Tories set to launch negative attack ads against Justin Trudeau

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

It happened to Stéphane Dion; it happened to Michael Ignatieff; it even happened to Bob Rae.

And now, according to the National Post, the Tories have an attack ad campaign "in the can" targeted at Justin Trudeau.

Sources say the Tory campaign will start almost immediately after the Liberal leadership results are announced on April 14, in an effort to define the new leader in the eyes of voters.

The Conservatives won’t have it all their own way though. Mr. Trudeau has raised around $1.3-million in donations since his campaign launched last October and is set to hit back with his own advertising campaign that highlights his self-proclaimed virtues as a natural leader who is involved in politics for the right reasons.

This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. The Conservative Party implemented the exact same strategy in 2009 when, just ten days after the Liberals elected Michael Ignatieff, they released the now infamous,"Just Visiting" ad.

The Conservatives already have a lot of material to include in their commercial: the video of Trudeau saying Canada isn't doing well right now because Albertans are in power; video of former leadership candidate Marc Garneau questioning if Trudeau is ready to be elected leader; and the stories about the MP for Papineau earning speaking fess from publicly funded organizations.

[ Related: Yahoo! Exclusive: Martha Hall Findlay calls out Murray, Trudeau in final days of leadership campaign ]

Political consultant Gerry Nicholls, however, says that demonizing Trudeau is tricky task.

"It doesn't much strategic sense right now for the Tories to target Justin Trudeau with negative ads," Nicholls told Yahoo! Canada News in an email exchange.

"First off, Trudeau’s lack of history, his lack of policies, his looks, and his popularity all make it difficult to attack him with traditional negative-style ads.

"Simply put, attacking Trudeau would be like kicking a puppy."

[ Related: Liberal Party slowly shedding the ghosts of the sponsorship scandal ]

Nicholls suggests that the ads we see later this month will be relatively mild and will only serve to please the Conservative base.

"The real attacks will come as we near 2015, and when they do come I suspect they will employ mockery. That is they will seek to turn Trudeau the Charisma King, into Trudeau the Clown," Nicholls says.

"As for the NDP, they probably are hoping the Tories will degrade Trudeau, but that likely won’t happen. They will probably have to do their own dirty work."

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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