Political Attack Ads: We Are All Canadians

harperAnd they are at it again.  With an election coming in Canada sooner or later, the Conservatives are once again trying to paint Michael Ignatieff as some type of alien from outer space, evil to the core.  I find it so annoying.  In fact it is so over-the-top I think it might be turning people back to Michael Ignatieff.

There is no question in politics that negative works.  All you have to do is turn that dial to an American channel to see the over-the-top political ads which are almost slanderous from Canadian standards.  At the present time I am reading George W. Bush’s political autobiography, Decision Points.  In it he talks about a man by the name of Lee Atwater, who was the Republican Party’s attack dog for his father George Bush Senior.  It seemed this man would do almost anything to get the Republicans elected.  Much of the negative political discourse we have today goes back to that time where Lee Atwater was consistently painting the Liberals as some type of devils.

There is no question that Michael Ignatieff is an easy target.  After spending most of his life away from Canada he came back and after a series of missteps kind of stumbled into the Liberal leadership by acclamation.  The Liberal Party of Canada was one of the most successful political institutions in the Western world.  Leadership in the Liberal party of Canada was an automatic seat in the Prime Minister’s chair.   His genetic connection with the Romanovs in Russia is a wonderful story.  In fact he is a Canadian success story.  Despite that, in many ways he doesn’t seem comfortable in front of the cameras at a Tim Horton’s hockey game.  That might all be very, very wrong, but the cameras don’t lie.  Work from an image consultant needs to be ongoing.

I have met Michael Ignatieff.  It was quite a while ago now when he came to rural Chatham-Kent.  I was very impressed with the man, but of course I was impressed before he even showed up.  There is no question he is a very smart guy and would probably do Canada proud.  In the forum where I met him he was making an attempt to connect with rural voters.  He said all the right things explaining away some of the problems the Liberal party had caused with rural Canada in the past.  He said that key to future victory for the Liberal party was getting back rural Canada.  With the present-day Liberal party being an urban rump, it was entirely obvious getting back rural seats is key to any future Liberal majority victory.

I like Michael Ignatieff.  However, if you believe the Conservative ads he has horns growing out of this forehead.  For instance, not only do these ads play on Michael Ignatieff’s time spent overseas but they also refer to the evil “coalition”.  That refers to his earlier dalliance with the coalition proposed earlier between the NDP, Bloc and the Liberal party.  That was a nightmare to Conservatives in this country and the ads remind the base of the alternative.  It doesn’t scare me at all.  We are all Canadians.  That’s something that everybody should realize.

Needless to say, they don’t.  It is easy to latch onto the negative in our society.  The people that put together those conservative attack ads know that.  It’ll get worse before it gets better.  Despite us all being Canadians, the perpetrators of these ads love to drive the wedges in between us.

Of course the Liberal party has fought back with her own ads.  They paint Prime Minister Harper has some type of demonic presence who has the wrong type of Canada.  Is just as distasteful to me as the conservative ads.  I realize that in a good political competition, we all don’t sit around the campfire and sing “kum by ya”.  However, with Canadian participation in federal elections increasingly declining, who could really blame them by not wanting to participate in this political pissing match? I have one friend of mine who never votes, mainly because he doesn’t want to give this forum any credibility.

I also have a good friend who votes NDP every election.  For the most part throughout his life he has voted this way when his party had absolutely no hope of winning.  He explains it to me by saying he just loves that warm feeling when he goes into the voting booth.  That’s funny.  However, with the present attack ads cheapening our political landscape further, maybe I understand him a little clearer.  Maybe it’s all about getting some warm feeling again.  I dunno. I know one thing.  I don’t like much about Canadian politics now.  They are turning me off.  I don’t think I’m the only one.