Attack ads are deplorable. They’re bully tactics. They’re so bad that politicians categorically condemn their usage, but still use them against their own opponents. For years, the Conservative Party of Canada has had a virtual monopoly on attack ads on Canadian television. Before the 2008 federal election, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives defecated on Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion. But now the game is different. The NDP sits alone atop federal polls, and has launched an attack ad of its own.
“Stephen Harper promised to clean up Liberal corruption and mismanagement,” the ad begins, wasting no time attacking the NDP’s Liberal and Conservative adversaries. Then the focus shifts directly to the Tories. The ad mentions 10 Conservative politicians, bureaucrats, or affiliates who have been charged with or convicted of various crimes, then adds dramatically, “1/3 of the Senate under RCMP investigation.” By the time we’re 40 seconds into the ad, the message is crystal clear: if you want to tinker with an election or file inappropriate expense claims, seek advice from these guys. As the ad draws to an end, an annoyed old lady asks “Have you had enough?” She concludes, “It’s time for change in Ottawa.”
It is time for a change in Ottawa. It’s time to stop the mudslinging, lies, and illegal activity. But before we do that, it’s about time someone launched an attack ad against the Conservatives! If you’re the NDP, that’s how you show you’re different: by doing exactly what the Conservatives did, but painting it orange instead of blue (this also includes Government of Canada ads, but that’s another issue for another day).
Lefties across the country are celebrating. And why shouldn’t they? This is the first time in a long time that someone has thrown a punch back at the big bullies who sit on the government benches. It’s a good punch, as far as these things go. Unfortunately, there’s one problem: it’s still a punch. Violence begets violence, and all the NDP has proven is that they are willing to sink to the Conservatives’ level. It’s not like this was a difficult task—Conservative scandals pop up like boners in high school: everywhere, all the time, and never wanted. A fourth grader with a few old newspapers could have made an equally compelling attack ad. In the fourth grader’s defence, this sort of behaviour would be forgivable from a child.