Beat ‘em, join ‘em

OctoberIn working on my book I found the research from numerous experts on public opinion.  Attack ads work by driving down voter turn-out.  Attack ads discourage people from showing up to vote. So, by definition, attack ads are anti-democratic.

NovemberIn order to have open, fair and participatory election campaigns, Canada should ban the use of television for political advertising before and during the writ periods.

JanuaryAttack ads are anti-democratic and anti-Canadian. So what are we to make of a Prime Minister who resorts to using the nastiest of slurs when the House is in recess, there is no election and there is work to be done?

MarchGreen Party Leader Elizabeth May has repeatedly lamented political attack ads. But, with their apparent effectiveness being repeatedly demonstrated by the federal Conservatives, the Green Party says it “has no option” but to release attack ads of its own to get its message across. The new attack, in English and French, will be released by Ms. May at a news conference Monday on Parliament Hill.




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Beat ‘em, join ‘em

  1. The Green Party attack ads are likely to be internet-only, and are therefore unlikely to be seen by more than a few thousand people (perhaps tens of thousands if the Greens are lucky).

    Has Elizabeth May sold her soul that cheaply?

  2. You're probably right but keep in mind that Charlie Sheen's twitter feed is internet-only too.

    Justin Beiber's media exposure was "internet only" at one point too, and he had even less PR support behind him than May does.

    Again though, don't get me wrong, you're probably right.

  3. Adds to the pollution on TV … shame.

  4. I'm wondering if this is some kind of meta attack ad that attacks attack ads. Which could be pretty funny.

  5. She doesn't need 'attack ads'….just ads.

    People have no idea what she stands for beyond 'green'…..and mostly everyone simply forgets she's around.

  6. In theory, the Greens could produce an attack ad so amazing that it would take off and go viral, but needless to say this is highly unlikely.

    Canadian political ads don't tend to draw much attention online. The YouTube view counts for recent Conservative and Liberal ads attest to this.

  7. I'm willing to bet they will pale in comparison to Harper's.

  8. So, does the Green in the party name mean "with envy"?

  9. No, it means inexperienced – as in never been elected. In Canada, anyway.

  10. hahahahahahaha – too funny – so where is the news – another political party displays it's particular spin on hypocrisy for one and all – welcome to democracy folks … one thing UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should we allow any politician in canada a seat at the debates unless they have a seat in the HOUSE FIRST !!! – her presence last debate actually helped us Conservatives so on second though maybe we should have her there = hahahahahah !

  11. Have you taken your meds today?

  12. She'd have gotten more attention by artfully donning a flesh coloured body suit and long wig, and staging a Lady Godiva press conference on horseback outside of Parliament.
    The pictures would provide the big headline, and she could provide the back story on why she resorted to such a public spectacle.

    As CR pointed out, the attack ads are akin to selling her soul mighty cheap. May as well do it with a flourish, grab the headlines and make a point all at the same time. Don't play the Harper game; shake things up instead

  13. Attack ads work, but they can have unintended consequences. The "Angry Actor" ads the NDP used in the opening salvos of the 1993 election were very effective in reminding people of why they hated the Tories (who had been riding a boomlet under Kim Campbell). Unfortunately for the NDP all those angry voters voted for parties other than the NDP, specifically, for those who had the best chance of defeating their local Tory MP – the Reform Party in the West and the Grits in Ontario and Atlantic Canada (I assume the ad wasn't run in Quebec, but would likely have had the same effect). Given the Green Party's recent invisibility, any ad campaign they run will probably have the same effect.

  14. When I see a post that looks like it was typed by an animal rolling back and forth on the keyboard, I usually just skip it.

    Makes life:
    - easier
    - less depressing

  15. I'm afraid that's old hat in B.C. A former Liberal candidate did the naked Godiva bit, while protesting a logging operation on Saltspring Island. It was before she was a Liberal candidate, however. Back to the drawing board.

  16. I'll be grateful if any reader can explain let alone justify Ms May's inclusion in what are billed as serious political debates in Canada. One hears much comment about the disrespect in which Parliament is held. Why should anyone respect it?

  17. True, and I still think you're right, though I would point out that I don't think anyone knows that something is going to go viral until it goes viral.

  18. LOL I'm trying to figure out if that's a compliment or a dig.

  19. I suspect the Green Party actually has sufficient cash for a TV ad buy; they get the vote subsidy like the other parties, and don't lack for motivated supporters. But any of the parties would prefer to see what sort of attention they can get for free, at least at first. Trying to make a news story out of your decision to go negative is one way to do it.

