I never thought they’d stoop so low

The Alberta election is in its last week and it’s been an angry and desperate one for the PC Party of Alberta. At the outset of the campaign, polls showed that party and their chief rivals on the right — the Wildrose Party — neck and neck. And then there was an errant tweet from a staffer in the Premier’s office slamming Wildrose’s leader Danielle Smith for commenting on family policy while have to the audacity of doing so while being childless. Wildrose rode a tide of incredulous disbelief at the callous and personal nature of the PC gaffe and found themselves a clear 10+ points ahead of the PCs.

The campaign has focused a spotlight on Smith and her party which threatens to dislodge a party that has enjoyed 41 years of uninterrupted rule in Edmonton. And in the last week, a desperate effort to stop the bleeding. It’s kitchen sink week for the PCs in the Alberta election campaign and the main strategy has been to play the downtown Toronto Liberal strategy of demonizing conservatives that worked up until 2006.

Indeed, some of the very same campaign workers putting in extended hours for Alison Redford’s PCs have borne the same attacks themselves and against their political heroes from Preston Manning to Stephen Harper. The success of the current government in Ottawa was largely built on the legacy that came from Canada’s cradle of conservatism: Alberta. Today, those campaign workers are gritting their teeth as they retweet and share Warren Kinsella’s articles accusing their conservative cousins in Wildrose of having a “hidden agenda”.

I had (jokingly) remarked earlier last week that we should soon expect to see a “Soldiers in Our Streets” style of ad as the PCs flail desperately to recover and pull out all of the stops to stop the Wildrose momentum. Here is the latest (unsigned) offering that reeks of PC Alberta desperation (UPDATE: source explained here):

The ad doesn’t suggest that soldiers will occupy the streets of Calgary, however, it does have a militaristic drumbeat at the end. The piece is offensive to Albertans, Canadians and conservatives on a number of fronts.

“oil worshipping, old guard, right-wing, gun-toting, old-school Albertans”

in a mock country/redneck accent “Hi, I’m from Alberta!”

“I don’t want to paint [Wildrose] all the same, cause I’m not like that (but I am, so here goes!)”

“BFFs with Stephen Harper!”

“Danielle Smith thinks The Flintstone’s is historically accurate”

“Danielle Smith… I heard her bus has tit wheels”

“So, fuck it. I’m voting PC. Latino-ass me is voting PC”

“Separation Party… vote for them [if Wildrose doesn’t have a chance in your riding, else vote PC]”

If you’re a conservative and you’re supporting PC, it’s pretty clear that the braintrust behind this ad still regards you as worthless. Were you annoyed when Stockwell Day was the subject of an attack that smacked of religious bigotry, you rube? Did you support the elimination of the gun-registry, you hick? Are you BFF’s with Stephen Harper, you mouth-breather? You’re worse than dirt according to this professional video that is encouraging you to vote PC.

The Progressive Conservative Party has lost their right to call themselves “conservative” as they are clearly running against those that hold conservative values. This “progressive” party and/or their supporters think that sexism is fair game if it’s against a conservative woman running for Premier. Tit wheels! Hilarious. She doesn’t have children either! Latinos are also on notice that the left thinks that their group casually swears in a streetwise manner (yo), votes in a block, and doesn’t think like individuals informed by their own values. In conservative circles (we’ve been well trained), we call that racism.

Alberta is on the cusp of electing its first libertarian Premier. What a refreshing concept that is in a province whose elites are losing their minds at the prospect of losing power to someone who believes that everyone should be free of others telling them how to think.

Redford’s new ad

Take a look at the PC Party of Alberta’s new ad featuring their leader Alison Redford. In the ad, there’s a featured shot of an oil production facility with the words “Leading the Nation”.

Here’s a still from the video:

Video producers take stock video from stock video websites in order to make ads. This video is from Canada-based iStockphoto. You can see the video on the website here.

The title of the video? “oil drill platform sailing under sky”

Uh oh! How many sea-faring oil platforms does the coastal province of Alberta have?

(h/t @Johnnyjesus)

UPDATE: iStockphoto search tags for this video include the term “Yellow Sea” which is a body of water just off the coast of China. If you view the Redford ad in HD, you can even see the Chinese flag on the oil rig:

“Leading The Nation”?

Redford’s stock video of “Alberta” comes from just off the coast of China. In an ad that seeks to illustrate the Alberta economy, this is an odd clip to use.

