New Liberal ads attack Harper over jets, tax cuts
The federal Liberals lashed out Friday with two new attack ads that take aim at Prime Minister Stephen Harper over the sole-sourced purchase of F-35 stealth fighter jets and planned corporate tax cuts.
They are a direct response to an ad campaign launched earlier this week by the Conservatives.
The election campaign-style television ads focus on two issues certain to be key planks in the Liberals' campaign when an election is called.
"It's harder than ever to get by and your family's cost of living keeps climbing. Yet Harper is giving your tax dollars to the largest corporations with a $6 billion corporate tax cut," states one of the ads.
It then asks: "Is this your Canada, or Harper's?"
The second ad takes aim at the Conservatives over the plan to purchase new fighter jets from a U.S. manufacturer under a deal originated by a former Liberal government.
"Stephen Harper's Canada -- an untendered deal to spend $16 billion of your tax dollars on 65 stealth fighter jets. What could he be thinking? Is this your Canada, or Harpers?
The prime minister's parliamentary secretary, Pierre Poilievre, complained that the ads could threaten Canadian jobs by criticizing Ottawa's proposed multi-billion-dollar fighter-jet purchase.
"Our complaint is that Michael Ignatieff is targeting job creators and he's targeting the 80,000-plus Canadians whose jobs depend on the aerospace industry," Poilievre told reporters Friday on Parliament Hill.
"The ads target the purchase of aircraft which are required not only to protect our country but also to create jobs in our aerospace sector," he said.
Ten countries are participating in the F-35 development program, under which more than 3,000 of the jets are expected to be built. Canadian companies will have a chance to bid on contracts to help build the entire fleet, not just the 65 aircraft under consideration by the federal government.
But the development of the F-35 has drawn controversy both in Canada and in the United States. The Pentagon, which is the largest purchaser of the new jets, has repeatedly aired concerns over rising costs and other production problems.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has challenged Harper over the deal in recent weeks, saying it doesn't make sense to go with a sole-sourced contract for such an expensive purchase.
Harper, in response, has been touting the fighter jet deal as a boon to Quebec's aerospace industry, warning that Ignatieff's opposition to the plan is irresponsible and puts the economic benefits at risk.
Earlier this month officials from two European companies told the Commons defence committee that their firms could also produce planes that would meet the strategic needs of the Canadian military.
But the prime minister maintains that Lockheed Martin's F-35s are the best fit for Canada's military requirements. Opening the contract to multiple bidders would therefore be redundant, he argues.
The new Liberal ads, which come just days before the five-year anniversary of Harper's election a prime minister, are a direct response to an ad campaign launched on Monday by the Conservatives.
Pollster Nick Nanos said that the spate of attack ads "are very good for appealing to core voters" because they can motivate party members involved with organizing election campaigns and help raise campaign funds.
"It's kind of like the pre-battle warm-up," he said.
"The interesting thing about the Conservative ads is that they focus on the personality of Michael Ignatieff in many cases, in terms of his ‘just visiting.' The Liberal attack ads focus on priorities and policies," Nanos added. "They focus on the prime minister and the priorities of the prime minister."
Four Conservative television ads took aim at Ignatieff, suggesting he is a political tourist willing to form a coalition with the Bloc and NDP in order to become prime minister.
The ads use the slogan "he didn't come back for you" to suggest Ignatieff's true loyalty is with the U.S., where he lived for several decades.
Another Tory ad attacked New Democrat Leader Jack Layton and another portrayed Harper as a steady hand guiding Canada through troubled economic times.