Monday, October 13, 2008

Accusations of Racism and Disappearing Ads

A few days ago, the Liberal party produced a new campaign ad, entitled "Harper and New Canadians".

When a party, like the Liberals, have found accusations of racism to be their political bread and butter for the better part of the last 20 years, it would probably be unreasonable to think that they wouldn't jump at an opportunity to do it again.

Thus, this particular spot -- interestingly coming weeks after the infamous comments were uttered in the first place.

The ad itself was released on October 9th. As of October 13th, it's marked as "no longer available" on the Liberal party's YouTube page, making one wonder what happened in the interim days in order to necessitate its removal. Interestingly enough, the ad is actually available via YouTube's search function.

The attack ad deals with the comments of Lee Richardson, a Conservative candidate in Calgary who surmised that a significant portion of crime in his riding was being committed by immigrants -- more specifically, refugees. Richardson would later clarify his comments as being based on anecdotal evidence collected in the course of interactions with his constituents.

The spot quotes Richardson as saying that "Refugees are 'troubled people' who 'take advantage' of those trying to help them. 'Look at who's committing these crimes,' he says. 'They're not the kind that grew up next door'."

Once again, as with a previous ad targeting Gerry Ritz, Richardson is described not as a colleague of Harper's, but rather as a "crony".

Clearly, the intent of the ad is to counter-brand the Conservatives as racist and anti-immigrant. The Conservatives have previously sought to brand themselves as immigrant friendly with an ad released at the start of the election campaign.

Naturally, the ad doesn't bother to take note of the Liberal party's own experience with racial issues in the course of this election -- such as the controversy surrounding Simon Bedard who had suggested that lethal force should have been used to settle the Oka crisis and the "disappearance" of the victims of that force.

Perhaps its because the ad opens that racial Pandora's Box -- the very box the Liberals have rarely hesitated to open before -- on which the Liberals are very vulnerable indeed that they decided to have it pulled from the YouTube page.

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