Tories’ latest attack ad on Mulcair falls short of the mark

Andy Radia
·Politics Reporter

We all knew these were coming. Some even wondered what was taking so long.

The Harper Conservatives finally launched a Thomas Mulcair attack ad this week, denouncing the environmental policies of the opposition leader and labeling his New Democrats as "risky" and "dangerous."

The prevailing reaction to the ad, however, seems to be a resounding: 'Was this the the best you can do?'

This ad seems to lack the sharpness and poignancy that ultimately destroyed the electoral hopes of former Liberal leaders Stéphane Dion and Michael Ignatieff. In those ads, the former was declared to be "not a leader" and the latter was portrayed as "just visiting."

Chris Selley of the National Post calls the Mulcair ad "dreary, misrepresentative hyperbole."

Maclean's Aaron Wherry points out that the Conservatives supported a cap-and-trade system in 2009, yet they go after Mulcair for supporting cap-and-trade in the new video.

Even Gerry Nichols, a former colleague of Stephen Harper's at the National Citizen's Coalition, gave it a failing grade.

"When you get a reputation for running political 'negative ads', people will almost be disappointed if you don't go on the attack. Such is the case with the Conservative Party," he wrote in his blog.

"The messaging in the ad is vague and confusing; so people just won't get it ... 'Make them pay now for what they are doing' flash on the screen. What the heck does that mean? Did Mulcair say that? If he did, so what? Who are 'they' and what exactly are they 'doing? "

In an email to Yahoo! Canada News, Nichols added that, if done properly, attack ads can work, but releasing the ad at the outset of summer won't get a lot of people's attention.

"I suspect the Tories are just doing this [now] so they can show their base they are 'doing something' to hammer the NDP."

It looks like it's back to the drawing board for the attack ad producers.