The latest analysis of the attack ad effectiveness provides pretty clear evidence of a voter backlash. If you look at the numbers more broadly, there is a very compelling thesis behind the stats- Canadians are sick and tired of partisan crap, the party that can present itself as an alternative to status quo nonsense has a tremendously wide audience available.
The survey finds the Conservatives hurt themselves more than they do the Liberals harm, but it also finds the entire standing of political discourse is taking a hit. What this means, these views are just a byproduct of a more general disgust, disinterest and lack of respect for what politicians do. The most cheesy of terms is applicable here, people desperately want "change". With the government more and more representative of all that's wrong with Canadian politics, these ads further evidence, the terrain is ripe for the Liberals to draw a stark contrast. That said, the gamesmanship in June has seriously undercut that effort, people see more of the same coming from our side.
The Liberal party has a legacy with voters, and much of that revolves around a deserved cynicism. There's an unease with the Harper approach, but the alternative doesn't look distinguishable, it's basically a "same shit, different pile" mentality. The only way the Liberals truly set themselves apart is to have a concerted, consistent, overarching theme that presents a genuine "fresh start". A new approach to discourse that looks decidedly different from standard operating procedure. We hear dribs and drabs coming from Ignatieff, but there's no real organized thrust to get the message out, and honestly some of our own actions contradict the potential anyways.
People crave a true statesman, somebody who demonstrates the capacity to rise above, somebody who isn't always looking for an angle. The Liberals have a terrific strategy available, because they can make the case using Harper as a contrast, using HIM as representative of what people reject and in turn presenting Ignatieff in a fresh way. There's a certain cleverness to it all. You're attacking your opponent, their methods and distasteful approach, but by providing something uplifting as the alternative, the "digs" don't look opportunistic.
I think you start with a simple premise- ask Canadians if they are happy with their politicians? Get it out there and ask an audience, put it out at every turn, cement the discussion as part of the landscape. Embrace the general frustration as your own, share the disappointment and try to re-introduce the Liberal Party as something beyond the status quo. Whether that's a credible presentation remains to be seen, but the Liberals have the benefit of a leader that isn't a career politician, isn't part of the old guard- use his "novice" status to advantage. We have the perfect contrast in Harper, this latest finding shows people don't care one lick for his tactics, but until the Liberals aggressively reshape their own image, it's an untapped voter pool.