Harper gets Nasty - The Intrepid

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Harper gets Nasty

On the eve of his decision to call an election, Stephen Harper told Lloyd Robertson of CTV news that he expected a “very nasty” campaign from the opposing parties in 2008. If the other parties decide to go negative, they will only be responding to the ads the Conservative Party has put out already.

Today, the Harper campaign launched another website similar to their “Dion’s new tax on everything”. This one is entitled “Stéphane Dion: Not Worth the Risk.” Like the “Dion’s new tax on everything” site and the attack ads linking Dion’s carbon plan to gambling, this new site makes frequent use of Dion’s now trademark shrugging pose. (Liberal campaign managers have given Dion strict instructions not to shrug in the future.) The site also pokes fun at Dion’s speaking skills. As the website loads, viewers are greeted by loading text stating: “Do you think it’s easy to load websites?”

When the site launched this morning it had a flash animation of a puffin pooping on Dion’s shoulder. The Liberals and the NDP quickly jumped on the image, calling it vulgar and claiming that it was indicative of the Conservative Party’s negative campaign tactics. However, Harper said he did not know about the animation before it was posted, and has subsequently had it removed.

Even without animals defecating, the site is pretty crass. It pokes fun at Dion’s leadership skills through a fake blog by Dion’s dog Kyoto. There is also a section called “dionbook” which is designed to look like facebook. In the section, Dion and Elizabeth May of the Green Party are made to look in cahoots and the section gives the impression that Michael Ignatieff is still vying for the leadership of the Liberal Party. There is also a picture of Paul Martin that makes him look like a bloated, sickly marshmallow.

To date, the Conservative Party has benefited from these attack ads on Dion’s character. Polls indicate that a majority of Canadians see Dion as a potentially weak and ineffective leader. Polls also show the Conservatives making gains in Ontario and Quebec.

While attack ads may bring out the worst during election campaigns, the other party’s may have to resort to using them if they want to catch up to Harper’s lead.