Republican entreaties from south of the border, Harper has
consistently turned down offers to speak at the annual Conservative
Political Action Conference in Washington, D. C. And so it was with
Rob Ford. Four years ago, Harper appeared at a Ford barbecue just
after the Conservatives' 2011 majority win and lauded the Fords for
cleaning up the city's "left-wing mess."

But as Toronto City Hall was soon beset by the Jacob's Ladder of
Fordian scandals, the Conservative leader kept a careful distance.

Now, with the promised votes of Ford Nation hanging in the balance,
Harper has said he won't judge.

Failing electoral success next week, though, the Fords have promised
to pick up the torch.

"Doug said if it's a minority government, Harper's going to step down.
He wants to run for leadership," Rob Ford told Bloomberg in August.
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