Will third-party attack ads shape the 2014 mayoral election?
It seems like there’s a hot new trend in Toronto mayoral politicking: attack ads done by people and organizations that claim no affiliation with any particular campaign. Late last month, for instance, satirical ads appeared in Trinity Bellwoods Park. The posters advocated for a strategic, anyone-but-Ford approach to voting. Just last week, filmmaker Ron Murphy made a minor viral splash with a video of a nine-year-old girl parroting many of Rob Ford’s famous sound bites. And recently, according to the Star, a well-produced anti-John Tory ad appeared on YouTube (it’s embedded above). The video regurgitates some of Olivia Chow’s anti-Tory talking points. It was reportedly created by “someone supportive” of Chow’s campaign who wasn’t working directly with her.
Could Toronto be witnessing the rise of the PAC?
Stateside, third-party groups knows as political action committees (or PACs) have a huge influence on campaigns. (In 2012, the PAC Restore Our Future spent $40 million on Mitt Romney’s presidential bid.) As the Star points out, “outside” ads don’t count against candidate spending limits. They also allow interested parties to skirt the $2,500 cap on campaign donations by providing more value in the form of services.
The Star also reports that Tory’s campaign team believes the anti-Tory video is the work of Chow’s advisers, particularly noted political wheeler-dealer and hardcore fan Warren Kinsella. Until we learn otherwise, let’s just assume that any bit of even passably underhanded or clever political chicanery is the work of Warren Kinsella, who is basically a more casually dressed Game Of Thrones character.