Have the Conservative political attacks softened under a majority government?
When Thomas Mulcair was elected NDP chief – and the Leader of the Official Opposition – it was widely assumed he would find himself in Conservative Party sights.
But the attack campaign that's been rolled out by the Tories to bash Mr. Mulcair lacks the same sort of creative nastiness that defined their attacks against Liberal leaders when that party held second-place status in the House of Commons.
Yes, it was designed with scary Halloween colours of orange and black. And yes, it does warn that "Mr. Mulcair has chosen a team that threatens dangerous economic experiments, job-killing taxes, and reckless spending we simply cannot afford."
But the main thrust is an introduction to the NDP shadow cabinet. It simply does not demonstrate the same vicious tone as the attack against Stéphane Dion, which declared he was " not a leader," or the ad that told voters that Michael Ignatieff " didn't come back for you."
On Tuesday, for instance, the Conservative focus was on Matthew Kellway, who represents the Toronto riding of Beaches-East York. It reminds voters the New Democrat "believes that digital recording devices such as iPods should be taxed." In fact, he does. He said so in the House of Commons. And the NDP has also made it clear it would agree with such a tax.
The Conservatives go on to repeat the misinformation that New Democrats support an iPod tax that "would cost Canadian consumers as much as $75 per on each digital recording device." In fact, the NDP has said it would agree to a $5 tax, not $75.
But, on the whole, the website is a mere shadow of the attack that was unleashed on the Liberals.
It tells voters, for instance, that Nathan Cullen "strongly opposes the Conservative government's plan to streamline the review process for major economic projects." And that Peter Julian "has led the NDP in opposing nearly every trade treaty that has come before the House of Commons during his time as an MP." And that Irene Mathyssen's "only government experience is a stint as a cabinet minister in Bob Rae's disastrous NDP government, best known for destroying Ontario's economy in the 1990s."
Karl Belanger, Mr. Mulcair's principal secretary, said: "These attacks are sad and pathetic – and won't distract us from raising the real issues facing Canadians."
But still, the current salvo on the NDP does not have the vitriol of its predecessors. Perhaps that's because there are 3½ years between now and the next election. Perhaps the Conservatives have opted for a new, less-aggressive line of attack. Or, perhaps they are just winding up for the major offensive.
Fred DeLorey, a spokesman for the Conservative Party, said he would not discuss Tory strategy. "All I can say is, stay tuned."