Conservative attacks ads took the Liberal Party by surprise earlier this week, portraying new leader Justin Trudeau as a camp counsellor with a famous name who believes Quebecers are better than everyone else.
It took the Tories less than 12 hours to begin framing the untested MP after he took charge of the third-place party and only hours before he entered the Commons for his debut as leader.
The Conservatives are calling the ads a success, while the Liberals are countering that they have backfired. Both are claiming a bump in donations following the ads.
When asked about the TV spots, Conservatives didn’t mention Trudeau and the party’s bump in the polls. They said he was given a free ride in his ascension and it is their job to expose his credentials.
“To not be tested and to assume the leadership of the Liberal party without actually putting a single policy idea on the table, just to speak in breathy tones … is something that frankly is not going to stand the test of time,” Heritage Minister James Moore said.
The ads use footage of the MP doing an impromptu strip tease at a fundraising event in 2011 to the sound of circus music while an announcer refers to comments and interviews Trudeau has given to question whether he has the judgment and experience to be prime minister.
Trudeau said the ads are a distraction to allow the Conservatives to avoid answering about their record.
“The fact that this government knows how to do one thing which is attack which is … trying to incite fear and cynicism is what I have talked about throughout this campaign. That they actually got to it as quickly and as awkwardly as they did is a source of some bemusement.”
One spot compares his resume to that of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Trudeau’s resume flashes on the screen showing that his background includes stints as a camp counsellor, a white-water rafting instructor, a drama teacher and an MP with one of the worst attendance records in the House.
Another attacks Trudeau for saying Quebecers are better than the rest of Canada and his opposition to use of the word “barbaric” to describe cultural violence against women. The former quote is a paraphrasing of his father, and critics of the attack ads say it is out-of-context and does not reflect the younger Trudeau’s beliefs.
With files from Mark Dunn, Sun News Media