Well that didn't take long. Of course, Justin Trudeau has long been the hands down winner of this past weekend's Liberal Leadership Race, so the Tories had a long lead time to get attack ads prepped, but to come out less than 24 hours after the man himself takes office - that's blitzpolitik.But having said that, this is the best they could do?
Coming from the political spin machine that previously sunk not just one, or two, but three Liberal leaders, this is weak tea. One ad says that Trudeau is in "way over his head,"and includes footage of the new Liberal Leader at a fundraising striptease in 2011, and features out of context quotations. The second ad touts Prime Minister Stephen Harper's economic track record, while writing off Trudeau as a "camp councillor" and a "drama teacher." Translation on both ads: he's just not up to the job.
“I am quite confident that what I’ve heard from Canadians across this country about people being tired of negativity, of bullying, of cynicism means that the Conservatives are going to discover that the one thing they know how to do really well is no longer working for them,” Trudeau told reporters at a post-Question-Period scrum. “I look forward to having robust discussions on ideas, on values, on a vision for this country that will contrast well.”
Of course, the notion of people being tired of negativity is an applause line that a lot of politicians, including, I think, all of Trudeau's predecessors, have used at one point or another. The question is, can Trudeau deal with the onslaught better than either Paul Martin, Stephane Dion, or Michael Ignatieff, and can he stop the Conservatives from branding him before he can brand himself?
These things are tricky to predict, but given Harper's often discussed disdain for the Liberal Party, and his preparedness to dedicate a lot of resources to its elimination, he's not going to stop until Operation: Cooked Trudeau is "Mission: Accomplished." Still, these ads demonstrate, to my artistic eye, a level of laziness.
So far the Conservative counter-argument to TrudeauMania 2.0 is that he's good looking man that raised money for charity by taking his shirt - and only his shirt - off, and that he had a life outside of politics as Harper navigated Canada through difficult economic waters, even though Trudeau was sitting right across the aisle in his own House seat for all but two years of Harper's tenure as Prime Minister. The economic argument may hold water, but the recent controversy over temporary foreign workers and that rather stolid reaction to the recent budget show kinks in the government's armour. And sunny economic times - even sunnier by comparison - didn't save Paul Martin back in 2006.
There's also another issue that has nothing to do with Trudeau: Harper is getting old. Not in age of course, he's only 53, but he's well into his eighth year as Prime Minister, and by the time of the 2015 election, he will have been in office for over a decade. At this point in his term, Jean Chrétien was swatting away attempts by Paul Martin to push him to retire, but who in the current Federal Conservative Party has the clout, or the chutzpah, to start nudging Harper into stepping down? Does such a person even exist? While the Conservatives may be enjoying the show as the Opposition Parties struggle to define or re-define themselves, they'd do well to keep in mind that have their own similar struggles are ahead them not too far down the road.