Ad Wars

Perhaps nothing better illustrates the desperately tedious nature of the political battle the Conservatives and Liberals are presently engaged in than their latest round of duelling negative adverts:

Let’s just say at the outset that they’re both awful.

Released for no apparent reason, other than maybe to “poison the well” ahead of parliament resuming business after its absurdly long holiday break, each one tackles what is surely the lowest possible common denominator in politics these days: Taxes!

The Conservative ad is a petty, malicious piece of work filled with assertions that are dubious at best. For example, the attention-getting claim that Ignatieff apparently supported a $75 “iPod tax” turns out to be a complete fabrication based on nothing more than “some stillborn ideas put forward by Canada’s copyright board” (to quote David Akin). In other words, it’s a flat out LIE. Bookending the ad’s familiar collection of dated, out of context quotes (go check the source of that oft-repeated “tax and spend” one from 2004 and tell me that he wasn’t being somewhat facetious in describing himself that way…) are the obligatory sleazebag attacks on Ignatieff’s patriotism.

As for the Liberal ad, other than being half as short, it’s no better. After five years of fairly unexceptional minority governance, it’s quite feeble that Lib strategists are still compelled to demonize Harper as a dictatorial bogeyman of some sort. What’s truly insulting about this ad however, is its presumption that viewers are complete slackwits with no recollection of recent history. In fact, it was the Liberal Party under Paul Martin that initiated the process of steadily ratcheting down the corporate tax rate. A policy, by the way, that both he and his immediate successor enthusiastically touted as a means of attracting new business investment and promoting job growth in Canada. So it’s more than a little hypocritical (and technically inaccurate) to now indignantly claim “Harper is giving your tax dollars to the largest corporations”…

Is it any wonder that most people are turned off by politics when our two leading parties waste their time and resources excreting miserable pieces of shit like this?

18 Comments

Filed under 2011 Canadian Election, Advertising, Canadian Politics, Conservative Party of Canada, Liberal Party of Canada, Michael Ignatieff, Stephen Harper

18 responses to “Ad Wars

  1. To be fair, the Liberals, Ignatieff included, were proponents of corporate tax cuts only when in a budgetary surplus situation. Borrowed money as corporate welfare is just plain silly.

  2. emily

    ChrisinOtt, that distinction is ignored by many, especially those who think the economy is great now and we all have adequate jobs. This government’s legacy is big debt and failure to tool up to face environmental change.

  3. Will

    What’s truly insulting about this ad however, is its presumption that viewers are complete slackwits with no recollection of recent history.

    ——————————————–

    How many average people remember Flaherty proposed ZERO stimulus in the 2008 economic update?

  4. Heheh, like Will I find your faith in your fellow Canadian pretty interesting.

  5. Tomm

    Accurate observations. We can do without either party playing at this game.

    Someone has to start (just like parliamentary decorum) but no one will. The Liberal’s are the ones hovering just above electoral hell. You would think they would be in the best position to stay away from these things in the hope that their high road approach brings a few more (disgusted people like you and me) on board. But, alas, the war room marketers for both are too powerful, and beating the policy wonks up in the back rooms.

  6. You would think [the Liberals] would be in the best position to stay away from these things in the hope that their high road approach brings a few more (disgusted people like you [*cough*] and me)…

    Oh indeed, Tomm. One would like to see the lazy Liberal war-room put more effort into winning over the constituency that believes David Suzuki to be among the greatest threats to Western civilisation. It would be so easy—the promise to hold regular auto da fés of Sierra Club volunteers on Parliament Hill (broadcast strictly on a pay-per-view basis, of course—none of this commie “free” BS) would lock things up real tight. The Libs just aren’t trying anymore.

    Noted with glee, by the way, was your attempt to insert yourself into Red’s political demographic, while either unaware of (or indifferent to) the fact that “sanity” is a key categorical standard which your ideological subclade (whatever it is) fails to satisfy, catastrophically.

  7. …what is surely the lowest possible common denominator in politics these days: Taxes!

