Monday, March 19, 2012

New Tory Ad Blitz

The Tories have launched a pair of ads which they assure us will get plenty of air time. That's probably true since, after all, they've got heaps of money and no election to spend it on.

Garnering the most media attention has been the following Bob Rae attack ad:

The content is about what you'd expect from a Bob Rae attack ad, so the speculation has centered primarily on why Harper would bother attacking the interim Liberal leader three years before an election?

My suspicion is this ad will receive very limited airtime, and is intended mainly to stir things up online. It re-opens the question of whether or not Rae will run for permanent leader, and leads to a very uncomfortable question for many Liberals - should they spend party funds to defend the interim leader? My answer would be an unequivocal "no", but others will disagree, and anytime Liberals are squabbling internally, Stephen Harper is smiling.

After being reminded that the economic downturn of the early 90s was all Bob Rae's fault, we learn that the current economic downturn shows us what a strong leader Stephen Harper has been. Uh-huh. This is the ad that will get the most airtime, for the reasons Paul Wells gets into here.

The short of it is that Harper has long been able to play the downturn into an advantage under the simple line that "Canada is better off than the rest of the world". That's an argument most people can get behind when they're reading stories about the US economy circling the drain, but what happens when we get more and more stories about the US recovery outperforming the Canadian recovery? Frustration is going to set in, and voters will be looking for someone to blame - so why not blame the guy who has tied himself to Canada's "strong, stable economic recovery"?

And that, is likely the largest risk Harper faces in 2015, more so than Robocon or any of the dozen other scandals we'll all jump up and down about over the next three years.

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