The Vancouver Sun May 28, 2009 9:00 PM
A two-week old Conservative advertising campaign that attacks Liberal Leader Michael is flopping, for a bunch of reasons.
Flopping? Judging by the way the Liberals are running around trying to discredit the ads I would say that in itself is proof that they are anything but a flop, but I am not a seasoned unbiased professional such as yourself.
First, the initiative has been undercut by the Harper government's predictably weak political standing in the face of a recession.
"Predictably weak" No bias there Barbara, none at all.
No party in power thrives during an economic crisis, but the Conservatives appear even more challenged than they should be in the midst of the current downturn.
With their credibility in tatters, negative commentary that the Conservatives have been dishing out about "the other guy" rings hollow.
"Tatters" You sure like using these leading adjectives in your writing don't you.
The Ignatieff Liberals have found a particularly vulnerable target in Finance Minister Jim Flaherty who last November projected budget surpluses and even five weeks ago asserted he had a handle on the deficit.
Now, with Flaherty revealing this week that the 2009-2010 deficit will be upwards of $50 billion instead of the anticipated $34 billion, the government looks like it's entirely flustered fiscally.
The Liberals' tag for Flaherty -- "the $50-billion man" -- is far more likely to stick than any mudpies in Conservative ads about Ignatieff being elitist or speaking French with a Parisian rather than a Quebecois accent.
I guess Barbara is not aware that the last budget was fully supported by the Ignatieff and the Liberals and that they have been calling for even more spending which would increase the deficit even more. It's those little nagging details you know.
Second, Ignatieff, in the leadership spot for four months, by now has created an image as a pretty successful leader. Hence, the ads don't ring true.
Indeed, since the former Harvard prof has taken the helm, the Liberals have scooted past Conservatives in the polls.
He has tried to 'create' that image but in reality not so much and so far only the kool-aid drinkers have bought into it. BTW did you look at the latest poll before you wrote this?
He has dissociated the party from the unpopular notion of an opposition coalition, addressed his party's indebtedness and tended to the Grits' fundraising challenges. He's also advancing an appealing policy change in support of more generous Employment Insurance terms.
Just because you write something does not make it true Barb. You may think that Ignatieff has dissociated the Liberals from the coalition, or perhaps you wish it to be true but that monkey is going to be on Iggy's back for some time to come. As for that appealing policy change to EI that you write about, would you be so kind as to please explain to us all how this is not going to add more to that deficit? You right along with the LPC seem to be trying to play it both ways here.
The fact is, Ignatieff is a much better communicator and a more effective partisan than his predecessor, Stephane Dion, who Conservatives were able to successfully portray as a leadership loser.
Well if you say it is a "fact" it must be, because you haven't been wrong yet in this column, but thank you for publicly writing that the Dion ads worked.
Third, the ads portray Ignatieff in a bad light for having travelled and worked abroad for 34 years -- but surely this can be construed as a bonus when you're in line for a job as a national leader.
Surely this came from Liberal talking points the day the ads first aired, but which they later abandoned because it reiterates how long Ignatieff was away from Canada and brings focus onto what he was doing while he was out of the country. Hint: he wasn't working for Canada. Again, if this is such a bonus what is the harm in the ads airing and why are you and the Liberals working so hard to counter these ads?
While Dion opted to ignore Conservative attack ads, Ignatieff is using them to his advantage -- as a launching pad for attacks on the government.
In a YouTube video, he turns the tables on Stephen Harper, accusing the PM of trying to change the channel: "When you're presiding over the worst unemployment in recent times, record bankruptcies and soaring deficits, you'd try to change the channel, too. You'd try to make Michael Ignatieff the issue.
Cheer lead much Barb? Give me an I.....
"But I'm not the issue. Right now Canadians are worried about their jobs ... their pensions."
The Liberal leader cites the Conservatives' criticism of his having lived and worked outside the country and suggests the Harperites are slamming "new Canadians born outside this country" and "Canadians who live and work overseas."
This was day 2 Liberal talking points when they realized that pointing out how long he was gone was not such a great idea but again it, sorry to borrow your word here Barb, flops. The ads are clearly about Ignatieff and Ignatieff alone. It is untrue and purposely divisive spin to claim otherwise and judging by what your hero Iggy says next I would think that the new Liberals would be against that.
He calls for a new kind of politics, characterized by "civility and common purpose." See above.
The Harperites, in deploying the same sort of attacks against the new Liberal leader as the old, were hoping to get results similar to the Dion destruction.
Harperites? Would that make you an Iggyite?
But when tactics are repeated, often the public becomes desensitized and more skeptical.
Kind of like reading you spin Liberal talking points day after day with your column.
Simon Fraser University political scientist John Richards calls the current ad campaign "a dismal portent of how the Tories intend to wage politics in the near term."
I got a quote too. Does it even things up? Political blogger Alberta Ardvark calls the current ads campaign "a brilliant use of the truth by showing Ignatieff's own words and actions to Canadians who might not be fully aware of his past."
For the government's own sake, it had better not be.
The truth is hard to defend against but you and the Liberals are giving it your all trying to do so, and all for the sake of ads that are "backfiring" and show Ignatieff in a positive light.
Additional reading: BC Blue on Yaffe using anonymous website comments in one of her stories.