I'm not sure how much effect election advertising has on voting intentions, but I believe it has had a serious affect the Liberals.
On December 30th, the Conservatives released their 'They'll Go Neg' ad.
On January 2nd, the Liberals released two new ads. Neither show much imagination or thought. Neither makes mention of any person or other party. One of them seems to be implying a negative (when it suggests that 'one leader -- will protect minority rights') but it's subtle enough.
The ad with Paul Martin dusting off his political record could have been pulled out of storage from the last campaign. He talks of the Liberal glory days of deficit slaying and debt reduction. If it isn't old, it had to have been cobbled together quickly because that record is simultaneous with the 'sponsorship years' and the 'transfer slashing years' which leaves him open to criticism for taking credit for the 'positive' things that happened on his watch, while seeing and hearing no evil at the same time. And of course, the 'positives' are all subject to interpretation. Many would say that the state of health care in this country is a direct result of Martin's transfer reductions to the provinces. Had he had time to think, Martin likely wouldn't have wanted to run on that record.
In the other ad they talk about Paul Martin as though he alone governed this country over the past twelve years:
'one leader' is responsible for the lowest unemployment in 30 years (because he changed the criteria for collecting EI and the method for calculating the unemployed skewing comparisons between pre-1995 and post-1995 numbers)
'one leader' reduced the deficit by $42 billion (by gutting tranfer payments to the provinces and creating a fiscal nightmare for all of them -- and all of us)
'one leader' had eight straight balanced budgets (I believe that's a lie. A balanced budget doesn't have a whopping surplus that can be used to line the party coffers or be given in perqs to Liberal friends. A surplus means over-taxation -- maybe that's why Mr. Martin isn't bragging -- because 'one leader' created many surpluses and put them in unauditable foundations -- so we'll never know how much or who's got it. Funny -- this party, which was in such debt last year, and which was forced to 'put aside' some money to pay back Canadians for their misdeeds, is now rolling in dough -- Steve MacKinnon, National Director of the Liberal Party of Canada . Coincidence?
'one leader' united the provinces to lower health care wait times.(after 12 years in office, they call this an accomplishment. Harper's answer to him said it all.)
'one leader' will protect minorities (except when it's politically incorrect)
'one leader' believes in a compassionate Canada (compassionate? He's still trying to impose himself and the rest of his myopic, pocket-picking miscreants on Canadians. That seems pretty harsh to me.)
The recent Conservative ads are being called negative by CTV (title link) but that's a matter of perspective. Besides, having made major policy announcements everyday, it isn't as though slamming the Liberals is all they have -- that's the gravy.
Martin is still trying to 'go neg' on the campaign trail, but I wonder how long the Liberals will restrain themselves on television and in print, just to try to prove the Conservatives' ad wrong.
I give them until the debates are over. Martin doesn't do well under pressure, and the pressure is buiding. I have a feeling he'll be trounced from all sides, and the Liberals will have no choice to drop the gloves.