The following is excerpted from The Hill Times article McLean learned a lot inside the NDP’s war room:
In the 2005-2006 federal election campaign, Jim McLean, a professor of journalism at Concordia University in Montreal and co-editor of Public Art in Canada: Critical Perspectives, left his day job to “volunteer” in the NDP war room in downtown Ottawa.
“There was no question that Paul Martin was fighting for his political life and that the Harper Conservatives smelled blood,” said Mr. McLean.
The 56-day campaign election was a game changer.
On Jan. 23, 2006, Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper won his first minority government with 124 seats, defeating Liberal prime minister Paul Martin whose party won 103. The NDP, meanwhile, won only 29 seats, the Bloc Québécois won 51, and there was one Independent elected.
Mr. McLean spent about half of the election campaign in the war room. Assigned to a corner of someone else’s desk beside the war room manager in the building the NDP owns at the corner of Bank Street and Laurier Avenue West, the NDP’s leading strategist Brian Topp allowed Mr. McLean in to monitor the media and to observe war room tactics. “But as an outsider, Mr. McLean was also watched closely, treated with suspicion, and not encouraged to come to the daily morning strategy sessions.” However, that didn’t stop him from wandering the war room and spending a lot of time talking to a lot of people. The result is his unique and intelligent perspective of what it’s like inside a federal political war room and his book, Inside The NDP War Room: Competing for Credibility in a Federal Election.
What did you do in NDP war room?
“This was the 2005-06 election campaign. It was 56 days long, but that’s a bit misleading because it stretched over the Christmas break, so there was about a week of down time right in the middle. For my part, I was assigned the corner of a desk to ostensibly help with media monitoring. This was at campaign headquarters in Ottawa, in the building that the NDP owns at the corner of Bank and Laurier. I was in the war room physically for about half the campaign, but I also went out to see how war room tactics were playing in communities that were close enough to travel to: Montreal for example.