Liberal MP introduces attack ad accountability bill

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Here's another private members bill that will never see the light of day but makes for an interesting debate.

On Tuesday morning, Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux introduced a bill whereby party leaders would have to publicly endorse their political ads. So, if by some miracle the bill actually passes, we'd hear Stephen Harper's voice at the end of all Conservative Party attack ads saying: "I am Stephen Harper and I approve this message."

It appears the bill was modeled after the "Stand by your ad" provision, in the United States, enacted in 2002 as a means to discourage political parties and third parties from making controversial claims in their television and radio commercials

[ Related: Margaret Trudeau comes to son Justin’s defence over political ‘bullying’ ]

Lamoureux, however, says his bill is not about censuring anyone.

"If people want to have vicious attack ads, they can do so. If they want to have positive ads they can do so," he told 570 News' Gary Doyle.

"What it is about..is accountability, transparency. We want to ensure that...when a political party puts out an ad...that it is the leader of the party that authorizes it."

Lamoureux added that he hasn't discussed his PMB with leader Justin Trudeau.

"I have not sat down with him and said here's my idea. My idea comes out of morning discussions [with constituents] that I have on a weekly basis," he said.

"I trust that he will be pleased with it."

[ Related: New Democrats go positive with new campaign-style ad ]

The Globe and Mail editorial board, for one, doesn't think it's a worthy idea.

"A private member’s bill that would require federal party leaders to attach their names to negative television ads is a well-meaning effort to get politicians to play nice, but it is unnecessary and will likely fail to make a useful difference. Canadian voters have already shown they are capable of dealing with attacks ads without having their hands held by Elections Canada," they wrote in an article published on Tuesday.

"Furthermore, the United States has shown that forcing candidates to endorse negative ads does nothing to reduce the number of them. President Barack Obama’s campaign used a record number of negative ads in the 2012 general election, and President Obama’s voice was heard at the end of every one taking credit."

And besides, I think most Canadians understand that no Conservative attack ad in Canada would be put on television or even YouTube without the explicit consent of Stephen Harper. The same can be said of the Liberals and the NDP.

Alas, I think most Canadians already know that Stephen Harper thinks Justin Trudeau is "in over his head."

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