Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Election '08 Ad Watch: Here Come Our Winners

Throughout the election I asked readers to rate the different ads the parties tossed out on the airwaves. And, even though there were some obvious partisan biases at play, it's hard to argue with the final list. Here are the top 5 ads, based on your votes:

Number 5: Harpernomics (Liberals)

Number 4: Bushwacked (Liberals)

Number 3: Subtle Micro-Targeting (Conservatives)

Number 2: Jack Attack (NDP)

Number 1: Jack Attaque (NDP)


  • The most successful political ad by a huge margin was not an ad at all, but rather culture in peril.

    By Blogger Koby, at 8:20 p.m.  

  • I really wish that we had longer political ads in Canada. In thirty seconds, all you can really do is push a very superficial message. With ads that are a minute or longer, you can at least cover the basic points of a proposed policy. Then again, most voters have too short of an attention span even for these ads.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:30 p.m.  

  • I judge a Conservative ad's effectiveness by how much I want to go out and find and then mercilessly throttle the person(s) who wrote it. And going on that criteria #3 wins for me. Makes me want to puke every time I see it.

    As if Stephen Harper gives a flying fig newton about that woman or her kid. Maybe if the woman was the head of an oil company.

    By Blogger Hishighness, at 9:33 p.m.  

  • koby - definitely. Especially when you consider how that spoof helped turn Quebec against the Tories.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 11:01 p.m.  

  • Dumb question highighness: why wouldn't Stephen Harper care about that woman? Why wouldn't anyone?

    Personally I think the saddest part is that merely mentioning Bush or America is enough to swing votes. Are we so blind that we'll accept two radically different people and platforms as being similar? Are we so hateful that painting anything American in anything but the most negative light subjects you to attack? Sad.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 10:25 a.m.  

  • I guess you're right Robert. After all I don't know if she's got millions in the market or like I say she's an oil company exec, or she works for CTV. I guess Harper would care about her in those cases.

    As for Harper and Bush being radically different, excuse me for a second.


    Oh man, that was a great one, now where was I? Oh yeah right Harper isn't Bush *chuckle* Anyway the only reason Harper is making this lunge to the center is because he knows he can't win if he comes out and says what he really wants to do. Anyone who believes Harper wouldn't mold Canada in to his own perverted right wing image if given a majority and control of the Senate is just the kind of person I'd like to meet because I've got this bridge in Alaska I'd like to sell them.

    By Blogger Hishighness, at 11:30 a.m.  

  • HisHighness,

    It's exactly your superficial characterization of Harper and the Cons that has us in trouble. Whether we like it or not, that superficiality plays only to our base ... and apparently not too well.

    I hated all the Con ads, they were stupid and childish, but this one that made me think, "oh crap, that's gonna work" ...not for the choir, but for the twice-a-yearer whose only paying attention on the last weekend. It, as much as the CTV fiasco, righted their ship at the last minute.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:48 a.m.  

  • That NDP ad is my favorite of all time. I watch it and think, "yeah, maybe I am the incarnation of the devil." I checked, and yup, a 666 bump on my scalp. I'm marked.

    By Blogger Tarkwell Robotico, at 11:52 a.m.  

  • Yep, amazing how the NDP can IMPLY troops ... on our streets and not get any flak for it. And that right there is why the ad was the best one, plus it had the best Star Wars factor.... Starts off with DARK SIDE, DARTH HARPER, EMPEROR BUSH, MORE DARK SIDE ... then happy colourful "Video Professor" Jack doing a Jedi mind trick... "You will try my product."

    By Blogger Mike B., at 1:51 p.m.  

  • anon last time I checked I wasn't in charge of the LPC's message so it's not me that's got us in trouble.

    and it's NOT a characterization, a characterization is when you say things about someone that isn't true.

    But don't ask me, listen to his own words.

    Will The Real Stephen Harper Please Stand Up?

    By Blogger Hishighness, at 8:17 p.m.  

  • Check out the heat on this blog posting:

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:46 p.m.  

  • My case against the Harper = Bush meme:

    The Harper is Bush argument has three basic tenets. First, Harper hates socialism, just like his hero Bush. He wants to deregulate the economy, despite the recent financial crisis.

    First, this is a radical misconception of the Bush administration. Bush has been the biggest centralizer and the biggest spender since the 1960's - reversing longstanding trends in American politics. Even if you believe decentralization caused the present financial crisis, the key bill legalizing derivatives trading was signed by Bill Clinton. Yes, Bush cut taxes, but his tax cut largely benefited the rich because he cut income taxes.

    Harper is, at his core, a genuine believer in free markets. That is probably his strongest held belief, I would add. However, in office he has been pragmatic, and not run a deficit (which is a position he has held since his Reform party days). He cut taxes, but focused on the GST, which everybody (not just people with incomes) pay, which was a less regressive move. He has made no cuts to social programs (though people went up in arms when he reduced the consistently increasing spending on the arts by a small amount as if it was some smoking gun). Moreover, Harper has broadened his coalition by pushing for a decentralization of power, and fiscal federalism.

    Bush is a supply-sider
    -centralization of power in the hands of the presidency
    -tax cuts for the rich
    -the deficit takes care of itself

    Harper is a traditional fiscal conservative
    -more power to the provinces
    -tax cuts for the middle/working class
    -deficits are bad (yes he may run one next year, but as much as Dion attacked him on this point it is worth noting Harper planned on only 8 billion in new spending and tax cuts versus >50 billion for Dion - not counting already-budgeted infrastructure spending)

    Okay, but but... Harper is insanely socially conservative. He ends his speeches by saying God Bless Canada, and opposes abortion (possibly because he eats babies).

