Negative campaigning
2 min

Release the hounds—err, ads!

As if you didn’t need any more convincing that we’re careening toward an autumn election, the Liberals released their first pre-election television adverts online yesterday. Apparently there are six in total, and so far three have been released – one in English, and two in French.

Thus far, the ads are night and day to the kind of advertising that the Conservatives have put out. The English ads are positively upbeat this genuine attempt to create positive advertising. In a wooded setting, Ignatieff talks about our great potential and our need to have a government that has a global worldview, and ends with the slogan “We can do better.” It’s positively aspirational.

The French ads are a little different, however. Ignatieff is not out in the woods, but against a black background in a dark suit, talking about the Conservatives’ failures with the economy and the environment, and those have a slogan of “We deserve better.”

As much as one would like to hope that these kinds of adverts will change the tone of politics – positive campaigning against negative advertising – I’m not convinced we’re seeing a longer-term trend. Inevitably, the advertising will turn negative once a campaign is in full-swing, and the Liberals have a reputed master of negative advertising in their war room (Warren Kinsella, for those of you keeping score). And inevitably, we’re going to see them because the simple truth is that unfortunately, like it or loathe it, negative advertising is what tends to work in politics.

Oh, and the Conservatives’ reaction to these new ads? It might be a surprise, but they’re not impressed. Jason Kenney, the designated point-man on them, sent out a screed about how it’s nothing but lies, and how Ignatieff is nothing but a great big lying faker, but hey, good thing the Conservatives can see right through him, right? Err, but you’re also telling me that while Ignatieff is a great big faker because he reputedly once told someone that he couldn’t be who he actually is in politics, you’re also telling me that dressing Stephen Harper up in a sweater vest to talk about how much he likes spending time with his kids isn’t any more of a façade? Um, okay. Good luck with that, by the way.

Elsewhere, Elizabeth May has formally decided to run in Saanich-Gulf Islands for the next election. Not only that, she’s running up against cabinet minister Gary Lunn. Okay, mind you Lunn’s star has pretty much fallen from grace, but it’s still going to be quite the fight for May. It doesn’t help that the person challenging her nomination is already accusing her of dirty tricks, but I somehow get the feeling he’s just trying to get a bit more publicity before he goes down in defeat (though wouldn’t it really say something if May were to lose the nomination challenge in that riding?).