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article imageOp-Ed: Spin and themes in Canadian political ads

By Ken Hanly     Sep 7, 2015 in Politics
Ottawa - During the federal election campaign we will be bombarded with dozens if not hundreds of advertisements on behalf of the different parties and their leaders.
The ads take on many different themes and moods from the positive to the now common negative attacks on opposition parties and leaders. In this article I have just chosen a few representing each main party.
This is a rather mild Conservative attack ad against Trudeau. No harsh rhetoric. Indeed the lady in the ad even suggests that sometime in the future, past October 19 at the very least, she might consider voting for Trudeau. The ad has a clever play on Trudeau's first name Justin. The conclusion is that he is "just not ready." This theme is carried out in several Conservative ads. The ad makes reference to a Trudeau gaffe in saying that budgets balance themselves and also references his attack on popular conservative policies such as income splitting for families and seniors. While the ad may be clever, how effective it will be is not clear. Perhaps marginal voters will remember the line about the nice hair and in the voting booth will think: Oh yeah, I should vote for Trudeau, he has such nice hair. Or someone who is conservative generally but supports marijuana legalization will remember the snide remark about his being in favour or legalization of marijuana.
This is a short and sour Liberal attack ad against Harper. It is factually based on evidence given at the Mike Duffy trial. Duffy was a Conservative Senator who has been charged with numerous offences related to his Senate duties. Harper's former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, paid off Duffy's expenses of over $90,000 with his own personal check, presumably so Duffy would pay the expenses off and admit he was wrong to claim them. Duffy claims he did nothing wrong. Harper said he knew nothing about the check and the plan. Many people doubt this or believe it was understood he would not be informed so he could deny such knowledge. His present chief of staff, Ray Novack, is supposed to have not known about the check either but as this ad points out. the evidence shows he did. The ad ends with a quote from Trudeau indicating that we Canadians are not such fools as to believe the Prime Minister is telling the truth. Well some loyalists no doubt do believe Harper but even those who don't may not find the fact that a politician lied to them was reason enough not to vote for him! The Duffy trial has been a gold mine for opposition attacks on the Conservatives.
This might be termed the Pollyanna ad model. It accentuates the positive and makes the viewer feel favorable towards Mulcair. Compare this with the image of Mulcair in this Conservative attack ad. Mulcair worked his way up to where he is. The ad emphasizes family values, a theme of all three parties. Mulcair omits that when he served as a cabinet minister he was a member of the Liberal, party not the NDP, but no need to disturb the pleasant flow of events. He talks about seniors and families but the "working class" is now not part of the NDP political lexicon. It is replaced by the "middle class". As with the Liberals and Trudeau, Mulcair also stresses change.
In order to be fair and balanced I have appended ads for the Green Party and an Independent. The Green Party takes advantage of their candidate's popularity as a weather reporter, and the Independent is ready for change and to slay dragons and destroy attacking robots.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Tom Mulcair, Stephen Harper, Justin trudeau, Political ads
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