Thursday, October 23, 2008

Turning Off A Nation

Although somewhat effective, the Conservatives unprecedented GUTBALL attack ad regime is responsible for historical low voter turnout. Congratulations Prime Minister, the path to victory, that turned off a nation:
Officials from Angus Reid Strategies on Thursday revealed polling results to The Vancouver Sun that showed the ubiquitous roll-of-the-dice TV ads that targeted Liberal leader Stephane Dion as a flip-flopping advocate of a carbon tax persuaded 11 per cent of Canadian respondents not to vote for any candidate at all.

The roll-of-the-dice attack ad -- as well as a series of anti-Dion TV spots that aired soon after the Quebec MP was elected party leader in December, 2006 -- were key to producing the lowest voter turnout in Canadian electoral history, pollsters Andrew Grenville and Mario Canseco said in an interview...

“poisoning the well”...

The most common words those surveyed associated with the roll-the-dice TV ad were “disgust,” “lies” “unethical” and “unCanadian.”

Whiny Stephane had a point:
Grenville said Dion was absolutely right on Monday when, in announcing he would step down as Liberal leader, he remarked that he’d been backed into a corner by being targeted by more than a year of vicious TV ads.

The Conservative ads typically portrayed Dion as bumbling and ineffective, repeatedly showing an image of the party leader shrugging his shoulders.

“It’s up to the people of Canada to say they’re sick of this,” Grenville said, “to say they’re sick of being misled and lied to and having politics driven down into the mud.”

The ads did convince some of those that bothered to vote to change their preference, which is clearly the only thing that matters to Conservatives. That said, the above provides some validation that this government is the LOWEST of the LOW, in terms of ethical conduct, moral integrity and capacity to inspire. You've made the once dirty Liberals, look like the Glad Man.


Brammer said...

So true. Harper and the cons have really lowered the bar. There is a direct linkage between their attack ads and low voter turn out.

Goldenhawk said...

Vote suppression: the hallmark of conservative electoral strategy everywhere. How soon before they start to import the tactics we see the Republicans using in their last-ditch efforts to turn the Obama tidal wave away?

Steve V said...

And, to the Con apologists, who like to point out past Lib discretions, remember how PIUS the noble crusaders turned out WORSE.

Constant Vigilance said...

Good catch. Very well done. It is quite exciting that their strategy is exposed for what it is. It also means that things in Liberal-land aren't quite as bad as they might on the surface appear to be.

Dame said...

I always thought those anti-Dion ads somewhat reached so bad level they should have been Challanged in Court as baseless Defamation personal attacks .. as they were ..
I am not versed in the details of law But I think they were somehow like assasinations.....
And it was OKed by all the media ...

Anonymous said...

I once heard that ads on TV can get people to buy stuff that they really do not need.

TV is evil.

burlivespipe said...

Add the bait and switch changes to Elections Canada voter rules, which were to address that scourge of women who wear face covering while voting (terror!) but proved to be just as adept at stopping students, seniors and new arrivals (including all those easterners who migrated to Alberta and BC for work)... Yes, the majority in the house supported many of those voting changes and were punished to some extent for that shortsightedness.
Harper however demonstrated his lowness when attacking recently elected governments, calling his opponents 'Taliban sympathizers', suggesting his rivals 'were cheering for a recession', ad infinitum.
Wear it well, Conbots. You have become and exceeded anything that you saw in the grand ol' Liberal party.

Anonymous said...

Turn about is fair play.

Get out there and register people.

I worked on a campaign in an place that has NO shelters, yet the rules state that a shelter can fill out a form for those homeless but identified Canadians. In fact, I think any province that issues a cheque or food chit to a homeless Canadian person (which they only do upon some sort of ID and checking) be required to issue a form saying so-and-so from no-fixed-address has/is living in whereever and as such fulfills the requirements to vote.

On the other hand, will giving these least advantaged a say simply result in a cutting off of any hope to them?

I'd hate to see people singled out this way. Catch 22.

Anonymous said...

dame, I agree.

When I read that Stephen Harper had filed a lawsuit claiming his personality was stolen I knew I had likely ingested some strange substance from my Safeway or Subway sandwich.

I recovered, thankfully, and may those who did not rest in peace. Though cold cuts are off my list of foods fit for human, or frankly, any consumption, no matter how much cleaning and sanitizing Harper and Clement errr Ritz.... and that selfless/self-immolating Maple Leaf CEO who claims responsibility, say so.

However, however will Stephen Harper recover his personality? Will Harper prevail in his case to get back his personality?

Perhaps a bought and paid for judge, cuz we all know that the judiciary is for sale and they are all liberal-minded if not worse...

If Harper is willing to cost Canada $300 million for his ego-rush, what will the ego-maniac charge to get his personality back?

Will it ever be found? How much is Harper's personality worth? Is it worth more stolen than extant? Did anyone miss it?

So many questions. All Harper has to do is get the governance of the country started again, as in show up in the House of Commons, and the sooner the search can be on for Harper's personality.

