Apparently the Green Party believes political “attack ads” are not good for the environment.
Or at least they are not good for the political environment.
In a hysterical tone usually reserved for its pronouncements of impending ecological gloom and doom, the Green Party today called for nothing less than the banning of all political TV ads.
Get that, not just “attack ads” but all political ads.
“Canadians have been horrified by the vicious television ad campaigns waged as part of the mid-term elections,” says a Green Party news release. "We recognize that our own political culture is increasingly being contaminated by the same kind of poisonous manipulation seen in the
. Before Canadians next go to the polls, we want to propose sweeping new changes to protect our political commons.” US
And so to protect our “political commons” (whatever that is) the Greens say “
should ban the use of television for political advertising before and during the writ periods.” Canada
This idea disturbing for a whole bunch of reasons.
First, as someone who has been involved in producing attack TV ads both south of border and here in Canada, let me tell you what the Greens call “vicious” and “poisonous”, I call comparative and effective.
As long as attack ads are truthful, as long as they stick to issues and refrains from besmirching personalities, they are legitimate and useful forms of communication – certainly just as legitimate as those “positive” TV ads featuring smiling candidates posing with their wife, kids and dog.
There is a reason why these sorts of ads work.
Secondly, the Green Party’s desire to ban TV ads indicates the complete lack of faith the party has in the intelligence of Canadian voters.
Simply put, Canadians are too smart and savvy to get “manipulated” by a TV ad. Yes, a well-crafted ad will persuade voters if it makes sense and if it resonates on an emotional level.
A badly produced ad that hits the wrong note, on the other hand, will often backfire and hurt whichever party put it out.
In other words, we don’t need laws to protect Canadians.
Third, a ban on TV political ads will only help incumbents. Consider that holding office is a huge advantage for any party, at least when it comes to communicating with Canadians.
Often the only way Opposition Parties can reach out to Canadians is through TV ads. If you take away that power, you will take away their ability to build up support.
Last and certainly not least, a ban on TV ads is clearly a serious infringement on the right to free political expression.
You can’t help democracy by silencing those who wish to speak out.
In short, the Green Party call to ban TV ads is an idea that should be buried in the nearest composter.