  20. the attack ads are akin to selling her soul mighty cheap

    I'm not saying that I agree with this line of argument, but I believe that the counter would be that the price is not cheap if it works.

    (And while I realize it's just a metaphor, I do think it's worth pointing out that "selling her soul" is a bit hyperbolic)

  21. Well, I think this explains what went down pretty well. (imho, it's worth remembering that the decision on who gets in to the debates is made by a private consortium of television broadcasters).

    As for "justify", I don't know if this will be sufficient for you, but the Green Party did have an MP the last time. We'll see what the consortium says for the next election.

  22. Actually, if you read Kenney's strategy memo, courtesy of Canadian taxpayers, it only cost $3,000 per month to reach hundreds and thousands of web users. The Green party will be targeting the youth demographic, so Internet-only ads will be very effective.

  23. OK. Scratch Godiva (though you better ask her first), but stage some kind of stunt and use the photo op to grab the headline for the back story.

    I don't know who/what she is going to attack in her ads, but if it's the Conservatives, they will merely ignore her. If her ads gain traction, they'll simply outspend and bury her.
    If she attacks the other parties, she'll likely end up splitting the "left" vote, with the result of helping SH to a majority. Is that going to help her cause?

    The Greens have to think outside the box.

  24. That'd be that youth demographic that doesn't tend to vote all that much.

  25. Blair Wilson was never actually elected as a Green. He was elected as a Liberal, scandal broke, he then sat as an Independent for a while, then went Green. Running as a Green in the subsequent election, he lost. So the Greens still haven't actually ever elected a single MP.

  26. In the same riding as the one in which Ms May is currently running (she lost). That may, we can only hope, prevent her from trying the same stunt. Gary Lunn has, mercifully, resisted the temptation to follow suit.

  27. They could try something like the "demon sheep" ad that ran in California last year. That was pretty cool.

  28. Your eloquence- RANKS with churchill. MANDELA hahahaha — PERFECT. YES!!!!! I KNOW mandela—ROBBIN island—matt damon said it was THERE- RIGHT THERE!!!!!

  29. pscilone is the Charlie Sheen of the Macleans boards.He thinks he's WINNING!

  30. True, true, true, true, true, true, true.

    My point was only that at the time of the last writ drop the Green Party had an MP.

  31. I live in the riding and I'm not prudish, but I do hope they all keep their clothes on.

  32. The parties decided who could be in the debate….it's all done by negotiation and deals.

    The rest were going to exclude May, remember?

  33. The rest were going to exclude May, remember?

    No they weren't, not all of them, read the first link above. Dion was in favour of May participating, and Duceppe publicly stated that the Bloc did not threaten to boycott if she were allowed to participate.

  34. Cons and the NDP opposed it, until May made a fuss

    However it was decided by the political parties…not TV execs…which was my point

  35. yet… ;-)

  36. Ummmm….Not according to this?
    "The consortium of Canada's largest English and French television networks — CBC/Radio-Canada, CTV, Global Television and TVA — decides which party leaders participate in the debates."
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canadavotes/story/2008/09/

  37. LOL sorry, but TV execs don't get to decide who participates in our political debates.

  38. "At first, the consortium said May could not participate in the leaders' debates because three of the federal parties were opposed to her inclusion.

    Amid public outcry over May's exclusion, Harper and NDP Leader Jack Layton indicated they no longer opposed her participation, leading to a reversal of the consortium's decision."

    That's how I remember it too. In response to the Canadian public, regardless they did make the decision.

  39. Yeah, they set up the rules for a fair debate, and what order they speak in etc….but have to go by the parties decisions as to who they want participating

  40. "LOL sorry, but TV execs don't get to decide who participates in our political debates. "

    In my opinion, they ought not to, but yes the broadcast consortium does have final say. Where there was disagreement on Green Party inclusion (Liberals for it, Tories/NDP initially against it), it was the consortium who had to make the final decision. Granted, their decision is based on trying to accommodate as many party leaders as possible, but if the Tories/NDP didn't relent in their threatened boycott, the final decision rested with the consortium.
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canadavotes/story/2008/09/

    "Traditionally, the consortium of Canada's largest English and French television networks — CBC/Radio-Canada, CTV, Global Television and TVA — has decided which party leaders would participate in the debates."

  41. If that were true then there would have been no question of parties boycotting the debate. I'm sorry, but you are mistaken here.

  42. The parties decide whether there will even BE a debate…it's not mandatory ya know…nor is any one leader required to participate.

