Middleton predicts ‘nastiest election we’ve seen’

An animated puffin with a well-aimed dislike for Stéphane Dion was not only the latest indication of the negative tone of the campaign’s early days but also marked the first major misstep by the well-organized and tightly scripted Conservative team, wrote The Canadian Press Sept. 9 in a story about an online federal election campaign gaffe.

The puffin ad might actually help Dion by galvanizing support among Liberal troops who were having second thoughts about his leadership, said Alan Middleton, a professor of marketing at the Schulich School of Business at York University. But the mudslinging isn’t over, he warned. Before the puffin poop hit the fan, the Liberals had already launched their own offensive with a “Scandalpedia” – an online reference guide to Conservative scandals.

“We’re in for the nastiest election we’ve seen,” Middleton said. “We’ve seen the playful opposition in the past but I can’t remember one campaign that started so virulently in terms of attacking each other’s personalities. This one’s strange. So this is going to get nastier and nastier.”

Political parties jockey to define their opponents

Advertising during the early stages of an election campaign is usually positive, wrote the Ottawa Citizen Sept. 10, but the Conservatives have changed the rules, says York University’s Fred Fletcher, a veteran political advertising analyst and University Professor emeritus in the Faculty of Arts.

“In an advertising sense, we’re in the middle of the campaign,” he said. “The pre-election ads the Conservatives have been running have attempted to define Dion as a weakling. Now they are trying to reduce the negatives by softening Harper’s image and portraying him as a strong leader with a steady hand. There is no substance to the ads. They are all about style. Essentially, they are trying to make it difficult for the Liberals to define Harper as a scary dude.”

But the Conservative anti-Dion messaging is contradictory, added Fletcher. “They tried to define him first as a weakling with no policies,” he said, “but now they say his policies are risky. They are classic Republican-style ads because they prey upon the fear people have of losing economic advantage. They often work well among people feeling economically insecure.”

Lions dominating CIS soccer

The York University Lions top both the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) women’s and men’s soccer coaches polls this week, wrote CanWest News Service Sept. 9.

York is the first school to lead both national rankings simultaneously since the University of British Columbia and McGill both pulled off the feat in separate rankings early in the 2005 season. It also marks the first No. 1 ranking in history for the Lion women, while the York men spent two weeks at the top last year.

On the women’s side, the 2007 CIS finalist Lions (2-0-0) take over at No. 1 from the reigning national champion Cape Breton Capers (1-0-0) following an impressive opening weekend that saw them beat Guelph 3-1 and dominate Waterloo 5-0.

On the men’s side, York (2-0-0) takes over at No. 1 from the defending national champion UBC Thunderbirds (0-0-2).

Lion’s tattoos tell personal stories

BC Lions football player and former York Lions star Ricky Foley’s team-leading 17 tattoos have a Christian theme, wrote The Province in Vancouver Sept. 10 in a story about the athlete and his tatoos. The way he sees it, they inspire others and promote his faith, wrote The Province.

A track and field star at school – he broke York University’s 27-year-old shot-put record and once entertained the notion of being a decathlete, his high-school specialty – Foley never even played football until varsity. “I got my first two tattoos my first year of university,” he says. “I wanted to make sure I was going to be in sports, athletics. I just kind of got an itch for it one day and got a couple.

"Religion pretty well got me through what I had to get through to get here," says Foley, who goes back to work on the family farm in Courtice, Ont., every off-season, while also working as a bouncer at a Toronto bar. "If it hadn’t have been for my faith I wouldn’t be here. He’s always there for us when nobody else is.

“You’re not supposed to mark your body, it says in the Bible,” Foley said. “But there are so many people in my life who I wouldn’t have had contact with [otherwise].”

Not all the BC Lions are fans of the ink. “When you’re 70 or 80,” linebacker Otis Floyd says to Foley as he passes by, “you’re going to regret it.”