Sunday, November 25, 2018

My Love Letter to Patti

On November 18, 2018, a "Celebration of Life" was held in Oakville, Ontario, where my late wife Patti's friends and family could gather to honor her memory.

Below is the talk I gave:

Before I begin my talk, just let me say I will do everything in my power to remain stoic and to keep my composure this afternoon, since if there was anything Patti hated, it was maudlin sentimentality.

That’s one reason she didn’t like Justin Trudeau.

And I promise that’s my last political comment of the day.

I don’t want this day to be about politics; I don’t even want it to be about sadness or grief.

Instead, I want it to be a day we all remember and celebrate Patti’s great beauty.

And yes, Patti was beautiful in every sense and every meaning of that word.

Certainly, I found her beautiful to look at.

In fact, I was attracted to her the very first time I laid eyes on her.

That was back in 1987.

We were working in the same building, as a matter of fact her office was on the same floor as mine; as a matter of fact her office was strategically located next to the washroom.

That meant I’d take two or three trips a day past her office and every time I did, I’d see that beautiful blonde lady sitting at her desk.

So, now that I think of it, it wasn’t my heart that brought me to Patti, it was more like my bladder!

Anyway, one thing led to another, and before you knew it, we were exchanging wedding vows.

Yes, things moved fast.

We went on our first date in June 1987 and were married in May 1988.

Patti wanted that ring on her finger!

But that was just Patti being Patti.

Once we were married I began to appreciate the other aspects of Patti’s beauty.

For instance, she had a beautiful spirit.

This manifested itself in what I would call her “infectious friendliness.”

I always said, if you locked Patti in a room with 20 strangers and came back in 15 minutes, you’d find her surrounded by 20 best friends.

There was something about her that exuded happiness and cheeriness.

She was always reaching out and socializing with people, whether it was a clerk in a store, or a cashier in a supermarket or a random person on the street.

And to be honest, I sometimes found that to be a bit annoying.

It meant anytime we took a walk it would talk three times as long as it should because she had to pet every dog she came across and compliment every couple with a cute baby and talk to all our neighbors about their gardens and lawns.

Meanwhile, I was like, “Let’s keep moving so we can get home and watch Night Court reruns.”

But she had to socialize.

That was just Patti being Patti.

Her beautiful spirit was also reflected in her wonderful sense of humor.

Patti loved to laugh and she loved to make other people laugh.

In fact, I think one of the secrets to our marriage’s success, was that we both loved to joke and to poke fun at the world’s craziness.

Certainly Patti liked to poke fun at my fashion sense.

Indeed, sometimes I’d come home and see that as a joke, she’d thrown out my favourite old baseball cap or T-shirt.

Though I must admit, she never laughed or smiled when I rooted them out of the garbage.

But that was just Patti being Patti.

The other thing about her spirit, was she loved to have fun.

“Let’s have fun” could have been her motto.

And she would use any excuse for a party or celebration.

“It’s the first warm day of Spring, let’s have fun”, she’d say;  or “The Blue Jays won a game; let’s have fun”; or “you found your missing sock, let’s have fun.”

So yes, to be around her was to always have fun.

That was just Patti being Patti.

But I don’t want you to think she didn’t have a serious side.

She did.

In fact, that leads me to the other beautiful part of Patti – her passions.

She had, for example, a great passion for learning.

And let me say first, Patti was an extremely intelligent woman.

But more than that, she had an intellectual curiosity, a trait that’s rare these days.

What I mean is Patti never wanted to follow the herd or go along with trends, she always wanted to chart her own path.

Basically, she was an individual.

And by the way, calling someone an “individual” is the highest compliment I can bestow on a person.

At any rate, when Patti wanted to learn about an issue she was never satisfied with accepting conventional wisdom.

She always researched stuff with a massive intensity, until she basically became an expert in whatever topic she was studying.

To give you an example, a few years ago Patti and I were having dinner in Toronto with another couple and with a noted American constitutional lawyer.

During the course of the dinner the topic of Conrad Black’s trial came up – an issue Patti had extensively studied.

And when this American lawyer expressed an idea that Patti couldn’t support, she instantly raised her hand and said, “That’s an opinion, I will not entertain.”

