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Anti-NDP ads by ICBA are "mudslinging"

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by Journal Of Commerce

While Premier Christy Clark has yet to announce dates for by-elections in the two vacant constituencies, the Liberal's mudslinging campaign is already underway.
Tom Sigurdson
Tom Sigurdson

Opinion | Tom Sigurdson

While Premier Christy Clark has yet to announce dates for by-elections in the two vacant constituencies, the Liberal's mudslinging campaign is already underway.

Byelections are often a political barometer, which can measure the popularity of an incumbent government.

They are opportunities for political parties to test their platforms and hone their messaging for general elections. But, leading up to the announcement for these byelections, something quite unusual, while not unprecedented, has reared its ugly head: The Attack Ad.

More often than not, attack ads come from opposing political parties—and the Clark Liberals have already spent upwards of $3 million smearing NDP leader Adrian Dix.

The latest instalment of attack ads has been bought and paid for by the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association, close allies of the B.C. Liberals

The ICBA attack ads are aimed at Dix for a memo he wrote, signed and unfortunately (some would say rashly) backdated 13 years ago. It was an act for which he resigned his position as chief of staff to then premier Glen Clark, and apologized for.

Following an investigation, Dix was found to have done nothing wrong in terms of the content of the memo, except for back dating it. No charges were ever laid. A mistake: definitely. A momentary lapse of judgement: yes. Criminal charges: no.

Contrast the backdating of the memo with a drunken Hawaiian night, where former premier Gordon Campbell was charged and convicted of impaired driving while on vacation.

Many, if not most, British Columbians were embarrassed and some were outraged by the stupidity of his action. Who can forget the front page of most every newspaper in BC showing the mug shot of the leader of our province holding the Maui police identification board.

Campbell returned from his vacation, stood before the media, tearfully apologized for his criminal action and continued to govern. People make mistakes. Some are criminal; others, by comparison, are simply moments of poor judgment.

Following Gordon Campbell’s criminal stupidity, British Columbians could have undertaken any number of activities up to and including a recall campaign, but they did not succeed. He continued to lead the government, which had supporters and opponents.

For the most part, his supporters tried to act as though nothing happened and his opponents soon returned to attacking policies and legislation. In attacking the policies of the Campbell government, his opponents took the high ground and left the character assassination for pub conversations.

It is absolutely fair and indeed healthy to have public discourse on matters of public policy. That kind of intelligent engagement is very much at the heart of democracy.

That kind of intelligent conversation helps to articulate the kind of society we want to live in, work in and raise our families in.

It’s important to consider health and education spending. It’s necessary to have dialogue about fair taxation and how to fund the programs and services we value. In trying to raise the level of debate, we will have a more informed electorate.

But, instead we have attack ads, the style of which come from the gutter of American politics, where the vast majority of voters no longer participate.

As we get closer to the general election, I’m not surprised that the B.C. Liberals are forced to rely on attack ads and negative campaigning.

They’re losing support and are desperate.

By sponsoring these latest attack ads, the ICBA has become an extension of the worst of the B.C. Liberal Party, and now carries the dirty end of the stick. Given how the Liberals are doing in the polls, one has to wonder about the wisdom of such a smear campaign.

Perhaps this too is just a momentary lack of judgement?

Tom Sigurdson in the executive director of the British Columbia/Yukon Territory Building and Construction Trades Council. Tom is also a member of the Journal of Commerce Editorial Advisory Board. Send comments or questions to editor@journalofcommerce.com.

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