01.22.2012 01:00 AM

In today’s Sun: fight back, don’t whine

Here we go!

Last weekend’s Liberal party convention had barely gotten underway, and an attack ad had already been released. Its source: The secretive right-wing lobby group, the National Citizens Coalition, formerly headed by one Stephen Harper.

Everything about the Internet spot was familiar. It had the customary look and feel of political attack ads, targeting the NDP past of interim Liberal leader Bob Rae.

It featured headlines ripped from newspapers, reminding us of Rae’s early ’90s tenure as premier, when Ontario was an economic basket case.
It had blurry footage of a younger Rae, plus a big unflattering photo.

Rae killed jobs, raised taxes on everything and put 100,000 people out of work, the ad claimed. The tag line — “DON’T LET HIM DO IT AGAIN” — was familiar too, and has been used many times on the campaign trail, most recently in some anti-Newt Gingrich campaign bumpf during the Republican presidential nomination race.

32 Comments

  1. Ed says:

    Finally, someone said it.

  2. Caleb G. says:

    You nailed it righton the head Mr. Kinsella. For too long we have sat idle. Unfortunately the PM isn’t everything he thinks himself to be, and it’s a shame no one out there wants to point that out.

  3. Jim Hanna says:

    Damn straight. But a lot of us (including Warren) having been saying this for a long time. After the poopin’ Puffin, we should have been ready for the Iggy ads…but we weren’t.
    We’ve had months to get ready for this one.

    But its long past the time to fight fire with fire.

  4. Brammer says:

    HELL yeah.

  5. Sandy Crawley says:

    The negative messages on Harper were all over this medium leading up to May 2nd. It’s not as if there is any lack of material. What’s missing is the money to take it to the mainstream, and the will to stoop as low as the cynics who purvey this perversion of public discourse.

  6. james Smith says:

    Damn Skippy! Seems to me I made a donation to do just that! Seems the brain trust around Bob knows this so WTF is the rapid reply?

  7. Barry Barclay says:

    No reasonable person enjoys throwing the gloves off but it’s part of the game. It’s time to fight back -within the rules but fight to win.

  8. Bob says:

    Yes. The Libs should do media stunts with door knobs, hire horse and buggies and call for an election. Oh, wait…

  9. Brad Young says:

    Steven Harpers financial record speaks for itself. I don’t recall anyone pointing that out during the election or debates. It’s a fact that he has put the country into a huge deficit, he can’t deny it.

    What is worse he was all over Dion when Dion said he might have to create a deficit if he were elected.

    And if someone were able to find out how all that money was spent, aside from Tony Clements riding, there would be all sorts of ammunition for anti-Conservative attack ads. It seems the only way anyone will topple Harper is play dirty like he does.

    • Bil says:

      The liberals and NDP forced the minority conservatives to spend like the “left”. The economy hasn’t been this bad since the 30’s, so I don’t think any liberal attack ad will change the underlying truth. Now with the majority, I think we will see a try “conservative” budget, I’m hoping for huge cutes in the public service and fundamental changes to the pensions. Harpers in control and I hope he takes us down a road where programs and spending is cut.

      • Michael Radan says:

        How exacty did the Liberals and NDP “force” the Conservatives to spend money?

        Last time I checked the Conservatives were the government of the day. If they were so opposed to spending and thought it was the wrong course of action, they could have aced the House, refused to spend and been defeated.

        But I guess what you are trying to tell us is that to Conservatives power is more important than principles.

        • Bil says:

          Another election would have been a waste of money at that point in time. Harper played his hand perfectly. He now has the power to make real lasting change. He has time (2015) to do as much good as possible. Priority to the economy (raise taxes, cut spending), increase focus/investment on the military and crime are on my wish list. He campaigned on these issues. It difficult to attack a government that is doing exactly what it said it would do. Good luck with the attack ads:)

  10. Steve T says:

    Another thing the Liberals ought to be doing right now is aggressively fundraising. Parties in opposition can more effectively fundraise, because they can leverage the idea that more money may help unseat (or at least influence) the governing party. As a conservative, I can tell you that I gave far more money to the party when they were in opposition and minority status than I have since they were elected to a majority.

