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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  • The difference between Harper and Rae was that under Harper Canada outperformed most peer economies, while Ontario seriously lagged them (unemployment was at like 11% at one point).

    And although Rae can't be blamed for the severity of the 90's recession (I'd peg Crow as the number 1 culprit), many of the negative outcomes highlighted in the ad were a direct result of policies he initiated (eg. raising welfare benefits, and launching a stimulus).

    Of course if Bob Rae's response is the same one I've heard him give before, I think he can beat it. He's said before that he made mistakes, and is wiser for them.

    By Anonymous hosertohoosier, at 6:40 p.m.  

  • Between now and 2015 the real estate bubble in China is going to burst throwing Canada's resource sector into a recession. Considering its manufacturing sector is slowly being hollowed out the economic hardship that Canadians will feel will be comparable to the 90s recession.

    Stephen Harper's handling of that will decide his fate in 2015.

    By Blogger ottlib, at 6:51 p.m.  

  • No argument from me, Ottlib. I think Canada is headed for a fall, and the government response to the financial crisis is far from blameless.

    When the price of housing stalls, debt-ridden Canadians will start defaulting on their mortgages. That is going to put the CMHC on the hook for billions if not more.

    But voters aren't very good at recognizing economic problems before they happen.

    By Anonymous hosertohoosier, at 8:22 p.m.  

  • Bob Rae responds and in my opinion, very well.

    h/t Red Tory

    By Blogger sassy, at 9:05 p.m.  

  • ^
    Somewhat, though I'm not too sure about some of the numbers he is quoting, having looked at the actual data:

    Rae clearly increased spending more than 15%, Rae clearly spent on more than aboriginal programs, and Ontario clearly wasn't beating the rest of the world. The economy barely grew, and our increase in unemployment was clearly worse than either the rest of Canada or the US.

    By Anonymous hosertohoosier, at 9:59 p.m.  

  • All that really matters in politics is perception, and the perception is Rae was a brutal Premier. These attack ads will work.

    By Anonymous Deb, at 10:22 a.m.  

  • Bob Rae was brutal as premier of Ontario, no argument here.

    However, it is inevitable that Justin Trudeau will one day lead the Liberals, and if the Tories are itching to spend money (their own for a change, which is nice), they ought to get a jump start on attacking him.

    P.S. Aren't the NDP the official opposition?

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 10:38 a.m.  

  • Know what I find annoying? The Conservatives make an attack ad, and then the media plays and plays and plays it as a news story, magnifying the Conservative message and all for free.

    We all learned who Stephan Dion was from the media, didn't we? He's the guy who got pooped on by a puffin while shrugging his shoulders in confusion.

    By Anonymous Jeff, at 11:03 a.m.  

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