Michael Ignatieff wants Prime Minister Stephen Harper to censure Julian Fantino for remarks he made to The Globe and Mail this weekend, comparing Liberal campaign strategy to Hitler’s propaganda tactics.
And the Grits say they know now why Mr. Harper kept his star candidate under wraps for most of the by-election campaign – precisely because he makes such objectionable statements.
“Barely four days after squeaking into office, Julian Fantino crossed the line by using an offensive analogy that compared a democratic political party in Canada to the Nazi regime,” the Liberals say in a memo circulated to MPs and supporters.
Mr. Fantino won the suburban Toronto-area riding of Vaughan last Monday. It had been a Liberal seat since 1988 and was vacated when Maurizio Bevilacqua stepped down to make a successful run for mayor.
In the interview, Mr. Fantino – the former Toronto police chief and Ontario Provincial Police commissioner – expressed his frustration with charges by the Liberals that he had run a “peek-a-boo” campaign, avoiding public debates and afraid to address tricky issues.
He told The Globe that was simply not the case, believing the Liberals had made the allegation out of desperation. “I think they intended to hurt my campaign,” Mr. Fantino said. “The things they said ... a lot of them were absolute lies. They keep repeating [them]. I call it the Hitler theory. You tell a lie often enough you hope that some people will believe it.”
The Grits want Mr. Harper to order his newly-elected MP to retract his comments.
“It is a term of gross slander, and to toss it around as a political epithet both trivializes that terrible moment in history and insults the memory of its real victims,” the Liberals say. “The poor judgment exhibited by these remarks demonstrates why Mr. Fantino was largely kept hidden from view during the recent by-election campaign.”
So the by-election wars continue here in Ottawa a week after the vote. And there are two weeks to go before the Houses rises for the holidays and MPs take a much-needed break.