Thursday, May 21, 2009

Keep digging

Two times since Friday, Conservative spokesthingys have had to come out and explain the point of their attack ads. It's not the bald fact that Mr. Ignatieff was away, say they. It was the quality of his time spent out of the country that is the issue, how he acted.  Ryan Sparrow last night :
"Ryan Sparrow, a spokesperson for the Conservative party, said the Liberal leader is evading the point of their ads.

'The issue is not that Ignatieff worked outside the country,' Sparrow said in an email. 'The issue is that while outside the country he slammed Canada, Canadians and our flag - and perhaps most disturbingly - admitted that he would (again) leave Canada if unsuccessful in his political career. In other words, he's just visiting. Canadians should be able to expect more from their Prime Minister.'"
The flag? What was he doing? Burning it? 'Cause I'd really like to know about this flag allegation, Mr. Sparrow. It sounds patently ridiculous and doesn't credibly match Ignatieff's demeanour whatsoever. More likely it's just Sparrow spinning.

Mr. Harper's press secretary, Dimitri Soudas, said last night the issue is not the years Mr. Ignatieff spent abroad, but that he came back only to try to become prime minister.

"Canadians who chose to work outside the country don't pretend that Canada is not their country," he said.
The problem for the Conservatives is that they are now forced into this nuanced explanation that does not match the obvious takeaway from the ads. Like it or not, the obvious takeaway is that there is something wrong with having worked abroad as a Canadian or having spent any significant time away. That this disqualifies you from running for PM in Ignatieff's case.  And for the rest of we Canadians who are seeing these ads, they're starting to wonder about their own "pure laine" Canadian status.  That's the darker side of the debate that the Conservatives are flinging at us. Just how virtuous a Canadian are you? Are you a real Canadian? And what exactly are you doing and saying while abroad? Because these Conservatives are watching. It's Michelle Bachmann come north with a vengeance.

Oh, and more viewing fun for you: 

Hang in to the end, great tag lines: "Devaluing one Canadian devalues us all" and "Exercise your vote, say no to divisive politics."