It’s time to ban third-party campaign ads.

Enough is enough. It was revealed last week that an Ontario election attack ad took a blue ribbon in the United States. In a country that invented campaign sleaze, an Ontario campaign ad for a group of unions calling themselves ‘Working Families’ won an Award of Excellence. It is probably just one more good reason that this type of advertising must be stopped.

Unlike that really strange television campaign about kids that had Ontario voters very confused last year, the ‘Working Families’ ads were smart and mean and clearly aimed at defaming the leader of the Ontario Conservatives. The only thing that was wrong with the ads was that they failed to say ‘Vote Liberal’ at the conclusion. They also needed to say, ‘sponsored by the Ontario Liberal Party.’

And if those ads were not for any political party, they should be banned. If the ads are not by a party or candidate, they are then an attempt to interfere with the fairness of the election process.

The television broadcasters should also take some responsibility in this. By no measure does this type of advertising meet any standards of fairness, honesty or truth in advertising. Labor unions cannot hide behind a false name such as ‘Working Families.’ Using a false name is deception. It seeks to deceive the viewer. It is the same as the thief who wears a mask. They are hiding from you. They are hiding from the truth.

The guy who runs the advertising agency that wrote and produced those attack ads was very proud of his work and that award. He should not be. The truth is that attack ads are the easiest to write. That is why politicians like to use them. All you do is take a seed of what people think about someone and plant it in enough muck to grow something bigger. These ads are for the lazy.

The tough ads are the honest ones. They are where you, metaphorically, look the viewer in the eye and tell the truth. It is the type of advertising that has to reach out to the viewer and share a depth of understanding and empathy. The good ads have to be credible, believable, endearing, honest and open. And they do all that in 20, 30 or 60 seconds.

Americans like to use attack ads because they have a two party system. The times when they have a credible third party running, they do not know what to do. If you try to paint a negative image of an opponent in a multi-party campaign, you might have no idea which of the remaining parties will benefit.

If people think the ‘Working Families’ campaign won for Premier McGuinty, they need to give that campaign some further analysis. Tiny Tim went into the October election the easy winner. The polls gave him the election. If he had never opened his mouth during the campaign, he might have won easily.

But he did open his mouth. He was erratic, unreliable, confused and left an inconsistent message. He alienated urban voters and turned new Canadians against him and his party. The only part of the province he won easily was the WASP band across the province that runs from Ottawa to Sarnia. It was the Ontario version of the American Tea Party, the Ontario Landowners’ Association, who won that for him.


Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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