John McCallum says governing is clearly getting to the Conservatives.
His proof? He says there is no other explanation for the bizarre accusations from Stephen Harper's Tories about police officers belonging to a "cult" and Liberals wanting to raise taxes.
"I don't know what was more bizarre yesterday," said Mr. McCallum, the Liberal finance critic, "the Conservative press release citing a story about how Liberals will not raise taxes as proof we will or the Conservative press release accusing Canada's police officers of being in a nefarious cult that is controlled by money from a mysterious third party?
"I think the pressure of governing is getting to them," he said.
Mr. McCallum was referring to an aggressively-worded press release by Saskatchewan Tory MP Gary Breitkreuz, a strong advocate of scrapping the gun registry, in which he characterized police chiefs as belonging to a cult and suggested Liberals should beat up their leader, Michael Ignatieff.
The Tory's outrage is over Mr. Ignatieff's speech this week to police in which he said he would whip his caucus to vote against a Tory MP's private member's bill to scrap the registry. He also detailed how a Liberal government would change the registry to make it more acceptable to rural Canadians.
Mr. Breikreuz said the Liberal Leader's "true colours are showing and, if his caucus has any integrity, those colours should be black and blue."
The police chiefs are also supportive of the registry, which set off Mr. Breitkreuz: "It's like a cult that is led by organizations of police chiefs who pretend the registry helps them do their jobs. They should be ashamed."
The Tory MP later apologized, saying he didn't write the release.
It is expected the Liberals will raise this issue in Question Period today and ask the government if it will apologize to the police chiefs for the insulting innuendo and language.
Meanwhile, Mr. McCallum came under attack in another Conservative release. This one was an internal party memo accusing him of wanting to raise taxes.
"Michael Ignatieff's chief finance spokesman John McCallum has again added his name to the list of Liberals calling for higher taxes," says the memo that was sent to Tory supporters and MPs.
It quotes Mr. McCallum in a Bloomberg report that was published yesterday: "'I think the era of tax cuts is over for the foreseeable future,' said McCallum. He went further and said that Canada must end its decade-long run 'era' of tax cuts and called for a 'major role' for the federal government in the Canadian economy."
The memo Tory went on to say: "Translation: If you and your family want less money in your pocket and want to pay higher taxes, Michael Ignatieff's your man."
Mr. McCallum says the Tories are misrepresenting his remarks.
"This is totally misleading," he told The Globe today. "I said explicitly we were not going to raise taxes in the Bloomberg article. Also, I said we were in favour of targeted tax reductions (as we ourselves proposed to create jobs), but not broadbased cuts in corporate tax or GST."
The Conservatives are on a campaign to persuade Canadians that the Liberals will raise taxes if they form government, sending out releases and statements every week to that effect.
With a report from The Canadian Press