All posts by Shane Mackenzie


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By: Lindsay Maskell

This week we selected an important image of the leaders as they sparred over citizenship, security and the Keystone pipeline during the Munk leaders’ debate on Canadian foreign policy.

It was the fourth of five debates in this marathon election campaign, with polls suggesting that Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau are holding steady or gaining momentum, depending on the poll.

As the leaders battled over Canada’s place in the world, the fireworks of the night took place between Harper and Trudeau.

Heated debate moments have been a standard and have even created defining moments during our past elections. This image looks similar to the Brian Mulroney and John Turner photo during the 1988 debate on free trade.

Today’s French language debate in Montreal is the last of this election. A strong performance – or a disappointing one – could shape the final results on October 19th.


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By: Lindsay Maskell

The Munk Federal Election Debate on Canada’s Foreign Policy was the fourth debate of this election. The stakes were high in a close three-party race. Leaders’ debates are usually in a closed studio so an event with an audience was extremely rare. The debate revealed a few important details, some of which were more visible to the live audience. Here are four things you may have missed during the Munk Debate on Canada’s Foreign Policy:

  • The rules of the Munk Debate stipulated that the Leaders were not allowed any prepared notes on their podiums. They were provided just a few sheets of blank paper and a pen. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair chose to ignore the live audience format and use his time when not speaking to take notes and was constantly writing. It may have distracted him, and to the live audience he appeared less engaged. Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is an experienced debater and is well-versed in foreign policy. He took no notes and listened intently to his opponents.
  • An unexpected moment happened in the crowd when Mulcair prompted an emotional retort from Justin Trudeau when he criticized the Liberals for invoking the War Measures Act in 1970. Trudeau spoke about being proud to be Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s son and the crowd erupted in applause. The audience had been informed no applause was allowed during the debate. Mulcair was definitely thrown having to respond after Trudeau spoke about this day being the 15th anniversary of his father’s death.
  • Having pushed for the Munk Debate to be bilingual and Quebec being a key battleground, Trudeau led most of his responses in French. The closed captioning service of the live show was not prepared.
  • President Obama dealt the wild card in last night’s debate with his statement to the United Nations on Monday that he was willing to work with Iran and Russia to end the conflict in Syria and defeat the Islamic State. Stephen Harper has taken a firm position against working with Russia over its involvement in Ukraine. It was an important part of the debate with little prep time for the leaders as they tried to find their best footing.

Substantively the Munk Debate had the most content with seven minutes for one-on-one debate on specific questions to each leader. Topics ranged from the Syrian refugee crisis to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations. Compared to other debate formats, there was plenty of room to make a mistake and more time to create contrasts between the leaders. The post-debate analysis echoed the recent polls giving Trudeau a little momentum and Mulcair losing a little ground. The leaders face off again this Friday, October 2nd in Montreal.

Lindsay Maskell is the Vice President of Public Affairs at Enterprise, one of ENsight’s two parent companies. Lindsay served on three central winning campaign teams. Prior to joining Enterprise, Lindsay was a Manager in Operations in the Premier’s Office. You can find Lindsay on Twitter here.


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By: Lindsay Maskell


We are approaching the end of the second month of campaigning (almost two provincial elections) in this 42nd federal election. There are still 24 days left to go. This week all three campaigns shared images of their leaders relaxing, exercising, and even drinking to try to soften their public images and to let their leaders have a little fun.

Stephen Harper’s love of hockey is immense and may even outweighs his passion for politics. Like Ontario Provincial Leader Patrick Brown, Harper trotted out beloved (no longer eligible to vote) Canadian, Wayne Gretzky for a chat about our national pastime and an endorsement of Harper’s time as Prime Minister. Looking relaxed and slightly in awe of his hockey hero, one can be quite sure this was Harper’s favourite day on the campaign trail so far.

Tom Mulcair had a swing through PEI this week. Atlantic Canada is an important battleground, even with only 32 seats. The election is expected to be close until the end and those few seats with rich NDP and Liberal support could be key. As Mulcair’s team aims to put angry Tom back in the box, they had fun events this week hoping to convince Atlantic Canada that you would want to go cod jigging and yes, even have a beer with Tom.

Justin Trudeau had the hometown advantage this week getting to relax and prepare for the French debate in his home riding of Papineau in Montreal. He shared photos sparring at his favourite boxing gym and a quiet moment with his photogenic family in a park resulting in a well-rested and confident looking Trudeau at the debate.

With a third of the election still remaining, and three debates in the next two weeks, the leaders will savour these lighter moments and hope it refuels their tank for this crucial final stretch.


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By: Lindsay Maskell

The halfway point in the election is key for campaigns to try to create a shift in momentum. The leaders had major highlights this week as the polls keep all three leaders in a tight race.

