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Tory Senator Doug Finley gives an interview in Parliament Hill office on Feb. 24, 2011. (Dave Chan/Dave Chan for The Globe and Mail)
Tory Senator Doug Finley gives an interview in Parliament Hill office on Feb. 24, 2011. (Dave Chan/Dave Chan for The Globe and Mail)

Campaign Strategy

Conservatives disbanded 'NDP unit' before election Add to ...

Talk about prescient. Conservative Senator Doug Finley, sensing a threat from the NDP, established a campaign unit during the 2008 election to study and monitor the left-wing party's activities.

Mr. Finley was the Harper campaign manager at the time and this "NDP unit" - as he refers to it - was also aimed at developing a strategy to deal with Jack Layton's party in the long-term.

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That unit, however, was deactivated in the lead-up to this campaign, according to a senior Tory source. Guy Giorno, Stephen Harper's former chief of staff, made the decision when he took over the senator's job as national campaign chair. (Mr. Finley has been fighting cancer.)

But the senator - who orchestrated Mr. Harper's election wins and is a master at attack ads and strategy - had seen something in the last election that others had not. Mr. Layton had taken his party from 14 seats to 19 seats in his first election campaign and kept increasing his seat count, winning 29 seats in 2006 and sending 37 New Democrat to the Commons in 2008.

Monday night saw an unprecedented result: 102 seats and Official Opposition status. According to the source, however, the NDP was not a primary focus of the Tory campaign team. But perhaps in the next election it will be.

 

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