UPDATE: The Redford video has been made “private” by PC Alberta meaning it is unviewable on their account for now. Luckily I had the relevant part of the video stored in my browser cache. I have re-uploaded the first part of the video to YouTube. Here is the controversial part of the ad that the PC Party presumably doesn’t want you to see:

New NDP ad – going negative on the Bloc

VOICEOVER: Un vote pour le Bloc Québecois… bloque l’environment, bloque les familles moyennes, bloque l’économie, mais surtout, bloque l’avenir du Québec. (A vote for the Bloc Québecois… blocks the environment, blocks average families, blocks the enconomy but more than anything else, blocks the future of Quebec.)

JACK LAYTON: Un seul geste pour débloquer les choses. Joignez vous a nous, votez pour l’NPD.
(One single gesture to unblock things. Join us, vote for the NDP)

This ad carries a theme that the Conservatives initiated last election; like the Conservatives, the NDP are focusing on the decreased mobility of Quebeckers and their province when they vote for the Bloc Quebecois. We see a similar image in the bicycle with square wheels. Comparatively, during the 2006 campaign, the Conservatives showed an image of a bicycle with one wheel in cement as a cyclist tried with futility to move forward.

This campaign is seeing a few new developments in Canadian politics. During the last week of the campaign, the NDP usually runs out of cash and can’t finish with a heavy ad buy during this critical time. Now that they plan on spending the limit (something past their reach previously), the NDP is able to buy critical air time for ads right up to election day. However, I question the value of the NDP buying ads in Quebec. Even behind a surging Bloc and resurgent Liberal Party, the NDP still runs fourth behind the Conservatives. Close races for the NDP will be won or lost in BC and Ontario in this final week. Perhaps the NDP is making a long term investment in Quebec to establish a beachhead to show that Mulcair’s byelection win wasn’t a fluke.

Speaking to a senior NDP official in these past couple of days, the NDP has confirmed to me that they are planning an ad buy specifically targeted against Dion’s 43 abstentions in the House of Commons and these missed opportunities for the opposition to bring down the Conservative government.

The NDP could become a spoiler and this is evident in their focus during this last week of the campaign. At first, Layton said he was running for Prime Minister — a theme he will still carry this week though muted. This message served to wedge the Liberals to provide Canadians with a choice between left and right between the NDP and the Conservatives. Now that it’s crunch time, we’re seeing the NDP focusing regionally and against left-wing opponents in order to fight among a crowded field, against the inevitable perennial Liberal call to think twice to stop Harper and against the Bloc for progressive voters in Quebec.

Anthony Rota’s controversial ad

Why is it controversial? The ad was published in the North Bay Nugget on September 23rd, 2008 (during the writ period) and it doesn’t appear to contain the words “approved by the official agent for Anthony Rota”. If my eyes do not deceive me, this would be in contravention of s.320 and s.321 of the Elections Act.

Those sections are,

320. A candidate or registered party, or a person acting on their behalf, who causes election advertising to be conducted shall mention in or on the message that its transmission was authorized by the official agent of the candidate or by the registered agent of the party, as the case may be.

321. (1) No person shall knowingly conduct election advertising or cause it to be conducted using a means of transmission of the Government of Canada.

(2) For the purpose of subsection (1), a person includes a group within the meaning of Part 17.

This appears to be an ad authorized by Anthony Rota as an MP. If that’s the case, he’s advertising himself (he’s now a candidate) using his MP office.

UPDATE: Rota’s campaign explains that the ads were bought prior to the writ drop. According to them, this makes it legal. Since Rota couldn’t have known when the writ period was going to be, this is an understandable oversight. However, according to my reading of the law, the act is clear on these two sections. Rota should have cancelled the ads. I wouldn’t accuse Rota of cheating because of this. Instead, I’d chalk it up to an unfortunate coincidence that could be interpreted as a violation of the Act.

Elections Canada disagrees and claims that the content doesn’t appear to be election advertising. Then again, Elections Canada is quite a subjective arbiter on what constitutes election advertising and in who’s name elections advertising is done (MP/candidate and federal/local). I suppose the Prime Minister now has the green light to circumvent the spending limit by buying the back page of every single paper in the country (with taxpayer money, natch) to say “Hi, I’m the PM” and as long as he doesn’t say “Vote for me, I’m the PM”, it’s all good.