Stephen Harper’s campaign suffered some blows last week, but his team appears to have buttoned down and it showed. A more confident Harper played some hockey, lost the suit jacket, and was more comfortable with his supporters. He did not have the largest crowds at his events, but no incidents between his supporters and media helped round out a smoother week.

Justin Trudeau’s Hamilton rally included former Prime Minister, Jean Chretien. With a crowd of almost 2000 last Saturday, Trudeau’s rally was to show strength in numbers in NDP territory but also served as a reminder of past governing ability from the federal Liberals.

Tom Mulcair had successful rallies this past week drawing decent numbers to keep competitive with Trudeau’s events. Breaking from the usual security concerns of public events, Mulcair held a rally in an open-air venue familiar to many as it was the location of the Olympic torch in Vancouver. Mulcair spoke in the round and it produced the best visuals of a rally this week.

Lindsay Maskell is a Director at Ensight Canada and Vice President of Public Affairs at Enterprise Canada, bringing more than a decade of political experience at Queen’s Park. An experienced campaign manager, Lindsay has played a key role in three successful central campaign teams.


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By: Lindsay Maskell

This week’s images capture the shift to campaign 2.0. The air war has ramped up and the campaigns are taking off – literally, with the launch of each of their campaign planes.


Stephen Harper launched first in Toronto on September 3rd prompting the trending hashtag #nameharpersplane. Media have a long history of naming the campaign planes. The Economic Action Plane appears to be the winning moniker.


Justin Trudeau unveiled his aircraft next in Toronto on Labour Day and took to social media for a ‘name the plane’ challenge with the prize being a day on the campaign trail with Trudeau, including a boarding pass.


An aerospace announcement on Tuesday in Montreal served as the background for the launch of Air Mulcair. Tom MulcAIR had some natural naming advantages.

The flashy new modes of transportation will increase the number of events each leader can do for the duration of the campaign. It also increases the media following as travel becomes easier. As the campaigns hope for a tailwind instead of turbulence, the next phase of the election has taken flight.

Political Perspectives – The effects of Social Media on the Fact Check

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By: Lindsey Scully

has been made of the great advantages that social media can bring to
political parties as they attempt to win over Canadians during
this drawn out election campaign.

People laud the 24 hour news cycle and
our ability to know what is happening almost instantly. But what of the
other, more troubling side of this day and age of short attention spans
and lightning speed media cycles?

the past 36 hours Canada, and the world’s, attention has been riveted
by the picture of a small boy, drowned as his parents attempted
to escape the violence that has overtaken Syria and other parts of the
Middle East. The picture, and the subsequent commentary, made the rounds
of traditional and social media and people took the time to express
grief, outrage and disagreement on what the right
policies were to address the refugee crisis.

overnight Wednesday, the conversation suddenly took a more personal
turn for our country as news emerged yesterday morning that Alan
Kurdi’s aunt had applied to sponsor his family here in Canada and her
application had been rejected. Very quickly news channels and social
media were alight with messages condemning the government and blaming
Chris Alexander and Stephen Harper for the death
of this young boy, his brother and their mother.

it turned out they were wrong. In a mid-day interview, the boy’s aunt,
Tima Kurdi confirmed that in fact, the application she had
made was for another member of her family. She did say she had sent a
letter via her local MP to Minister Alexander that included information
about Alan and his family in an attachment, but no formal application
had ever been submitted.

news outlets and social media throughout the course of the afternoon,
corrections began to be made, but confusion still abounded
with many people. A narrative had been written, and it is nearly
impossible to fully undo once it is let loose on the internet.

so we see the darker results of a media cycle that no longer has the
time for the measured fact-checking of the past. Political parties
and the media are working on Twitter time. This has created a race
mentality when it comes to the news. Increasingly we are seeing that
there is more concern about who broke the story first and the facts can
always be corrected later if they were wrong. The
fluidity of social media has put a lesser price tag on making sure that
the facts of a story are all in place before they are reported on.

particular trend doesn’t just apply to politics either. Last fall,
those of us in Ottawa had a front row seat to the troubling lack
of clarity that results from instant reporting. After the tragic
shooting of Corporal
Nathan Cirillo, people across the city were held
frozen as speculation ran rampant that there were multiple shooters
spread out across several locations. In the end, as well all know, it
turned out to be a lone gunman.

completely disparate cases, both of these situations exemplify the
challenges that the media
face in getting it right when they have almost no time available before
they are being demanded to provide answers to a ravenous public.

is easy to argue that while there may have been some mistaken facts
reported, this has opened the
door to a much-needed conversation around the crisis that is happening
in Syria and how other countries across the world should be responding. I
don’t think anyone could argue that this is a bad thing.

on the home-front however, it could also have a serious, and lasting
effect on what has already
been a close campaign. And while there are many people who do not
support the current government or its policies, it is troubling to think
that the turning point could be based on a fact that turned out not to
be true.

is still a lot of time left in this election campaign, and certainly
there may be other stories
that drive voters in one direction or the other. The question we are
left to ponder however is how to balance the public’s seemingly
insatiable need for instant gratification with the reality that we have
seen time and again that a deceptively simple tweet
can ruin a person, a company or a political career.

