Monday, April 15, 2013

Liberals' Attack Ad Against Trudeau

The worst attack ad imaginable for Justin Trudeau is one showing how similar he is to previous unsuccessful Liberal Leaders Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff. The Conservatives may not stoop that low, but it appears Liberals will.

Because just as his predecessors never responded soon enough to stop the Conservatives from defining them, Justin Trudeau appears to be doing the exact same thing.

Though the new and quickly released Conservative attack ad against Justin is weak, the live-action one the Liberals are making by having him act just like Dion and Ignatieff and not fight back is pretty damn strong.

In 2007, his first year as Liberal Leader, Stephane Dion wanted to admirably stay positive. When faced with a barrage of negative commercials labeling him "Not a leader", Dion confidently claimed the ads were so misleading they would backfire. They didn't.

After Stephane Dion's defeat, the new Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff boisterously said that he had learned from the Liberal Party's past mistakes and promised that he would combat any attack ads. Yet when Conservatives first began to malign the Harvard academic, claiming he was "Just visiting", Ignatieff waved it off as an American-style attack; saying Canadians wouldn't fall for it. They did.

Years after Michael Ignatieff's loss, Justin Trudeau appears to be following both of his unsuccessful predecessors. For just as Dion promised to stay positive, so has Trudeau. And just as Ignatieff promised to counter the attack ads but then only laughed them off, it appears Trudeau is doing the exact same thing.

For after a new and quickly released attack ad against Justin Trudeau, claiming he's "In over his head," Trudeau sent out an email yesterday oddly similar to one the Liberal Party sent out in 2009. In it Trudeau called the Conservatives "childish" and, in response to the attack ads, asked for donations.

It is possible that like in 2009 those donations, with Trudeau's almost $2 million in campaign funds, won't be used till the next election in 2015, and if so the Liberals will have once again forfeited the much more important opportunity of defining a new Liberal Leader.

With the attacks beginning Liberals can criticize the Conservatives, but it's not the Conservatives they should worry about. A bigger threat is their own party making the same mistakes over and over again and each time acting like it's different.

Trudeau doing the same thing as Dion and Ignatieff is the worst attack ad, and if it happens, it will without a doubt be the most devastating.


the salamander said...

Probably the best way to open the can of worms that 'attack ads' are.. is to identify the authors. After all, any creator, script writer, production company, PR firm should be proud of their 'work'.

So why not identify all persons, parties, production or communications entities, budgets and media buys involved in the negative Harper strategies.. ?

That way, you remove the anonymous aspects which provide cover or wrapping.. and lay bare that they are made by very ordinary opportunists and mercenary or partisan folks that have basic skills in scripting, editing, graphics, narration, stock music and using footage that is often not public domain or used with permission. The footage is often stolen, ie a copyright violation.

Giving some sort of mystical credit to very dull witted and ordinary video production seems oddly counter productive. Its as if the Harper Party hands out smelly fish for inspection, and media say 'yum' and collects staggeringly hefty media buy fees.. and pundits rate or score the offending offering dutifully.

Identify the purveyors of tainted produce.. don't eat it !!

CuJoYYC said...

The Tory attack ads aimed at previous Liberal leaders Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff worked largely because most Canadians knew very little about them when the attacks began. Canadians generally know a lot more about Justin already. That being said, I would still like to see a response. But the response should not take the form of pre pubescent ad hominen ads in the 'style' of the Conservative ads. Instead, they should focus on the financial mess that the Conservatives have created. Hit them right where they think they're strongest: the economy. Remind Canadians that our much-vaunted economist PM told Canadians that Canada would never go into recession under his watch. Hit them on their own claims that they would never run a deficit. Hit them on their debt and deficit. Hit them, as he started with in QP yesterday, on hidden taxes. Then hit then on their own corruption, from Brazeau to Clement and, Robo-calling to the lying to Parliament and Canadians about the true costs associated with the F-35. said...

Salamander, I don't think such a strategy would draw much attention. Canadians may decry attack ads, but they nonetheless are swayed by the negative commercials. And as long as they work, the greatest shame is not who made them but who falls for them. said...

Cujo, I dislike any pretension of justifying inaction, especially since we know that brought down Dion and Ignatieff and the Liberal Party has repeatedly promised it would never happen again.

I do agree fully with your content for aggressive ads and see it as a possible way out of Trudeau's promise to stay positive.

CuJoYYC said...

And speaking of pretension, when someone uses Latin to make a point, they ought to at least spell it the phrase properly.

It should be ad hominem rather than ad hominen.

My bad.

JF said...

Absolutely right. The Liberals cannot afford to make an assumption that the attack ads won't work. I don't think that The Trudeau team needs to respond with a counter attack ad (I think they should do that in 2015 during the election) but they do need to put something out very soon. If the idea is to define your opponent before he defines himself then the Trudeau team should put out an ad designed to do just that... define Justin Trudeau, and counter their claims.

The Tories have tipped their hand... they're going to try and define Justin as "not serious" so the Liberals need to counter that. They need to put out a spot that remains positive while demonstrating the seriousness with which Justin takes his job as future Prime Minister. said...

JF, your advised response would be a good one and probably will be the one chosen by the Liberals if they choose to act. However I'd prefer ads that though didn't directly attack Harper, attacked the conditions resulting from his policies.

JF said...


I don't think they're mutually exclusive. In order for Justin to counter the Tory ads and define himself as serious politician he needs to talk, just broadly since in depth discussion is impossible in a 30 second spot, about an issue (Ex: The struggles of the middle-class) acknowledge those struggles and state your intention to improve them.

If you do that then you're still relying a positive message of change, you counter the tories attempt to define you as something other then what you are, and you implicitly critic PMSH (as the current custodian of the issue you seek to improve). Justin was very clear that he wants a bottom-up approach to the issues and it's going to take time to flesh that out... for now all he needs do is acknowlege the "what" the "how" will come later.

I'll go one further... the ads (I think they should make more then one) should directly and indirectly all address the economy per recent polls it's the one area where PMSH somehow retains an advantage.