Attack of the Killer Attack Ads! In 3-Cheese! -

Attack of the Killer Attack Ads! In 3-Cheese!

Andrew Coyne gives the new Liberal ads a rewrite


The new Liberal ads get a broadly favourable review from friend Wells. Not so much from me. Can we please dispense with the Damien: Omen II mood music and snarky, insinuating voiceovers, the same stylistic devices used in every attack ad ever made? I know its only been several million times, but it’s really starting to get old. Just once, can we have a level-headed discussion about how we’re governed — without all the cheap theatrics?

Here’s the ad I’d like to see:

Rather than answer serious questions about its handling of prisoners in Afghanistan, the Conservative government has shut down Parliament. Your Parliament. The heart of our democracy.

This has got to stop. For years, governments of both parties — Conservative and Liberal — have been treating Parliament with contempt, gutting its powers, reducing its ability to hold governments to account. And now it’s come to this.

We’ll take our share of the blame for Parliament’s decline. Because we’re serious about fixing it. We want to put Parliament back at the centre of our democratic life.

Read the complete plan at

Or something like that.

It only takes about 30 seconds to read. But imagine if a party actually said something like that — if it talked to us as if we were adults? No cheesy crash-chords, no over-blown dramatics, no appeals to paranoia. Just level with us: lay out the problem, and suggest a solution.

I know. Never going to happen.


Attack of the Killer Attack Ads! In 3-Cheese!

  1. Have Iggy read that while standing in front of a forest and you've got a slam-dunk winner on your hands.

    • LOL~! how true

      • Or in front of a Starbucks sipping a latté and wearing a $3000.00. (Read. Politicians should drink Tim Hortons and wear fishing jackets just like the rest of Canadians)

  2. Again with the bizarre assertion that the most recent Libs were anywhere near as horrible as the current Cons.

    Really, old habits dying hard?

    • What's bizarre about it? Chretien did prematurely terminate the Somalia inquiry before the 1997 election because it was proving too politically embarrassing. Chretien did prorogue Parliament to escape accountability for the AG report on Adscam. None of this is in dispute.

      • said Samalia incident that happened under Mulroney's watch…..

    • As Norman Spector points out in his blog, they were probably worse. Sorry.

      • Wow, Normal Spector said that? The former Mulroney fart catcher, lint collector and man of the right-wing fringe? I do know he has occasionally offered praise for things by non-conservatives, but he has displayed his 'I'm with the team' mentality through thick and thin more than not. That Norman Spector? Wow, if he says it then there must be… well, a partisan opinion. Why not get me, say 75 university professors who teach constitutional and parliamentary history? Then you've maybe got a point, Denis-E…

        • No, the Norman Spector who testified against Mulroney at the Schreiber inquiry, who is against Harper's prorogation,and who doesn't resort to personal invective like you do.

          Let's see. Chretien actually shut down a public inquiry into the Somalia affair, which was actually about troops abusing detainies. Harper suspended Parliament, after which any questions about Afghanistan can continue.

          You see, I can stick to the facts. You can't.

  3. I like it that the Liberals are addressing the affront to democracy represented by the proroguement but I mostly agree with this assessment.

    The Liberals aren't addressing the structural reasons the debasement of parliament is occurring, so I don't trust them to do anything other than capitalize on the same weaknesses when they next hold the reins of power.

  4. I think the problem is that most of us are not adults. Way too many Canadians don’t think critically. Almost like thinking isn’t worth the effort.

    • Critical thinking is not an inate skill, rather it is an acquired one. Does it kind of blow your mind that it is not taught in high school? The sorry state of our nation (and the one to the south) is in no small part directly attributable to vested interests controling the "national curriculem". Both Stalin and Hitler bragged they could change a nation with just one generation of children. Read the comments here and on Wells and Wherry and Cosh, is the plan working?

  5. Rather than answer serious questions about its handling of prisoners in Afghanistan, the Conservative government has shut down Parliament. Your Parliament.

    I'm so jaded about political advertising and Liberal advertising in particular that as soon as I hit the "Your Parliament" part, one of the voices in my head chimes in: "In Canada. We are not making this up." Add some military drumming and it's a winner.

  6. I cannot read that copy without the voice in my head being 'scary attack ad voice'

  7. Also, ignored a non-confidence vote and dangled a Cabinet post in front of Belinda Stronach to avoid defeat on another. The problems Parliament faces are systemic, and not attached to one political party.

