Language watch


Asked this afternoon about a new round of quote-unquote “attack ads” apparently launched by the Conservative party against the coalition, the Prime Minister corrected that his party was airing only quote-unquote “response ads.”

He also, if I heard correctly, suggested that there have been pro-coalition ads airing (ergo the need for a “response,” one supposes). This was news to me, but someone has helpfully posted a Canadian Labour Congress radio ad to YouTube.

Has anyone heard such traitorous propaganda on their favourite radio stations? Are there other ads? How wide and devious is the campaign Mr. Harper has nobly chosen to respond to?


Language watch

  1. Hmm, a “measured” response?

    So far there has been nothing on Deutsche Welle.

  2. I haven’t seen/heard ads from either side yet. I guess they are gearing up for budget vote.

  3. I take it this is in lieu of actually working with the Opposition.

  4. I heard a rumour that Bevington [ local NDP] was calling for a “collaborative” response to the financial crisis here in the North. It was only at a local hockey game but good lord if that isn’t code for : rise up and overthrow yr duly elected fed govt, i don’t know what is? That sort of report you mean Aaron?
    [ ok i made it up, but i’m sure it’ll be as authentic anything these guys come up with] Wait, just wait a moment… i just caught something on the tv. something about a coalition of the willing…those traitors, is nothing sacred!

    • yow! This is seriously lame. I hope those mythical adds turn up soon or i might have to invent some more, and i’m sure no-one wants that.

  5. David Akin provides a link to the CLC ad. And the Cons’ semantic games are apparently even more ridiculous this time than usual: how exactly can an anti-coalition ad be a “response” to a message which merely tries to make sure that “the government is really listening” to a policy plan, and doesn’t even mention voting Harper down let alone replacing him?

    • Their antisemanticism is appalling.

  6. From what I understand the CLC addies are suggesting that any proposed stimulus be primarily focused on employment. In the face of all those middle class folks in the streets angrily demanding tax cuts, where is a poor PM to turn ?

    And, given that most of the expert opinion seems to be that tax cuts of any kind are of little benefit in the current situation , clearly the public mind needs to be carefully prepared. I’m sure all the usual cheerleaders will help. The Newman Gang were chuckling and snorting their way through it all today.

    And , of course , when the economy does turn around and it’s time to pay the deficit piper It’s so much easier to sell the need for program cuts than ( horror ) raising taxes. Well, maybe user fees can be expanded.

    All is well. Full speed ahead, my Captain.

  7. Can someone give a link to the CLC ad? I didn’t see it on Akin’s site.

    I’m curious what some labour group could come out with that Harper felt he had to launch ads for. Pleeease link, someone, so we can judge.

  8. Some blogs are saying that CLC has already launched a counter-attack-ad to Harper’s ad (in addition to their earlier non-attack-ad.) Is this true?

  9. Doesn’t much matter, I think. The only people really listening to any of it are a few media junkies.

    And selected media will be only too happy to post them for us. For free.

  10. Well this is a failure all around. None of us seem to have heard the CLC ad, and of course none of us have seen the Conservative response. As Atkin says, maybe that’s because they aren’t actually being played yet.

    But by mentioning the release of the mythical Conservative ads, we all want to see a mythical CLC ad. No wonder the media industry is in trouble–we now no longer need the actual ads to have a debate over them!

    Not to mention the mythical ‘response’ has drawn attention to a mythical ‘original’ that none of us had apparently paid the slightest attention to in the first place. So these mythical ads are also ineffective, until someone else mythically ‘responds’

    I feel like I’m at Hogwarts or Narnia or something–where invisibility spells rule the day.

    • This might be the CLC ad in question. I wouldn’t know, since I only listen to CBC radio (and mostly by podcast) and hardly watch any teevee anymore (for obvious reasons).

  11. Another link is awaiting moderation, but we’ll see if this one works.

    • Thanks. Those two (Jurist’s and Ti-Guy’s) are different CLC ads, with Ti-Guy’s being critical of Harper and supporting a coalition and Jurist’s simply saying Harper better do something about the economy. Those ads seem to have come out around the same time (or perhaps in response to) Harper’s original coalition attack ads – two radio ads and TV ads that apparently ran in early December.

      Harper’s original coalition attack ads featured Dion, which I guess is why he can’t just replay those.

      • catherine: I can’t say for sure when the ads might have started running, but is there any indication that the one referring to the budget came out last month? The CLC’s Get Real campaign which includes the ad is dated January 5 on its website, and the focus on the budget (when the prorogation crisis revolved around the fiscal update) would also suggest a more recent time frame.

        • Perhaps the CLC budget one wasn’t out in December – I don’t know.
          The NP linked to a CLC pro-coalition ad on December 2, 2008 which seemed to be in response to the earlier CPC anti-coalition ads (also linked to in the same article).

  12. A small note of clarification: As a general rule, no links to political ads are posted here, largely for the exact phenomenon noted in David Akin’s post.

    That said, I’m not simply being difficult in this case. I’ve not heard any new ads. There was some suggestion today that one of the networks had aired them, the Prime Minister did acknowledge their existence in answering a question about the spots (as noted above) and David seems to have copies, but they do not appear to have been posted on the party website and I remain blissfully ignorant.

  13. Chrétien had imaginary street people.

    Harper has imaginary ads.

  14. All it proves to me is that Harper is scared, otherwise he wouldn’t have to resort to this nonsense.

    Now, a good ad would be a reminder/lesson to Canadians about our parliamentary system – truth ads.

    I’m not saying here if I’m for or against a coalition – I’m for letting people know the truth about our system instead of Harper misleading them.

    Are you listening and/or aware there journalists about our Constitution and parliamentary system? From what I’ve read in the last few weeks journalists don’t seem to know.

