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Hi, I’m Michael Ignatieff

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New Liberal ads are out today. Here’s the English one:

Refreshingly positive and a good, subtle counter to Just Visiting.

The French ads are, quite literally, a bit darker:

Media for Nothing, and the Ads for Free

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Oily the splot may not air.

While some will try to spin this as a Tory screw-up, as far as screw-ups go, getting a few days worth of wall-to-wall publicity for your ads at no cost isn’t the worst screw-up a party can make.

Anyone know what a front page colour ad on the Toronto Star is worth these days? A commercial slot during the CTV evening news?

Tax Attack

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They defined Dion before the Liberals could and now the Tories have set out to define Dion’s carbon tax before the Liberals can. Which is fair enough since Dion has yet to announce the specifics of his plan.

Yesterday, the Conservatives showed typical governing party maturity with this online story, which I can only assume was dreamed up by a few summer interns smoking some…uhh…”lettuce” (woah…dude…what if we turned Dion’s head into a lettuce…cool):

In the story they quote Peter A. Nelson (yes, THE Peter A. Nelson), executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association and self-proclaimed amateur economist. In it, Mr. Nelson predicts Dion’s carbon tax will lead to $8 a head lettuce prices. Now, I noticed lettuce was $1.69 a head at Dominion on Saturday. Let’s just say $2 to keep the numbers even. So, even if we forget about the portion of that cost that comes from growing the lettuce and store profits, transportation costs would have to quadruple in order for Nelson’s prediction to come to pass. Of course, like I said – no details so I guess it’s possible there’s a $5.20 a litre gas tax in the plan, but I doubt it.

But, whatever – no need to dwell on the juvenille antics of the official Tory website. More important is the mainstream ad campaign, which has a lot more meat on it (no pun intended). The ads will be running on gas pumps which is just freakin’ brilliant in my opinion, with gas prices soaring. The ads themselves are a bit tacky, but should be effective at getting across the message the Tories want to get across.

There will also be radio ads (the “Darren” one being the best), and the campaign got some bonus earned media from the left-wing anti-Conservative media today:

Also launched today was the viral campaign. Some of the site highlights include:

-Slamming (Mulroney’s) “revenue neutral” GST.

-A “tax tag” game which is, truth be told, pretty funny. They even tossed Cherniak on, ensuring the site will get a few more links.

-“Do you think it’s easy to load websites?” shows up on the screen as the site loads. I’ll admit I laughed out loud at that one.

The Man With No Plan

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I don’t know a lot about the “Albertans for Change” group but they certainly appear organized and well funded. Few Alberta opposition parties have had the dough to run commercials in recent elections but this group, composed of Alberta unions, is now airing three attack ads directed towards the Premier.

With ominous music, black and white pictures, newspaper headlines, and a repetitive message, these ads are fairly textbook and I suspect they’ll be effective. Just as the federal Tory ads (successfully) branded Dion with the “not a leader” tag, these ads will try to paint Stelmach as the man with “no plan”. Regardless of whether or not that’s true, the message is believable enough that it could stick.

You can watch them online here.

On the Attack

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The Tories have pounced on Dion’s somewhat misguided GST musings with a new attack ad. Apparently Dion has made “billions of dollars” in spending promises which is news to me because, outside of the environment, I haven’t really heard any promises. We also learn in the ads that 5 4 3.5 10 a nebulous number of priorities beats 3 pillars.

As for the ads themselves, yeah it looks like Ben and Rachel put them together, but it’s still smart politics. With Dion down, might as well keep punching. And for the Tories flush with cash, they can certainly afford to run them.

I’ve been saying for a long time that the biggest problem with the Liberal Party isn’t the leadership, MPs, policy positions, or recent baggage. The biggest problem is the structural inability of the party to fundraise. And the most discouraging thing is that there doesn’t seem to be any sort of plan out there to turn things around.

"I’m a Liberal. And I’m a PC…"

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Since my fellow libloggers are being shy about posting the new YLC ads, and everyone probably missed them yesterday, I figured I’d toss them up here.

Bottom line – they’re clever and funny, which is what you want in a viral ad campaign.

Stephane Dion is not a hero. You know who is a hero? Hiro. From Heroes.