  8. Reason #1938 why, despite being an extremely principled and thoughtful columnist, I'd never hire Andrew Coyne has a political consultant.

    The Liberals could never run such an ad because no one would believe them, especially since their current leader has a track record of sidestepping democracy for personal gain.

    So, they have to go on the attack and hope that no one asks questions about them.

    • Well, luckily enough that still leaves Stephen Harper, who could at any time choose to take the high road. Write him a letter, give him a little encouragement.

      • and here I thought the topic was the Liberal ad. See? Even you guys can't defend it, just like I said.

        • Well, in fairness to the LIberals, "just go on the attack" seems to be a tactic with a pretty good history.

        • Last time a Liberal took a Conservative's dare that seriously, it was Jean Chretien calling Stockwell Day's bluff and calling an election a mere three years into a mandate. I can't help but notice that Conservatives are still crying about that one.
          But what's your point? Why should I defend the ad? I have no party affiliation (assume too much, you always do), but even if I did, there would be no reason why I would feel compelled to reflexively defend every stupid, obnoxious or otherwise indefensible bit of party business that came down the pike.
          That is, as opposed to some, who appear to have found a time-consuming, if not particularly productive, hobby in same.

  9. Are these ads actually going to appear or are they made for internet and journos are just trying to help out their Lib friends?

    If these are made for tv/radio, I say these ads are dire. Libs are still stuck trying to scare Canadians about Harper/Cons and I don't believe that's a winning strategy. Only a few partisans really believe Cons have secret agenda and the message is getting old. Also, the ad I saw yesterday on QP was a bit tin-eared – Libs are back to accusing troops of war crimes and caviled about Cons not wanting to talk about climate change.

    Climate change and Canadian soldiers are war criminals meme are not a way to win hearts and minds.

    • I was thinking the same thing. Hard to believe they're going back to the "scary Harper" theme. Really hard to believe. These Liberals are stupid.

      • Of course, the one thing that stopped Harper from sailing towards a majority government in 2008 was precisely a "scary Harper" campaign in Quebec.

        And now that I think about it, the same thing happened in 2006 when Harper was found to be openly musing about a majority.

        I mean, how stupid can these Liberals get?

        • That's your interpretation. But I'd have to say the "scary" theme, while a success in 2004, has been pointless since then.

          There's nothing scary when the guy has been running the country for 4 years.

          But if you want to keep on beating that dead horse, so be it.

    • "soldiers are war criminals"

      I would love you to attribute that to a Liberal without quoting the Conservative party or the PMO (if there is a difference anymore).

      Those who stand behind the troops are cowards. Those who propagate the lies…

  10. I wish I had a scary attack ad voice. My cheery vocal tone really limited my career choices.

  11. Dealt with and ismissed in comments in Coyne's previous article. Not interested in repeating self.

  12. I think most adults have been around long enough to know that politicians, all politicians, are full of it. None of the federal parties are truly interested in curbing any existing powers. Insisting that they will do things differently will only get eye-rolling and a sarcastic "Ya, right".

    The ads are not presenting anything new to voters. The "Scary Harper and Hidden Agenda" angle has repeatedly failed to impress. The CPC will still be the leading party once the media have exhausted the prorogation 'scandal' because the LPC still has not put anything on the table except for a rather weak leader.

    A.C.'s optimism about politics is cute but not realistic.

    • Well, something is keeping Harper in minority territory, despite the state of the Liberal party. How do you explain that?

  13. I think these ads would work in print. They are very clear and convey a simple message.

    The radio versions are pretty grim. But maybe that's the idea. I can't remember seeing a Tory ad attacking either Iggy or Dion that was not grim.

    Ad makers keep doing them because they work.

    I don't think the Liberals are reaching out to the Alberta or Sask lifelong Tory voter with this ad. I mean people who keep voting for Rob Anders can't really be reached :-)

    I think they're more interested in those who, for now, are parking their votes with either the NDP or the Greens, and to the suburban swing voter who may be just a bit ticked off at the 3-month Christmas vacation concept or the let's-take-paid-time-off-to-watch-the-Olympics concept.

    • Lets not forget the youth who are concerned about climate change.

