Attack ads likely to become part of future elections 

Conservative, Green Party candidates both critical of Liberal campaign tactic

Re-elected Conservative MP Chuck Strahl has rounded out his campaign with an attack on the Liberals for what he called a "dirty" national campaign that did nothing but lower the bar for future elections.

Strahl, who was re-elected in the Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon riding (which includes Pemberton) by a 33 per cent majority, said he was again "amazed and humbled" by his re-election, but he could not contain his disappointment at the national result.

The Conservatives ran a tight campaign with only a few notable hiccups and were generally considered to be doing better than the Liberals, but that did not stop the Grits from winning a minority government.

"Nationally it was a cup half full, half empty situation," said Strahl. "In the four times I’ve run it’s the best we’ve ever done, both by the percentage of the vote and by the number of seats.

"The fact that it was kind of a done deal by the time it hit B.C. was disappointing, but I’m glad we picked up 26 seats."

Strahl said the campaign by the local candidates in his riding was the best he’s seen, but his tone changed dramatically when he spoke of the national campaign.

"We had 10 local all-candidates debates and everybody represented their parties well without being acrimonious," he said.

"But to contrast that with the national campaign, which I thought from a Liberal perspective was one of the dirtiest campaigns I’ve ever seen, and it seems to me there’s almost nothing you can do to counter it.

"The negative advertising and those attack ads proved to be effective against us and because they’re effective my fear is they may become a standard feature of campaigns in Canada.

"That’s the way they are in many of the (U.S.) states, they just run attack ads on each other.

"But in Canada we’ve avoided it and I just thought that some of those ads that the Liberals ran were just over the top and I was appalled by it."

Strahl said he knew the Liberal advertisements were working because he had several constituents approach him and ask him the same questions the Liberals posed in their advertisements.

"People were coming up to me and asking about the gun registry like, ‘Are you going to have guns in every home?’ and I knew where they were getting it from because it was on the ads."

Green Party candidate in the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast riding (Whistler and Squamish), Andrea Goldsmith, doubled the party’s support in her riding from the 2000 election, but she said the Liberal’s attack ads also drove people away from her party.

"I doubled the vote to 9.72 per cent… my goal was 13-20 per cent because I wanted to really push over the 10 per cent mark," said Goldsmith.

"But I think what happened was the fear mongering of the Liberals.

"I was hearing a lot of people saying that I really want to vote Green but I’m afraid the Conservatives are going to win.

"So I think that’s where a lot of my potential vote went – people were voting out of fear and in the end John Reynolds still won.

"So all the people who really wanted to vote Green didn’t and so I think it would have been higher had people voted with their hearts.

"It’s sad because in a lot of ways people did waste their vote."

While Goldsmith’s result was incredibly encouraging for Green supporters it could be costly for her because Elections Canada only refunds campaign expenses of candidates that get more than 10 per cent of the vote.

"Elections Canada refunds 60 per cent of your campaign expenses when you get 10 per cent in any particular riding, that’s why I had that as a goal.

"But we doubled our support locally and I think more than quadrupled it nationally so that’s a great endorsement.

"And those numbers are going to be a very precious with this sitting of government because we could see another election sooner than any of us expect."

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