She then barraged that poor guy with arguments until he was forced to wave a white flag.

She wasn’t afraid to express her opinion.

But that was Patti being Patti.

Another way she expressed her passion, was the way she enthusiastically took on huge projects.

She wasn’t happy unless she was involved in some complicated undertaking.

For instance, about eight years ago I was working on a contract in the United States, meaning I was out of the country for about nine months.

During my absence, Patti – on her own – decided to sell our house; on her own she hired a real estate agent; on her own she sold our house; on her own she bought a new house; on her own she moved into that house.

In short, she did virtually everything.

All I did was sign a paper she faxed to me.

I’m just glad she gave me the address to the new house, because otherwise I’d still be looking for it!

And I have to say, even though I loved our old house, I loved the new one even more.

She did a fantastic job.

But that was Patti being Patti.

Her other passion in life was culture.

Thanks to Patti I was exposed to literature, and to classical music and to the theatre.

I didn’t want to be exposed to all those things, but I’m glad I was.

It made me a better person, in fact she made me a better person in about a million different ways.

That was just Patti being Patti.

But of course, Patti’s greatest passion of all in life was the opera.

She was an opera fanatic.

Thanks to her I learned about opera greats such as Maria Callas, Jonas Kaufmann, Carlos Bergonzi and her favourite Franco Corelli, whom she liked to call “Golden Thighs.”

I don’t know why she called him that; I didn’t want to know why she called him that.

Anyway, Patti listened to opera for hours on the radio, she listened to opera CDs for hours, she watched opera at the movie theatre; she attended opera live at the Canadian Opera house.

And the internet and social media gave her a whole new avenue to enjoy opera.

Mind you that was a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, social media allowed her to communicate directly with her opera stars.

She liked to go on their Facebook pages to compliment them on their performances.

And when they responded to her personally with thanks, it put her cloud 9!

She was so happy.

On the other hand, social media also exposed Patti to opinionated opera fans, many of whom were pushing viewpoints she didn’t agree with.

And that often ruffled her feathers.

Some person, for instance, might put up a post that was critical of Maria Callas’s aria sung in the second act of the 1958 Met production of Aida and that would drive Patti ballistic.

So she’d go online and wage savage verbal war trying to educate.

I’d tell her to stop, because a) she wasn’t going to change anyone’s mind and b) she was just putting herself into a negative emotional state.

Eventually, she agreed that I was right and promised to stop battling opera people online.

But then I’d see her hunched over her tablet, furiously typing away, and I knew just from looking at her, that she was fighting someone.

“I though we agreed to stop taking on these arguments” I’d say. And she’d reply, saying, “I’m not arguing, I’m just having a polite conversation.”

Then two minutes later, she’d turn to me and ask, “How do you spell ‘rot’ as in ‘may you rot in hell?’”

But that was just Patti being Patti.

Anyway, because Patti loved opera so much, as she lay in her hospital bed, she asked that I get her name engraved on a chair at the Canadian Opera Company opera house.

Of course, I promised I would.

Only later did I find out how much that would cost.

And let me tell you it was costly.

Certainly it was beyond my budget.

So I engaged in some fundraising.

And by “fundraising” I mean I annoyed, and harassed and otherwise pestered all my friends and relatives to help me finance the engraving.

It worked.

In fact, I was overwhelmed by the generosity of people.

I ended up raising enough money and just recently ordered the engraving; it should appear in the Opera House in the next few weeks.

And I know a lot of here people here helped with donations, so I’d to offer you all a special thanks. That was one promise to Patti I needed to keep.

Indeed, I’m going to treat that engraving like a belated anniversary present.

As some of you know, Patti and I celebrated our 30th anniversary earlier this year, in May.

At the time I teased her about how 30 years was a long, long time to be with someone.

But now that I stand here, recalling her great beauty, 30 years seems tragically short.

At any rate, I’m going to cut it off here.

Because I have a strong feeling Patti is looking down on me from heaven and saying something like,

“Hey Gerry, speaking of short, why don’t you keep your dopey speech short. The fact is, I’m making all kinds of new friends up here; the fact is, I’m watching operas 24/7, the fact is I’m working on some special projects for God.

