Well, most of the time I don't like to blame party staff for party setbacks, but I've gotten to the conclusion that Brad Lavigne, Director of Communications for the NDP, should be fired.
I don't say this lightly. The Director of Communications is easily one of the most important jobs that the NDP has. The Director crafts the NDP's message to the public, and one misstep by the Director can lose votes. Just ask Scott "Beer 'n' Popcorn" Reid.
I would say that the NDP's message has gotten off track since Lavigne became Director of Communications just a little after the election in 2006. For instance, the NDP switched its communications focus from solid bread and butter issues that gain votes, such as the environment, education and jobs, to this War in Afghanistan, which, quite frankly, foreign policy issues really not gain votes.
Mentioning the Afghanistan issue, that issue has been constantly miscommunicated by the NDP. Remember the first announcement? That was as clear as mud on the NDP's position. Even now, people are still unsure if the NDP wants to totally withdraw from Afghanistan or just change the mission to focus on nation building rather than Taliban-bombing at the expense of the Afghan people (by the way, it's the latter).
It is the Director of Communication's job to insure that the correct message is getting out to the media, and it does not look like that is happening. On this subject, what I found as particularity enlightening was an exchange during the New Democratic Youth of Canada conference call on Afghanistan. The question was something like "how will the NDP prevent further miscommunication on Afghanistan and how can the youth help in doing this", and part of the answer was something to the effect that the media is pro-Liberal and pro-Conservatives, does not like the NDP, and has a tendency to misapproximate the NDP's message.
Well, excuse me for saying this, but that's that kind of thing that the grassroots and bloggers of the NDP are supposed to be saying. What the Director of Communications is supposed to be doing is working to ensure that the media does not do that. The Director of Communications is supposed to make media contacts and ensure that the media likes the NDP's message.
Finally, I'd like to point some attention to that pathetic e-mail sent via the NDP e-mail list after Dion got elected. While there is plenty to attack Dion on, calling him an out of touch academic is not one of them, especially if your leader happens to be a political science professor himself. If something like the e-mail went out during an election campaign, it would be poisonous to the NDP campaign.
So while Brad Lavigne is probably a nice person, the thing is, the time is now to get our communications straightened out, this time before an election.
Because, as Scott "Beer 'n' Popcorn" Reid can tell you, it is too late during the election.
Edit: Forgot about the Dion E-mail.
Edit: Link to my "concluding statement"