    That “lowest common denominator” is, of course, very likely what tipped the balance for Harper in 2006, in the form of his promised GST cut—probably one of the most widely popular (and fiscally risible) electoral undertakings of the last two decades. Initiatives that haul one’s ass into government tend to be repeated, no matter how puerile or mendacious they may be: the promise to put more cash into the electorate’s wallets is always a juicy little gambit and is especially compelling to parties, like Harper’s, that are utterly ethico-intellectually bankrupt and totally devoid of national vision.

    …the obligatory sleazebag attacks on Ignatieff’s patriotism.

    Heh. Saying that a CPC campaign is “sleazebag” is like saying that it is “communicated by way of an uninflected Indo-European language”. As for the “patriotism” meme, Harper has cornered it only because the LPC “took the high road” and failed to pre-empt it with a meme of its own: if the party had more energetically circulated and attacked Harper and Co’s thick dossier of Canada-bashing tripe, they might have locked the ‘Roids out of Ontario, salted even more of their earth in the Maritimes, and hurt them in the Canadian (i.e. non-Albertan) West. But no. “Let us be gentlemen” instead.

    If Trudeau had been a gentleman, Stanfield would have won back-to-back majorities—a good thing in my view, of course, but I’m arguing the Liberal position here.

  8. TofKW

    Sir Francis, I believe you give the Liberal’s way too much credit if you think their failure to counter Harper’s ‘patriotism’ meme versus Ignatieff was due to the Grits ‘taking the high road’. I don’t ever remember the Liberals taking the high road in any previous election campaign within my lifetime, with the exception of 2008 with Dion and the Green Shift. And versus a troglodyte like Harper, that was the unquestionably the dumbest time for them to start. Sadly that experience will prevent future leaders of any major Canadian political party from doing so ever again for at least the next century (or two).

  9. Tomm

    Sir Francis,

    Good to hear from you. I think we both have been focussing on our day-to-day lives rather than trading barbs with others.

    I’m a little disappointed with your concerns for Dr. Suzuki’s marketing empire. He is doing quite well and all the result of identifying villains, media exposure, donations, hyperbole, media exposure, donations (wonderful little marketing loop he found himself in), and linking himself with other enviro-green-corporate entities that are working the media both here and in Europe. I’m afraid, that you’ve missed the boat in buying “low”. I suggest you continue to look for the next Bre-X offering.

    I think Pablo’s Bill in 2007 (C-288 the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act) was a grand gesture in how the Liberal Party (acting WITH their coalition partners) was willing to sell Canada down the river just to win a green demographic. Thank goodness that only money bills can necessarily topple the government, and the Liberal Party was too gutless to actually ask for dollars to be spent.

    In regards to whether I am sufficiently sane to post here, my wife would be an ally of yours.

  10. I don’t ever remember the Liberals taking the high road in any previous election campaign within my lifetime…

    Heh. You mean your soul failed to be transported by Trudeau’s “The Land is Strong” (’72), “Zap! You’re Frozen” (’74), and “I Get Laid Far More Often Than Joe Clark” (’79, ’80), or Turner’s “Hey! I’m More than Just Trudeau Without the IQ and Charisma” (’84) and “It’s 1812 All Over Again!” (’88)? Maybe you need to lower your standards… 😉

    As for my own standards…yeah, they’ve been coarsened over the years. Nowadays, I’m willing to consider anything showing less contempt for the voter than Campbell’s loathsome “Is This a Prime Minister?” and Harper’s despicable “Does Paul Martin Support Child Pornography?” campaigns as a trip up the high road. Sadly.

  11. I think we both have been focussing on our day-to-day lives…

    Speak for yourself… 😉

    He is doing quite well…

    That’s because he chose the cynically and effortlessly lucrative route of environmental advocacy rather than suffering through the grinding (though noble) penury of providing “environmental consultancy” for Big Oil transnationals. He knows where the big bucks are, and they’re definitely not on the boards and chairmanships of colossal oil companies.

    The Liberal Party…was willing to sell Canada down the river…

    Right now, I’m trying to think of a major federal party that isn’t willing to sell Canada down the river. I’m coming up pretty empty. A little help?