So stop making everybody sad, and start having fun.”

I know Patti is saying these things, because even in heaven, Patti will still be Patti.

Thank you.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Professionals should respect other professionals

Political professionals --- the men and women who work behind the scenes to plot strategy and to make politicians look and sound good – must understand and appreciate the power of emotion in politics, without ever succumbing to it themselves.

But unfortunately, sometimes they do succumb.

A case in point is pollster Bruce Anderson who recently penned a column for Maclean’s magazine which savages the strategies, tactics and methods of political consultant Nick Kouvalis.

Rather than providing a rational analysis of those tactics, Anderson, who uses phrases like “political thuggery” and “low information vote whisperer” when describing Kouvalis, offers readers nothing but an angry rant.

And what seems to anger him the most is that Kouvalis is successful.

Interestingly, he also suggests the media should ignore Kouvalis’s success. (Though ironically, by attacking Kouvalis in Maclean’s magazine, Anderson is giving him more publicity.)

Now maybe I’m old fashioned, but to my mind such an attack is in poor form.

It’s one thing for a pollster or a consultant to criticize a candidate or a politician, but it’s quite another thing to go after someone else in your own discipline.

Certainly, it seems wrong in my mind to use a public forum to harm a competitor’s business or to undermine his or her reputation.

It violates what should be a code of honour, whereby you respect your fellow professionals, your colleagues.

That’s not to say Anderson has to admire Kouvalis or like his tactics, but he should at least gracefully accept the fact that other consultants have the right to conduct their business as they see fit.

Also please note, in his column Anderson does not accuse Kouvalis of doing anything illegal nor does he suggest Kouvalis is cheating in anyway.

Rather what gives him such moral pain is that the campaign Kouvalis put together for Conservative leadership hopeful Kellie Leitch is “flimsy and cynical.”

Well, all I can say is if that’s a sin than every political strategist in history is going to hell because those two words can be used to describe virtually all campaigns.

I mean, Justin Trudeau’s strategy of selfies and photo ops isn’t exactly heavy in intellectual content, is it?

Anderson also assails Kouvalis for exploiting “fears and resentments.”

But again, exploiting such emotions is par for the course in politics.

To be logically consistent, Anderson should write a column denouncing other strategists who use similar tactics, such as the ones behind the campaigns of Jean Chretien, Kathleen Wynne, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton to name but a few.

Why single out Kouvalis?

Is it personal animosity? Professional jealousy? Partisanship?

Also, there’s an important ethical question here.

Whether or not you like the tactics he’s crafted for Leitch, Kouvalis is simply doing his job as best he can; he’s trying to give his client her best shot at winning.

That’s what professionals are supposed to do.

Would Anderson prefer it, if Kouvalis took Leitch’s money and then ran a campaign he knew would give her less chance for success?

Wouldn’t that be like taking Leitch’s money under false pretenses?

And let’s not forget a more mundane issue at stake here: It’s simply good business sense to stay on friendly terms with other professionals. After all, it doesn’t really make sense to attack a colleague who might one day want to hire you.

Due to the ever shifting nature of political circumstances, today’s enemy could be tomorrow’s ally.

So why poison any wells?

Besides, at the end of the day, the market will decide.

If voters find Kouvalis’s tactics unpersuasive or repulsive to, his candidates will lose.

Let wrap this up by saying Anderson isn’t the only professional in the business who engages in public spats with other professionals.

Indeed, it’s a growing trend.

Social media has made such confrontations all too easy.

Yet I still believe it’s unseemly and which I wish it would stop.

And yes, I realize that by criticizing Anderson in this blog I am perhaps violating my own code about attacking professionals.

But then again, in his column, Anderson used negative tactics to attack negative campaigning, so I guess that makes us even in the hypocrisy department.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Here's Why We're All Doomed!

I don’t want to unduly alarm anybody, but our civilization is totally doomed.

And it’s all because of fossil-fueled climate change.

Any day now, rising world temperatures (or is it lowering world temperatures?) will wreak havoc on the planet and turn our society into something resembling the latest Mad Max movie.

Yes, I realize some still don’t believe climate change is real, but when it comes to the complicated science of predicting future global climate patterns, I, for one, totally believe what the experts say, and by experts I mean, of course, Hollywood celebrities.