  14. Andrew for president…er PM.

    You're a voice crying in a political wilderness AC…perhaps no-one is listening. But i for one am glad you're there.

  15. Did not, so what, and yeah but one party far more.

  16. Well that was Martin, not Chretien, but was even more recent so destroy's Mike T's point even further. Agreed with you on the rest…Parliament is systemically broken and has been for years. Liberals, Conservatives, and media all deserve probably an almost equal share of the blame.

  17. This type of ad must be effective, Harper's Conservatives have used them for years.

    Imitation is the highest form of flattery isn't it? Papa Harper should be beaming!

  18. Ac's best point…what are the libs ideas/plans to do something about this? Otherwise it's pretty much politics as usual…just pissing in the wind.

    • I'm in half-agreement. In a minority situation and when imminent defeat is possible (as in 2008) the gov't of the day should have an emergency reset button that buys it a chance to regain confidence of the house. But it shouldn't be re-used for the flimsiest and most self-perverted ways as now.
      I'd encourage my party of choice to give AC's idea some good thought. In the meantime, continue to hammer hypocritical Harper and his holiday.

      • agreed…fully.

  19. Even if we all want to get out the ledger and see who's done the most damage, it's beside the point . As I noted, the problems are systemic, and has led to the erosion of Parliament as a whole. The goal now, however idealistic, should be for someone to stand up and offer a real proposal for Parliamentary renewal and reform, not to start pointing fingers at each other to determine when it all started.

    • It's only beside the point if the two parties are in the same league of bad. otherwise it's just more of Andrew and the Conbots screaming "oh yeah the Liberals did it too!".

      which is why I'd like to see Coyne take a stand on his assertion.

      • Any mention by Andrew about the Liberals actions has not been to exonerate the Conservatives, but too suggest the problems, are as noted several times, systemic,

  20. Again I'd like to hear from Coyne regarding his thoughts about what share of the problem is Liberal.

    And please can it with the boneheaded stuff about somehow ignoring a confidence motion in 2005, unless you feel parliament is failing unless it reinterprets rules to meet the whims of non-governing parties, at the discretion of these parties.

  21. ''… lay out the problem, and suggest a solution…''

    But then Harper would steal the idea!

    What Monty said:
    ''…We get it, you don't like him,
    but that doesn't grant you licence to lump him together with Stalin in the dictator's club.
    Most likely this means the PM has committed the unpardonable sin of ignoring his press gallery critics except to wink at them as he speaks over their heads directly to Canadians while pulling Canada back to its conservative roots…''

    You want to 'fix' an undemocratic Parliament,
    join Harper is reforming the UNELECTED dictators in the Senate.

  22. Harper doesn't have the nerve [ or even the desire…read AP today's citizen] to deal with this issue al la Trudeau by opening up the constitution…and he wont, even with a majority. Harper's blown his credibility as a reformer…it's almost sad to see someone who seemed to have principles reduced to lip service

  23. Cover-up! Scandal! Soldiers, with guns! In our streets! What's gone wrong with the world? I can't even take a bath without six or seven Conservative backbenchers jumping in with me! They're in my shirt cupboard! And John Baird and Pierre Poilievre are in the kitchen now eating my wife's jam! They're cutting off my legs! I can see them peeping out of my wife's blouse! Why doesn't Mr. Ignatieff do something about it before it's too late?!

  24. Read the complete plan at

    Of course, someone would need to write a detailed and substantive plan for parliamentary and political reform first, not to mention getting the bulk of the Liberal caucus and party behind it first.

    But a detailed plan to fix parliament shouldn't take too long…

  25. Cut back on the coffee, will ya!

  26. God you're a broken record…do you ever bore yourself? Hope you're getting paid for this…

  27. "But a detailed plan to fix parliament shouldn't take too long… "

    The Liberals were turfed out of office, four years ago this month. A detailed plan to fix our democracy has never been on the Liberal agenda during this period. The only thing that's been on the agenda is how to get back to power a.s.a.p.

    There is no will or desire to change things, they just want the reins of power. See my comment above. Not even Liberals think they'd have any credibility on this, which is to their credit I suppose.

    • Whereas the Conservatives appointed a Minister of State responsbile for democratic reform. With an increased salary and office budget (and do they still get a limo).

      But where's the output? Where's the discussion papers and reports and proposals and legislation? Does anyone even know who it is?

