Monday, January 29, 2007

Uh oh

It is funny how the world works sometimes. I was just having a conversation with a friend of mine on Friday about how the Liberal strategy in the next election has to be to run in the weeks leading up to the leader's debate strong character ads about who St├ęphane Dion is before the Tories can define him. Canadians don't know Dion and while I think he is a good man, if someone else defines him for us then it will not matter what I think nor what the truth is.

The Conservatives have proved again that they are smart campaigners. It was reported last night that they will be running three ads against Dion during the Superbowl and thereafter during prime time spots and Hockey Night in Canada.

This is a brilliant strategy on the part of the Tories. Moreover, considering the amount of money they've been raising and the limits on spending during a campaign period, they likely have money to burn and can probably afford - and may well be spending - millions of dollars on these ad buys.

Even worse, these ads are taken straight from the Toronto leadership debate in October and have little third party commentary added, it is mostly the words of St├ęphane Dion, Michael Ignatieff and Ken Dryden with their points underlined.

The ads do two things: 1) it shows Dion looking to be the defender of the Liberal record while Ignatieff and Dryden are criticizing it. From there, the Tories can tie Dion to the unpopularity of the Martin government. 2) it shows Ignatieff - now deputy leader and labelled as such in the video - essentially assusing Dion of non leadership.

Jason Cherniak compares it to Harris labelling Dalton McGuinty as "not up to the job" in 1999. Unfortunately, that worked pretty well for Harris and it I was actually thinking of that ad when realizing my greatest fears about these spots.

This ad in particular is pretty rough.

The problem is that we do not have the cash to run counter ads, particularly during the Super Bowl. We have to do something or Harper has a second term in the bag. Any ideas?


Franki said...

The Tory bloggers are questioning the effectiveness of the ads... and now the environmental groups just held a news conference in Ottawa where they blasted the Tories... maybe the ads will backfire?

nbpolitico said...

I hope it plays that way.

I am no critic nor student of PR and media best practices, but I found them effective.

I hope I am wrong.

Anonymous said...

NB politico I have to disagree. These ads will backfire as being too malicious.

Anonymous said...

now the environmental groups just held a news conference in Ottawa where they blasted the Tories

Hmmm, the same John Bennett who denegrated Ambrose by supporting sexist pamphlets on Ambrose's hair. Pot meet kettle.

If the ads are too malicious, you only have Ignatieff to blame. :)

Ontario Lad said...

When you see the third ad, watch the single shot on Ignatieff and the look on his face after Dion says "do you think its easy to make priorities?" What is that look?

Stunned incredulity.

Dion - "We will get back and we will do the job".

Ignatieff - "We didn't get it done".

And if Dion didn't get it done as Envivornment Minister the first time, why should he be given the chance to do it AS PRIME MINISTER?

Brian in Calgary said...

How can the ads be malicious?

Do they attack Dion personally? No. They critique his record and that of the government he was proud to be part of.

Do they try to pit one province against another? No.

Do they try to totally misrepresent what someone has said (ie the "Military in the streets" ad from the last campaign)? No.

Are they totally unsourced so that no one can easily check out the accuracy of the statements made therein? No.

Are they effective? Well, for the answer to that one, we'll have to wait and see. But, I saw all three on Steve Janke's blog. As I see it, the second one will be marginally effective, the first one quite effective, and the third one quite devastating for Mr Dion. It makes him look like a whiner. But, that is just this Tory's take.

Anonymous said...

How stupid do you think Canadians are? The Tories
in opposition stalled and fought against every Dion
effort on the environment. How naive do you think
Canadians are? The Tories ads will resonate well
with their converted but they have the stink of panic
about them. Relax and enjoy the Super Bowl.
Harper is proving to be too clever by half. And Canada's New Government is beginning to look like
just a bunch of partisan creeps.

Anonymous said...

5:17 PM exactly. Harper and co. assume that Canadians are stupid and they will buy this bull. Not a chance. Losers big time.

Anonymous said...

The Liberals as a governing party also opposed SSM and also supported an expanding role in Afghanistan. Are Canadians stupid to believe that parties cannot change positions?