If Kermit the Frog says climate change is a threat to humanity, that’s good enough for me.

Anyway, the reason for my pessimism is because we’re told time and time again that the only thing that can stop the impending environmental Armageddon is government.

Government? Really?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust government to deliver my mail, so how am I supposed to have confidence it can somehow stop global climate change?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying government is totally incompetent. Indeed, government can perform some functions exceedingly well, such as putting people in jail and waging wars and ... well actually those are the only two things that come to mind.

At any rate, my point is, relying on government for our salvation, isn’t much of a hope.

Certainly the Canadian government’s record when it comes to fighting climate change isn’t all that great.

Recall, that former Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s scheme to save the planet mainly involved paying lots of money to CBC comedian Rick Mercer, whose job was to appear on TV ads and nag us into joining “The One-Tonne Challenge.”

Unfortunately that campaign turned out to be a One-Tonne Flop, mainly I suspect because the Canadian government didn’t know how to spell the word “ton.”

Of course, our current prime minister is Justin Trudeau, and his number three priority (after selfies and photo ops) is to stop climate change in its tracks.

Yet, I’m dubious he can make much of a difference.

After all, so far Trudeau’s big environmental idea is to impose a tax on carbon. Oops, silly me, it’s not a carbon “tax”, but a carbon “price.”

But whether it’s called a “tax” or “price”, the idea is to make gas and heating oil and electricity more expensive, which the government says will provide it with the revenue needed to pay for important green initiatives, such as funding Trudeau’s trips to exotic foreign locations where he can urge capitalists not to invest in Alberta.

The major problem with this plan is no one really knows where to set the carbon price.

As a result, this policy is less like economics and more like a TV game show --The Carbon Price is Right.

If contestants make the carbon price too low, Leonard DiCaprio will cry; if they make it too high, taxpayers will.

I also don’t have much faith in Trudeau’s other idea, which is to offer government subsidies to “green” industries.

Sure, I get the concept in theory: government-subsidized companies will invent something amazingly innovative and environmentally friendly, such as machines that run on the warmth generated by Trudeau’s “Sunny ways”.

Yet, the sad truth of economics is that companies which rely on government handouts are usually only good at innovating one thing: new ways to get government hand outs.

So you see, for all our sakes we better hope the climate change alarmists are wrong or else we’ve had it.

It’s not that I’m not a “climate change denier” so much as I’m a “government competence denier.”

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Trudeau Hype

I’m formally announcing in this blog that I will no longer resist Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s unstoppable media charm machine.

From now on, I will just relax, stop thinking and allow myself to become totally and mindlessly engulfed in all the rainbows and lollipops razzmatazz.

Believe me, this wasn’t an easy decision to make, since over the years I’ve come to expect our national leaders to act like, you know … adults.

This is why I initially found Prime Minister Trudeau’s various narcissistic, cutesy-wutesy, man-child antics somewhat off-putting.

Indeed, I felt my gag reflex trigger every time a sappy Trudeau photo op graced my newspaper; my cringe muscles were sprained whenever he uttered one of his childish catchphrases – “Canada’s back,” “Because it’s 2015,” “Sunny Ways” – and when he posed for a steamy photo shoot in Vogue magazine, I wanted to jump off the highest bridge.

Plus let’s not forget the selfies. Oh my God, the selfies! Will they ever end?! How much shallow cuteness can a guy take!

Sorry. Must calm down.

Anyway, eventually I came to realize that maybe it was just cantankerous, cynical old me who deplored Trudeau’s steakless sizzle.

Perhaps Trudeau’s vapid and inane media tactics perfectly conform to our celebrity worshiping, social media addicted, reality TV-show watching society.

Certainly, Trudeau is soaring high in the polls.

And generally speaking the media – the guardians of our democracy and the watchdogs of politicians – are more than OK with The Justin Trudeau Show.

 In fact, journalists seem to love it.

Consider some of the media’s recent “hard-hitting” coverage of our prime minister: Maclean’s magazine did an indepth interview with Trudeau’s Vogue photographer; the Canadian Press broke the important story of Trudeau’s take on the new Star Wars movie (he loved it); and the Huffington Post actually ran this maudlin headline: “Justin Trudeau kids: We could look at photos of Hadrien all day”.

