The NDP is making a run at the Liberal stronghold of Bourassa in a federal by-election by accusing Justin Trudeau's candidate of abusing the public purse.
The New Democrats are putting up signs that portray Liberal candidate Emmanuel Dubourg as a member of the gold-plated "Club Privilège Libéral." The attack is based on the fact that the former Quebec MNA took a $100,000 allowance to quit his seat in the National Assembly this year to run on the federal stage.
According to the NDP, Mr. Dubourg wants to be in the House of Commons "to satisfy his personal ambitions."
The Nov. 25 by-election is key to grabbing momentum in Quebec for both the NDP and the Liberal Party of Canada ahead of the 2015 general election. Bourassa is a traditional Liberal stronghold, but the NDP is hoping the exit of long-time MP Denis Coderre, who was elected mayor of Montreal this month, has opened the door to an upset.
Both parties' leaders were in the riding on Tuesday, with the NDP's Thomas Mulcair launching the hostilities against Mr. Dubourg, who quit his seat in Quebec City less than a year into his third mandate.
"There is a deep trend among Liberals to take people for granted," Mr. Mulcair said at a news conference. "In the NDP, we don't quit on our constituents."
At an evening rally, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said that the NDP attacks were vicious, especially as Mr. Mulcair received a similar allowance when he left provincial politics in 2007.
"The NDP is fuelling cynicism by choosing divisive and negative politics," Mr. Trudeau said, accusing New Democrats of adopting the same tactics as the Conservatives.
NDP officials had put up some of their "Club privilège" attack signs in front of the banquet hall where the Liberals organized their campaign rally.
In an interview, Mr. Dubourg defended his decision to accept the transition allowance, saying it was a deferred salary that is awarded to all departing MNAs. He said he is running on the federal stage to work at improving the economy in the diverse riding, which has major pockets of poverty on the northern edge of Montreal Island.
Mr. Dubourg added he is confident that the riding of Bourassa will once again stay out of the hands of the NDP.
"Jack Layton is no longer there, that is clear," Mr. Dubourg said of the NDP leader who died shortly after the last election. "Jack was a gentleman, but since then, we no longer recognize Jack Layton's NDP."
Like Mr. Dubourg, the NDP candidate in Bourassa was born in Haiti, like a large number of Bourassa residents. However, Stéphane Moraille is a newcomer to politics. Now a lawyer, she remains best known for her role as a pop singer with the band Bran Van 3000.
On Tuesday, she announced that if she is elected, she will try to beef up the Criminal Code to make it an aggravating factor when someone assaults a taxi driver. Ms. Moraille added that she is confident that Mr. Mulcair can live up to the expectations that were created by the Orange Wave, which saw the NDP win 59 out of 75 seats in Quebec.
"Jack gave me hope. Thomas Mulcair gave me the conviction that we can have a progressive party and the first NDP government in 2015," she said. "This man has the thunder, he is brilliant and he has the drive to accomplish Jack's dream."
The NDP is facing an uphill battle as members of the Haitian community remain grateful to the Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau for opening the country's doors in the 1970s. Mr. Dubourg said that the goodwill has been passed on to the current Liberal Leader.
"I'm not taking anything for granted, but the combination of Justin Trudeau and myself, especially in Bourassa, it's a winner for everyone," he said.
Mr. Mulcair, a former Liberal MNA, acknowledged that he also received an allowance when he decided not to run in the 2007 provincial election. However, he said he fulfilled his mandate to the end, stating that was a "major difference" with Mr. Dubourg's case.
He acknowledged that many voters in Bourassa are used to casting a ballot for the Liberal Party, while adding that they must now decide if Mr. Trudeau and the Liberal Party "are capable or not of governing a G7 country."