    Thank goodness…the Liberal Party was too gutless to actually ask for dollars to be spent.

    Amen to that. When it comes to spending gobs of taxpayer cash on useless “initiatives”, the CPC is the current go-to team.

    Say! I wonder how much we’ve spent on Harper’s totally inactive “appointments board”. It stood at circa one million last year. I expect it’s double that now. Funny how the “liberal media” doesn’t seem to care. What’s a million (or two), after all?

    …my wife would be an ally of yours…

    Smart lady. She’s a keeper, Tomm.

  12. Tomm

    I can’t disagree with many of your comments.

    I have blockaded myself behind the wall of “good governance” in defending my support for the CPC. It is obviously a weaker wall if I use “principle”, “vision” or “results”.

    Harper is certainly lucky that the opposition hasn’t bothered to build a set of policies that include personal responsibility and fiscal restraint coupled with principle and vision.

    They have instead been mostly just working the media for gotcha moments and talking about new social programs.

    It is remarkable given all the previous minority government’s Canada has had, that this one has been so stable. Perhaps that old chestnut “if you want peace, prepare for war” is accurate. It certainly seems to have been successful for Harper.

  13. It is remarkable given all the previous minority government’s[sic] Canada has had…

    We actually haven’t had a huge number of them. And, until last year, none has had to resort to unconstitutional methods to survive. Mackenzie King tried that but was mercifully prevented by a Governor-General with stones, the last one we’re ever likely to have.

  14. Tomm

    Sir Francis,

    I can think of 4 other ones, just in my life time. Pearson, Trudeau, Clark, and Martin.

    All were less stable and less long lived.

    If the prorogation was unconstitutional, I think the GG would have said “no”. Please remember that Harper had to commit to a confidence vote early in the new Session. If the coalition had wanted to throw him out, they still had their chance. Harper never evaded the vote, just delayed it. The Liberal’s blinked.

  15. I can think of 4 other ones…

    …which, compared to the majority governments we’ve had in your lifetime (beginning with…what, now… Tupper, is it?), is precious few.

    If the prorogation was[sic] unconstitutional, I think the GG would have said “no”.

    You know very well, Tomm, that, given the eviscerated nature of the GG’s current position, there is virtually no prime ministerial request—short of the re-instatement of slavery—that a GG may legitimately deny.

    Both of Harper’s prorogation requests were thoroughly and arbitrarily unconventional, and any arbitrarily unconventional measure is a de facto violation of a largely conventional constitution.

    Notice I haven’t even broached the matter of Harper breaking his own fixed-election “law”, which, contrary to the giddy assertion of the CPC noise machine, isn’t really a “law” at all. No—I can’t blame Harper for violating junk law, even his own; the kids do that every time they spark up a spliff, and good for them.

  16. Tomm

    Tupper? I’m in my 50’s not 120’s.

    If you are saying that the PM of a minority parliament is still the guy making the decisions, I agree. It is as it should be. Perhaps in a consensus style government like the NWT, it would be otherwise. I guess that’s why we have political parties.

    The opposition could have dropped the government many, many times in the last five years but has not. It is truly remarkable. Despite all the bluster, I think the Liberal’s have grown accustomed to having their decisions made for them by their Daddy… I mean PMSH.

    I guess the first good chance in 2011 is the budget in March. What do you think Ignatieff should do?

  17. If you are saying that the PM of a minority parliament is still the guy making the decisions…

    No. I’m saying that the prime ministerial deployment of and national tolerance for unconstitutional manipulations of Parliament, whether made by a minority ministry or a majority ministry or a macaque monkey lately elevated to the Privy Council, are symptoms of decadence.

    Tupper? I’m in my 50′s not 120′s.

    Should I have appended a winking emoticon? Is my sense of humour that dry?

    I think the Liberal’s[sic] have grown accustomed to having their decisions made for them by their Daddy… I mean PMSH.

    Well, I suppose we all need a Daddy. For some of us, he’s the guy in 24 Sussex. For others, he’s the guy in the White House. No need to decide which one is worse: they tend to be the same guy.

    What do you think Ignatieff should do?

    Resign.

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