Anonymous said...

The Tories don't change positions, just tactics.

nuna d. above said...

The ads plant doubts about Dion's abilities in the minds of Canadians. When they see him mangle the English language on TV over the next few months, these doubts will be re-enforced. Dion doesn't have the brazen charm of Chretien, he won't do well with voters.

Anonymous said...

Dion doesn't mangle the english language. To me that means bad grammer. He speaks far better english than does Harper french. In fact he speaks as good english, in my view ,as Rex Murphy and
is far less prolix. Let's stop equating how people speak with their capacity for critical thinking and
their ability to govern. As for the attack ads planting
doubts in the minds of Canadians, oh if only it was that easy.

Anonymous said...

"Let's stop equating how people speak with their capacity for critical thinking and
their ability to govern."

C'mon we did that with Chretien.

Spinks said...

Don't like 'em but just because I don't care for attack ads that doesn't mean they're not good. They're nowhere near as bad as the PC ads of '93 or the Liberal ads of 2006.

Hearing indignation from Liberals though is a bit laughable after the (cue music) "Stephen Harper will put soldiers on the streets of Canadians cities. We're not making this up."

Brian in Calgary said...

The Tories in opposition stalled and fought against every Dion effort on the environment.

From 1993 to 2004, the Liberals held a majority of the seats in Parliament. For 18 months thereafter, they may have only had a minority, but the NDP and the Bloc surely would have supported any meaningful proposal on the environment the Liberals would have cared to put forward. If the Tories had tried to stall and obstruct, surely the NDP and Bloc would have supported the use of closure. So tell me, anonymous 5:17 PM, exactly how the CPC managed to have their way in a Parliament where they were only the Official Opposition.

JL said...

First, you have to get Dion to the Superbowl in Miami.

Second, you have to fly the Press Gallery down there with you.

Three, you have to get him to catch a football in front of the cameras.

Problem solved. Short of this, it is over for the Libs, at least with Dion as leader.


Miles Lunn said...

I think the fact Canadians are so sick of politics may lead to them backfiring just because they don't want to see political ads of any type prior to the election. That being said we should have a response ready in case they do work. Since people aren't paying too close attention the fallout if negative will likely be much smaller than during an election so I would during the evening news buy some ad space to one talk about Dion's leadership skills and also bring up the fact that launching attack ads this early shows desperation.

Anonymous said...

The Tories haven't had their way, Brian.
That's why they've resorted to election ads without an election occuring. They've had a great ride on the sponsorship scandal, but they've been cold-cocked by a Canadian population that actually thinks there's an environmental crisis. Now they sit, embarrassingly below the dastardly scandalous Liberals. There are
a lot of good people, bright people in the CPC, too bad they're forbidden to speak without permission
from Mr. Harper. Their contribution could build a sense of empathy for all Canadians and an understanding of real issues rather than just making the big showy display designed to project,"Hey look
how great the New Canadian Government is, and by the way, aren't those crooked Liberals awful".

Anon. 5:19

Kings L said...

The ads are following a week in which Dion did not reject bringing back adscam crooks back into the party and publicly stated he supported the mission in Afghanistan. Is this the guy who voted against continuing the mission and had no connection to the scandal or more of the same old corrupt divine right arrogant Liberal party.Hey guys time to reinforce----ads. We can stil do a Stockwell election in April---revenge of the DINOSAUR.

Anonymous said...

On the environment, just like most policies, there is virtually no difference between tories and liberals. The liberals say one thing and do another, the tories say at least say what they are going to do...then change their minds after the election.

So yeah, I can see how 'strategy' could be tough for an election when there is so little actual difference between the two parties.

For just some helpful advice, the liberals should look where they have some clout - and that's women voters and families. While tories scream louder on the net, there are fewer of them than there are of working people.

That's of course if liberals are willing to make policies that actually help them. It was a sad irony that I have friends, the man was out of work, the woman worked at the university. They were staunch conservatives, mostly because of the gay marriage stuff, but even talked about the big $100 cheque they are getting. You see, they were all set because the woman's mother was right close by, she was going to babysit now that the husband got a job and the woman goes back to work.