      • Pop quiz – no looking it up – name that Minister!

        • Steven Fletcher

    • And if you don't see that everything you just wrote also applies to the Conservatives, you're kidding yourself.

  28. AC's view of politics is probably where most of us would like to be…Harper's is most likely where we are…it's depressiing. But that doesn't mean would should except it at all!

  29. There isn't an ad agency worth its salt that would lead a political party down that garden path. We're talking advertising. Anything not gutteral about it is a mistake.

  30. When the Bush era came to an end in the states, the Reublicans did not really try to make hay by lambasting their former leader, did they? You seem to have this fantasy that MI is gonna come out and call JC a liar, thief etc….
    Tell me, when the pendulum inevitably swings the other way and Stephen Harper is no more and all his machinations are laid bare, will the new Conservative leader be dissing him?

    It just doesn't work that way.

    The Conservatives have made great strides by calling the Liberals corrupt and promising accountability and transparency. SH was elected minority PM in 2006 – Guess what! It's "accountability" time – after all, he's been running the show for over 3 years now. Proroguing Parliament is to change the Afghan channel is hardly a paragon of accountability, is it?
    The Conservative party has enjoyed great success playing both ends of this flute, but did you really think that people would dance to it forever?

    • I can tell you how that story ends. When Margaret Thatcher was PM she ruled the Cabinet and party with an iron fist (but granted she was never anywhere near as authoritarian as Harper) and with now bankrupt Neo-Conservative economic ideology. She was booted out in 1990 by her own party.

      These days the Conservative Leader is David Cameron…..and you don't hear boo out of him about Margaret Thatcher…it's as if she never existed.

      So the answer from the next Canadian Tory leader regarding questions about Stephen Harper will be… "Stephen Harper who?"

  31. I agree with your post. The last politician that tried a little honesty and treated the public like adults was Stephan Dion.He got murdered for his efforts by the now cunning and triumphant Harper.
    I do not agree or disagree with either governing party.I do vote against the trashers of both parties.
    Tell me that the Liberals are separatists and I'll vote for them.
    Tell me that the Conservatives are anti democratic tools of the American Republican party and I'll vote for them.
    The party of the least amount of nutsos gets my vote.I'm looking for problem solvers not problem creators.
    No bogeymen needed to get my vote.

  32. Sorry, CON bots + truthiness are like smoking + marathon running. You can combine the two for a short period of time before the human element curls up and vomits all over its shoes.

  33. Warren K has been on ctv saying we don't know if Canadians committed war crimes and compared what Canadians may or may not have done with what happened at Abu Ghraib. It would be nice if reporters asked WK if he speaks for the party or just himself.

    Not everyone can understand the liberal position – Canadians committed war crimes but no Canadian committed them. Only liberals and progs can understand wtf they are talking about.

  34. Keep reminding us that people 'turfed out the Liberals'… it helps us remember what we need to do to handle the current gang of pestilence who pretend to govern…

  35. Probably the first year of Harper's government was a turning point. He offered to parliamentarians – a parliamentary review of Supreme Court nominations, an appointments commissioner, a parliamentary review of troop deployments, a Senate reform proposal and a parliamentary budget officer. What did he get in return? A Cadman tantrum and a Mulroney tantrum- in part cheered on by Mr Coyne. If serious proposals- however flawed- were met with an adult discourse the situation would be different.

    • Amen! Nobody will take the Liberals seriously until the Liberals start taking themselves seriously. University tours are not exactly having an adult conversation with the nation.

  36. A vague public opining by a party consultant that doesn't lean either way as your basis for stating that the Liberal party is stating that Canadian troops are war criminals?

    So nothing attributed at all to your assertion. Baseless. Without merit.


    • "During the meeting, Liberal Defence critic Ujjal Dosanjh noted that in international law, the legal threshold for the war crime of transferring into torture hangs on circumstantial evidence.

      "International law is very clear," said Mr. Dosanjh, a lawyer and former attorney general of British Columbia. "You need circumstantial evidence; you don't need actual knowledge of any specific allegations, or actual knowledge of torture. There was substantial knowledge of torture in Afghan jails. Every kid on the ground knew that. All of the reports, national or international, knew that." Embassy, Dec 16 '09

      Lib meme is that war crimes were committed but no one committed them.

