Day 8: Youthful innocence contrasts Conservative attack ads

Today, my sons Griffin, Miigwans and I volunteered for a while at Anthony Rota’s (Liberal, Nipissing-Timiscaming) campaign office.  For about two-and-a-half hours, we made calls to supporters to ask them if the campaign could deliver them a lawn sign.

It wasn’t particularly hard work.  And in the grand scheme of the election campaign, the dozen or so signs we got a commitment for won’t tip the scales any further to our candidate.

But for two First Nation boys, ages 11 and 9, it was new experience that they really enjoyed.

They didn’t make the calls.  But they kept a list each, called out phone numbers for their Dad to dial, and filled out the sign form whenever we succeeded in our task.  The high-five celebrations were not nearly as cute and their little hand-printed forms they handed in to the office coordinator.

Not only was I a proud Dad, I was able to talk to them about the election process and why it was so important.  They listened attentively when I talked about issues with the few undecided voters, most of whom were only undecided for a few minutes before they agreed to put up a lawn sign.  I can’t help but think Griff and Miigs learned a little and took away mething important.

Their innocence was obvious as they not only put on an Anthony Rota button, they were so happy to get a Liberal button for their Mom.

But little do their untainted spirits realize the stark contrast of the Conservative Party’s message to the electorate.

I’m outraged over the ongoing Conservative TV ad campaign.  Some ads are just plain hurtful.  I can’t imagine how Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff (Liberal, Lakeshore-Etobicoke) feels when the “He didn’t come back for you” ad airs around his family.  Not only does the commercial unfairly paint him in an unsavoury light – it’s just plain mean.  But a leader has to have tough skin, and may or may not be fair game for such ads.

But another ad is much more disgraceful.  Clearly it’s meant for a target group of racist and intolerant voters.  The ad, showing the MV Sun Sea that came ashore in Vancouver last year, speaks of those aboard as “criminals” taking advantage of Canadian generosity.

Canadian Tamils are rightfully outraged as are others, including this blogger.  The Tamils aboard, fleeing war and persecution, truly risked everything for the chance of freedom in Canada.

Make no mistake, this is about reaching the intolerant. This ad was meant to vilify a certain ethnic group.  It was meant to vilify Ignatieff and other party leaders as “soft on crime”.  It was meant to spur on the anger and fear of other like-minded, Conservative people.  It wasn’t overt, just as most politically-correct racism is not overt nowadays.

Fortunately, this is a message that my sons may not pick up on.  Sadly, this is a message that many Canadians may not pick up on.  Regardless, such overtones are wrong.  It also diminishes the character of our election debate, and our own self-respect as Canadians.

As my Boys look on in innocent wonder of the election campaign, I lament the time when they understand what these Conservative attack ads really mean.



  1. Kirbycairo says:

    Thank you for the honest observations. I must say that even as Canadian of European descent (an average WASP for want of a better word) these racist ads are profoundly offensive. But the saddest part is that, as you said, many Canadians will not pick on on this message.

  2. Nicole Tanguay says:

    Ahnee, I am having some difficulties in convincing other aboriginals to get off their butts and vote. there seems to be a lot of dialogue around that this isn’t our system and that getting involved is turning away from our culture. I am trying to get people to rethink their ideologies around voting. I am getting a lot of: it is not our system and I would rather stay at home and do nothing. By doing nothing they think they are doing something. I have even gone so far as to say to them that the minister of Indian Affairs controls your life, why wouldn’t you want to have some control on that issue. They still are saying that voting is a white man’s way and not ours. How do we convince our communities to get off their butts and do something. I even brought up the seven generations and said what will you tell your children when all of your rights are taken away by Harper and his government. Their reply is always the same: doesn’t matter who is in nothing will change. Last question: what is the LIberal party gonna do about clean water on all first nations?

    • Bob Goulais says:

      Miigwetch, Nicole. Well, we can’t really make people do anything. We all know that junk food is bad, and we should be exercising one hour each day – but I’m still drawn into impulses and laziness. I always think back to our teachings growing up. If you want something, you have to work for it. The same goes for motivating our people. They will pick up a sign and march, or block a road when something affects them directly. But so many people don’t see how they fit into an election. There are some clear choices in this election. Would you like to see $8 billion invested in corporate tax cuts, fancy fighter jets and mega-prisons. Or would you rather see $8 billion invested in families? Would you like to see a government that will lift the 2 per cent cap in post-secondary funding to First Nations, or a government that may be considering changing the post-secondary student support program into a loan program?
      As for clean water, that was a priority back in the Martin government. It continues to be a priority today. It’s so great to see that you’re involved and asking questions. That’s something you can ask your candidate. That’s what it means to be motivated and involved.

  3. OMG I HATE that this is even allowed on our tv sets. How and when did it become acceptable to be so mean. It disgusts me!!