Conservatives hope to put NDP on the defensive with doom and gloom carbon tax ad

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

It isn't just the politicos in the United States that are addicted to attack ads.

The Harper Conservatives have launched their latest salvo at Thomas Mulcair and the NDP, with a slick radio ad about, you guessed it — the carbon tax.

While the ad is new, the carbon tax attack isn't.  For the past two months the Conservatives have been spreading this narrative about the NDP scheming to introduce a "job-killing carbon tax."

But the NDP say that the Tories are "lying."

"This is an ethical decision Stephen Harper is going to have to deal with, because he knows his MPs are lying when they say that," Mulcair told Global News in September, adding that his party supports a cap and trade system much like the plan proposed by the Harper government in 2008.

[ Related: Michael Ignatieff says top-heavy parliaments spell doom for Western democracies ]

Even the media have taken Mulcair's side on this one.

"Stephen Harper took a bold step a new kind of creative, performance-based politics, uncoupling himself from the mundane world of facts and deftly using confusion as a weapon." PostMedia News' Stephen Maher wrote.

"Lying is, in fact, a good word for what the Conservatives have done on this file," opined Paul Wells from MacLeans Magazine.

But as we learned during the recent U.S. election campaign, the 'truth' is often in the eye of the beholder.

"It has all the elements of a classic "attack ad": ominous music, voice of doom narrator and simple concise message, i.e. Mulcair wants taxes," political consultant Gerry Nicholls told Yahoo! Canada News when asked about the new radio ads.

"And yes, I know the media has tried to debunk this narrative, but the fact is more people will hear the ad than hear the media spin. So advantage Tories."

Nicholls suggests that the Tories have two goals with this ad: one, its about raising "donation dollars" from the party's base and two, its about goading Mulcair.

[ Related: Tories attack Mulcair and the NDP for voting against protection of war memorials ]

"This will put [Mulcair] on the defensive and get him off message," Nicholls said.

"As we say in the business, if you're denying, you're dying."