Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Heavy mudslinging in the off season

The new Conservative attack ads have been getting most of the media buzz this week, but clearly they aren't the only party that is terrified by Stéphane Dion's potential, and is upset that they aren't facing off against Michael Ignatieff.

My NDP membership, taken out while I lived in Outremont, home to Separatist Jean, lapsed a couple of years ago, but I still recieve regular appeals for donations. The most recent call was a six-page(!) letter from Jack Layton begging for money. First off, I don't know who told him that anyone would read through a six-page letter asking for money. But whoever it was should have thought twice before putting pen to ink. Amidst the attacks on Harper were some rather nasty digs at Stephane Dion. His main crime seems to be that he doesn't understand "ordinary Canadians and middle-class families" (I'd go after the nauseating political lingo, but that's another post - and don't get me started on "in solidarity"). That, and that he appointed the devil incarnate, Michael Ignatieff, who supported the Iraq war, as his deputy leader. Both the NDP and the Conservatives really want to play up the Iggy card against Dion. It makes you wonder what they would have done if he'd actually won the leadership.

I'm not an expert on the effectiveness of attack ads. But I do wonder how Canadians will respond to hard-core nasty political advertizing when there isn't even an election on. I also don't think that slinging mud randomly at Dion is going to be an effective tactic. Even though he isn't the most charismatic of leaders, I don't think that many people dislike him, or even harbour secret fears of him (unless they're Quebec separatists). I suspect that the Conservative ads will be perceived as the acts of a schoolyard bully attacking the geek with the knapsack, and the NDP attacks will be seen as an act of desperation. I expected this from the Conservatives, but from the NDP I find it disappointing. I said as much to the NDP fundraiser who called me two days after I received the fundraising letter. I'm a swing NDP-Liberal voter, and you aren't going to win my vote by attacking the other party that I'm considering. Convince me that your policies are better, and you might stand a chance.

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