Then we had our first Conservative attack ad against Rae, and the response was a video about the Conservative record on buying military jets. I'm a political junkie and I couldn't completely follow the video, or get its relevance. It certainly didn't seem like much of a response to me.
Rae is a principled, ethical guy, and he has stated in public that personal attacks have no place in politics. But when they attack us personally, we need to respond in kind. That doesn't mean that we lower our standards forever, but in the moment we need to drop the gloves and (in Tom Mulcair's words) hit to hurt. Or if that seems too mean, we could at least do a parody of the Conservative attack ad. Something effective is needed. Timing is everything. We have to be prepared, either with some already created video, or at least with a team that can work fast.
Conservative attack ads have taken a toll on the Liberal party. I have recently read articles arguing that attack ads aren't the sole reason for a leader's defeat, which is such a red herring: of course they're not the sole reason. But they're debilitating, especially when the timing and execution is just right. They strengthen the resolve of our opposition; they make us second-guess our leaders; they reduce the confidence of our leaders; they throw off our momentum; they diminish our support perhaps only temporarily, but sometimes they cause it fall just when it's needed most.
Conservative attacks go beyond ads aimed at the leader. For example, I suspect that the Conservatives realized that Sheila Copps was their biggest threat as party president, and so their trolls ridiculed her. We need to strike back at the big attacks so that we can start to build up our defences against the little attacks too: and the only way to defend ourselves is to immunize our ranks. And to let the bastards know that when they hit us we hit back - double.