You would have thought the federal Conservative party had learned its lesson.
During the 1993 election campaign, with Kim Campbell at the helm, the Tories unleashed a series of ads that painted a very unflattering picture of then-Liberal leader Jean Chrétien. They highlighted his facial deformity and basically asked Canadians, “Would you want this man to be your prime minister?”
The backlash was swift—with even die-hard Tory voters pulling their support from the party. The result? The PCs were reduced to just two seats in the House of Commons come election night.
Fast forward 14 years. The revamped Conservative party under Stephen Harper has crawled back from oblivion to minority government status. Yet before an election even has been called, the Tories have ripped a page from the past with a series of ads (first in English, then this week in French in Quebec) that question the leadership abilities of newly-minted Liberal leader Stephane Dion.
Are the Tories that desperate already—or just plain stupid?
Canadians may tolerate parties bashing each other on policy or decisions during daily Question Period or on the campaign trail, but we definitely draw the line when the attacks question someone’s looks, mannerisms, personality, or ethnicity.
Where are the ads telling Canadians why Mr. Harper is a good leader? Or why Canadians should believe the Tories’ policy on the environment is the proper way to tackle the issue?
In short, Canadians want to hear why they should vote for a particular party or candidate; not why they shouldn’t vote for the other ones.
Such repugnant negative advertising has no place in Canadian politics whether during an election or not—and the Tories should be ashamed for stooping so low.