Alberta NDP's campaign director to help Manitoba's New Democrats
A political adviser who most recently directed Alberta's New Democrats to victory is heading to Manitoba where he will try to help reverse NDP Premier Greg Selinger's slide in opinion polls.
Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, September 11, 2015 4:38PM EDT
WINNIPEG -- A political adviser who most recently directed Alberta's New Democrats to victory is heading to Manitoba where he will try to help reverse NDP Premier Greg Selinger's slide in opinion polls.
Gerry Scott, 64, has decades of experience on NDP campaigns in British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia and elsewhere. He most recently served as campaign manager for Rachel Notley, who led the Alberta NDP to its first election win in May.
Scott currently is playing a senior role for the federal NDP in British Columbia, but will soon start working for the Manitoba party and is to serve as a campaign adviser for an election slated for April 19.
"I'll be offering some advice ... and will be part of the planning team and so on," Scott said Friday from Nanaimo, B.C.
"We haven't settled on a title. I don't think that's important at this point."
Manitoba's New Democrats have seen an exodus of senior staff following an internal revolt late last year. Selinger barely survived a leadership challenge in March and lost almost all of his top advisers -- his chief of staff, communications director, issues management director and more. Some now are working for the Alberta NDP.
Manitoba's NDP has been hovering below the 30 per cent mark in opinion polls -- well back of the Progressive Conservative Opposition -- since the government raised the provincial sales tax in 2013.
Scott appears undaunted. He points out many pundits expected Selinger to lose the 2011 election, but were proven wrong. The NDP was behind in the polls a year before the vote, but targeted the Tories with negative advertising and accusations that they would privatize government services. Selinger ended up leading the NDP to a record majority in the legislature.
"In recent experiences in Canada, we've seen a lot of incumbent governments re-elected after a campaign where people can really see the comparison to the alternative," Scott said.
He is not the only campaign veteran to travel between provinces. As election campaigns become more sophisticated through extensive polling and micro-targeting of voter groups, political parties are bringing in more outside expertise, says one analyst.
"This whole role of these backroom political managers has become far more professionalized, involves far more sophisticated communication strategies, more roles in terms of taking focus group and polling data," said Paul Thomas, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Manitoba.
Scott is quick to add he is part of a team and does not consider himself "any kind of miracle worker."
Selinger has filled vacancies in his office primarily by promoting younger, less experienced staff into adviser roles.
Thomas said Scott could have his work cut out for him.
"If the bottom was to fall out of NDP support, if (Tory Leader Brian) Pallister and the Conservatives were to have a very good campaign, Gerry Scott may find that he is on the deck of a Titanic of sorts."