Saturday, April 21, 2012

Some Blather From Gerry Nichols: Your Mother Wears Army Boots

Earlier this week, Gerry Nichols, self-described on his website as One of Canada's Top Five Political Minds, wrote an opinion piece in The Start entitled, In praise of negative political ads. In it, the former head of the National Citizens Coalition asserts that positive political ads are a far greater offence to the body politic than negative ones.

However, in reading his piece, it becomes very obvious very quickly that his thesis is merely a thinly veiled excuse to attack Thomas Mulcair and the upbeat ad that is intended to introduce him to the electorate:

Complaining that the ad is vacuous and provides no information to help the voter make an informed decision, he goes on to extol attack ads:

Ironically, it’s the much maligned negative ads that are much more likely to focus on the nitty-gritty of where a candidate stands on policies.

Just think about your typical attack ad: “Candidate Jones wants to raise taxes on everything!” or “A vote for candidate Smith is a vote to destroy our public health-care system”.

In short, attack ads often raise issues people actually care about. And this is one reason why, like them or not, negative spots resonate with voters.

Oh really? I have said it before and I'll say it again: attack ads, in my view, have a twofold purpose: the most obvious is to denigrate a political opponent, as evidenced in the latest Tory effort to discredit Bob Rae; the second and more insidious effect is to discourage citizens from participating in the politcal process, especially at election time, leaving the field open to the 'true believers, the die-hard supporters of Stephen Harper.

And it is for the latter reason that I will never be able to forgive Harper for the damage he has done and will continue to do to the soul of our nation.

UPDATE: For a cross-section of Star readers' views on Nichols' piece, click here.


  1. Gerry Nicholls was never head of the National Citizens Coalition.

    1. Thanks for your correction. After receiving your comment, I checked and learned that he was a senior officer there, not the head.


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