Attack Ad Roundup

Posted on March 29, 2011


I think we all saw this coming, but that doesn’t make it any less overwhelming. The Conservatives have responded to the fall of their government with a veritable avalanche of bullshit that will stream out of everybody’s television for the next month and a bit. I apologize if I just summoned the image of an avalanche of shit spewing out of your television, but to be perfectly honest such a disgusting image is a welcome relief from the content of some of these ads. There are a lot of them, so it will be difficult for me to go into much depth on each one. Luckily, as a teaching assistant I am well-versed in appraising things in bulk, so I will be giving each ad a score. Each ad will be graded out of ten on ignorance, vaguery, and offense.

Ignorance: 1/10

Vagueness: 10/10

Offense: 0/10

Comments: You know the old saying about how if you don’t have anything good to say then you shouldn’t say anything at all? The Conservatives must have taken that to heart, because this ad is thirty seconds of absolutely nothing. There is no policy put forward, no mention of the opposition parties, and no acknowledgement that there is even an election campaign going on. If the pictures and voice were changed, then this ad could be used equally well by any other party, in any other country. I guess this is what happens when the Tories try to go positive: Take away all the fearmongering, spite, and general wharrgarbl and the party really doesn’t have anything left to offer besides a vague sense of patriotism.


Ignorance: 8/10

Vagueness: 5/10

Offense: 11/10

Comments: I’m stunned. I knew that the Conservatives were xenophobes, but I never thought that they would be so up-front about it. In case you didn’t recognize the photo, the boat pictured is the MV Sun Sea, which arrived from Sri Lanka this summer, carrying 443 refugees. The Conservative response was not only to lock them all up, but to table legislation that would make it easier to imprison future migrants, because apparently now desperate refugees trying to save their families from a war zone are “taking advantage of our generosity”. Also, terrorists, having decided to go low-tech, now arrive in the target countries by the hundreds in large boats. To treat these people like criminals because they’re trying to save their families from a war zone is moral bankruptcy, and to proudly boast about it during an election campaign is self-righteous moral bankruptcy. The Conservatives aren’t tough on crime or border security; they’re just weak on humanity.


Ignorance: 5/10

Vagueness: 6/10

Offense: 3/10

Comments: I will acknowledge that there may be times in which tax increases are reckless. This is not one of those times. Stephen Harper’s corporate tax cuts have already cost billions of dollars that could have otherwise been used to relieve student debt, build sustainable infrastructure, or pay down the deficit. There is no good evidence that corporate tax cuts do anything useful to stimulate the economy. To make up the deficit, therefore, corporate tax rates should absolutely be increased back to what they were. This ad plays to the electorate’s immaturity.


They’ve switched format for the next one for some reason. It’s no longer a youtube video. Maybe they don’t want pesky liberal bloggers embedding their attack ads anymore. Anyway, you can find it here.

Ignorance: 6/10

Vagueness: 8/10

Offense: 7/10

Comments: This is mostly a rehashing of ideas found in the Ignatieff’s Election website, which I already dealt with. This ad fails for self-plagiarism.


Ignorance: 8/10

Vagueness: 7/10

Offense: 9/10

Comments: The trifecta! This ad succeeds in trumpeting the Conservatives’ irrational hatred of refugees while simultaneously parroting tired old bullshit about the economy and offering no information on policy other than a few vague stock footage shots of happy families and Harper in a construction hat. It’s like the attack ad writers ran out of ideas, so they instead wrote a clip show to showcase all the bullshit presented in previously aired ads.


Ignorance: 1/10

Vagueness: 7/10

Offensiveness: 3/10

Comments: Notice how the reference for each of the quotes is really small font, and is only displayed for a few seconds? That’s because whoever made this ad doesn’t want you to know that they are all at least two years old, and one of them wasn’t even said by Ignatieff. If out of date quotations are admissable in this discussion, then perhaps we should consider Stephen Harper’s 1996 speech in which he said that

“Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it. Canadians make no connection between the fact that they are a Northern European welfare state and the fact that we have very low economic growth, a standard of living substantially lower than yours, a massive brain drain of young professionals to your country, and double the unemployment rate of the United States.”

This ad is just one more effort to distract the electorate from Stephen Harper’s record. I really hope it doesn’t work.

I have a challenge for the Conservative campaign staff: Give us one policy point. Just one thing that Stephen Harper plans to do if he is once again elected to the office of Prime Minister. Buzz-words about a low tax recovery don’t count. Let’s have a substantive debate about policy, rather than a series of bullshit ads that do little but fan the flames of xenophobia and cynicism.

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