OTTAWA - Some Grade 5 students have some advice for Prime Minister Stephen Harper: Stop being mean to Justin Trudeau.
Seven students from an Ottawa-area Catholic school have written to Harper asking that he pull Conservative attack ads, which began running within hours of Trudeau claiming the Liberal leadership last month.
The letter-writing campaign comes as a new poll suggests the attack ads may have backfired.
Indeed, the ads were more likely to leave a negative impression about Harper and the Conservatives than they were about Trudeau and the Liberals, according to The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey.
Teacher Natalie Casault said the idea came from the students themselves during a lesson on government last month. To the kids, she said the ads looked just like cyberbullying, which they'd learned about a couple of weeks earlier.
The ads feature video of Trudeau doing a mock strip tease for a charity event, his head surrounded by fairy dust as a narrator sneeringly recounts his past experience as a camp counsellor and drama teacher.
Casault, who teaches at Ecoles des voyageurs in Orleans, said she didn't raise the issue. One of her students did.
"He said, 'Yeah, they're really not nice, he did a charity and they're laughing at him and he looks like a clown and they're saying he's just a simple teacher and that's not fair. They can't do that, madame, that's cyberbullying.'"
Other students agreed, so Casault suggested they could write letters to the prime minister. One little girl did and read it to the class a few days later, which eventually prompted six others to write letters of their own.
"They said, 'You know, if it was me right there, I'd be crying.' And they're cute because they would say, 'You know, I think Justin is really sad about this,'" Casault said.
"One of the boys wrote down — and I thought that was really, really genius of him — he said, 'You know, there are better strategies, Mr. Prime Minister. You could talk to us about all the great things that you want to do for the country, instead.'"
Casault said the kids know nothing about politics or partisanship but they do know all about cyberbullying, following recent high-profile suicides by teenagers who had been traumatized by devastating pictures or video of them online.
"They're hearing all the time, 'Don't be disrespectful, be courteous to people, be nice to people, don't say things that you wouldn't want said about you' ... These are the speeches that I keep giving them every day."
They've also been taught about the dangers of posting online images and how they can become permanent means of belittling or demeaning a person, she said. So, when they saw the Tory attack ads online and on television, it rang a bell.
"From the point of view of a kid, all they see is somebody being attacked."
The letters were sent late last week and no response has been received from Harper as yet. But Casault said that wasn't the goal.
"Just the fact that they did something, they feel good about it."
The Harris-Decima survey suggests the kids aren't alone in disliking the ads.
Sixty-five per cent of respondents said they've seen the ads, which have been bombarding television and computer screens for about a month now.
But 59 per cent said they thought the campaign's tag line — that Trudeau is "in way over his head" —is somewhat or very inaccurate. Only 29 per cent said somewhat or very accurate.
Moreover, only 14 per cent said the ads left them with a negative impression of Trudeau and the Liberals, compared to 60 per cent who said the impact was neutral and 20 per cent who said the ads actually gave them a positive impression of Trudeau.
At the same time, the ads seem to have boomeranged on the Conservatives.
Sixty-four per cent said the ads left them with a negative impression of Harper and the Conservatives. Another 26 per cent said the impact was neutral and just six per cent said they got a positive impression of Harper from the ads.
The telephone survey of 1,007 Canadians was conducted May 9-12 and is considered accurate within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times in 20.
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Come At Me, Bro
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Justin Trudeau & co. making faces.
Justin Trudeau splits his pants while pushing the "scrum machine" in support of Prostate Cancer Canada in Toronto Thursday, July 21, 2011.
Justin Trudeau gets his geek on at Montreal Comiccon in September 2012.
So Long 'Stache
Justin Trudeau has his moustache shaved off to raise money for the Judy LaMarsh Fund, that supports female candidates, at the Liberal Party convention in Ottawa on Saturday, January 14, 2012.
All For One, One For All
Justin Trudeau all dressed up for the Montreal Movember Gala in 2010.
Pierre Trudeau's sons, Sacha, left, and Justin, tackle their mother's paperboy in Ottawa in this undated photo.
'Family... And A Cow.'
He Can Certainly Take A Punch
Alexandre (Sacha) Trudeau delivers a right hook to his older brother Justin during a play fight in 1980 at Ottawa airport as the boys await a flight with the return of their father, then-prime minister, Pierre Trudeau.
Be Honest With Me, Who's Cuter?
Justin Trudeau strikes a pose with an adorable baby.
A Very Furry Christmas
Justin Trudeau poses with his family on his 2010 Christmas card.
Former Liberal MP Ken Dryden, left, and Justin Trudeau play table hockey as they visit Sun Youth, a community organization, Monday, Jan. 14, 2008 in Montreal.
Yanking Their Chain
Then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau, left, watches as his 11-year-old son Justin swings on a chain during a tour of an old fort in the Omani town of Nizwa Dec. 2, 1983. Trudeau and Justin spent the day visiting the towns of Jebel and Nizwa 165 kilometres south of Muscat.
Justin Trudeau in Muskoka, Ont.
Liberal MP Justin Trudeau, centre, has his cowbay taken by his son Xavier, 4 years-old, while his wife Sophie Gregoire, second from left, holds daughet Ella-Grace, 3 years-old, while they attend the party's annual Stampede breakfast in Calgary, Saturday, July 7, 2012. This is the 100th anniversary of the Stampede.