    Heck, the Libs could even show the NCC ad to their members, and say “Here’s what we need your money to fight against.”

    • frmr disgruntled Con now happy Lib says:

      The Liberal party is indeed aggressively fundrasing…..the party raised a million bucks in 12 days over Christmas, as any Liberal party member will attest, and the past year of 2011 has been the greatest for fundraising from the general public ever….There were many a member who whinged about receiving twelve email solicitations from various and sundry Liberal bigwigs over Christmas….but if we want to compete with the Harper cabal….until we have our sustaining donor(Victory Club) membership up, there will continue to be more appeals such as the one over Christmas….
      As Bob Rae said in his closing remarks to the delegates at the recent convention: “go forth and multiply”…….

  11. Riaz Khan says:

    I agree. I saw Rae on Strambo and he said the same thing. In fact, to me, he looked feisty and ready to Rumble with Mr. Harper. I have said it before: Mr. Harper is beatable with the right strategy and attack. People should be reminded. As some one who spends his time with numbers and financial world, I can tell you Mr. Harper’s record on finances is not that great. He knows that, too. Going to China to sell Oil is the core of Mr. Harper’s strategy. 2015 is not that far.

  12. dave says:

    One thing that pops up from time to time is mention of Harper’s ‘just-a – nice-guy’ sweater. It is a joke that has hung on.
    When these characters were first elected (with a little help from RCMP upper echelons), not a cabinet minister of Conservative backbencher could sit down inthe House of Comons without spouting the obligatory paean to the fabulaous Prime Minister. It reminded me of our own propaganda cartoons of the 1950’s making fun of Stalinism by always having in the background a picture of a fellow with a big bushy moustache and a medal saying #1 Hero. Clips of these paeans run together, along with name changes to Harper Government might be funny , and make a point.
    Also the various examples of bureaucratic secrecy that keep piling up might be funny and pointed if presented as a bunch of paranoid gnomes trying ot manipulate the rest of us.
    Seems to me that making pointed fun of this stalinist clutch politcal careerists would be one approach that would ease the criticism of negative advertising. There is lots of material of their contradictions that is available.

  13. Mark says:

    Question for you, Warren, respectfully. Do you think it’s possible that your anti-Rae musings on this site and in the mainstream media might possibly contribute to this attack ad mentality and, worse, onslaught if Rae actually decides to seek the permanent leadership? Just wondering.

    Mark (from the left coast)

  14. Self-confessed Raelian says:

    Sage advice to Mr. Rae……I hope he and the party take it…….

  15. AP says:

    “Make your own attack ads, fast, and make ’em nastier.” Damn right!

    I think the “Chicago way” as explained by Malone (Sean Connery) in The Untouchables is instructive:

    Malone: You said you wanted to get Capone. Do you really wanna get him? You see what I’m saying is, what are you prepared to do?

    Ness: Anything within the law.

    Malone: And *then* what are you prepared to do? If you open the can on these worms you must be prepared to go all the way. Because they’re not gonna give up the fight, until one of you is dead.

    Ness: I want to get Capone! I don’t know how to do it.

    Malone: You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. *That’s* the *Chicago* way! And that’s how you get Capone. Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that? I’m offering you a deal. Do you want this deal?

  16. Dan says:

    Bob Rae’s story is a complete known. His polling floor is known. His polling ceiling is unknown… but for a guy who bankrupted Ontario, he seems to be helping the party where the people knew him best.

    Most of the other Liberal candidates are unknowns. Which means a potentially higher ceiling, but in all likelihood, a much lower floor.

    Add to that the fact that Steven Harper is basically “known” to Canada, and Liberals failed to pin his far-right Reformatory quotes on him.

    So I’m surprised that most Liberals are so short-sighted as to think Rae would be your worst candidate, when he seems like your best shot at holding Ontario and expanding outside it.

  17. Greetings From BC says:

    Good advice, of course, but easier said than done. I see two problems, lack of money and lack of competence.

