#30 – Shouldn’t attack ads attack something?

Now Bob Hepburn at the Toronto Star is giving unsolicited advice to to Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff. In an oped column today (Sept. 10), Hepburn tells Ignatieff how to overcome the Conservative “just visiting” advertising. That would be helpful if Hepburn did not misunderstand the effect of the advertising: to-date, there is no reason to think that the money spent on this is harming the Liberals.

If the advertisement is designed to show Ignatieff as some kind of elitist, it fails. The Conservatives did not make that point. Canadians are very proud of fellow citizens who achieve recognition for themselves and their country outside of Canada. To suggest that they are jealous of this success is an insult to Canadians.

In hopes of something more effective, the Conservatives have leaked their intent to add attack ads that tell Canadians about the Ignatieff ‘villa’ in France. Michael should have a good laugh if they do. The summer place that his father purchased in Les Martins, Provence many years ago pales in grandeur and financial appreciation beside many similar retreats in Muskoka. It was an astute buy for a diplomat who travelled so regularly around the world. Others in his family will have to make decisions about the future of the place. Michael has an election to win.

Hepburn makes much of Ignatieff having to cancel a planned trip to China in early September. This cancelation is regrettable but is obviously because of the heavy workload in getting ready for Parliament to meet. The Conservatives failed to deal honestly and openly with the task force on Employment Insurance since June and that was the last opportunity that could be afforded a lacklustre Tory administration. What Prime Minister Harper does not seem to understand is that issues at home come first.

What Mr. Harper’s brain trust also fail to appreciate is that there is no fairness or truth in attack ads that are cut and paste from many different situations. They should realize how ridiculous Mr. Harper could appear if the Liberals decided to fight fire with fire using the same technique.

The one thing Ignatieff is not going to do if we are into an election in the next few weeks is to let Harper’s people define him. This time, the Liberals are on the attack and they smell blood.

Under Harper’s Tories, Canada continues to lose manufacturing jobs that can never be recovered. We have lost the lead in serious areas of communications technology that we might never recover. We are continuing to bleed jobs. Fixing Employment Insurance is a stop-gap to help people. Building Canada’s future is the challenge.

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