There comes a point where the kick-me fun of mocking Mr. Dion becomes a public confirmation of Conservative mean-spiritedness. The latest attack ad campaign could be the sound of that line being crossed.
But the launch began badly yesterday. At an event to showcase the TV and radio commercials, those boneheaded wizards of Conservative communication banned TV cameras and radio microphones from the room. Head-scratching all round at that call, as angry network crews left Conservative campaign headquarters without the visuals to sell their story at news meetings.
But blasting Stephane Dion's "puppet-on-a-string" leadership as the culprit smacks of cheapshot desperation.
But David Taras, an expert in political communication at the University of Calgary, doubts whether the ads will have much impact on Canadians as they fire up their barbecues for the summer.
"It's not like people go to bed at night thinking about Senate reform," he said. "I get the sense they're barking up the wrong tree."
Even worse, the ads could elicit a backlash from Canadians, who have become accustomed to U.S.-style attack ads, but might recoil from a relentlessly negative strategy, Taras said.
The Conservative party's decision to run TV attack ads across Canada to discredit opposition leader Stephane Dion showed mindless arrogance, a total lack of respect for Parliament and the system we are governed by, and a total lack of respect for Canadians. An election campaign is the only time we should have to endure such shabby behaviour.
Once again, Harper’s political tin ear has failed to signal him. Sometimes lauded for his “go for the jugular” approach, that mentality can also be Harper’s undoing. Admittedly, the first set of ads were effective, but the Tory braintrust can’t seem to understand the idea of diminished returns. Canadians will tolerate, even respond to negative ads, but the sheer volume isn’t attractive.
If the Tories were smart, rolling in disposable cash, they would have launched a positive ad campaign. Speak to the achievements, the direction, flesh out Harper as personable. Those type of ads would be fresh, primarily because we haven’t seen anything positive to date. Attacking Dion, AGAIN, on a fairly pedestrian topic, starts to paint the sender in the bad light, while simultaneously garnering sympathy for the target.
Most of the media have done the collective yawn today, and those that have commented are hardly supportive. I suspect Canadians will react in the same way, with the possibility of blowback.