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Liberals ask voters to ‘choose forward’ while Tories vow to help Canadians ‘get ahead’ in new campaign ads

The Conservative and Liberal teams have launched television ad campaigns ahead of October’s federal election with a shared focus on offering to make everyday life more affordable for Canadians.

The Liberal campaign slogan is “Choose Forward,” while the Conservatives have gone with “It’s time for you to get ahead.”

The NDP is expected to launch a slogan and TV ad campaign next week; a party spokesperson said the slogan will tell voters that the NDP is the only party that “will put people and their interests first.” The Greens’ slogan is “Not left. Not right. Forward together.” The populist People’s Party is going with “Strong and free.”

‘Choose forward’

Justin Trudeau is featured prominently in the Liberal ad, which shows the leader meeting with constituents in his diverse Montreal-area Papineau riding.

Other shots show Trudeau riding public transit while speaking directly to camera about his government’s accomplishments to date, specifically the “middle class” tax cut and an enhanced Canada Child Benefit for parents with young kids. He defends the government’s climate plan — which includes a national carbon tax imposed on jurisdictions that don’t have a plan of their own — as the best way to fight an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

Trudeau doesn’t mention by name his main opponent, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, but rather invokes former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper’s legacy and takes a thinly veiled jab at Ontario Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford.

“I got into politics to help people like the people I’ve served here in Papineau for more than a decade, people who work hard to make ends meet, parents who want to build a better life for their kids, Canadians who want our country to stand for something positive in a world that’s grown darker,” Trudeau said.

“The Conservatives like to say they’re ‘for the people,’ but then they cut taxes for the wealthy and cut services for everybody else,” Trudeau said, citing Ford’s campaign slogan during the spring 2018 provincial election and a series of budgetary manoeuvres the Ford government has made to reduce a sizeable deficit in the country’s largest province.

“In October we’ve got a choice to make — keep moving forward and build on the progress we’ve made, or go back to the politics of the Harper years. I’m for moving forward, for everyone,” Trudeau said.

According to the party, the ad is now airing on both conventional television and digital platforms.

Trudeau is expected to call an election sometime after Labour Day. Under federal fixed election date legislation, the vote must be held sometime on or before Oct. 21.

The Liberal slogan, Choose Forward, is similar to other Liberal campaign catchphrases from elections past — especially to those deployed by governments trying to win re-election.

In the 2004 federal election campaign, Liberals opted for “Moving Canada forward.” The Ontario Liberals promised voters they were “Moving forward, together” in 2007 and then, in 2001, “Forward. Together.” (Former U.S. president Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign had a one-word slogan: “Forward.”)

‘It’s time for you to get ahead’

The Conservative ad features Scheer, dressed casually in a blue Oxford shirt, speaking directly to camera and extolling the virtues of his plan to reduce taxes for Canadians.

While he doesn’t mention the carbon tax by name in the ad, Scheer has said that one of his first priorities in the event his party forms a government in the next Parliament would be to end the tax.

Scheer also has promised to maintain the Liberals’ enhanced Canada Child Benefit while introducing a new non-refundable tax credit that would make federal Employment Insurance (EI) maternity and parental benefits tax-free. Under that plan, a person earning a salary of $50,000, who then goes on EI benefits after a birth, would save about $4,000.

“My plan for Canadians? Lower the cost of living and leave more money in your pockets,” Scheer said. “I believe Canadians across the country are so frustrated because they’re working so hard and they’re following all the rules, but they feel like they’re falling further and further behind, or they’re barely getting by.

“I have a plan to lower the cost of living to make life more affordable, to leave more money in the pockets of Canadians for their kids, for themselves or for your aging parents, because it’s time for you to get ahead.”

Scheer has said the Conservative campaign will be focused principally on affordability.

When asked how he will appeal to young voters, Scheer has said the Conservative Party has a plan to make the country’s housing stock more affordable for millennial voters — many of whom are struggling to buy something in a time of sky-high real estate prices.

A Conservative Party press release sent to reporters Monday said the campaign slogan reflects Scheer’s positive conservative vision: “A government that lives within its means and puts more money in your pockets so you can get ahead.”

“We’ve seen who gets ahead under Trudeau. It’s billion-dollar companies with high-priced lobbyists like Loblaws who get generous handouts from hard-working taxpayers. It’s long-time corporate donors to the Liberal Party like SNC-Lavalin, who Trudeau broke the law trying to protect from criminal prosecution,” Scheer said of the ad.

“Justin Trudeau has spent the last four years helping his political insiders get ahead. I think it’s time for you to get ahead.”

This isn’t the first campaign-style ad to come from the Conservative Party during the pre-campaign period. Over the spring and summer months, the party rolled out a series of attack ads targeted at Trudeau that say he simply isn’t “as advertised.”

Dennis Matthews is a vice-president of marketing and communications at Enterprise and a veteran campaign staffer who helped design ads for past Harper and Ford campaigns. He said getting a slogan exactly right is hugely important to a campaign.

“A lot of work goes into crafting these slogans. There’s a ton of market research and focus groups. In the end they’re to distil down the entire campaign. Every ad, every event, every speech, every press release, it all kind of boils down to your campaign slogan. It’s something you really want rattling around in voter’s heads when they’re going in the ballot box,” he said in an interview with CBC News Network.

“They’re the embodiment of the entire campaign message for a team. They really have to get it right. And when you get it right, you’ll remember them for years to come.”

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