    Here’s a great example: Christy Clark, who up until about 20 minutes ago was a hardcore federal Liberal and surrounded by a hardcore federal Liberal team, released some negative ads on both John Cummins and Adrian Dix. The ads were of such embarrassingly poor quality that they angered some of her own party members. The media began to speculate if she would last as leader for the next election. She had the money, she did not have the competence, and I’m sorry, but the “competence gap” between the fed Conservatives and the rest of the parties is more vast than Christy’s ample cleavage (We’re all liberal here; can I say that? Cool.) Christy did the only thing she could do if she wants to win the next election: airlift Harper Conservative operatives with a proven record of competence into her circle. She’ll be OK now.

    As Nick Kouvalis – another conservative with a record of extreme competence – likes to say, the NDP couldn’t organize a hundred ants with a pot of honey, and I’m not sure the Liberals today rank any better. Fundamentally, Conservatives value merit and excellence, while Libs/NDP value equality and sharing and diversity and consulting and consensus and all that stuff. The results are not hard to predict.

    A negative ad is essentially a criticism, a holding to account, and we tend to encourage critical thought and accountability in healthy, open, democratic societies. The only reason the NDP and Liberals opposed negative ads is because they didn’t have two loonies to rub together. Now the Libs have a bit of cash, I’m told, but I doubt they have the competence, and in any case have reverted to knee-jerk calls for censorship as a response (highly illiberal), which may bite them in the glutes. Their pollsters advise them publicly to start a culture war – sheer genius, at a time when the economy and jobs are by far the most important issues to voters – and they wonder why they keep losing. The fail is systemic.

    • Jason King says:

      “As Nick Kouvalis – another conservative with a record of extreme competence”

      Well except for the disastrous campaign he ran for Suzanne Anton but lets not let facts get into the way of your argument.

  18. Tiger says:

    Good advice in the column. May fall on deaf ears.

    But of course the best response to one side’s ad campaign is an ad campaign of one’s own. And of course the best defence is a good offence.

    It’s odd seeing people forget this.

    People on my side, too — if I had a dime for every whine about Working Families’ ads I’ve heard from provincial Tories…

  19. Michael Bussiere says:

    Best part is the NCC is the ONLY thing Harper ever ran outside of skulking around Ottawa since he was 28. I recall when he ran the NCC it was a 3-person operation. Quite a big leap from a tiny org whose main job is to bitch about taxes, to Leader of the Opposition, to PM.

    There has been far too much falsehood built up around his man. Mr. Unite the Right champion was also the guy who busted it up in the first place. Just ask Mulroney.
    Why in god’s name are we all so afraid of him?!?

  20. Reader says:

    Terrible advice. I’m open to correction of course, but according to my recollection, there was one big difference in those early years: the party in power wasn’t actively trying to kick the smaller, more vulnerable party in the teeth at every turn. Essing TFU for a couple of years would be just what you would like, I’m sure, so that your guys and their 3rd party buds can stamp the life out of them once and for all.

    If the two situations were truly analogous – if the playing field were truly the same for the Liberals today as it was for Harper ten years ago – we would have seen Harper get into power in 2006, despite the fact that JC’s Liberals had slammed Harper with attack ads on day after he won the leadership, regardless of the fact that it was outside any election period, perhaps calling him a traitor and separatist for his role in the Firewall Manifesto. As you know, that did not happen – instead, they were focussing their energy on running the country.

  21. kingston says:

    Serious question my friends, I would totally agree with WK if Bob Rae was the leader not the interm leader, so lets pretend your the guy in charge, would you defend the interm leader with limit funds. If Bob Rae is going to run for the leadership, I might consider it, if he is not, let the other guys waste their money and target someone who will not be on the bridge when it matters. What does everyone else think?

    • pomojen says:

      If the idea is to hit hard back, maybe it doesn’t matter…you can still take effective campaign style swipes at Harper while Rae is at the helm without accepting him as permanent leader….I think?
      This is a good question.

    • Philip says:

      But why not get in the habit of bringing up ongoing Conservative disasters regardless of the status of the party leader?

      Take Mr. Clement (please!) and his $50,000,000 Muskoka Outhouse Fund. New evidence is coming out all the time which contradicts Mr. Clement’s previous statements, some made before Parliament. If we Liberals can’t present a compelling case to the Canadian people about the fiscally incompetent and possibly corrupt Conservative Party from this, we should pack it in. Let’s take any opportunity to move off defense.

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