Lindsey Scully has been a Director at ENsight Canada since 2011. She spent nearly nine years prior
to that as a political staffer on Parliament Hill in the offices of MPs and ministers.

Images of the Week

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By Lindsay Maskell

This week e saw action photos from the opposition parties aimed at driving a similar message. The NDP and the Liberals are trying to break through on the important issue of jobs and the economy. There were many campaign events this week touting economic bench strength and jobs in manufacturing and the skilled trades. The NDP and the Liberals have been trying to make Stephen Harper’s economic record and the deficit a ballot question. Trying to relate to working Canadians, Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau posted similar action photos ‘on the job’. In contrast, Harper’s campaign posted very few photos this week and opted for repurposing older photos with text.


With Labour Day weekend a week away, we can expect to see a lot more from all the campaigns on jobs and the economy. The Liberals released platform content yesterday that includes a ‘modest deficit’.  We saw a volatile week in the stock market. The next debate hosted by the Globe and Mail in Calgary is focused on economic issues. And there are still seven weeks left in this campaign – or job interview for Prime Minister.


There will be many campaign photos with leaders getting to experience various jobs in hopes of convincing voters that they are the best candidate for the top job.

Images of the Week

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By Lindsay Maskell

Family photos can make a politician relatable and endearing. It’s the softer side they want you to see. A family isn’t a requirement to run, but it sure does help. This week we look at the family photos each federal campaign promoted for voters and media to connect with their leader.

Tom Mulcair’s family hasn’t had much profile since he became the Leader of the NDP, but his sons made an appearance last week for a photo-op attending the Toronto Blue Jays game with their dad. A lovely idea for father/son family time as Canadians were all cheering on the Jays in hopes of extending their 11-game winning streak to 12. The only issue with this image was timing. The Jays lost the game, so it’s always safer to wait and see if the team wins before posting any photos.

Stephen Harper redeemed himself with this family photo showing him playing video games with his son. A photo that has haunted Harper was when he infamously shook his son’s hand in a photo-op taking his kids to their first day of school in Ottawa. This photo feels authentic and so the look of concentration instead of smiles works in this photo.  You see a little behind the curtains on how Harper likes to unwind. It may now be a high-five instead of a handshake, but you can at least imagine that these two like to spend time together.

Regardless of partisan stripe, a young family is pretty idyllic. Our social media watch noted that this was Justin Trudeau’s most shared photo online. There will always be a cute kissing baby photo on a campaign. This campaign has the advantage of the children being a part of the family. But Trudeau’s family has been well photographed, so there is more curiosity surrounding Mulcair and Harper’s personal lives.

It’s easy to criticize political leaders, but families create an armour of protection. Family campaign pictures are a visual reminder the candidates are real people, exposing a personal side we don’t often get to see… and it works to their advantage.


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By Lindsay Maskell

Famous photographer Ansel Adams said, “A photograph is usually looked at – seldom looked into.” Every Friday we will provide some insights into the images from the election.

This week we recap and compare the images the campaigns selected to promote following the first federal election debate. Debate analysis and critique continues the day after the debates, so campaigns want push positive images they control instead of unnatural and stiff debate photos.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper’s team selected an image they hope you interpret as a reflection of your family, but his message was an attack on the NDP, positioning them as ‘dangerous’ on economic issues. You have to give them credit for taking this risk, going against that old adage, ‘don’t work with small children or animals’. They took this risk because it served their campaign’s goal of creating approachable but strong images of their leader.

The NDP continue to push smiling, happy images of Tom Mulcair, with a focus on first impression visuals. Despite media and online reaction to the perma-smile during his first leader’s debate, the campaign stuck with their game plan. If you want to see peak Mulcair happiness, the NDP leader’s current twitter backdrop is a photo of him with children in a ball pit. It will be interesting see how this strategy evolves during the election.

The Liberal campaign promoted a panoramic crowd shot showing their leader Justin Trudeau as he spoke about attack ads and the risks of the status quo. The Trudeau campaign used their ability to gather a crowd as a visual message that their leader did well in the debate. This event also started at 7:45 am, which speaks to the ability to execute a big rally.

Three very different approaches to a shared communications objective.