jeffrey simpson: no stoop is too low for the harper conservatives

This column by the Globe and Mail's Jeffrey Simpson doesn't break any new ground, but it's a good summary of the divisive, toxic nature Stephen Harper's Conservatives.
Stephen Harper has made two contributions to changing Canadian politics.

First, Mr. Harper reunited the right, driving the union of two parties to produce a strong and effective Conservative Party that has won two minority governments. Today, the Conservatives remain competitive with the Liberals, no mean feat in a recession.

Second, Mr. Harper introduced negative television advertising between elections as a staple of Conservative politics.

Parties had deployed attack ads, very personally aimed at other party leaders, during election campaigns. That they should now be featured between elections is Mr. Harper's contribution.

The ads are not universally popular, even in the Conservative caucus. Some MPs hear from Conservative constituents that they reinforce the party's image under Mr. Harper for thuggishness and excessive partisanship.

But Doug Finley, the party's national director, and Guy Giorno, the Prime Minister's chief-of-staff, tell squeamish MPs that the ads are "working" to frame negatively Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, just as the party's previous televised assault on former leader St├ęphane Dion framed him as a nerd and a weakling with crazy ideas.

The current ad campaign costs around $3-million. The ads appear on radio and television, with target "buys" on sports programs, including the Stanley Cup playoffs. Only a party that raises large sums of money can afford television ads between elections, and the Conservatives are the masters of fundraising.

The ads reflect the Harper idea/ideal that politics is a never-ending war in which no quarter is asked or taken. No stoop is really too low for the Harper Conservatives.

Read it here.


janfromthebruce said...

Didn't the liberals paint Stockwall Day the new leader of the CRAP party before an election cycle? Just wondering as I seem to remember before the election that they did that too.

L-girl said...

No idea. That was before my time in Canada.

Cornelia said...

The Harper and Kenney bunch has an extremely low level, as we are all well aware of...

M@ said...

Doug Finley and Guy Giorno are really just a couple of thugs in suits. No legitimate government would use hacks like that, because it would be beneath them. Sad.

But I don't think it's just negative TV ads -- it's the unceasing barrage of "they did it", this petulant inability to see anything in tones other than black and white (red and blue). Linda Keen? Liberal appointee, therefore wrong. Senate promises? The Liberals have more seats so they don't matter. And on and on.

It'll be nice when the grownups are in charge again in Canada -- I don't care what their party logo is, I just want a government I can respect again. I don't have to agree with them -- I just don't want to think their decisions are made based on childish, schoolyard motivations.

L-girl said...

It's definitely not only the attack ads, that's true. But for me, it's all about which logo has more influence, because I've seen that all the parties are selfish, partisan babies.

The Liberals are all about what's good for the Liberals. Sadly, having seen a bit of inside NDP politics through the war resisters campaign, I see that the NDP is no better. (Although at least they stand for something, unlike what I see from the Liberals.)

Idealistic Pragmatist would always say her biggest disappointment and frustration with Canadian politics was the extreme partisanship - everyone putting the party's interests over working together for the greater good. The longer I'm here, the more I see this is true.

I totally agree with you, M@, about the Conservatives' schoolyard bully mentality. I do think an Ignatieff government would be more adult. It does appear that way, anyway. Will we ever get a chance to find out???

Kim_in_TO said...

When we talk about negative advertising from the Tories, we should stop to remember one of the great moments in Canadian politics:
Jean Cretien attack ad

L-girl said...

Ah, so glad you posted that, Kim! In a long political discussion on this blog, before we moved to Canada, someone showed me that.