Canada's New Democrats
Election 2011

"Canadians can get Parliament working again.
Here's how to do that: elect more New Democrats."

The Hon. Jack Layton
(1960 - 2011)


November 8th, 2010 I entered a seemingly timid looking offxice building on the corner of Bank and Laurier in Downtown Ottawa. This was my first day of work at a brand new job for the Federal New Democratic Party of Canada. The role was new and there were a lot of growing pains early on. I wouldn’t really hit a solid stride until late February 2011. After shooting selected event stops of a ten city Canadian tour that Jack embarked on in January that year, and cutting a sizzle reel of the tour.

The two pieces below are from a candid interview I got to shoot with Jack in December of 2010. This particular clip is one of my favourites because it showcases Jack’s purpose and passion. If anything should help us realize what to be grateful for about his leadership… It is his perspective on what a Prime Minister can be, as well as his motivations for fighting to affect social and political change. Showing his wealth of hope and optimism proudly for all to see.

"For Beatrice"
Direction, videography, editing and animation
Election 2011
"Prime Minister"
Direction, videography, editing and animation
Election 2011

As far as positive stories go from working your first Election Campaign, I couldn’t ask for a better one than Canada’s forty-first election. A historic election campaign that saw the first (and only) Harper Conservative majority, which was important because it was their first post-Canadian Alliance/Progressive Conservative merger Majority. And, for New Democrats, a record 103 seats and for the first time in Canadian history; becoming her Majesty’s Loyal Official Opposition. The majority of my work was in helping build streaming broadcast processes and general video aesthetics and editing pieces throughout the Campaign.

The “You have a Choice” video came about as an idea that I started sketching before the writ-drop in 2011. After some time I pitched it to the Comms Director (Drew Anderson) one evening with some examples from Obama’s YouTube channel of similar types of policy explainer animations.

The animation is choppy, the music is from Apple’s old Soundtrack Pro free stock library and if I had my choice, I would undo much of the tight kerning and I would take the time to loosen the keyframing of the animation up.

But, it was turned around in less than two days and it garnered over 80,000 views in the first week with great audience retention. Plus, it was written about as “turning point” in MacLeans Magazines post-election wrap-up by Paul Wells, so no complaints.

"You have a Choice"
Art direction, editing and animation
Election 2011

“The untold story of the 2011 election: Chapter 3 – ‘The velocity of indignation’”

By Paul Wells

“For war rooms, perhaps. Voters might be less inclined to pop the champagne corks. If only they had a choice. By coincidence, on the day before the auditor-general kerfuffle, the NDP started running an ad called, “You Have A Choice.”

At two minutes long, the ad aired only at NDP rallies and in those late-night free-time ad slots nobody watches. It did not produce the shift in attitude toward the NDP. But it almost certainly can help us decode it.

The ad is all text. For the first half, the background is Tory blue or Liberal red and the music is ominous. Blocks of text spell out the message. “For too long in Ottawa, scandals and political games have gotten in the way of getting anything done,” the text said. A little later: “And now other leaders are telling you that you have no choice. That you have to vote for more of the same.” Who could this be about? The screen helpfully displays a blue door and a red door, just as Ignatieff described them in his flop-sweat scrum. “Doesn’t sound right, does it?”

The tone of the music changes—to celestial trumpets. “They’ve been telling JACK LAYTON the same thing for over EIGHT YEARS,” the text reads. “Jack Layton has proven them wrong.” The blue background switches to orange. The doom music becomes peppy acoustic guitar, Layton’s preferred instrument for serenading trapped reporters on the NDP campaign plane. “Fighting for our families. Our veterans. Our seniors.” Here the content of the pitch changes, from hope to accomplishment. “New Democrats sit first or second in 104 ridings across Canada . . . ridings where only New Democrats defeat Conservatives.”

We’ll spare you the rest, except to note that in the ad’s remaining 45 seconds, the words “You can choose” appear five times.”

Mr. Wells was right about the shift in the tone of the campaigns messaging. However, it happened before Jack’s great showing at the 2011 Debates. This piece again was made in advance of the NDP’s 2011 Election platform. Before the debates, and at a point in the campaign when most media were dismissing Jack and the NDP, saying “it was over” because a couple of polls listed voter intention between 10 to 14% … A great time in the campaign, despite what those polls might indicate. Internally the party was exceptionally motivated and were looking forward to both the platform launch and the debates.