On Jan. 17, the Conservative Party released a series of attack ads aimed at Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. Then, on Jan. 27, a further series of attack ads was released. Almost immediately after their airing, the Tories retracted them after they were criticized for being unethical, dishonest and horribly edited.
Several weeks ago, the Conservative Party also debuted a series of national advertisements attempting to, well, make Prime Minister Stephen Harper look awesome and everyone else look evil and incompetent.
In a speech delivered Jan. 25, Mr. Ignatieff had asked supporters, “Are we ready to serve the people who put us here? Are we ready to fight for the Canada we love? Are we ready to fight for the Canadian family? What’s the answer to that? Yes! Yes! Yes!” The latest Conservative ads isolate this final line to make it seem as though Ignatieff responds in favour of forcing “an unnecessary election” and “raising taxes on job creators.”
In one of the ads released Jan. 17, entitled “Ignatieff Canada,” a black and white image of Ignatieff is shown smeared across a blood-red background. Yes, you read right, a literal smear campaign. This is just insulting to our intelligence, and is way too on the nose.
The voice-over bellows “Michael Ignatieff is back in Canada. But why?” With such contempt, snark and suspicion you would think Ignatieff did something to personally harm each and every one of us. “But Why?” Well, because he’s trying to become prime minister, of course.
The voice-over continues: “While away, Ignatieff called our flag ”˜A passing imitation of a beer label.’” The quote is displayed across a crumpled Canadian flag. If you pause the video on this quote you’ll see that under the quote is a line of text that reads “The Observer, July 8, 1990”. 1990? Do you hold anyone to what they said 21 years ago? Do you care? Someone dug deep for this quote and it falls flat.
Another smeared image shows Ignatieff saying, “I wish my country were a little better.” Who doesn’t want their country to be better? What political leader doesn’t want to improve their country? Isn’t that the point of political parties? After Mr. Ignatieff’s statement the narrator rings back in “Yes, if only we could all be a little better, just like Michael.” This voice-over is condescending beyond anything that I’ve ever heard spoken aloud without denoting complete sarcasm. Who does this appeal to?
Let’s just pretend for a second that we’re completely persuaded by this ad and we presumptuously think that Michael Ignatieff is “a little bit better.” Is he too smart to be Canada’s prime minister? Let’s take a look at some of his credentials. He obtained his PhD in History at Harvard. He’s taught at University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, Cambridge University, L’Ã‰cole des Hautes Ã‰tudes in Paris, and Harvard University. He’s also taught at Oxford, University of London and the London School of Economics. Wouldn’t you like your prime minister to be highly educated?
While these ads were meant to raise questions about the suitability of Mr. Ignatieff as a leader, such outlandish narration and lavish editorialism has done nothing but raise questions about the Conservative party. And that creepy piano in the background is not helping matters either.
While intellect isn’t the only thing that makes a suitable prime minister, under no means should education ever be used as a criticism against any politician vying for a particular constituency.