Somebody please pass me a barf bag.

It’s like the entire Canadian media industry has turned into Entertainment Tonight.

I mean if a nuclear war was suddenly to erupt, I have zero doubt the CBC’s “At Issue” panel would debate whether or not radiation burns would make Trudeau even more adorable.

And, of course, it would be a ratings blockbuster.

My point is, none of us can escape Trudeau’s publicity playpen.

So given this unalterable reality, my choice was simple: Go insane or go with the flow.

This is why, in the name of my mental health, I’ve decided to embrace the lovable Trudeau in all his insipid glory.

As the saying goes, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

So to all Liberal party spin doctors and to all Trudeau-adoring media pundits, I say, bring it on.

I’m now psychologically ready to meet with a smile any Trudeau media stunt you can throw at me, no matter how cloyingly contrived or embarrassingly juvenile.

If you want to arrange a two hour TV special featuring CBC news anchor Peter Mansbridge and Trudeau belting out hit tunes from the 80s in a Karaoke bar, I’d cheer it to the heavens.

And I’d be deliriously happy if Trudeau did something super cool, such as ordering his Liberal MPs to appear in the House of Commons dressed as their favorite Star Trek character.

I’d even get Goosebumps and swoon if Trudeau announces his democratic reforms will include selecting the next prime minister based simply on whichever candidate gets the most Facebook “likes”.

So yeah, no more negativity on my part.

And if at any point I should ever doubt Trudeau’s superficial, but fun-loving ways, I’ll just recite those awesomely profound and deeply inspirational words:  “Canada’s back” “Because it’s 2015”, “Sunny ways.”

Hooray for pop idol politics!


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Badass History Quotes

One of the best quotes attributed to a world leader concerning the war against ISIS turned out to be a hoax.

Last week Fox News ran a story claiming Russian President Vladimir Putin said this of ISIS: "To forgive the terrorists is up to God but to send them to him is up to me."

Now you gotta admit that’s an awesomely cool line, but alas it seems this quote actually came from the movie Man on Fire.

So Fox got fooled.

But to be fair to Fox, isn’t Putin the kind of guy you’d expect to articulate such a marvelous, Dirty Harry-style badass quote?

Besides, history teaches us that real life people are perfectly capable of coming up with badass lines that could have been plucked straight out of a Clint Eastwood or Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.

To prove my point, here are some of my favorite tough-guy history quotes, in no particular order:

I came, I saw, I conquered.
Julius Caesar

We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
Winston Churchill

This is where we hold them! This is where we fight! This is where they die!
Spartan King Leonidas
(OK this line is really  from the movie 300, but according to the ancient historians the Spartans were actually the all-time kings of badass quotes, so I'd like to believe this line is historic.)

If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.
 Genghis Khan

Yes, well there are a lot of bleeding hearts around who just don't like to see people with helmets and guns. All I can say is, go on and bleed.
Pierre Trudeau

War is the remedy that our enemies have chosen, and I say let us give them all they want.
William Tecumseh Sherman

May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won’t.
George S. Patton

No man ever did me so much good, or enemy so much harm, but I repaid him with interest.
Lucius Cornelius Sulla (Roman dictator)

I’m a kind person, I’m kind to everyone, but if you are unkind to me, then kindness is not what you’ll remember me for.
Al Capone

So yeah, pretty cool stuff, huh?

Remember all these lines the next time somebody tells you history is dull.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Taming of the Tories

Friends, Canadians, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s political career, not to praise it.

The evil that politicians do lives after them; the good is oft interred in their memoirs.

So let it be with Harper.

The noble left-wing scribes hath told thou Harper was a black-hearted tyrant who for these past six and three years didst besmirch our wondrous realm with accursed attack ads and with covetous Senatorial minions and with robocalls most foul.

These are grievous faults, and grievously hath Harper answered them.

Come I to write at Harper’s political funeral.

Yea, my brothers and sisters, as prime minister, Harper did our budget bring to a blessed state of balance, he hath resurrected tales of our long forgotten soldierly deeds, acts so valiant as to make Mars himself take pause; and he did cry havoc and let loose the dogs of war upon our enemies.