Then something happened, the mother got sick, very sick and they couldn't even find out what was wrong with her. Now the mother is going back to work and there are no spaces and nobody to watch their child. Their mother will have to do it because they have no choice, and they will spend each day at work wondering whether their child is safe and if her mother has had an attack.

The woman earns far more than the man, however, she played a little fast and loose with the company she works for and got them to pay maternity leave in addition to the university. Now she is pregnant again, which means she will have to take more time off work, and this time no doubt her employer will simply not renew her contract. The husband doesn't earn that much so she will have to find a company that will accommodate her maternity and children, and there are few like the employer she has now.

So they are talking quite differently about their allegiances to the conservative party, and reality has a way of cutting through all the bullshit, which is why the only real debate that goes on online is people with lots of time on their hands-not the working people.

That's why there is so much pressure against proportional representation, because if a party like the NDP that actually talks about 'workers' were given a viable chance things might work out differently.

IF a liberal party put out there the policies they would enact then they'd probably get support. The Harper attacks on the Status of Women even during a time of huge growth in federal coffers and massive military spending while refusing to provide decent government work shows the side that liberals should expose.

If just showing 'facts' like Dion's decision making is fair game, the same goes for the reverse:

1. settling softwood so it cost billions.
2. Lying about senate appointments'
3. welcoming emerson and floor crossers
4. tossing out garth turner
5. Actually putting soldiers on the streets of canadian cities, go look at the training they did in fredericton, its in the gleaner from last summer. Go to and virtually the only federal jobs available are massive listings for military. Sure, the feds won't hire people to do environmental research, scientific research or biological research but they'll put them in wonderful front line infantry jobs.
6. Massive cutting at the department of the environment, killeing the energy star program, and cutting environmental research
7. more support in afghanistan (not from us but fromt he feds)
8. ignoring most provincial governments except ontario and quebec
9. reneging on virtually every policy they talked about from before the election

Hell, that's just off the top of my head and thats from ONE year in a MINORITY government. So for 'tactics', liberals can always call upon one thing - reality. Of course they don't like to do that because they don't act that much differently. However, anybody that thinks a Minister of the Environment, the country with the worst environmental record per capita in the world, actually has the power to implement policy, once again they are questioning that thing called 'reality'.

Anonymous said...

I heard that Cons are pulling off ads as they broke the copyright for obtaining the media images of Lib leadership debate. Another one for Harper - type of a stealing or is it stealing period?

Spinks said...

2pm wrote, "5. Actually putting soldiers on the streets of canadian cities, go look at the training they did in fredericton, its in the gleaner from last summer."

That's crap anon. CFB Gagetown soldiers have been doing urban training on the streets of Fredericton for years. That has nothing to do with Stephen Harper. The military does that (like they have for many years) to train for urban scenarios.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed the "This Hour has 22 Minutes" version of the Conservative Ads. If you missed it tonight, it should be on again Friday night.

It should help put things into perspective for lots of folks.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, yes, urban Fredericton is just like Afghanistan and Haiti!

That doesn't change reality: "Stephen Harper will put troops in canadian cities" and there were troops in canadian cities, ergo the ads were only saying what was true.

Gol said...

Why worry about the Liberals being out of power and unable to steal money for advertising. Their big business friends(ever look at the Liberals donations?)take care opf them. Todays front page of the all Liberal all the time Telegraph Journal shows their support of the religion of Kyoto and Liberal politicking. Kill the new refinery. It's the right to do.

Anonymous said...

Go to elections canada and you can see the conservative donations too, they have plenty of big business backers. There aren't too many politicians who are in danger of starving to death.

Anonymous said...

The thread of these comments has moved off Dion to general Tory /Liberal wanking. Maybe that says that Dion is surviving all this froth and barking.

Anonymous said...

I think the Liberals have nothing to worry about. The Tories have broken copyright by not asking permission to use these video clips. And, it appears that they are in "election mode" even though there is clearly not an election called. It looks (to me) like they are on the run and paranoid about Dion gathering support.