Like Mother, Like Son
Eleven-month-old Justin Trudeau, urged on by his mother Margaret Trudeau, crawls up the steps of an aircraft in Ottawa on Dec. 5, 1972 to meet his father, then-prime minister, Pierre Trudeau on his return from Britain.
Cutting A Rug
Justin Trudeau dances with wife Sophie Grégoire before his speech at the Liberal showcase on April 6, 2013.
Next: What Is Pierre Trudeau Doing?
Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, wearing what someone called his "Mandrake the Magician outfit," walks down the grandstand steps to present the Grey Cup trophy to the victorious Montreal Alouettes in this Nov. 28, 1970 photo.
Hey, It Was The '70s
Pierre Trudeau leans over to kiss an unidentified young lady to the seeming surprise of his recent bride Margaret. Trudeau and Margaret spent Saturday March 27, 1971 at maple tree farm here near Montreal at a sugaring out party.
Fur Wasn't Always Controversial
Pierre Trudeau accompanies Margaret Sinclair, at the annual Governor General's skating party for members of Parliament in Ottawa Jan. 14, 1970.
Ditto For Seal Hunting
Pierre Trudeau looks through the scope of his rifle while on a seal hunting trip in Baffin Island's Clear Water Fjord, July 29, 1968.
A Leg Up
Pierre Trudeau shoes off his frisbee catching style while waiting to board his plane in Vancouver May 16, 1979.
Calisthenics Were Still Cool
Pierre Trudeau had no trouble keeping himself occupied during a break from a boat trip down the Northwest Territories, Nahanni River, Monday Aug. 4, 1970.
Pierre Trudeau takes a wary look at an ice crevice, decides to chance it and makes the leap successfully during a midnight seal- hunting expedition at Clearwater Fjord in Canada's Arctic, July 29, 1968.
When in France...
Pierre Trudeau receives a kiss from his wife Margaret during a tour of St. Pierre, France, Aug. 1971.
Pierre Trudeau in Guayana 1974.
Friendlier With Reporters Than You Know Who
Pierre Trudeau sticks his tongue out to Canadian Press Photographer Peter Bregg during the 1972 election campaign. This photo was taken aboard the campaign plane where such antics were considered off the record. The photo was not made available until after the death of the prime minister
Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau dances in Montreal Oct. 21, 1979.
Acting like a Beatle
Pierre Trudeau sprints away from a crowd of female admirers in Ottawa April 22, 1968. They surrounded him outside the Parliament Buildings on his third day in office.
Posing with a Beatle
John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono, meet with Pierre Trudeau Dec. 24, 1969 in Ottawa.
'I See Cigars And Rum In Our Future'
Pierre Trudeau looks on as Cuban President Fidel Castro gestures during a visit to a Havana housing project in this Jan. 27, 1976 photo.
Acting Out A Tory Fantasy?
Pierre Trudeau pretending to strangle himself with a tie given to him as he was presented with honorary membership in the National Press Club in Ottawa Sept. 17, 1968.
Pierre Trudeau amuses a group of people in Fortune while on tour through Newfoundland, Aug. 3, 1971.
Oh Captain! My Captain!
Pierre Trudeau takes a ride on the Bluenose, Aug. 1972.
Nice Form Pierre
Pierre Trudeau works out at an Oshawa health club during a break in his 1968 election campaign.
Are The Flowers Too Much?
Pierre Trudeau, with a garland around his neck and a Hindu greeting symbol in paste on his forhead, rides a camel Jan 12, 1971 in the village of Benares, India, where he dedicated a water well.
I Do Love Flowers
Pierre Trudeau kids around with a carnation while waiting for voting results at the Liberal convention in this April 7, 1968 photo.
Indiana Jones Of The Great White North
Pierre Trudeau tries cracking a dog sled whip while visiting Baker Lake in the Arctic, March 10, 1970.
Never Afraid To Dance
Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Sheik Yamani, left, and Pierre Trudeau, right, dance a traditional Arabian dance while camping out in the desert in Madein Saleh, Saudi Arabia, Nov. 18, 1980.
Or Rock A Skirt
Pierre Trudeau, seen here taking part in Maori ceremonial dance in Wellington, New Zealand May 13, 1970.
Got The Moves
Pierre Trudeau does a dance after his campaign bus broke down in Montreal June 6, 1968.
Feather In The Cap
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Ballet: Act 1
Pierre Trudeau, shown performing his famous pirouette during a May 7, 1977, picture session at Buckingham Palace in London, England.
Ballet: Act 2
Pierre Trudeau, in a moment of joy over patriation of Canada's constitution, preformed his now famous pirouette at Uplands Airport on April 18, 1982 following the Queens's departure for London after the 4-day state visit which climaxed with the proclamation of the Constitution Act.
He Got It From His Father
Pierre Trudeau is saluted by RCMP Officer as he carries son Justin to Rideau Hall in 1973.
Next: Justin Trudeau Through The Years
Prime Minister Trudeau and his then-wife Margaret leave the city's Notre Dame Basilica Sunday afternoon after the christening of their 22-day old infant Justin Pierre James, Jan. 16, 1972. Tasseled shawls kept the baby hidden from photographers and the 10-degree-below-zero weather.
March 1979 photo of the Trudeau children: Michel (front), Alexandre (Sacha) and Justin (rear).
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