But left-wing scribes say he was a dangerous man.

And left-wing scribes are honorable people.

Recall as well my fellow Canadians how when Progressive Conservatives and Reformers of yore, did bicker like the Montagues and Capulets and cry and wail their sad fate at the ballot box, how Harper too hath wept and through a labour to rival that of Hercules did he bring these two parties together into a wedded union of electoral majesty.

And thus did he give voters a rival to the Liberal leviathan.

Did this in Harper seem dangerous?

Yet left-wing scribes say Harper was a dangerous man.

And left-wing scribes are honorable people.

You all did see that Harper freed Western grain farmers from the bondage of the Wheat Board monopoly, gun owners from the villainous registry and tax-payers from knavish public subsidies that fattened the purses of political parties.

Danger should be made of sterner stuff.

Yet left-wing scribes say he was dangerous.

And surely, they are honorable people.

I write not to disprove what left-wing scribes hath spoke.

But here I am to write what I do know.

And what I know is this: the fate of politicians lies not in their stars or in their records, but in the polls.

So it was for Harper.

When Canadians did feast their eyes upon the young Justin Trudeau, the fair prince of noble name and beauteous visage, whose youthful charisma did Apollo-like dance upon the rays of the sun and whose well-spoke platitudes did fall upon our ears, pleasing those souls which yearned for change.

So did he promise to end our politics of discontent.

And Harper, the melancholy Conservative, did suddenly seem so stale.

Alas poor Harper we knew you well, perhaps too well.

Out, out, brief mandate!

Now so will Harper and his Conservative band of brothers shuffle off this mortal political coil, and in his place will come Trudeau the Younger, an ex-drama teacher who will strut and fret his hour upon the Parliamentary stage, full of sound and fury and photo ops, signifying nothing.

A borrower and a lender will Trudeau be. And red ink will wash across the land, drowning our sorrows in a sea of fiscal troubles.

Such stuff socialist dreams are made on.

To tax or not to tax, that will be the question? Aye, there’s the rub. Whether tis nobler to keep running into debt or to fleece the pockets of Canadians on the morrow? (Coles note translation: Trudeau will definitely hiketh our taxes.)

Yet, perhaps, I doth protest too much.

For left-wing scribes tell the reign of Trudeau will be all to the good.

And surely, they are honorable people.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Political Ads for the Elites

When it comes to politics, we Canadians have to put up with a lot of outrageous nonsense: broken campaign promises, sleazy scandals, Elizabeth May.

But it seems the people most annoyed by certain workings of the democratic process are Canada’s media and intellectual elites, i.e. university-educated professionals who are specially trained to relentlessly lecture us on issues which nobody cares about.

For example, elites are constantly bemoaning the state of Canada’s political advertising, which they argue “dumbs down” our civic discourse and undermines the country’s democratic purity, which is just their elite way of saying, “these ads are bad because they help Prime Minister Stephen Harper get elected.”

Me, I can see both sides of the issue.

On the one hand, I can certainly understand why some people might find political ads annoying, especially since their typically low-budget production values, along with their general lack of creativity, make them look as though they were spewed out by an online random ad generator.

On the other hand, however, as someone who has written political ads in both Canada and the United States, I find the ability to boil down a highly complex and nuanced political statement into a 30 second message that’s so simplistic even a brain-damaged chimpanzee can understand it, a true art form.

For instance, one my ads artistically juxtaposed a photo of Bob Rae and a jackass, a spot which was only slightly less cerebral than another ad I produced which compared MPs to cartoon pigs.

At any rate, since I firmly believe elections should be enjoyable for all Canadians,  including elites, I say it’s time our political parties started producing ads that are crammed with intellectual content, ads that take on important issues, and ads that make only minimal use of barnyard animals.

And to help this process along, I’d like to offer my ideas as to what kind of “high quality” political ads I’d like to see in the upcoming 2015 election.

But before I get to that, however, let me first explain that when I talk about “quality”, I don’t mean we need to make political ads all gooey “positive.”

Positive ads are actually like Care Bear movies; they seem harmless, but if you watch too many of them, your brain will gradually turn into a lump of sugar.