      • The question is – who would the International Criminal Court likely find responsible for any possibe war crimes – the government who knew about the risk of torture and ordered the transfer of detainees anyway, or the troops following orders. Mind you, in the Nuremburg trials, following orders was not considered a defense, we're still prosecuting low level camp guards. That's why I question the sincerety of those of you who keep claiming to care about the troops so much.

  37. Probably the same guy hired with onimous voice that Harper used in his attack ads.

    I don't really any, schrill voices in Harper's ads.

    Someone thought the Lib ads sounded like Pierre Polievere's voice

  38. Whoops, meant to say "I don't recall any soft or shrill voices in Harper's ads"

  39. If the Lib's are not carefull they run a real risk here .. as they are firing off their ammunition too early. Look folks we can all rant, whine, moan and rend our garments together .. however .. there is only one guarantee right now Mar 3 – a Throne Speech and then shortly after a vote by the fresh session in the House – so after everyone has had their fill of perogies and then the olympics there really is only one question that place the lib's in an untenable situation – wacha gonna do about it? – who will force the election as this is the only question that has any releevance all the rest are political farts in the wind.

  40. How about three-ring circus music? Do-do-do-do-do-do…

  41. "Might have been considered" uh-huh, yeah.

    Speaker of the House said different. Sorry Conbots, the rules didn't change just because its convenient for you at the time. Unless you're saying that's a failure of parliament.

    done! next? (please something new…)

  42. I just finished watching "Cover Up". That must the one with all the dark noise you think we can do without.

    Anyone who knows what a cover up does to its victims will agree you can't make the noise dark enough. Avoiding the noise means avoiding the point.

    and the cover up IS the point.

  43. Note that not even Desserud can stoop to saying "were unequivocal confidence motions", he has to use weasel words like "appeared to be" .

    Appeared to be. But were not. Finito.

  44. Oh, I don't know, scf. He did prorogue Parliament rather than come clean to the partliamentarians who requested (then demanded) documents. That's kinda scary to me, what with the whole making himself unaccountable thing. Sort of the reason we have a parliament and all that.

    • Well, the opposition can being him down and have an election then, and explain to the voters how scary he is, and then lose again as Canadians disagree that he is scary and vote him back in.

      • And then, once he's voted back in, he can prorogue Parliament again when they demand, again, that his government turn over documents to them, and when that prorogation ends the opposition can force another election.

        I know I have a certain bias, but I think we could go through the Election, Contempt for Parliament, Prorogation, Confidence Vote, Election, Contempt for Parliament… cycle for about the next hundred years, and Harper would still never get to his vaunted majority.

  45. The ?Somalia inquiry (which issued a 2000 page report) wasn't about to implicate the current government.

  46. They did? That's even scarier than I thought, if this is what they've come up with. Maybe the Conservatives have just decided that democratic reform means doing away with Parliament. And according to Coyne in the magazine, they'd be right.

    Me, I'm not so sold on the idea.

  47. We have very different thresholds for putting words into the mouths of others.

  48. I like your ad Coyne. Too bad the Liberals are too fixated on smearing our troops to consider reforming the political system they destroyed with their entitlements.

  49. Oh wait, one more thing. It's hard to come up with good ads when your target audience is Taliban sympathizers and soft on crime criminals.

  50. Why would it implicate the Harper government? Holy smokes, is this all you have?

    It was shut down by Chretien. Harper hasn't shut down any inquiries.

    When will some of you start sticking to facts instead of sheer resentment of opponents?

    • I think Mike's point was that the Somalia Inquiry was not about to implicate the Chretien government, since the Somalia incident happened under Mulroney. Sure, the inquiry was arguably cut short by Chretien, but it was also STARTED by Chretien, and dealt with an incident that happened while Brian Mulroney was PM.

      Surely there's at least a bit of a difference between a Liberal PM cutting off an inquiry into something that happened under a previous Tory PM, and a Tory PM cutting off an inquiry into his own government's actions.

  51. Doesn't that look cheap and nasty. If you cannot afford to do it properly .Do not do it at all. The creepy radio ads are a hoot!

  52. Speaking of entitlement, at what point does responding on the public dime with the royal seal become embarrassing?

  53. "For years, governments of both parties — Conservative and Liberal — have been treating Parliament with contempt, gutting its powers, reducing its ability to hold governments to account."

