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January 14, 2006
Grits Plan To Start Campaign ... Real Soon

With ten days left before the Parliamentary elections in Canada and the Tories firming up a lead that indicates a possible majority government, the Liberals now say they're ready to start campaigning. They have attack ads that they plan to run during the final week of the election campaign, even though many have already voted in the advanced polling that started this weekend:

Liberal strategists believe they can turn around the last week of the campaign by continuing to broadcast their attack ads and going hard after Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, hoping that something will stick.

Liberal Leader Paul Martin executed part of that strategy yesterday as he hammered away at the Conservative policy platform, arguing that the numbers don't add up and it is a throwback to the Mulroney era.

On Monday, Mr. Martin begins a race across the country to shore up the Liberal vote, as he did in the last week of the 2004 campaign. ... Pierre Ladouceur, who is developing the French-language ads for the Liberal campaign, said they were correct to focus on the post-Christmas period.

“Do you remember anything that was said in the month of December?” he asked yesterday. “I don't think there's much value to the month of December. . . . Really, the campaign started on Jan. 2.”

M. Ladouceur may want to rethink his analysis. The advertising campaign that he helps run has done nothing to stop the collapse of Liberal support in Canada. According to the latest Ipsos polling, the Tories maintain a national lead of ten points among likely voters (39-29) and eight points among all Canadians (37-29). Two new developments show the further erosion of the Grit base. For the first time, Ipsos shows Stephen Harper edging Paul Martin for the better choice as PM (32-31), completing a nine-point swing. And now Atlantic Canadians have moved into the Tory column, 42-30 over the NDP, which surpassed the Grits (26%) in this region. Martin used to have a 42% plurality in the Atlantic, but that has long since sunk, and at the moment would not even qualify as the official Opposition in that region.

As for Ladouceur's assertion that the election began on January 2, the Ipsos numbers show that the Liberals have been particularly inept during that two-week period. On January 2nd, the race was a dead heat (Tories 33-32), and the Liberals had a wide lead in Atlantic Canada and a narrow lead in British Columbia -- both dissipated now. In Quebec, they controlled the important second-place finish, 26-12, but now only lead within the margin of error, 24-21.

If I were the Tories, I would welcome more of M. Ladouceur's intervention. Another week of this Liberal leadership directing their electoral efforts and Harper could have the BQ as his main Opposition while ruling from a majority position.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 14, 2006 8:12 AM

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