Stephen Harper and Governor General David Johnson were set to D-D-D-D-D-D-DROP THE WRITS, so what better way to kick off what is be the longest campaign in Canadian history than with a new round of attack advertising? The Conservative Party of Canada released an online attack ad aimed squarely at the NDP. This one is hard-hitting, truthful, and not ironic at all. We know because Stephen Harper approved of it, and he’s the guy who OK’d Pamela Wallin’s Senate expense claims.
Everyone knows about the NDP satellite office scandal. Way back in the summer of 2014 it was the most interesting scandal since whatever happened the week before. The NDP allegedly used money for constituency offices (given to them to spend in ridings in which they have an MP) to fund campaign offices (in ridings where they hope to have an MP). The Board of Internal Economy, dubbed “secretive” by the lamestream media, concluded that the NDP was guilty and should pay back all funds. The problem with the Board is that it is not an impartial legal body, but rather a committee comprised of mostly Liberal and Conservative members who benefit if the NDP looks bad. So, whether the NDP is guilty or innocent, the process was neither fair nor transparent. And the scandal was boring.
This attack ad is similarly boring. The funniest part is the loading screen, which masquerades as if it is calculating how much the NDP owes for its misdeeds rather than simply loading a crappy video. Sadly and amazingly, the video goes downhill from there. An old man’s voice emphasizes the partisan nature of the spending scandal and emphasizes the “m” in “million”, as if somehow single digit millions of dollars even register in federal accounts. The next highlight comes when the narrator uses the word “nefarious.” This may be the first recorded example of the Conservative Party not catering to its base. The old man’s voice whines about the NDP lying then explains, with an image of an airplane flying in the background, that Saskatoon is 5 hours from Edmonton. Did they steal that plane from the antique section at the Canadian Aviation Museum? After complaining about how the NDP wasted $2.7 million in taxpayer money, the narrator asks “is that the kind of change you want the NDP to bring to Ottawa?”
Perhaps the concluding question is supposed to be rhetorical. If it isn’t, it should be, because the answer doesn’t help the Conservative Party’s cause. The NDP improperly spending public money would not bring change to Ottawa. Instead, it would maintain the Harper government status quo. Further, the Conservative Party asking another party to repay improper expenses feels like Saddam Hussein advising an overthrown president not to hide in a hole to avoid his enemies, and the Conservative Party chiding another party for lying feels like Lance Armstrong complaining about how Tom Brady’s deflated football scandal is going to ruin football forever. That’s it. We can skip the analysis of content and style. That’s why it’s a terrible ad.
Regardless of how terrible and offensive the NDP satellite office scandal was, this ad is the wrong message from the wrong messenger, and it’s delivered at the wrong time. And seriously, if we’re analyzing the content and style, the whole ad is orange and it’s so text heavy that there’s no way anyone will be able to pay attention for more than 15 seconds. Chances are it functions more like a pro-NDP ad than anything else.