Over the last two weeks, Ontario's airwaves have been flooded with political attack ads. Bob Hepburn writes:
At breakfast early last week I was appalled to hear a political attack ad air on a popular Toronto radio station.
No, it wasn’t a leftover ad from the federal election.
Instead, just 14 days after the federal contest, the ad was the first of what I fear will be a wave of nasty political attacks leading up to the Ontario provincial election on June 2, 2022 — more than eight months from now.
The government and the opposition are blasting their opponents:
The ad from Doug Ford’s Conservatives was aimed at convincing listeners they shouldn’t vote for Liberal leader Steven Del Duca because he had been former premier Kathleen Wynne’s “right-hand man” at Queen’s Park.
I soon came across two NDP ads, one blasting Ford as being “Here for his buddies, not for you,” and the other targeting Del Duca, a former defeated Liberal cabinet minister, as being “Back for power. Not for you.”
What's going on? Hepburn writes that there's an ill wind blowing in from the South:
Provincial politics are now following the path of our federal politics in adopting the worst of American politics, with never-ending, negative campaigns that drag politics through the mud and increase voter disgust.
This kind of advertising isn't new:
Former prime minister Stephen Harper was the undisputed champion in using attack ads. He loved to run negative ads all the time, not just during an official election period — and he did it with remarkable success.
Just ask Michael Ignatieff.
Almost from the moment Ignatieff became Liberal leader in 2008, Harper launched a series of tough ads portraying his rival as a globe-trotting dilettante who had spend 34 years outside of the country and was “just visiting” Canada.
Ignatieff opted to ignore the ads, a disastrous decision that gave Harper the power to define him, which was tantamount to political suicide.
Clearly, Ford has adopted Harper’s tactics wholeheartedly.
The Liberals plan to release "positive ads:"
They’ll be a nice change, but don’t expect them to last long as Ontario descends into what’s shaping up as the most negative provincial election ever.
The United States has shown us where this all leads. Will we go down the same path?