Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Sampling Canadian political ads as seen through the eyes of U.S. hockey fans

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This is what you get when you combine the season for a Canadian election and a free preview of NHL Center Ice.

Our sister blog,, normally covers the unique traits of Canadian ads during the free previews of NHL Center Ice. There are three times throughout the season where U.S. viewers get NHL Center Ice games without paying extra. And even rarer during a Canadian election cycle.

There were two reports this week, the first looked at one game — Los Angeles at Vancouver — on cable channel Rogers SportsNet Pacific to get a British Columbia persepctive. The other report had a more national take, the three Saturday night games from Hockey Night in Canada on CBC.

The trends are clear:

Canadian political ads are much more tame than American ones. But we are seeing some American elements creeping in, especially among the Conservative Party ads.

The Liberals and NDP primary voices are the leaders themselves; you never hear the voice of Conservative leader and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Liberals and the NDP talk more about issues, Conservative ads speak more to trust.

While there are four parties that have seats in the House of Commons, we will only see ads from three of those parties during these hockey games. NHL Center Ice rarely carries a RDS feed (French home for the Montréal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators). And the Bloc Quebecois runs most (if not all) of its ads in French and in Quebec. The only local English language feed for Canadiens games is a secondary TSN channel (not normally carried on NHL Center Ice); Rogers SportsNet East carries Senators games, but the likelihood of a French ad running — even though Ottawa is more bilingual (among major cities) than the rest of the province — is slim.

The NHL Center Ice window ends April 10. The Canadian election is May 2.


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