Stratford Gazette editorial
Yes, Canadian politics, especially at the national level, can be a hard fought and often times dirty game, but we can’t help but think the new attack ad from our Conservative leadership is a blow a little too low beneath the belt.
We’ve all seen it by now, footage of new Liberal leader Justin Trudeau taking his shirt off on stage, and another clip where he suggests “Quebecers are better than the rest of Canada.” It all provides fodder to Conservatives who argue the son of perhaps our country's most well-known prime minister lacks the judgement to lead. “He’s in way over his head,” ends the 30-second television spot.
While that last statement could very well turn out to be true – the next two years should give us a better idea as to whether the 41-year-old is fit for the job – the Conservatives have done themselves no favours with the ad. Trudeau’s much maligned striptease, for starters, was done at a charity auction to support liver health and awareness in women, and his Quebec comments, made in 1999 when he was only 27, were taken out of context. He was talking about his father’s own political views.
While Trudeau is certainly fair game when it comes to criticism – his ever dangerous penchant for off-the-cuff musings about Alberta or, more recently, Quebec’s refusal to sign the Constitution come to mind – the ad reeks of desperation from a party whose leader couldn’t be more different than the charming and charismatic Trudeau.
Is the ad effective? That depends on your perspective. If you consider that people are talking about politics in a country where voter turnout continues to decline, then yes. But at what cost? One has to question why fewer people want to engage in our political system. Do these kinds of attack ads only serve to further voter apathy amongst citizens fed up with our parties’ apparent inability to cooperate and find common ground on the issues affecting Canadians?
One can only hope fence sitters aren’t easily swayed by a piece of predictable, negative campaign material, but instead take the time to examine the Liberals’ policies and listen to Trudeau’s vision for Canada. We can only hope all Canadians do the same with each candidate and party.