The last time the Conservatives launched attack ads... -

The last time the Conservatives launched attack ads…

Besides the ads’ targets, has anything changed?


These days I am occupationally obsessed with seeking the history in current events. So it took me only a couple of days to recall this story from May of 2009, two weeks after the Conservatives launched their “Just Visiting” ads against Michael Ignatieff. The story is now almost exactly four years old, and I am curious to see whether anything has changed except the identity of the ads’ target.

The story marks precisely the last time I ever accorded any credulity to the claims of then-Liberal president Alf Apps, who was quite sure the avalanche of advertising against Michael Ignatieff would have precisely one effect: to inflate Liberal coffers as indignant citizens donated to the unjustly slandered Liberal Party. In the breathless prose I affected when I wrote that blog post:

On May 18, five days after the Conservative ads started running, Apps held a special meeting of the Liberals’ National Management Committee….[F]undraising changes will allow “a constructive, comprehensive and focused response to the personal attacks on [the party’s] Leader by instead addressing the Harper Conservatives’ failed approach to the economic crisis and refusal to adopt the Liberal EI plan.”

“I believe the advertising campaign undertaken by our opponents last week has created the opportunity to galvanize the entire Party around a reinvigorated fundraising effort now, even before the summer commences,” Apps writes.

In fact, what happened was that the Liberals’ fundraising did not improve markedly; their chief fundraiser decamped to run for the Toronto mayoralty and then for a provincial seat as a Conservative; and Michael Ignatieff led the Liberals to their lowest vote score since Confederation. This is not exactly what many of our comment-board regulars predicted. “I might actually be fed up enough with Harper to start donating. This ad campaign makes the need clearer,” one wrote. There was a general sense that, with their clumsy and amateurish “Just Visiting” ads, the Conservatives had finally lost their touch.

But of course, this time it’s Justin, so this time it’ll be completely different.



The last time the Conservatives launched attack ads…

  1. Any sense of how much money was raised within say five days that ad was released versus now?

    • For whom?

      Most articles I’ve seen seem to indicate that the ads have helped raise a good amount of money for the Tories, and slightly MORE for the Liberals.

      It’s hard to say how much funding at any moment is tied to any given event, but the last estimate I saw claimed that it appeared as though the ad had generated about $400,000 for the Liberals so far.

      • Right. For Dion/Ignatieff vs. Trudeau. If the index of “success” or “how things are different” is the amount raised within a 5 day period following the ad, then I think we have an answer.

  2. BREAKING: Paul Wells is unimpressed by [your event here].

    • Breaking…Paul Wells apparently ghost writes at Small Dead Animals.

      • Breaking…john g is posting from the LPC war room in downtown Toronto.

        • Alternatively, everybody here could assume that others’ viewpoints are honestly held. That would improve these comment boards about 40%.

          • That’s EXACTLY what a reporter who was in the tank for the marxist-leninist party of Canada would say. Don’t think we aren’t on to you, Wells.

          • Actually I rather like that a conservative here thinks I’m working on behalf of the Liberals. Wish I could see the 5 who thumbed him up.

          • I love when that sort of thing happens too!

            I’ve been labelled a lackey for the Tories a time or two, and it always makes me chuckle.

            As for the thumbs up on that comment, I presume that a good number of them were given by people who presumed that the comment was a joke.

  3. Trudeau is starting from a little further ahead — 43-30, I believe I saw? Dion was up 38-32 at one point, Ignatieff 38-33.

    So maybe it’s a little different this time?

  4. At least the Canadian Liver Foundation is doing well from this.

    Now just imagine Stephen Harper taking his shirt off at a charity event. What do you think might happen PW?

    • The difference between Harper and Trudeau is that Harper is not so full of himself that he would think of taking off his clothes for charity or any other thing. Lets not get into who has the better looking body etc. etc. I am making a general observation. Harper is a serious man. Trudeau not so much.

      • So Harper never takes his clothes off, like ever? No wonder he walks like the Great A&W Rootbear: he’s all crusted up. Ewww, harper is a dirtybird. And come on, you ARE thinking about who has the best body, now aren’t you?

        • He caresses his cat on TV.

    • Harper would raise 5 times what Trudeau raised if he promised to put it back on, and 10 times if he did it within 30 seconds?

      • LOL – good one!

  5. If the difference is fund-raising, then there is a difference. This time around the Liberals are reporting record numbers of donations coming in after Trudeau was elected, I think the figure was over $300,000 raised in 48 hours, they seem to think the attack ads helped that bump.

    Not to mention Trudeau raised over $3 million during the Liberal leadership campaign.

    • Yes, they said the same thing after Dion, and Ignatieff also. They also said they had 300,000 supporters for their leadership “race”, which turned out to be less than half that.

  6. The Liberals must respond by attacking Harper in the same vicious personal way or they will be crushed as Dion and Iggy were. LeBlanc did a good attack job on TV Wed night.

    • They’d have a hard-time doing that. Attack Harper for his love of cats or hockey? Attack ads work because they point out the truth. Dion is a brilliant man, but not a leader. Ignatieff is so arrogant that he thought he could run this country after being away for 30 years. Trudeau did strip and did say (at another occasion) that Quebecers are better. That’s why partisans are infuriated. The truth hurts.

      • “Trudeau did strip and did say (at another occasion) that Quebecers are better.”

        Well, I suppose that is “true” by the definition of the shameless Conservative Party. Here in the real world, however, those of us paying attention know that Trudeau wasn’t telling us what he believed, but what his father believed. If anyone is infuriated by that smear, it’s not because the truth hurts.

