Fish in a Barrel: More Conservative Attack Ads

Posted on March 9, 2011


Given that the Tories are currently doing so well in the polls, I’m surprised to see them grasping at straws with an attack ad campaign which appears to be desperately trying to avoid an election. There is really not much to critique here, but I’ll still keep my promise to take apart any Conservative election bullshit I see. Here’s my dissection of the opening blurb:

“In a time of economic uncertainty, Michael Ignatieff is desperate to force an election”

I’d like to propose a new catch-phrase to counter Conservative election rhetoric: “It’s not the economy, stupid!”. The Tories would like to portray themselves as a steady hand on the economic tiller. They are trying to use this rhetoric to suggest that their government should not have to face any accountability, because the slightest political disturbance could put us in an economic tailspin once more. This is bullshit. Firstly, we did better than most countries during the recession because the Conservatives had failed to deregulate our financial markets to the same degree as they had been in other countries. Secondly, economic recovery is a global phenomenon. It really isn’t that sensitive to the election of a new leader (or the reelection of an old one) in Canada. Michael Ignatieff couldn’t damage the Canadian economic recovery if that was his sole political objective. I’m basing this all on the opinion of a fairly famous economist named Stephen Harper:

Stephen Harper should pay attention to what Stephen Harper is saying. But then again, the two seem to disagree on a lot of things.

“With the sole focus on himself, Ignatieff has determined that his best opportunity to become Prime Minister–the only reason he came back to Canada after 34 years away”

People have been to other countries are untrustworthy! Let’s speculate about their motives! This is pure ad hominem, and therefore entirely irrelevant to any intelligent political discussion. Moving on…

“He has already threatened to force an election if he does not get a $6 billion tax increase”

Um…no. He has threatened to force an election if Harper implements a $6 billion corporate tax reduction. As well he should! $6 billion of revenue could be much better spent on things like the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Arctic Science, or Status of Women Canada, or deficit reduction, than a handout to the sector that put us in this economic mess in the first place. Apparently the Conservative campaign strategist wants to trick voters into thinking that Ignatieff wants to raise the taxes, and that the taxes will apply directly to them. f anything, it is Harper who wants to raise taxes, because the cuts to services (or increased inflation) that must happen as a result of this massive handout to the corporate sector will actually affect Canadians. This sentence is a bald-faced lie, and I’m depressed to say that I’m not surprised that Harper’s campaign would stoop so low.

“He wants to force an election before a budget that will keep our recovery on track”.

Budgets are one of the primary ways for opposition parties to force elections in the Canadian system. This is useful, because the election is effectively a referendum on whether the budget will actually keep our recovery on track (it won’t-see above). This quote tells me that the Harper Government (TM) would prefer to push their budget (complete with billions of dollars of corporate tax cuts) without public input. If Harper was legitimately concerned about the effects of elections on sound fiscal policy during budget season, then he could try mandating fixed election dates. Oh, wait.

“He is so desperate for an election, he is focusing on personal attacks and innuendo to get what he wants”

Did the Conservative Party’s campaign staff actually just say that?

“His lust for an election that will jeopardize our fragile recovery betrays his opportunism. The personal attacks by the liberals betray their hypocrisy”

I’m going to repeat that last line one more time: “The personal attacks by the liberals betray their hypocrisy”. I guess I should give Harper’s strategist a medal for the most irony every packed into one sentence. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so goddamned depressing.

The rest of the ad is a handful of (non)stories about liberal MPs who have fundraising links on their parliamentary webpages. Somehow that fails to upset me very much. I’m certainly far less concerned about it than I am about criminal behaviour on the part of cabinet ministers. Check out this link for more things that concern me more than MPs who fund-raise on their parliamentary websites.

Stephen Harper clearly thinks that Canadians are idiots. I really hope we can prove him wrong come election time.