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Editorial cartoon by Brian Gable

Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail

What should you do if you're a Tory strategist and you want to shape the debate in a week when the House is not sitting, you aren't going to factor in a by-election, the NDP is having its leadership convention and you want to distract from the robo-call mess? Why not drop a TV ad or two?

It seems sadly predictable that a political party rolling out ads in a non-election period has the same mesmerizing effect as first striking gold in Yukon. Everyone loses their mind and all perspective talking about nothing else. They become delirious with the novelty of it all. There is a rush to explore, dig and exploit. The Tories get rich off the find as their bright shiny object gets seen far and wide. Yet everyone else unearths the same old fool's gold as there is no original vein here – and hasn't been in years.

Pre-writ attack ads have pretty much been the norm since Stephen Harper's government came to office in 2006. Paul Martin's Liberals tinkered around with them a bit before that and the NDP has used pre-writ ads fairly regularly in the last number of years. Love them or hate them, there is a sense from all political parties that they have value – otherwise they wouldn't spend the money to deploy them. They'll stop doling out cash for them when they don't work any more with the public or are can't be leveraged into a free multi-million-dollar return in earned media.

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So let the fulminating continue about their corrosiveness, their poor production quality, their out-datedness and of course the unfairness of it all. Yup, keep going. Someone is striking it rich every time you do and the rest us, well we are just fools.

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