Or a quiet settlement out of court.

Either way, time to get this 2008 show on the road!

penlan said...

If it was in reverse, the Libs doing those type of negative ad attacks on Harper, he'd have them in court in the blink of an eye. The courts are Harper's favourite way of dealing with anything anti-him or anti his agendas. Apparently he is the only PM in history who has filed so many lawsuits.

catherine said...

The Vancouver Sun, which is now running this story as a regular news article too, is the only media to pick up on this story. I think people should think about this so I would hope it would get more media attention.

The Vancouver Sun news article specifically shows an attack Dion ad in Quebec. Although the article didn't report on provincial breakdowns, I find it interesting that the Conservatives did not pick up significant numbers of new voters in Quebec. Perhaps the reality of Harper and Dion overrode the attack ads or Quebec is so used to harsh ads that their effect is lessened?

Mala Fides said...

And Harper had the nerve to stand before Canadians the day after the election and say how concerned he was about the low voter turnout!!!!

This just adds insult to the injury on our democracy that Harper inflicted with his campaign that was solely directed at voter suppression.

What's ironic is that by adopting a Republican-style American campaign, Harper has damaged our democratic system.

Chalk one up for the right-wing extremists.

olaf said...


What is a gutball?

catherine said...

Speaking of polls, what about this one (reported in the Globe and Mail; the sentence about phrasing the question is sarcastic and refers to Harper's attack ads.)

Interesting, then, to learn from a recent opinion poll first reported in The Tyee that Canadians actually support the idea of revenue-neutral carbon taxes. They just need to be asked the right question.

Earlier this month, McAllister Opinion Research asked nearly 2,000 Canadians what they thought of a tax shift that involved "cutting income taxes and increasing taxes on pollution." Two-thirds said they thought it was a good idea. Sadly, no one phrases the question like that on the hustings. In politics, perception is everything.

Anonymous said...

Give me a break, did you WATCH any of the Liberal ads, or listen to any of the Liberal MPs for the last 3 years? Good God, its like the Liberals are incapable of engaging in public policy debate without mentioning George Bush, Brian Mulroney or hidden agendas. Lame.

The Conservative ads hit hard, but they made valid points about Dion and the Liberals. Agnus Reid is full of it.

Ron said...

When it comes to negativity, nobody beats Liberls. From the day Harper was chosen leader of the party, Liberals launched their scary Harper, hidden-agenda Harper, bully Harper, dictator Harper attacks. Dion spent more time calling Harper a liar than he spent answering questions about his policies. Watch any interview with a Liberal and you will see the hatefilled Harper bashing in full attack mode. No matter what the question is, they always insert an insult. You can close your eyes and pretend negativity is all one sided but if you ever want to get back into power you need to open your eyes, realise Canadians see you for the petty, hypocritical party you have become. Only 26 percent of those who voted chose Liberals. To blame this on a few Harper ads without looking in a mirror is simply sad.

Gayle said...


Dion called Harper a liar because he lied, over and over again, during this campaign.

If you do not like it, tell him to stop lying.

Anonymous said...

Hey Steve,

Off-topic but no one today seems to be talking about the ever-mounting deficit projections (at least those blogs that allow comments).

I just had to love the apologist article in the Vancouver Sun today, already painting the idea that conservatives couldn't possibly be harmed politically by leading the nation into deficits again. Here is the link:

I particularly love the last quote in the article from a TD Canada exec:

TD Bank's Drummond said the anti-deficit mantra had been harmful.

"I think it's made for worse policy in both senses -- it made people similarly allergic to have surpluses, so governments ran really a mindless fiscal policy where whatever revenues come in the front door, they made sure all of it got blown ... out the back door," he said.

So, essentially, he condemns any policy direction of the past dozen years as "mindless" and claims "anti-deficit" opinions are harmful because they make people question surpluses as well. Umm, yeah, that's a nice stretch.

Isn't that sort of like saying efforts against drunk driving are harmful because they create a bias against drinking too little as well, and might even encourage people to drink all the alcohol they have in the house?

The contortions with which "experts" will go to justify their political leanings is truly hilarious sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Gayle but Ron is closer to the mark than you are.

It's a two way door. Harper was just using Dion's recent words back at him. And please, don't pretend that the carbon tax was revenue neutral. For whom? By when? On which computer? It couldn't be revenue neutral. It didn't take Harper saying it to get everybody to know it. So, Dion was a liar. But Harper didn't repeat it ad nauseum like some little kid.

The LPC has been poisoning the well for years and continues to do so.


Möbius said...

4 September 1984 75.3
21 November 1988 75.3
25 October 1993 69.64
2 June 1997 67.0
27 November 2000 61.25
28 June 2004 60.9
23 January 2006 64.7

Election date vs. % turnout. See a trend?

Interesting that when Mulroney was roundly rejected by all, including conservative voters, the turnout was less then the previous election.