    Uh, I'm not an advertising guru (and clearly Coyne isn't either) but there is no way that a line like this would make its' way into a Liberal ad (and if it did, the ad-maker should be fired). A good, negative political ad (I know, it's an oxymoron) is all about focussing on the shortcomings of your opponent. And god knows, the Conservatives have lots of shortcomings to focus on…

  54. And you don't see why you should have to advertise since you're arrogantly entitled to govern anyway.

  55. Oh, stop it, Andrew. Now you're just being bloody silly. You're going off the deep end with this recent concern for our democracy. It's a bit much coming from someone who was a shill for the Connies "coup d'etat" BS last year. On your head, buddy! Say the damned Mea culpas and get over yourself. I recognize a guilty conscience when I see one.

  56. It's pretty sad when the best argument that the Liberals can come up with is; "well the Conservatives are worse than we were". Nobody bought the "we can do better" slogan, so why not aim lower?

    Until the Liberals can offer a credible alternative, they better get used to the opposition side of the House.

    • Fred, they have had 4 years, they keep offering up duds.

    • It's pretty sad when the best argument that the Liberals can come up with is; "well the Conservatives are worse than we were".

      Oh, I don't know. It seems to me that the best the Tories can come up with these days is "We're no different from the Chretien Liberals".

  57. I wish the ads were harder. There are times when you have to fight fire with fire. It wasn't always like that, but it was Harper who endorsed the American style hate or attack(whatever) ads and I'm getting more and more convinced it's the only language he understands.
    An honest dialogue with Harper is near impossible. In his interview with Peter Mansbridge he deliberately cut off Mr.Mansbridge before a question could be completed so as avoid answering with air.
    Harper has no respect for Canada or it's institutions, as he as said with his infamous "By the time I'm through with Canada …blah, blah and more blah" He has no respect for Canadians as he demonstrated with his latest statements that dictate how Canadians should think.
    This is not a partisan view, I honestly have no idea who to vote for in the next elections. I can only hope they introduce mandatory voting and that 'None of the Above' be included on the ballot. But if we have to clean up Parliament let's start with the most dangerous of the leaders.

    • Typical Liberal revisionist history. The Liberals struck the first blow with their ads accusing the Conservatives of having a hidden agenda and suggesting that a Conservatve government would put armed troops in the street.

      The only government to do that was the Trudeau Liberals, by the way.

      To accuse Harper of having no respect for Canadians or our institutions is just hyperbole.

      It may be a naive wish, but wouldn't it be nice if the Liberals could stick to the facts, or maybe even the truth?

      • Bull!!! It's the reply you deserve

  58. "But imagine if a party actually said something like that — if it talked to us as if we were adults? No cheesy crash-chords, no over-blown dramatics, no appeals to paranoia. Just level with us: lay out the problem, and suggest a solution."

    Yes Andrew, becausethe last ast time somebody did precisley that, the media paid it a great deal of attention.

    Go ahead. Pull the other one.

  59. Oh dear. Andrew Potter is terribly bored again.

  60. The ads seem to serve no purpose. It's still the loser "scary Harper – soldiers in the streets" that has failed before. Any backlash about Parliament being closed will only last until….Parliament re-opens.

    The Liberals have become intellectually and politically bankrupt. They seem to have given up on "re-building" and being "an alternative government." Harper knows what Canadians want – competent centrist (Liberal) government without the corruption. Harper and CPC has such a firm hold on the political centre that the only way the Liberals have to dislodge them is via a massive corruption scandal. It's possible but unlikely with Harper. But Liberals have to be patient and not become hysterical and shout "scandal! scandal! dictator! threat to democracy!" every 30 seconds.

  61. The reason that it can't happen is that there is not one iota of evidence that The Liberal Party of Canada has reformed its ways.

    Indeed, the contrary is true.

    We're talking about a party that is run completely top-down, who chose it's latest leader by way of teleconference call by Party offcials and MPs. So much for grassroots democracy. One man, one vote be damned!

    Since being turfed from office in early 2006, The Liberal Party's one and only goal has been to get back into power as soon as possible. There has been no internal reflection or soul-searching on renewing the party.

    The man they've chosen to lead them is anything but a reformer, that's the last thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Michael "To the Manor Born" Ignatieff. He's made a career of defending establishment interests. It's literally in his blood.