To prove my point, here are two examples of positive political ads gone horribly wrong:

Example 1. The Conservatives once aired a positive TV ad showcasing Prime Minister Harper wearing a cuddly sweater vest as he gently chatted about his cutesy-wutesy family in the hopes this would soften his tough-guy image; instead it just softened everyone’s ability to keep their eyes open.

Example 2. The Liberals produced a positive TV ad in 2009 which featured their then leader Michael Ignatieff cheerfully discussing the finer points of trade policy while standing alone in the middle of a forest.  

Unfortunately for the Liberals this ad made Ignatieff something of a laughing stock (more so than usual I mean), although on the plus side, it did significantly increase his name recognition among squirrels and chipmunks.

Mind you, intellectual elites probably believe positive ads are superior because they seem so much nicer when compared to so-called “negative” or “attack” ads.

What they fail to realize is political “attacks” are actually an important part of our democratic heritage, going all the way back to the dawn of classical civilization. In fact, the term “political negative ad” is derived from the ancient Greek phrase “politicos negatotos gyro” which roughly translated means, “Feel free to take your opponent’s quotes wildly out of context.”

But enough about the history of political ads, it’s time now to check out my suggestions as to how each party can totally degrade and debase its rivals in a high quality manner:

Ads to Take Down Trudeau

Going negative against Liberal leader Justin Trudeau presents a real challenge because he’s so adorably cute; attacking him is kind of like kicking a puppy.

Yet, like a puppy, Trudeau also has less intellectual heft than an average episode of The Bachelor.

And that can be used as a basis for anti-Trudeau attack ads, such as:

Trudeau TV Attack Ad #1

Visual -- A flattering photo of Trudeau appears on the screen. (Ordinarily, I’d suggest an unflattering photo be used, but unfortunately no such photo of Trudeau exists.)

Narrator: Here are some facts about Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.

Fact: Trudeau’s only experience in dealing with fiscal issues occurred when he negotiated with his mother for a raise in his allowance.

Fact: At the time, Trudeau was 35 years old.

Fact: Trudeau argued his allowance “should raise itself.”

Fact: After hearing this argument, Trudeau’s mother ended up cutting his allowance.

And now Trudeau wants to take control of the federal budget?! Don’t let him use your tax dollars to raise his allowance.

Trudeau TV Attack Ad # 2

Visual: Side by side photos of Trudeau’s head and a turnip.

Narrator: Have you ever wondered if Justin Trudeau was smarter than a turnip?

Let’s compare the two.

A turnip never expressed admiration for the Communist Chinese government.

Trudeau did.

A turnip never joked on a radio show about the explosive situation in the Ukraine.

Trudeau did.

In response to the war against ISIS, a turnip never made a crude comment about “Whipping out CF-18s”

Trudeau did.

You wouldn’t trust a turnip to run Canada; why trust Trudeau?

Trudeau TV Attack Ad # 3

Visual: Photo of Justin Trudeau eating a turnip.

Narrator:  Remember when Justin Trudeau said the federal budget will “balance itself”?

Well if you think that’s bad consider all these other crazy things Trudeau may or may not have said:

“I’m not worried about the XL pipeline, because one day it will just build itself.”

“I am calling upon the UN to demand that Vladimir Putin invade himself”.

“The best thing about my beautiful hair is it combs itself.”

So if you don’t want a prime minister who says oddball things vote for Stephen Harper.

By the way, here’s some irony, this ad actually wrote itself.

Ads to take Down Harper

The Liberal party has said again and again, that it’s going to stay positive. This, to use the proper technical political science term, is a “lie.”

The Liberals will definitely go negative and they’ll score big points if they use ads like these:

Harper TV attack ad #1

Visual: A cartoon of Mike Duffy, made to resemble the giant “Stay Puft Marshmallow Man” from the Ghostbusters movie, is seen causing havoc in downtown Ottawa.

Narrator: Stephen Harper actually appointed Mike Duffy to the Senate.

The Canadian Senate.

Duffy with an expense account.

In our Senate.

In Canada.

We did not make this up.

Harper TV attack ad # 2

Visual: NDP leader Thomas Muclair appears on the screen.

