Score one for the Tories with attack adsSi j'étais le coach des Calgary Tories, je dirais à mes joueurs de tirer le plus souvent possible du côté du bloqueur d'Ignatieff. Pas nécessairement parce que Iggy est meilleur avec sa mitaine, mais plutôt parce que c'est à sa droite.
Les MacPherson, The StarPhoenix
Published: Saturday, May 23, 2009
Anyone who is following the NHL playoffs will understand the Conservative strategy in these advertising skirmishes between federal elections.
In hockey, as in politics, you can't win if you're always playing defence. You have to get the puck into the other team's end and make them play defence. That's what the Conservatives are doing with their ads attacking Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff as a condescending carpetbagger. The idea is to get the puck deep into the Liberal end of the rink and keep it there.
The Liberals tried to shoot it back out by construing the Conservative attack on Ignatieff as a slur on new Canadians, but this is a bit of a reach. For Ignatieff to self-identify as a new Canadian after 34 years out of the country only reinforces the Conservatives' point. It also invites a distinction between Ignatieff and real new Canadians, most of whom were not born and raised in upscale Toronto.
Reaching even further, Liberals and their kindred spirits in the national press argue the Conservatives' attack ads will backfire by revealing their meanness of spirit. That's a good one coming from a party that for years vilified the Conservatives, and the Reform and Alliance parties before them, as rednecks, racists, fascists, sexists, religious zealots, homophobes, reactionaries, hicks, Neanderthals . . . you name it. Remember the Liberal's snide mockery of Stockwell Day's unscientific religious beliefs, as if any faith is scientific? Remember the Liberal campaign ad claiming a Harper government would impose martial law? Remember how Conservatives were demonized for selling out Canada with free trade, a policy the Liberals now endorse?
Conservatives remember very well. They were kept on the defensive and off the scoreboard for 13 years. Then came the sponsorship scandal, a costly Liberal giveaway. Now it's the Conservatives aggressively forechecking, and listen to the crybabies calling for a roughing penalty.
If anything, these Conservative attack ads are mild, and the issues they raise, legitimate. There's nothing wrong, of course, with a Canadian seeking fame and fortune outside the country for 34 years. The question is whether this is an appropriate resume for a Canadian prime minister.
The anti-Ignatieff ads have also served indirectly to expose the Liberals as unprepared. While Conservative ads run on every other TV channel, especially those broadcasting the hockey playoffs, Liberals post their reply ads on YouTube. In terms of a media campaign, it looks like amateurs against professionals. Who would you rather have running the country?
What's interesting about the Conservative ads, at least from a marketing perspective, is how disarmingly rudimentary they appear. As with their memorable "Stand up for Canada" mobile-sign ads in the 2006 election campaign and their Stephane Dion-is-not-a-leader ads last fall, the Ignatieff just-visiting ads make a virtue of low-budget production. They are not aimed at the literati. But since when did the literati ever vote Conservative?
Attack ads are almost as old as politics, but there is something new on the political scene, something we've not seen before.
In spite of gut-wrenching economic turmoil, governments are not as unpopular as you might expect. In B.C., for example, the first province to hold an election since the start of this recession, Gordon Campbell's Liberals won a third consecutive majority. It's the first three-peat ever for a B.C. government. That Campbell could win as he did on the strength of his economic management suggests that voters, uncharacteristically, do not blame him for this recession. Rather, they trust him to deal with it.
This is a sharp departure from the long-standing tradition of turning out of governments when the economy goes south. Instead of change, voters now seem to want stability, at least in B.C.
Federally, the Harper Conservatives seem likewise not to be wearing widespread job losses, gutted pension plans and a bust in real estate prices. Polls show them neck and neck with the Liberals, with Harper ahead of Ignatieff on economic leadership. That's something the Liberals will have to work on, if they ever get the puck back.
Et nous savons tous à quel point que notre intellectuel national est plus à l'aise à sa gauche.