    Bush has been a good social conservative, appointing anti-abortion folks to the supreme court, opposing gay marriage (presumably he would support a federal ban), standing for abstinence-only sex education abroad and opposing stem cell research.

    This one is rather weak tea as well. When Harper was running for leadership of the largely pro-life Canadian Alliance he had every incentive to paint himself as a social Conservative. Instead he said this of his views:

    "My own views on abortion, I'm not on either pole of that and neither of the interest groups on either end of this issue would probably be comfortable with my views. "

    He consistently opposed the Reform and Alliance parties taking a position on the issue or proposing abortion-related legislation. Lifesite supports this view too, it has never endorsed him and believes he is not pro-life:



    But Harper hates gay people right? Well, Harper publicly opposed the Reform Party's position on gay issues, believing that sexual orientation should be grounds for protection against discrimination ("Two Calgary Reformers Back Gay Rights." Calgary Herald 1994).

    Yes, he opposed gay marriage in 2004 and 2006. How many times has he used the notwithstanding clause to deny homosexuals their rights? It was obvious to everybody that the second vote on gay marriage was designed to fail so he could remove a politically inconvenient issue from the national debate.

    Harper even voted FOR the gun registry.

    Bush is a consistently socially conservative guy who supports...
    -outlawing abortion
    -a federal ban on gay marriage
    -no stem cell research

    Harper is an economist who doesn't want to talk about social issues, he supports
    -not talking about abortion ever, and isn't exactly loved by pro-life groups
    -protection of the rights of homosexuals, but not equal marriage - though he effectively sabotaged the anti-gay marriage cause by holding a second vote at a time he knew it would fail

    The strongest element of the Harper-Bush triad is that on foreign policy Harper has consistently yielded to America, parroting the Bush White House at every turn.

    The traditional response to this argument by Conservative apologists has been to point out that many Liberals also supported the Iraq war, the Afghanistan War, effectively ignoring Kyoto, and so on. It is a good argument but we've heard it all before.

    Lebanon is one thing people talk about. The obvious explanation of Harper's Lebanon position lies in the Tory win in Thornhill and that Winnipeg riding.

    I think it is worth pointing out that Canada's position in the world is radically different from that of the United States. Yes, Harper is pro-American, but the international relations philosophy that underlies his decisions differs considerably from that of President Bush.

    American presidents tend to be one of four things - realists, liberals, isolationists or neoconservatives. Isolationism has been dead since the Second World War, so lets ignore it for now (Ron Paul is an example if you want one).

    Realists believe interests should drive American foreign policy, and are pretty okay with the use of force if necessary. Nixon, Ford and Bush Sr. are the best examples of realists.

    Liberals believe American foreign policy should be driven by ideals, that conflict is the result of a failure to communicate, and that America should seek to facilitate global cooperation. Woodrow Wilson or Bill Clinton are good examples of this mold.

    Neoconservatives (who began as a weird alliance of ex-Trotskyites and conservative opponents of Nixon's detente with the USSR) also believe that ideals should drive foreign policy. However, they are much more inclined than liberals towards the use of force. Reagan and Bush jr. are the prototypical examples of this vein of thought.

    Harper's foreign policy is decidedly pro-American, as was that of the Liberals before him because he is a realist, not a neoconservative. Canada has gained little of tangible value from being an international do-gooder. I have heard some say we have "soft power", yet when have we been able to parlay this "soft power" into anything of tangible value? Canada's most important international relationship is, and will always be with the United States. If one is going to commit resources abroad, the US is the only country in a position to reward Canada.

    How has the US rewarded Canada?
    -Anybody looking at the US-Canada free trade agreement objectively finds that Canada gains disproportionately (we gain access to a market of 300 million, they to one of 30 million). The far lefties talk about the oil clause because they can't win the argument on the big picture.
    -Mulroney got Reagan (just about the worst environmentalist) to sign an acid rain treaty.
    -the softwood lumber agreement (the US could easily have afforded to maintain the status quo on lumber, they couldn't afford the status quo in Afghanistan)
    -Mark my words, an independent Quebec will not be recognized by the United States unless we give the word.

    So on foreign policy...

    Bush is a crusading neoconservative

    Harper is a cautious realist trading Canadian participation for tangible gains.

    Harper is not a tree-hugging lefty wearing a wolf costume, and I invite people to attack him and his policies on his/their merits. Honest people can oppose fiscal conservative answers to policy questions. Those that want clarity in their politicians can certainly attack Harper's muddled and politically opportunistic positions on social issues. People that fear for Canada's sovereignty or international reputation have some points to make against Harper's foreign policy.

    The Harper-Bush argument is, however, an insult to those that oppose Harper. It involves an admission that you can't attack Harper on his record, or his core ideas, and must create a sort of bogeyman (probably knowing that it is false).

    You ask "will the real Stephen Harper please stand up" (incidentally in a blog entry that quotes from a speech including a line Harper liked to tell that generally offended Christians). He has stood up, for a lot of things, in his 15 year career as a politician and right-wing lobbyist.
    You just can't bring yourself to a world that doesn't fit your pat answers and black and white characterizations.

    Maybe you're the one who is like George W. Bush.

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 10:30 p.m.  

  • Hoser, that was amazing. Extremely well said.

    I liked this quote in particular:

    "The Harper-Bush argument is, however, an insult to those that oppose Harper."

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 10:45 a.m.  

  • If I recall correctly the Conservative ad in the post came out very late in the race. I remember asking myself why they didn't run it earlier.

    Could it have played a role in the late swing of votes to the Conservatives?

    p.s. It's time to move off the "Harper=Bush" line. By the next Canadian election Bush will be a sad, distant memory.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:15 p.m.  

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