Audio: Hi, I’m Thomas Mulcair and one important issue in this election is how the Harper government has eroded our precious democratic rights and freedoms.

In fact, under Bill C-51 the government now has sweeping powers to invade our privacy and to infringe on our …(sound of static abruptly drowns out Muclair’s voice, then the video starts break up …until suddenly Mulcair’s image is replaced by a screen filling photo of Prime Minister Harper’s face, staring accusingly with ice cold blue eyes directly at the viewer)

A cold clinical voice then speaks the following words which also appear in big bold letters on the screen thusly:
WARNING: THIS VIDEO TRANSMISSION HAS BEEN DEEMED UNPATRIOTIC AND A THREAT TO NATIONAL SECURITY. TO AVOID PROSECUTION, PROCEED IMMEDIATELY TO THE NEAREST MIND CLEANSING CENTRE FOR RE-ORIENTATION.

A MESSAGE FROM THE TOTALITARIAN ACTION PLAN – WE’RE KEEPING YOU SAFE IN WAYS THAT SHOULD TERRIFY YOU!

Harper TV Attack ad # 3

Visual: Image of Prime Minister Harper appears on the screen digitally altered to look like a combination of history’s greatest monsters: Genghis Khan, Joseph Stalin, Justin Bieber.

Narrator:  What you learn about Prime Minister Harper in this ad will terrify the socks off you.

A group of scientists, while combing through the wreckage of the Franklin expedition ship, discovered something thought to be long lost and forgotten: Harper’s scary right-wing hidden agenda.

This is frightening because it means the Harper government will soon implement a whole range of scary, right-wing, hidden things, such as forcing every Canadian to carry a bible, such as forcing every Canadian to carry a gun, such as forcing every Canadian to carry a gun with a bible attached to it.

Yes, when it comes to scary right-wing hidden agendas nothing is too impossible to totally make up.

So be afraid! Be afraid! Be afraid!

This ad is paid for by the Stop Conservative Fear Mongering Committee.


Ads to take Down Mulcair

Going after the NDP will mean producing ads with a little more subtlety and a little more sophistication, meaning they will need some sort catchy tagline, and by “catchy” I mean a phrase, which after you’ve heard it about a million times on TV and radio, will bore into your subconscious mind like a voracious parasite and nest there, gnawing away at your cogitative and reasoning powers.  

See if you can detect the catch phrase in these ads:

Mulcair TV Attack Ad # 1

Visual: Black and white photo of Thomas Mulcair, with a sharp focus on his beard.

Narrator: Here’s what NDP leader Thomas Mulcair doesn’t want you to know.

He has a beard.

Do you know who else had a beard?

Karl Marx and Fidel Castro. (Visuals of Marx and Castro appear on screen)

Are you scared yet?

Mulcair TV Attack ad #2

Visual: Photo of Thomas Mulcair standing between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau.

Narrator: NDP leader Thomas Mulcair –he combines Stephen Harper’s personality with Justin Trudeau’s foreign policy ideas.

Are you scared yet?

Mulcair TV Attack ad #3

Visual: Vintage photo of NDP convention from the 1960s.

Narrator: Did you know the New Democratic Party was founded in 1960?

That’s means the NDP is more than 50 years old.

Yet, Thomas Mulcair calls his party the “New” Democratic Party.

How can something more than 50 years old be new?

So if Mulcair is lying about the “New” part, is he also lying about the “Democratic” part?

Are you scared yet?

By the way, in case you missed it, the “catch phrase” in each of those ads was, of course, “Thomas Mulcair.”

Now, I could go on and on with more examples of brilliantly creative political ad ideas, but I think I’ve already achieved my goal here, which was primarily to pad this blog posting’s word count.

Besides, now that I look back at my ad ideas, I realize they probably won’t please the elites.

After all let’s face it, eggheads want political ads that are erudite and classy, like a Margaret Atwood novel; unfortunately this would result in political ads that are boring and pretentious, like a Margaret Atwood novel.

So like it or not all you elites out there, my ideas are about as good as you can expect to see in terms of political ads. In fact, I’m fairly certain that compared to the low brow stuff that will actually air during the next election, my ad concepts will look positively Shakespearean.

Are you scared yet?