Liberal attack ads hit close to home

Just a quick blog this am on the new Liberal attack ads posted at:

First, I got a chance to see the ‘military’ ad before it was pulled early last night. I have to say, politics aside, that I was shocked by that advertisment. The others are par for the course, I guess, but the military one was so far over the top, I couldn’t believe it.

Now, you have to understand that I was living in the US when the Republicans ran ads linking serial killer Willie Horton to Michael Dukakis and that supposedly was the impetus for his ultimate defeat.

But the Liberals produced an ad that said Stephen Harper would put soldiers with guns on the streets of Canadian cities. The style and tone insinuated that a Conservative government would invoke martial law (a la Pinochet) in this country if elected.

Now it may be fair game to talk about being ‘pro-US’ or ‘anti-Kyoto’ but to suggest that a government in Canada would brutalize its own citizens without any context to the comments is…. What is it? I have no words.

But my main point is around the ad about Atlantic Canada. It states that Stephen Harper thinks we are lazy and defeatist and that the Liberals ‘love’ Atlantic Canada (their word not mine).

Now, I have two points about this ad:

1) For better or worse, strong opinions like this should be coming from inside the region not outside. So when Frank McKenna gave a similar speech, it was okay to most people but when an outsider says it – well, you all know how proud Maritimers are. So, this is a black mark on Harper but if you dredge up all the comments that leaders make over the years you can find a lot of crazy stuff. Somebody sent me the birthday video where Paul Martin is praising Alfonso Gagliano for being the ‘leader’ of the Liberals in Quebec and speaking in absolutely glowing terms about the man he would later crucify. The point is that these guys, like everyone else, can change their mind.

2) Do the Liberals ‘love’ Atlantic Canada? I have a lot of good friends that are die hard Liberals. I think that most Liberal politicians have tried hard in this region. I think the Atlantic Causus really made efforts to get Atlantic Canada on the national priorities list. But the facts are the facts. Under the current Liberal administration (federally), Atlantic Canada’s economy has fared worse than at any time since the Great Depression in the 1930s. New Brunswick, for example, has actualy gone into population decline and many of our rural communities are collapsing. Throughout the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, New Brunswick faced challenges, no doubt, but at least at the population level there was incremental growth (limited). Now, we are in a population decline and there is limited serious effort to stop it.

An international organization last week called the subsidization of Canada’s aerospace sector a model for state-sponsored industry growth. However, none of that growth came in New Brunswick. Other experts have stated that the government’s support of the auto sector is one of the most comprehensive in the world. Yet, none of that growth came in New Brunswick. Canada continues to have a very aggressive agriculture subsidy system but that has limited impact in New Brunswick. The new softwood lumber bailout package? Again, limited impact in New Brunswick. How about immigrant investors? Nope. Look to BC, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec (and to lesser extent Manitoba).

In fact, I would ask somebody to please tell me which industry sector in New Brunswick that the federal government has supported to the level that it has become a major driver of the economy? I guess back in the 1990s they were supportive of the call centre sector (indirectly through the REDA agreement).

Maybe tourism? Hmmm.

Maybe someday, international organizations will look at New Brunswick and say that government and community leaders banded together to create significant growth in sector xx or sector yy.

But not today. Not over the past 12 years.

So the Liberals may ‘love’ Atlantic Canada. I’ll let others debate that. But their version of ‘love’ doesn’t seem to be tied to economic development.