For the last two years the Tories have been spending millions on discrediting Liberal leader Stephane Dion. There was TV ad after TV ad. There were pamphlets. Lately there was a sea of single page flyers. (I once got four in one day.) They ridiculed Dion, made him out to be a wimp, and questioned his leadership ability. They said the Green Shift plan would destroy the economy.
It's no wonder that they had effect. A good PR firm and millions of dollars can change perceptions. Even many Liberals bought into it.
We have to set up some defences against their propaganda. We have to stop letting them mess with us.
Lately, Conservative brass are apparently spreading false rumors that Liberal leadership contenders "have their knives out" for Stephane Dion. They have even provided false quotes that were supposed to have come from Rae and Ignatieff. Despite denials and the obvious goodwill of top Liberals in working with Dion, you see hundreds of comments in newspapers and blogs repeating the rumors as fact.
During the Liberal leadership campaign, the Conservative party interfered in the Liberal party selection process. Tory campaign chair Doug Finley wrote a fake Conservative party memo saying Tories were most afraid of Michael Ignatieff as Liberal leader (and least afraid of Bob Rae) and then "leaked" it to English and French newspapers. Minutes after Rae was knocked out of the leadership race, Tory MP James Moore boasted that he and other Conservatives had handed out buttons at the convention saying "Make Bob the first NDP prime minister" and "Vote Bob. Who needs Ontario?" Conservatives boasted that they knew Rae was the biggest threat and so they made sure he didn't win.
I'm not bringing this up to open up the last leadership race - it's over. But we can't just let this crap go by - when we don't stand up to the lies they stick. I read a comment to a newspaper article today in which someone cited that fake memo (not remembering it was fake) as evidence that Bob Rae would be an unsuccessful Liberal leader.
Most Conservatives are decent people with integrity, but the current party brass is a really nasty lot. They'll keep on with their lies and dirty tricks until we stop them. We need a plan to respond to Tory attacks and nip them in the bud. The Tories have been in campaign mode for the whole 22 months they were in power, while we were apparently not even preparing for a campaign. We definitely weren't fighting back. It's amazing we're doing as well in the polls as we are.