  15. This just proves what an incredible leader — almost of Bushian proportions — Harper is.

    He is leading the charge on job preservation using other people’s money.

    Canadians are so lucky, and yet there’re some who are contemplating firing this great man in a fortnight.

    Makes ya think, doesn’t it?

  16. Looks like someone will have to state the obvious …these ads are from and paid for by the Conservative Party, NOT the Conservative Government. There’s a big difference. I don’t remember the PARTY agreeing to co-operate or play nice with other PARTIES.

    So big deal, Harper dons his Party hat, becomes partisan, and plays hardball with his opponents. We all know that attack ads can backfire, so the opps can keep spinning how mean Harper is. You guys can also go to the Coalition Website, click on the “donate” button, and help pay for counter-ads.

    • There’s a big difference.

      No, there isn’t. Two years of Conservative Party propaganda in the form of flyers sent to my home from Conservative MP’s several ridings and provinces away, in a flagrant abuse of the franking privilege is a testament to that.

      • What this clearly shows is that Harper’s Team plays the political game, within the rules, way better than the other guys. Yawn.

        Here’s a little known fact …

        All the “support” for the Coaltion Party (mostly in Quebec), plus $2.00 will buy you a cup of coffee at Tim Hortons. Meanwhile, all the support for Harper’s Team, based on disgust with the Coalition’s tactics, plus $2.00, buys about 10,000 hours of radio ads during a possible pre-writ period.

        • “within the rules”

          That remains to be seen. Harper’s lawsuit against Elections Canada is still pending.

        • What this clearly shows is that Harper’s Team plays the political game, within the rules, way better than the other guys.

          Actually, that’s not true. What Team Harper does is take advantage of situations when the rules are not clear or non-existent. It’s a game few honourable people like to play.

          Yes, yes I know, the Liberals do it too (although with greater finesse) , but with the Cons, the end result is always deficit, with nothing gained except a pissed off electorate.

          All the “support” for the Coaltion Party (mostly in Quebec), plus $2.00 will buy you a cup of coffee at Tim Hortons.

          I love the wisdom of the plain folk. It’s so authentic.

          • What befuddles me is, what kind of “Government in Waiting” aka “The Coaltion”, tries to take power without even having a website ???

            Isn’t that kind of like Fidel Castro telling his fellow revolutionaries to follow him up the hill to replace el Presidente, but without any guns ???

            Come on guys, this is the age of the INTERNET

            Okay, now somebody give me a hard time for using too many italics

          • What erks me the most about this whole “phoney man of the people” shstick is when is the last time any of the “plain folks” had a coffee with their exalted pol rep at THs; or echanged grumbles with their excellancies while standing at the end of the slowest moving queue at their local Safeway? We all know this and so do our pols, yet still the charade continues. Gotta go i think i just spotted Steve heading into THs, wonder if he’ll have to wait in line?

    • No, with a potential confidence vote just days away, the ads from the Conservative Government, reminding everyone to be grateful for the Tax-Free Savings Account and the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation and a number of other Conservada’s New Government departments, agencies, and programs, are only ramping up now.

      Just as they do every time a confidence measure is about to come to a vote.

      • I haven’t heard those ads yet. But they are a legititmate thing for any government to do–inform the public about public services available to them. Provincial governments and past Liberal governments do that all the time.

        You can question the timing, but it’s all well within the rules of the political game. Look, Harper is going to use all the advantages he has as the sitting government, you can’t stop him. The best way to fight him, is to donate lots more money to the anti-Harper Party of your choice. You can’t expect the Globe, Star and CBC to carry the messaging freight forever for you guys forever. So dig deep, mail that cheque today !

        Remember, Tom Flanagan let the cat out of the bag–Harper is trying to bankrupt the LPC via a war of attrition. Fight back, all you progressives !

        • This is why Conservatives bankrupt us all the time. The only solutions they recommend involved throwing money around.

        • Hard o argue with that. It’s one aspect of libearalism that’s always bothered me. Didn’t Bertrand Russell make that pt about libs always knowing what’s wrong with something but not actively doing much in the way of offering solutions?

          • I think that was Stephen Harper …….. or kody ……… or jwl …….. or …….

          • Sisyphus
            Russell was a serious liberal. The other gentlemen not.

          • Actually Russell was a serious socialist ( I think mostly Fabian variety ). I was trying to be witty and obviously wasn’t. Oh well.

          • Sisypphus
            Wrong again, i don’t know why i bother?[ i’m wrong that is] Don’t worry it was witty i just like having the last word – don’t feel you have to reply.

        • Yes, they do advertise all the time. However, the timing and sheer volume of federal advertising under Conservada’s New Government, and the timing and sheer volume of the TV and radio advertising in particular, is highly suspect, and has been almost since the day Harper arrived in office. There’s a story here that no one is getting at.

          And, no, using government advertising dollars in a very thinly veiled effort to make people feel all positive and happy towards the government is NOT part of the political game, because government advertising dollars are supposed to be about GOVERNMENT. Not politics.

          • This constant stream of propaganda is a very good arguement against turning political partys into an unsavory form of street walker. [ no slight to hardworking ladies & gents of the night intended ]

          • Seems to me that the pols shouldn’t be the ones deciding when and how much advertising their should be, for this very reason. Maybe an officer of Parliament for government communication, with the emphasis on government and not partisan. Requests to advertise government services with the public’s hard-earned tax dollars will have to pass a sniff test.

          • Andrew npoC
            Maybe a good start would be to ban adds outside of the writ?This issue really worries me, and i would be just as concerned if the libs knew how to raise funds too. Is there a danger that folks will start to conflate donations with their democratic right to vote. There’s enough of a problem in this country with political lobbying as it is. For god’s sake these people are there to represent us and exercise independant judgement not to simply auction themselves off to the voters.