    Is it any surprise he's surrounded himself with the same crew that advised Jean Chretien? No one, not even the Liberals, have advocated they've changed. They think Canadians were wrong to vote them out of office in the first place, such is their arrogance.

    • What you say has some merit. Just as there is not one iota of evidence that Harper and his holidaying blue men group has reformed the same ways that it so derided the Liberals for. At some point there comes a time when the slick salesman who-wouldn't-know-the-truth-if-it-bit-him has to pack up and find another two-horse town to sell his wares in…

    • This class resentment theme from Conservatives is really getting tedious.

  62. "Never going to happen."

    No, it won't. You assume people want an adult discussion. We are talking about an electorate that latches on to gimmicky things like reducing the GST (even though most economists were totally against it), and "tough on crime" (even though most criminologists pointed out this package will be hugely expensive and will do nothing to reduce crime – not to mention the unconstitutional aspects of these measures).

    The same could be said about Chretien's promise to rid us of the GST, and "jobs, jobs, jobs".

    I suspect you might agree the media are also part if this, knowing a lot of people do not read beyond the gimmicky headline and the first couple paragraphs, when the meat of the issue is buried deeper in the article.

    So if you can find some way to put this serious issue into a few short soundbites, and develop it in a few more short soundbites, it might work.

  63. kcm's earlier comment on this thread:

    "Ac's best point…what are the libs ideas/plans to do something about this? Otherwise it's pretty much politics as usual…just pissing in the wind."

    We're on the same page kcm, we're on the same page.

    • You're right, we are…on this one issue,and i suspect only on this one issue.

  64. …and maybe pray really really hard. When he's finished writing that hockey book, I'm sure Harper will take some time for the therapy needed to get him past his 'anger management' issues.

  65. "For years, governments of both parties — Conservative and Liberal — have been treating Parliament with contempt, gutting its powers, reducing its ability to hold governments to account. And now it's come to this."

    Don't Canadians generally hold Parliament in contempt? It's full of politicians, who Canadians loathe. And an extra four weeks off during the Olympics is maybe not the death of Canadian democracy. Isn't it more likely Canadians are annoyed that MPs get to take the Olympics off and then, to make it even more odious, will be returning to a long speech?

  66. A lot of Harper's defenders commenting here must be rather new to Macleans…and to Canadian media. Attack Attack Attack anyone who does not speak worshipfuly of their dear leader. I seldom agree with Andrew Coyne… I think Neo Conservatism has proven (especially recently) to be a bankrupt economic theory. Andrew is however a thoughtful person of honesty and integrity and I respect that. For anyone to accuse him directly or indirectly of having a liberal bias (unless you mean 19th century European liberal?) or being a liberal party shill….is outright ignorant and ludicrous.

  67. I agree, Andrew. Your text does sound good but I'm guessing they have their reasons for keeping it simple. I think it has to do with the fact that the vast majority of voters Liberals are looking for do not follow politics so the message has to be extremely simple. Unfortunately, simple can sometimes seem 'non-adult'

    Look at the Tory ads that every media outlet claimed define Ignatieff and Dion. If those worked, these should too.

  68. Because an ad like the one you propose, Coyne, would be completely ineffective as the copy is too long.

    In any case, the Liberals do say exactly what you have proposed in their open letter to Stephen Harper… I found out about it by visiting their website after seeing the ad, which you had linked to on this blog. As bad as you think they might be, they sure are generating a whole lot of discussion and getting a whole lot of attention!

    Now THAT's effective advertising.

  69. Any chance you could link the NDP exploding head ad?

    I couldn't find it on Youtube.


  70. I thought Kermit the Frog… I mean Stephane Dion tried that approach. Worked gangbusters.

  71. As sad as it is, this worked for the Tories. The Liberal's new strategy is "If you can't beat him join him." (See 10 percenters, childish photoshoping, and now amateurish ads).

    Politics gets more depressing every day.

  72. I agree that Stephan Dion is the poster child for what happens to politicians who treat the electorate like an adult. The conservative hate machine ate him up with attack ads and his complicated, honest, adult message was corrupted, twisted and used to make him look like an idiot. Who would ever want to get into politics after that debacle? I know, power hungry,egotistical, narcissistic, highly competitive people like Harper and Ignatieff.