Only Martin managed to "engage" the public more, in the years since. Seems like the LPC has driven the voting % down each year since '93.

Yeah, it's all the fault of the CPC.

Steve V said...

Anyone who doesn't think this is the most negative party manifestation in history is CLUELESS.

Gayle said...

Tomm - you cannot claim a lie just because you do not believe something to be true.

The entire plan was completely costed out and was demonstrated to be revenue neutral.

Harper countered with lies, not facts, lies.

The fact you believe the lies does not make them true.

Try again.

Steve V said...


Yes, having the AUDITOR GENERAL verify makes it a LIE. The sad part, people have bought into the Harper LIE, it was revenue neutral, it had a mechanism to assure it as such, period, fini, not up for discussion. The only way it's a LIE, is if you believe the Auditor General is a Liberal stooge. Good luck with that one.

Anonymous said...

Steve & Gayle,

You insist on hanging on to that one available thread that the Auditor General would ensure that the tax is revenue neutral.

OK fine.

Would it have been revenue neutral for YOU? No. For me? NO. If you drink the kool-aid, you would tell me that it would have been revenue neutral on the national accounting computer at 2400h on March 31st of each year (or some such date and time). Perhaps not a "lie" but certainly Dion wasn't entirely upfront with the people. I believe he told us that it wouldn't cost ME any more money, I just had to got to the website to see my tax saving offsets. Remember the maxim that all politics is personal and all politics is local.

But let's walk away from this little "thread" for a second and discuss the social justice aspects of the platform. How was that going to happen? War on Poverty? Pardon the pun, but fighting poverty isn't cheap. Specifics would have been nice. Child care? How much? for how many? and where? Once again child care is not cheap. And the missing $12B. I can swallow some Liberal thoughts that they will "find" some of it. But $12 Billion? Please don't be surprised if the rest of us are just a wee bit sceptical. You're going to have to look in a lot of government couches to find that kind of scratch collecting dust and being frittered away. I believe its roughly $1000 for every taxpayer. Is my government pissing that much away every year? Good to know the Liberals are on top of this file.

And this business of it being costed. Just don't go there. I read the Liberal Green Shift Program Plan and it was full of rhetoric and very short on any details. The budget tables were totally disengaged from the program elements.

If the Tax Neutrality wasn't a lie, than it should have shown us why not. And if the Liberals could have shown us, they should then have explained of all the other program elements that were in their little bag of goodies and which ones were going to be thrown off the truck if the money wasn't there.

Dion did lie to Canadian's about the Green Shift, its costs, and the Liberal platform and its costs. Period.

Further, his $70B infrastructure program not being in his platform document since it wouldn't even start for four years was another little slight of hand.

Dion misled Canadian's over and over again and instead of coming clean, tried to throw it back on Harper and the CPC.

The corollary is that the CPC ads clearly mis-represented the Liberal position as well. They continued to hammer at Dion's inconsistent statements even after he had updated and clarified them. The CPC shouldn't have done that.

There was lots of mis-information to go around. The most grievous was probably the claptrap pumped by the NDP.


Gayle said...

Tomm - I am not relying on the Auditor General. I am relying on the Green Shift plan that was on the website - you know, the one where they said "here are the revenues", and "here is where we give it all back".

They never said it would be revenue neutral to each individual, only that every cent they took in would come back as tax cuts.

The fact they would make it law and give the AG oversight was simply icing on the cake.

Once again, your argument comes down to "I don't believe Dion", which is not an argument at all.

Besides, Harper lied about a lot more than that. He also claimed it was a tax, instead of a tax shift (never once admitting it included tax cuts). He claimed Dion said he would raise the GST, when he never said that, and he claimed Dion would take back the child tax credit, when the LPC plan was to increase it.

Steve V said...

"You insist on hanging on to that one available thread that the Auditor General would ensure that the tax is revenue neutral."

Hanging on?? It's the only thing that matters, in terms of believability. You're just glossing over the central point, because you've bought into the Harper lies. It's really silly, bottomline the plan has verifiability. I don't really see the need to argue beyond that. Period. Your presentation makes you a liar, or the AG will be a liar, pretty much it.

Demosthenes said...

What was striking about this is not that there were attack ads. Those are common enough these days.

It's that the Tories felt it necessary to start the attacks almost as soon as the Liberals found their leader, and never let up. That's their innovation: a party in Republican-style permanent attack mode.

Something the Liberals will have to remember.

(Also, shorter "tomm": "obviously it isn't revenue-neutral for me. I enjoy belching carbon, why should I have to pay for it? To hell with those who actually try to reduce their footprint!")

Möbius said...

It's that the Tories felt it necessary to start the attacks almost as soon as the Liberals found their leader, and never let up. That's their innovation: a party in Republican-style permanent attack mode.

When you lose two elections due to Liberal attack ads, if you're smart, you begin to fight back. Yep, the Libs invented Replican-style attack ads in Canada. In our streets.