OTTAWA, Ont. – The NDP is preparing a “significant” ad campaign to
promote its new leader before the Conservatives get a chance to taint
Canadians’ first impressions with attack ads of their own.
The new leader, to be chosen Saturday, will have to approve the plan but the idea is to beat the Tories to the punch.
NDP is not going to be caught flat-footed. We are going to be defining
our own leader to the public,” NDP spokeswoman Sally Housser said in an
The Conservatives have successfully launched attack
ads that helped demolish the reputations of the last two Liberal
leaders, Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff. The ads portrayed Dion as
ineffectual, weak and “not a leader,” Ignatieff as an opportunistic
interloper who was “just visiting” Canada and “didn’t come back for
They’ve launched another this week against interim Liberal
Leader Bob Rae, accusing him of turning Ontario “into the welfare
capital of Canada” during his single, recession-ravaged term as NDP
premier in the early 1990s.
In the past, cash-strapped Liberals
couldn’t afford to fight back with ads of their own, letting the Tory
attack ads go unanswered.
They’ve since learned what a big
mistake that was. Liberals agreed at their convention in January to set
aside cash to promote and defend their next permanent leader, who is to
be chosen next spring.
The NDP has also learned from the Liberals’ experience that Tory attack ads can’t be allowed to go unchallenged.
“We’ve set aside funds for a significant ad buy,” said Housser.
party already has video footage and photos taken at the last two
leadership debates of each of the seven candidates which could be used
in ads. It’s ready to shoot ads immediately with the new leader and get
them on the air as quickly as possible.
“The idea is to hit the ground running,” said Housser.
officials have no doubt the Tories plan to smear their party’s new
leader. They’ve already had a taste of things to come in the House of
Commons, where Conservative MPs have for months been repeating the
mantra that the NDP is “not fit to govern.”
Typical was this ad
hominem blast last November from Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver:
“NDP members have never met a job-creating private sector policy or
project that they do not want to kill, a tax they do not want to raise, a
regulation they do not want to impose, a freedom they do not want to
curtail, an issue they do not try to use to divide Canadians and a
fictitious problem they do not want the government to solve at great
“That is why the NDP is not fit to govern.”
missive posted on the Conservative party website last week maintained it
makes little difference which of the seven contenders is chosen to
succeed the late Jack Layton; they’d all lead the country to economic
“While the identity of the next NDP leader is not yet
known, it is apparent that whoever the leader is, they will offer
Canadians the choice of high taxes, high spending and less economic
growth. For everyday hard-working Canadian families looking for a
government that will put them first, it is clear that the only choice is
Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.”
Those generic attacks
are likely to be personalized once the new leader is ensconced and, if
past attacks on Liberal leaders is any guide, the Tories may well make
use of ammunition provided by rival contenders during leadership
For instance, if front-runner Thomas Mulcair wins, the
Tories could dredge up footage of rival contender Paul Dewar accusing
him of being uninspired by his own party, or footage of former leader Ed
Broadbent questioning Mulcair’s temperamental suitability to lead.
party spokesman Fred DeLorey left little doubt attack ads against the
new NDP leader are in the offing, although he declined to comment on how
much the party intends to spend or how swiftly it intends to launch
“Have no doubt that we will (be) speaking to Canadians
about their dangerous policies that will weaken our economy and our
country,” he said in an email.
While the NDP is prepared to fight back, the Liberals still aren’t ready.
spokesman for Rae said the party will appeal to donors to contribute
cash to counter the latest volley against the interim Liberal leader.
Daniel Lauzon said the scale of the Liberal response “will depend on how
generous Canadians will be in our appeal to fight back.”
Tories’ latest ad recounts Rae’s “proven record of failure” as premier,
including “the most job losses since the Great Depression,” “highest
income taxes in North America” and “biggest deficit Ontario ever had.”
It concludes: “If he couldn’t run a province, why does he think he can run Canada?”
Lauzon said Liberals intend to “fight fire with fire.”
want to talk economic record? Stephen Harper took a $13-billion surplus
and turned it into the biggest deficit in Canadian history – $56
billion – added $125 billion to the national debt and, since he became
prime minister, 270,000 more Canadians out of work.”
Rae, in the
midst of last-minute campaigning Monday for the Toronto-Danforth
byelection, gave his own rebuttal: “I started subways, they destroyed
them. I build social housing, they destroy it. I build people up, they
tear them down.
“Plus, the Blue Jays won the World Series twice when I was premier.”