Little Fish in a Giant pond

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Episode II: Attack of the ads

As I pulled out of the Tim Horton's parking lot this morning, after making one of my multiple daily "Timmy's runs", what should come over the radio but one of the latest negative conservative adds against Leader of the Official Opposition, Stéphane Dion. This scathing attack features a very grim voiced narrator, who berates Dion for not being able to get liberal senators to vote in favour of eight year term limits for senators. At least this time, the tory adds are somewhat rooted in the truth, unlike the last round of ads that simply stated that the return of the liberal government under Dion would mean a return for corruption, and that Dion was not a leader. They even went so far as to attack Ralph Goodale, who had just been cleared of any wrongdoing.

These new ads at least had the general facts right, though they were badly twisted and may come back to bite the tories anyways. Now I can't speak for the liberal leader, but it seems to me that in an unelected senate, eight year term limits are a VERY bad idea! Simply put, a prime minister who is in office for eight years or more (as is often the case) could actually appoint the entire senate! Now I may be mistaken, but I believe that Stéphane Dion has merely suggested that Senators terms be limited to 12 years, so as to ensure at least a little bi-partisanism in the senate.

Now I know that Prime Minister Harper is an advocate of having an elected senate and has even appointed the very first elected senator since the Mulroney days however, the issue of senate reform is too important to be decided upon unilaterally by the Prime Minister. Many of the provinces fear that an elected senate would lead to their own powers being dilluted. Then of course there are equally credible fears that the senate could cease to be a place where minorities can voice their concerns. All of this is not to say that the senate cannot function if comprised solely of elected members but the constitutional amendment formula is in place for a reason. At any rate senate reform is an extremely complicated issue and I am digressing from the issue at hand.

The Young Liberals came out with some ads of their own recently. The ads are a parody of the "Mac vs. PC" ads we all see so regularly on television. While they are more cute and comical than anything else, there is deffinately a negative undertone. The ads highlight the conservative government's lousy record on the environment, their branding issues and also accuse the Conservatives of adopting liberal policies in order to be more appealing. Once again they are rooted in the truth (and in my opinion much more firmly than the conservative ads!), but a negative ad is a negative ad.

As I've said before, I don't see anything wrong per se with pointing out flaws in a political opponents belief system or policies but the problem lies with the fact that in the end both parites will get negative and both will wind up looking bad, which entirely discredits the system as a whole. So maybe it's better just to focus on the positive aspects of one's own platform rather than running down the other guy's. On the other hand, perhaps it's ok to use negative ads so long as they don't distort the truth, don't attack any individual and are done with some taste. Any thoughts?


  • This scathing attack features a very grim voiced narrator, who berates Dion for not being able to get liberal senators to vote in favour of eight year term limits for senators. At least this time, the tory adds are somewhat rooted in the truth

    How is it rooted in the truth? It is not Dion's job to have the Senate do his bidding. The senate is an independent body designed to review what comes out of the House. The leader of the opposition in the senate is, Sen. Céline Hervieux-Payette, not Dion.

    So kudos for trying to be even handed in your assessment of the latest ads, but like most of what this government does, this ad is another misrepresentation of the truth.

    By Blogger knb, at 1:09 PM  

  • Essentially what I was trying to say, is that Dion has not exactly come out in favour of the 8 year terms, in fact as stated before I believe he prefers 12 year terms. As I said, it is "rooted in the truth"... they just seemed to have done an awful lot of branching off (ok the last tree metaphor I promise). But then when has staying close to the truth ever mattered to them?

    By Blogger Fish, at 1:36 PM  

  • LOL. Fair enough.

    I'm just tired of this childish game that Harper is playing. He depends on Canadians lack of awareness to make a point that isn't valid.

    By Blogger knb, at 1:52 PM  

  • But how could he be blamed for letting the bill languish for a year when he has only been leader for 6 months?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:23 PM  

  • I just heard such an ad. Boy, you're right about the voice.

    This one said that Dion is actively blocking term limits.

    No doubt about it, they lie. How they are allowed to get away with this eludes me.

    Anon, well now there's a point. The reason, they lie.

    By Blogger knb, at 3:17 PM  

  • Well at least our national unity strategy does not include bribing Quebecers, monopolizing the Canadian identity issue and we don't believe we are a " natural governing party", the great arrogant slogan of the Liberal party and its spineless commentators in the Red Star.

    The Liberal adds didn't lie when it attacked the Reform party, the Canadian Alliance and the Conservative party? Really? Not very pleasant is it....

    By Blogger Marc-André Mongeon, at 10:42 AM  

  • Easy does it MA. Had you read my posting a little more carefully you'd have noticed that I am questionning negative ads in general, not just those by the Tories.

    Had you also read a few of my previous postings, you'd have realized that I also condemned those used by the Liberals in the last federal election. I am most particularly appalled by the "Soldiers with guns" ads (shudder).

    Notwithstanding the last election, I can't think of a single liberal ad from the past that didn't accurately reflect the Reform, Alliance or Conservatives. We didn't have to mislead, as their MPs and candidates often shot off their mouths and gave us such rich material.

    But truth or untruth aside, here we have a liberal leader who is trying to move past all of this and start a positive campaign. Prime Minister Harper and his gang are simply not willing or not able to follow suit because they lack strength on the issues.

    Despite all of their grand standing, they have been led around by the nose since the day they took office. They were forced to make the environment a priority because Dion and the other opposition leaders pushed them to it. When the Quebec nation became an issue in the Liberal leadership race, the tories followed suit.

    They claim to be the proponents of accountability and then they appoint a senator (to the senate which they love to villify) and name him to cabinet. They have broken promise after promise, and all this while claiming to be the government that keeps it promises!

    You call the Liberals arrogant for claiming to be "the natural governing party". Well as inexcusable as such arrogance is, at least the Liberals have a century of political dominance to be arrogant about. The Conservatives have spent less than two years as a feeble minority government and are painting themselves as the only patriotic party, even accusing Liberals of having terrorist sympathies! But of course we have come to expect nothing less than the old "If you're not with us you're against us" attitude of the PM and his republican masters.

    So don't act like you have a monopoly on morality my friend. The Tories griped as loud as they could when they were on the receiving end of negative ads, and now that they are up against someone who is willing to take the moral high road, the Tories are the ones with nothing but negativity to sell.

    By Blogger Fish, at 2:23 PM  

  • Payback's a bitch isn't it?

    By Blogger Marc-André Mongeon, at 5:07 AM  

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