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Tory Slime Machine is losing the fight it picked with Justin Trudeau -- for now

Round One in the fight started with Justin Trudeau by the Tory Slime Machine pretty clearly went to Trudeau -- well, to Trudeau and the Canadian Liver Foundation.

Now, Round Two, Trudeau's riposte, a 30-second video ad released by the Liberal Party yesterday, seems to have gone his way too.

I am speaking here as a guy who’s spent a lot of time and money over the past decade working on advertising campaigns. Naturally, there are tons -- or should that be tonnes? -- of qualifiers about this. Just for starters: Where will the ads run? Who will actually get to see these things?

Still, it's starting to look very much as if Trudeau could mop the floor with the Conservatives' negative advertising thugs -- which, without a doubt, will just goad them into worse and more hysterical attacks -- just as he did with then-Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau in an actual boxing ring a year ago.

An awful lot of Canadians -- maybe most of them -- were offended by the Harper Conservatives' use of the striptease segment in the Tory attack ad, which attempted to paint Trudeau as a flake and a kid, the minute they learned the footage came from a charity fund-raiser for the Liver Foundation. The Foundation's donations soared immediately as a result of the Tory attack, it's been reported.

I’m not so sure, however, if it registered with the same fair-minded Canadians that the creative clipping of Trudeau's tortured explanation of his father's views about Quebec, done to make it appear as if they were his opinions, was, in effect, a new low point for the Tory Sleaze Machine and an outright lie.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservatives may feel, like their Republican mentors and models south of the Uninsured Medicine Line, that a lie told with a bare face can winkle its way into the public consciousness over time -- and perhaps they're right.

Naturally, as well, these fierce guardians of the bottom line will find a way to ensure that we, the taxpayers of Canada, have to pay the freight.

But from an advertising industry perspective, the 30-second Trudeau clip released yesterday is a highly effective response.

It permits Trudeau to rise above the fray. Portraying him in the classroom -- holding a real job, something Prime Minister Harper has never done -- is pure genius.

As they say in ad-agency talk, this provides Trudeau with an effective meta-narrative that asks, "Are we going to stand here and behave like destructive children, or are we going to talk about building Canada."

Or, as Trudeau actually put it in the ad: "We can keep mistrusting and finding flaws in each other or we can pull together and get to work."

This will drive the Tories crazy, because they know as any politically alert person does that the job of any opposition politicians is to find flaws with the government. But every Canadian who is not a Tory partisan also knows in their bones that whatever it is the Harper Cons are up to, it has very little with building Canada.

No doubt the Liberals are running focus groups that tell them Canadians like Trudeau's positive demeanour, especially compared to the manners and styles of the other party leaders.

Still, Liberal supporters are entitled to feel a little disquiet at Trudeau's promise never to respond to Tory attacks with negativity of their own. Nobody, it is said here, is more vulnerable to such an approach than Harper. And, count on it, the Tories are running focus groups of their own that have identified lack of experience as Trudeau's greatest weakness.

Just the same, even though I’m not a Liberal Party supporter and I’m inclined to view television advertisements by any party with large dose of salt, this one made me smile and laugh out loud.

Round 2: Trudeau.

+ + +

Failing grades all round for Alison Redford -- literally!

Give an A+ to the Alberta NDP's minuscule Legislative caucus for coming up with a clever-boots way to highlight Premier Alison Redford's signal lack of success to date in her first term in the province's top political job.

The New Democrats certainly got more media coverage than a party with only four members could normally expect by putting it’s assessment of Redford's lack of achievement in the form of a grade school report card.

Who could resist the gentle sarcasm of the four Fs and a D-minus the Knee-Dippers' gave to Redford, no doubt to her fury.

Comments with her best mark, that D-minus for health, noted in part: "Seniors' long-term care and drug plan shows little effort. Some progress in the area of physician compensation." And the rest:

Social Services -- F -- "Shows little support for vulnerable classmates, despite noble sentiments at the beginning of term."

Education -- F -- "Little comprehension of the impact of severe cuts to post-secondary education."

Basic Finance -- F -- "…Basic lack of understanding of the basic concepts of the course."

Environmental Studies -- F -- "…Class presentation to U.S. students factually incorrect."

Click here to read the whole report card for yourself.

+ + +

What happened to 'Never apologize, never explain'?

It was simultaneously excruciatingly embarrassing and highly entertaining to watch Calgary developer Cal Wenzel and his high-zoot PR team trying to wriggle off the hook for what he himself had said on a secretly recorded tape last November.

Alert readers will recall the recent Global News report from Cowtown that played the digital recording of Wenzel's remarks at a Calgary builders' bunfest, as well as Alberta Diary's publication of the Manning Centre's talking points about how to respond to Wenzel's mention of their effort to unseat certain Calgary city councillors who are apparently too concerned about what their constituents want.

There's no need for me to summarize Wenzel's remarks when you can listen to them for yourselves.

Looking remarkably uncomfortable, like a man quite unused to being asked mean questions by insufficiently deferential reporters, Wenzel used his news conference yesterday to complain the spin put on his remarks was "wrong and hurtful," assail the anonymous micro-videographer as a coward, and offer the opinion home-building ought to be "market driven and we seem to be under a social engineering program."

The effect was unintentionally hilarious and tended to reinforce the very impression Wenzel was trying to put to rest.

It's said here the money Wenzel put into his PR offensive was not well spent. He would have been better to say: "You've seen the tape. Judge for yourself what I meant. Now get lost!"

From the look of him, that’s what Wenzel thought, too, before his PR brainiacs talked him into the newser.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.

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