Friday, March 30, 2007

new tory attack ads ...

New Tory attack ads will target Dion, sources say

The federal Tories are preparing a new series of ads attacking Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion as senior Conservative members continue debating the merits of a spring election campaign.

Sources have told The Globe and Mail that the advertisements, which have already been filmed, criticize Mr. Dion's stand on last week's budget. The Liberals voted against the deal and have been criticized by the Conservatives for doing so.

The budget, which polls say was widely popular, included tax relief for families, seniors, and parents saving for their children's postsecondary education.

The sources said the party hopes to run the advertisements during the two weeks of Parliament's Easter break, which begins next week. Sources said the party is also considering an advertisement targeting the Bloc Québécois.

Tories see BQ seats as vulnerable after the party's separatist partner, the Parti Québécois, ended up in third place after this week's election.

A source said party officials were still editing the ads, but confirmed they had been filmed. The source said the ads were being prepared both in French and English.

A previous series of commercials, criticized by some as being negative, was widely believed to have been effective in reducing Mr. Dion's popularity after he became Liberal leader.

The ads criticized Mr. Dion's record as Canada's environment minister, an effort to take down his reputation as strong on the environment.

Meanwhile, party members continued to be split yesterday over whether the government should try to provoke its own defeat and prompt an election. One official said Quebec cabinet ministers like Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, believes the time is ripe in his province to pull the plug.

But another senior Tory said the government is still mulling over the party's prospects in provinces such as Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan. All three provinces have expressed deep concern over the federal budget, in particular Canada's rejigged equalization program.

Those same Tories are also concerned that provoking an election would look too opportunistic and lead to accusations that Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants to prompt a vote for no other reason than to win a majority.

Party spokesman Ryan Sparrow wouldn't comment on the issue until the party makes an official announcement. One senior Tory said the party is ready to go and it has enough money to continue keeping campaign infrastructure, such as buses and aircraft, on standby.

Meanwhile, yesterday, Conservative campaign chief John Reynolds raised eyebrows when he said the federal government could fall within the next two weeks if the Liberals were to vote against bills that aim to get tough on crime.

"If they pass it, I say it's fine," Mr. Reynolds said on CTV Newsnet's Mike Duffy Live.

"If they were to defeat it, I think you might see the Prime Minister say it's time to go to the people."