Everyone is talking about Stephen Harper’s sweaters. From the navy-blue sweater vest in the series of television ads telling us “we’re better off with Stephen Harper” to the baby-blue long-sleeved number the PM wore to kick off the Conservatives’ campaign on Monday.
Here's Harper talking about the campaign's key issues with 14-month-old Eric Huang of Richmond, B.C.
And I’m not joking about the buzz Harper’s sartorial choices are generating. Just about every story I’ve read this week has included some mention of the PM’s woollies.
Why the sweaters? Because, suggest the army of reporters and political pundits covering the campaign, the Conservatives are hoping they will make the normally suited Harper look like a warm and friendly everyman – “channeling the neighbourly Mr. Rogers” is how Matt Tielka in The Tyee described the sweater in the above photo – rather than the rather wooden and elitist politician Canadians have come to know in the last two years.
Check out this great clip from our local CBC newscast on Monday, featuring Three Bags Full, the LYS that gets most of my money.
And the sweater coverage just kept coming. Yesterday, after Harper suspended Tory communications director Ryan Sparrow for insulting the father of a Canadian Forces soldier killed in Afghanistan, the Globe and Mail asked Scott Reid (past Liberal PM Paul Martin’s former communications director) what the Conservatives needed to do to “regain control of their campaign”. His response was all about the knitwear:
Three words: Powder. Blue. Sweater. I'm not kidding. The Conservatives don't need a new strategy. They simply need to execute the one they already had in place — i.e. hide Scary Stephen…They've got to get him back into that powder blue sweater fast. Because if he starts campaigning with the same partisan snarl that he's shown while governing, they can start to wave goodbye to that dream of a majority.Even Harper’s opponents are getting in on the action.
“Looks like the sweater has come off,” NDP leader Jack Layton suggested after the Sparrow debacle.
And worse, this zinger from Nova Scotia Liberal incumbent Robert Thibault (channeling Obama re: Sarah Palin) to the Halifax Chronicle Herald: "I don't think a few sweaters are going to make a difference. I think somebody said you can put a sweater on a pig, but it's still a pig."
For the record: Yarnpiggy (while taking deep personal offence to Thibault’s barb) will not be knitting any blue sweaters during the federal election campaign. Green – or possibly red – are more to her taste.