This kind of thing has become sadly predictable. But, reassuringly, not so predictable that it doesn’t merit the criticism it is receiving.
In fairness, let’s first acknowledge that Canadian politics has always been home to its share of baseless and tasteless attacks. But let’s also accept that recent years have also witnessed a spike in both the number and viciousness of childish political attacks – particularly between the Liberal and Conservative teams.
Who can forget these rhetorical high-points? ...
Conservatives forced to remove image of bird defecating on Liberal leader
Conservatives accuse Liberal MP of bring “anti-Israel”
Liberal MP apologizes for calling Conservative MP “fat”
Liberal MP calls Conservative an “idiot" who should "go back to making tea"
Liberals demand apology for Prime Minister’s slur (Incredibly, Liberals made this their lead in question period for about a week, if memory serves)
So, why has debate between the Liberals and Conservatives become so poisonous that a photo of the PM being gunned down is deemed “okay” by the professional communications staff running the Liberal website?
Consider this: Speaking about student politics at the University of Toronto, the Old Bob Rae once famously opined that “the reason it was so acrimonious and so divisive is because the stakes were just so low.”
In other words, when what you are debating are matters of such small difference – bringing in the HST tomorrow or next week; appointing 17 Senators instead of 18; torture versus “torture-lite” – the tone of the debate becomes the only thing you actually control.
Unlike New Democrats who can put real differences on the table between them and Stephen Harper, Liberals find relief in the ad-hominem. It’s all they have left.