Opinion

RADIA: ‘An appropriate tool’ for parties

“I hate attack ads.”

“I’m sick of them.”

“They turn people off politics.”

 

That’s the common refrain coming from a lot of people these days about the negative attack ads targeted at Adrian Dix and the NDP.

The ads, paid for by BC Liberal friends and insiders, bluntly remind voters about Adrian Dix’s record as part of the Glen Clark regime of the 1990s: “In 1994, Glen Clark and Adrian Dix demanded union-only labour for the Island Highway, boosting costs by 37%. Remember the fast ferries? Built for $460 million, sold for under $20 million,” an ominous voice says.

“Dix resigned from the premier’s office after falsifying a document during an official police investigation. Now he wants another chance?”

So what’s wrong with that?

For his part, Dix says that he’s not going to do negative ads and stoop to the same level.

Are you kidding me? Adrian, buddy, you’re missing a tremendous opportunity here especially since there is so much material for you to work with.

From BC Rail, to broken promises to “gifts” to friends and insiders — you could have an attack mini-series targeting the BC Liberals.

In my opinion, negative ads are an appropriate tool for political parties to use as long as they’re not funded by government revenues and as long as they’re not personal. Many of you will remember the 1993 Conservative party attack ad highlighting the facial features of Jean Chretien. That was disgusting and uncalled for.

But these BC Liberal ads are, for the most part, truthful and serve as a reminder of what went on in this province in the 1990s.

Besides, if history is any indication, attack ads work.

In the 2011 federal election campaign, the Conservatives did a brilliant job in belittling Michael Ignatieff with ads suggesting that he was “Just visiting.”

(Interestingly, Ignatieff is now back working and living in the United States.)

More recently, in the U.S. election, the Obama camp portrayed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney as a scary boogeyman of a candidate.

The alternative view, of course, is that attack ads have played a key role in discouraging people from participating in elections. But you have to give voters a little more credit than that, don’t you?

 

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