    You are both confusing the objective 3rd party who sets up the debate and ensures it's fairness….with the party people that make the decision whether to even have one or not.

  43. Of course it's not mandatory, stop reading what I didn't write. You're arguing a very narrow point, and you know full well what we're all getting at. The consortium extends invitations the party leaders. No invitation, no participation.

    "but have to go by the parties decisions as to who they want participating "

    And what happens when there's a disagreement among the parties as to who should participate? The consortium decides who gets an invitation.

  44. LOL I'm not arguing at all….you lot are.

    The networks don't run Canada….simple as that

    May got in…also simple as that, in spite of Harp and Layton

    Harp even had a cheat-sheet…also against the rules.

  45. "The networks don't run Canada….simple as that "

    If that's what you want to believe, go ahead.

    Anyways, I'm done for today. I'll let you get back flooding these boards (28 posts in the last 24 hours – seriously?) Write if you get work.

  46. Er, I misread your quote. The networks DO run the debates. I will gladly agree with you they don't run Canada.

  47. I can always tell when the poster is a Con….lose an argument, or even heaven forbid have someone question you on it….and suddenly the insults come out. LOL

  48. Ok, I said no more, but I had to:
    http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/02/16/a-test-of-our-

    From Emily: (to myself)

    "Good. Write when you get work."

    I don't know if I post enough to qualify as a regular here, but I have a feeling if chiff/Dennis_F/hollinm/Cats call you a leftist and Emily is calling you a Con…. this must be some sort of rite of passage, no?

  49. Kathryn's right, you're mistaken Emily, the T.V. consortium decides who's invited to the T.V. debates. Now, May was threatening to challenge their decision in court, but they reversed themselves before that happened when they realized that by not allowing her to participate the consortium would have been violating it's own guidelines for who gets to participate (because technically the Greens had an MP when the writ dropped).

  50. Like I said, you've confused the objective third party that ensures everything is set up for the debate, with the decisions made by the parties.

  51. LOL no, they call everybody a leftist, but only Cons insult people

  52. There is no "objective third party that ensures everything is set up for the debate".

    Would that there were!

  53. THAT is what the networks job is.

  54. The Greens will no doubt be recycling an ad that they have reclaimed from the trash bin of one of the other parties.

  55. Both?

  56. It's extremely hyperbolic. My tongue was firmly planted in cheek when I wrote that, and since Ms. May probably read that comment, I wish I'd used less dramatic language to make my point.

  57. No. It isn't (though I do like your idea that a consortium of private broadcasters is "objective"… that's rich).

    If you mean to argue that the parties "decide" who participates in the debates in the sense that they can theoretically bring enough pressure to bear on the broadcasters that ultimately the broadcasters will do whatever the parties say, then in that sense I don't entirely disagree (certainly the threat by at least one of the parties to boycott the debates if May was included suggests that at least one party felt that they could effectively utilize said pressure on the broadcasters to make them reverse their decision, though it didn't work). However, the consortium themselves actually technically make the decision on who participates and who doesn't, because they're the one's producing and airing the debates. There is no statutory regime surrounding the debates. The broadcasters hold them because they want to hold them. They could very well, theoretically, just say "we're not going to host any televised national debates this year" (no, they probably wouldn't really ever do that, but they could, as they're under no legal obligation to host and broadcast debates at all. It's their party, they make the rules).

    The most convincing evidence that the parties don't make the decision is the fact that several parties protested the broadcasters' decision, and at least one party threatened to boycott the debates if the decision weren't reversed. If the decision was made by the parties there would have been no reason to protest the broadcaster's decision, as said decision would have been moot, and frankly, if it had been up to the parties I'm pretty sure that May would have been excluded. The reason May got in to the debates is largely, imho, because the decision ISN'T up to the parties.

  58. I don't intend to argue about it at all, and I have no idea why you are bothering to write reams over such a thing.

    The parties decide whether they'll participate…and how. End of story.

  59. But they don't have final word. That falls to the networks.

    Now, do the networks bow to the pressure of the big parties? Sure.. but the parties in and of themselves don't get to decide who's on the debates.. if they did, we would have seen Sa Tan at the table a few years ago.

  60. Oh DO stop. LOL

  61. The parties decide whether they'll participate…and how.

    Well, now that's another point ENTIRELY, so if the goalposts are going to shift like that, there's little point continuing.

    I do get now that you "don't intend to argue" though. You're pleased to just keep saying something that's not correct over and over again, so you're right that in that scenario there's no point in the rest of us arguing that you're wrong.

  62. Nope, none at all.

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