Susan Delacourt, formerly of The Globe and Mail and now a senior political writer for The Toronto Star, has written a book entitled Shopping For Votes in which she contrasts political advertising of a product vs. commercial advertising.
Advertising Standards Canada states, “Advertisements must not unfairly, discredit, disparage, or attack one or more products, services, advertisements, companies or entities, or exaggerate the nature or importance of competitive differences.” Tim Horton's takes this further by expressly forbidding “false or deceptive statements about a competitor’s produce, business practice, financial status, or reliability,” as well as “disparaging remarks about a competitor with the intention of damaging that competitor.”
It is a shame that the same rules don’t apply in the political realm, where innuendo is rife, where words, events and images are taken completely out of context and distorted and where people are personally maligned by gross manipulation of the facts. This has become the norm for the Harper Conservative government.
We are paying for attack ads, and not just in the monetary sense. They are an insult and an affront to what Canadians used to believe was the dignity and responsibility of holding public office. And our reaction to them is quite simply to paint all politicians with the same brush, as a somewhat lower form of life, only in the game for power and money. We are, unfortunately, becoming used to gutter politics, largely practised by this government after observing our American Republican neighbours where mudslinging has become the norm. And because of this, we tune out and we don’t vote!
There must be truth in commercial advertising but sadly, not in political advertising. So in the Conservative attack ads, truth has become the victim.
If we want to change this situation, we must get out and vote for a party that refuses to stoop to that level. Our elected MPs are there to be our voice in our government. They are supposed to work for us and not solely for the prime minister.
Hold them accountable and make them tell the truth.
Sherry Hutchison, Georgian Bluffs