Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fists Starting to Fly

As the 2008 federal election reaches the middle of its third week, the war for the airwaves has definitely picked up.

Two days ago, the NDP released this ad. Once again, the ad features the general motifs of the infamous ads that sunk the Liberal party campaign during the 2006 campaign.

The ad takes aim at Stephen Harper's treatment of the economy, accusing Harper of being "strong enough to dangle tiny tax cuts in front of [voters] while handing over $50 billion to coprorations".

The ad features an image of Harper with a string tied around his extended finger. Hanging at the bottom of that string is a tag reading "tiny tax cuts", which seems to be distracting a collection of silhouetted Canadians while heavy haul dump trucks (very similar to the dump trucks used at the Fort MacMurray tarsands) haul cash to an awaiting board room.

As in the previous ad, the blue toned background of the ad then gives way to an orange background, against which NDP leader Jack Layton stands. He then asserts that "the new strong doesn't trick people with token tax cuts," asserting that Stephen Harper and the Conservative party have tricked Canadians with their tax-cutting ways.

He then insists that the NDP would reward companies that keep jobs in Canada.

The ad counter-brands the Tories as misdirecting Canadians with baubles while essentially giving the shop away to major corporations, while branding the NDP as the party that is friendly to the interests of the abstract working-class family.

This is an ad that should play well to the NDP's core constituency. The barely-concealed hostility toward "big corporations" that permeates the typical NDP supporter should be satisfied by this kind of rhetoric.

But the ad does feature a critical weak point. Layton promises to reward companies that keep jobs in Canada.

Yet, to pay taxes in Canada -- and thus be elligible for tax cuts in the first place -- major corporations would have to be operating in Canada. If anything, the Conseratives' "$50 billion giveaway" could be looked at as doing exactly what Layton is insisting he'll do: rewarding companies that keep their operations -- and the jobs that come with it -- in Canada.

It makes one wonder: how, precisely, would Jack Layton reward these companies? By staying true to his election rhetoric and raising taxes on them again by $50 billion?

This ad may prove to have been unwise in raising the spectre of such questions. Then again, it may be unreasonable to expect the anti-corporate constituency this ad is aimed at to even bother asking such questions in the first place.

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