An NDP ad campaign promising a positive message - though it opens with a dig against the Liberals - began airing in Interior cities including Kamloops on Monday.
The ad message is framed as counterpoint to Liberal advertising attacking NDP Leader Adrian Dix and the party past record in government in the 1990s.
"So while the Liberal party relies on personal attacks, I plan to act on issues important to you and your family," NDP Leader Adrian Dix says in the first of the ads after introducing himself with the slogan, Change for the Better.
The holier-than-thou stance has, not surprisingly triggered a debate among parties about whose message is more positive. Dix has promised that "we're not going negative," while Premier Christy Clark said her taxpayer-funded B.C. Jobs Plan ads are in the public's interest.
"We need to make sure the citizens of B.C. have confidence in our economy," she said.
Aside from what is clearly campaign strategy, the NDP says it wants to avoid the personal-style of attack ads that feed public cynicism about politics.
"We need to change the way politics is conducted in this province," said Tom Friedman, Kamloops-South Thompson NDP candidate. "We want people thinking about issues and policy."
"I don't think it's entirely positive," said Todd Stone, nominated to represent the Liberals in Kamloops-North Thompson. "They take a few swings at us. Frankly, the difference between what we're putting out is pretty clear. We're talking about specifics. We want to deal with B.C.'s future."
Stone said it is no surprise to him to see the NDP road-testing its latest ad campaign in the Interior, particularly in Kamloops.
"If you want to form government, you have to get elected in Kamloops," he said, citing the city's reputation as a bellwether in provincial elections.
But Liberal advertising delivers on substance, he maintained.
"With the NDP, it's all a bunch of platitudes and niceties, and that's not what the public deserves."
Friedman said he finds Liberal ads disturbing.
"Kevin Krueger, over the years since the NDP government was formed in the 1990s, has done this with unrelenting obsession, and I'm afraid his successor Liberal candidate may be doing the same thing," Friedman said. "They're going back to the last century to re-fight things in the '90s."
He said young people tell him that attack ads lower the level of discourse.
"We're also going to praise government when they do the right thing but we're not going to attack individuals," Friedman said, drawing a line in the sand.
Two years ago, however, the NDP got considerable mileage from an ad that characterized Clark's leadership as "Christy Crunch - new package, same old product."
Is that not a personal-style attack ad?
"They were and part of it was a way to show that person is following clearly in the footsteps of her predecessor," Friedman said.
The NDP plans to table legislation in February that would restrict taxpayer-funded partisan advertising by giving the auditor general's office authority to review all government ads.
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