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Unable to break into majority government territory, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have turned to the burning issue on everyone’s mind this spring…yes…Senate Reform! An exciting series of new ads attack Dion for…zzzz…..sorry, I’m already sleepy just thinking about the topic.

That’s right, apparently Liberal Senators are delaying Harper’s Senate Reform Bill. Uh-oh. If this doesn’t spur protests on the grounds of Parliament Hill, I don’t know what will.

The best part of the ads is that their main focus seems to be to convince Canadians that Stephane Dion is not a hero. I mean, I like the guy, but I’d never consider Stephane Dion my hero. I doubt even Jason Cherniak considers Stephane Dion his hero. And, let’s say for a second that Canadians from coast to coast do consider Stephane Dion their hero. I don’t think his stance on Senate Reform is going to make anyone change their opinions. After watching 23 episodes of Heroes this year, never did I once see a hero who had the ability to speed legislation through the Senate. (although, it would make for a fun episode if John Baird wanted to do a guest spot next season)

Oh, and I’m not positive if saying your opponent is unfit to lead because he obstructs Senate business is necessarily wise one week after a handbook on how to obstruct parliament’s business was leaked.

I’m just sayin‘.

Take Two

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The second Liberal Ad is similar to the first, adding the Al Gore glacier, a cute baby, and a few words from Stephane Dion.

Monsieur President

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The Liberals have a new TV ad out today and, after skewering their french radio ads last week, I can safely give this one the thumbs up.

Even though it’s an ad about the environment, it’s not really an ad about the environment. This is undeniably a response to Tory messaging that Dion is a weak leader, so we see him leading the international climate change conference, bringing countries together, and having the “President” label in front of him as he triumphantly bangs the gavel to applause. It’s hard to deny those aren’t good optics that paint Dion is a very favourable light.

There are also six radio ads up on the site – three in English, three in French. The first two are on poverty which is a nice change from the all environment all the time focus. The third is a translation from the brutal french radio spot that attacked Harper for attacking Dion.

The first two French radio spots are direct translations from the English poverty ones. The third is on the environment incredulously asking about Harper’s road to Damascus conversion to the environment.

Would have liked to have seen this a bit earlier but, better late than never.

They’ll Go Neg

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The Liberals have released three new radio ads in Quebec which attack Harper for going negative. It’s not quite as bizarre as the “they’ll go neg” ads the Conservatives ran after Christmas last year since those ads accused the Liberals of going negative before the Liberals ran negative ads but, at the same time, those ads did get a few corruption shots in at Martin whereas these new ones come across as sounding fairly lame. Here are the translated transcripts from Antonio:

Ad Un
“If Stephen Harper is convinced his accomplishments up to now are so good, would he spend all his money on negative ads about Stephane Dion? What do you think?”

Ad Deux
“In 2007, do we really prefer a politician like Stephen Harper, who spends his time denigrating his opponent, or a passionate man like Stephane Dion, who is concerning himself with the challenges of the 21st century? Which one is making us take a step backward?”

Ad Trois
“If Stephen Harper and the Conservatives attack Stephane Dion, is it because they are afraid of something? Afraid of his ideas maybe? Afraid of his Green Plan? Afraid…to lose power?”

I guess the plan is to try and get the message across that Dion is a better person than Harper and more honourable which may not be an awful message in itself. But at the time when more and more people are whispering that the Liberals can’t take a punch, there’s probably a better way to emphasize Dion’s character. Maybe a direct message from the guy himself.

Now, I’m not opposed to attack ads on Harper – far from it. It’s just that, in Quebec, there are a lot of good issues they could be attacking Harper on rather than “he runs attack ads”. The environment, foreign policy, child care, broken promises…pick a social issue and he’s probably off side from most Quebecers on it.

Running a negative ad which basically says “my opponent runs negative ads because he has nothing constructive to say” kind of invites most rational radio listeners to say “aren’t the Liberals running negative ads saying that the Conservatives run negative ads because they have nothing constructive to say, because the Liberals have nothing constructive to say?” [actually, screw that. I’m confused just reading that last sentence and I wrote it. Maybe radio listeners won’t make that connection].

I’m sympathetic to the fact that most of the people who used to handle our Quebec ads are in jail these days but surely there’s someone in the province who could have done better than this?

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