        • Maybe in that instance, but when he was talking about Albertans a while back, he mentioned that Quebecers were better and also, butter at running the country. You can’t deny that as much as you probably believe the same.

        • If you want to make comparisons to the past, we can also say that Iggy and Dion were both more intelligent and thoughtful than Justin, more educated than Justin, and had more experience (both in life and in government) than Justin. So in terms of merit, Justin starts behind the other two. “Not a leader” suited the waffling, stuttering Dion. “Just visiting” nailed the arrogant, aristocratic Ignatieff. And “In over his (air) head” describes the Trudeau tyke to a T. Three bulls eyes for the Tories. And for you Libs who think launching nasty attack ads at Harper is the answer, you and your media pals have been doing that for almost ten years, and he keeps winning more and more seats each election. All I can say is, keep it up!

          • That’s amazing! You two know that I’m a Liberal (I’m not) and what I believe about Quebecers’ supposed superiority (you don’t).

  7. Raising close close to 400,000 dollars in 48 hours, and more to the Liver Foundation while mocking someone for raising money for charity were not part of the events four-years ago. We’ll see what happens in the long term, but for the first round of ads and response, it’s not exactly the same.

    • Now it’s $400,000. Wow that number grows by the second, just like the number of supporter! We’ll wait for the realistic count.

    • 400 000$ in 48 hours? Do you have a link? I thought the numbers hadn’t been released yet.

      • Fromt Twitter:
        Gerald Butts
        @TOprogressive @Uranowski @althiaraj Sometimes you get opportunities too good to pass up. Tory ad has raised $408k for #LPC as of this AM.

  8. Last time around Canadians didn’t have two years of con majority bully tactics and gutter politics under their belts. Let’s see how that works for them this time.

  9. re this…. –> their chief fundraiser decamped to run for the Toronto mayoralty and then for a provincial seat as a Conservative;

    sounds like a traitor was running around like a con spy inside the Liberals

  10. Paul, haven’t you heard, didn’t you get the Memo, Harper has to step down this summer.

    • Just ask Lawrence Martin of the Globe. He has been pushing this storyline in the last couple of columns. Harper is going nowhere.

  11. It’s greatly entertaining watching the Liberals repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

  12. We Conservatives sit back and smile. It is the same media types, pundits and columnists who opine that the ad won’t/can’t work and yet time after time they are proven wrong. What does it take to get some of these idiots to stop and think? This time the media has gone out of its way to defend Trudeau. He stripped for charity. His words on Quebec were taken out of context. Do they honestly believe that Canadians who may pay attention to politics for about 14 seconds a day care about context? They will watch the ads, be amused and then decide for themselves whether they believe them or not. The Conservatives are setting the table for the young Trudeau. If he makes outlandish statements, uses the usual Liberal bromides and clichés etc. it won’t take long for the public to believe the ads.

    • I also see the CPC has also trotted out the “HA! Look how dumb our supporters are!” bit again.

      • No, not the CPC supporters. The Trudeau ones.

  13. I got an email – from the account of Justin himself – asking me for a donation so that he can respond to Harper’s attack with a positive message of his own.
    Obviously there’s nothing wrong with that.
    I recall that I got a similar email 4 years ago (I may even have it someplace still) – possibly from the account of Michael Ignatieff himself – asking me for a donation so that he could respond to Harper’s attack with his own positive message.
    That campaign, I suppose, allowed the Michael Ignatieff goes to Narnia ads to become a thing.
    History does appear to be repeating itself. Whether the response will be different, or whether the attack ads worked previously because people were predisposed to dislike Mr. Ignatieff (and Mr. Dion before him) remains to be seen.
    Who knows. Maybe it WILL be different because it’s Justin.

  14. Never will Trudeau win! He has made separatist
    comments,…..just picture the ad, with those comments broadcast on
    TV,…. another huge loss for the Liberals!

  15. The CPC isn’t bragging like Liberals about the amount of money the ads brought in, but they are saying:
    (and this is just on the internet, how many people saw the ads on tv, it’s a big media buy)
    ”….The ads, said Byrne, “have spread farther and faster than any ads we’ve ever done.”

    According to Byrne the ad had 270,000 views on YouTube in the first two days, which beats even the interest in ads during an election. It was so popular it even crashed the party’s website, which has never happened before…”

  16. Wow. Justin Trudeau has been Liberal leader for less than 5 days and all the media can talk about is the Conservative ads. The media even post the ads themselves so you don’t even have to search YouTube or go to a website. Somebody at CPC HQ must be saying “mission accomplished.”
    Next to appear I suppose will be anti=Justin ads in French….from the NDP.

  17. I overheard a conversation between two ladies in the office today, neither of which are keen political observers. One asked, “What do you think of that Justin Trudeau?” The other said, “I don’t know… he’s good looking…” The other lady said, “I saw a piece about him on the TV last night, dancing around on a stage… He looked ridiculous. I’m not going to vote for him.”

    So, yeah, I guess the attack ads work.

    I just sighed. I’m not disappointed for the sake of the Liberals or for Trudeau. I’m disappointed because that’s the level of political engagement out there. Depressing.

  18. The best part about these attack ads, is people are so disgusted with the conservatives; the way they attacked him being a “teacher” or a “camp counselor” or dancing on stage for fundraising for cancer has actually made people swing straight into Justin’s arms. Congratulations conservative party, your true nature has Canadians running the other way.