May 13, 2004) OTTAWA
- Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is not the only federal party leader the Liberals plan on holding to account for everything they have said in the past, according to a copy of the Liberal party candidate policy and information manual obtained by PoliticsWatch.
When the document began circulating last month, most of the media focused on the list of "quotable quotes" from Harper on health care, bilingualism, the war in Iraq and other issues. But
the 207-page policy manual includes six pages of quotes for Liberal candidates from NDP Leader Jack Layton and Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe.
On Duceppe, some of the Liberal quotes, which date as far back as 1997, are fairly weak.
For example, the Liberals dug up a 2000 press release from Duceppe congratulating then Canadian Alliance Leader Stockwell Day for his leadership race victory, a common courtesy in politics.
"Allow me to hope that your role in that capacity, however long it may last, will always be one of commitment to democracy and openness," wrote Mr. Duceppe.
The Liberals describe this quote as "Duceppe sweet talks Reform-Alliance-Conservatives."
Also included are four quotes aimed at reminding Quebecers of something that isn't all that earth shattering - the Bloc will never be able to form a government.
"The Bloc Quebecois is not a permanent party," said Duceppe in a 1997 quote from Le Soleil. "We are a sovereigntist party that wants to make Quebec a sovereign country. We have no intention of remaining here."
Meanwhile, the Liberals have 14 quotes from the NDP's Layton, almost all of them from the past two years since he became party leader.
While the Liberals attack machine is trying to paint Harper as someone who would become a lap dog of the Americans, they selected two quotes from Layton suggesting he is anti-American.
In one quote, Layton says he wouldn't object if one of his MPs heckled U.S. President George W. Bush when he appeared in the House of Commons.
In another, Layton says in a February speech at Duke University the following about Bush and his rush to war: "Though it was said about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, what's actually grave and growing is the gathering threat to the credibility of American foreign policy."
For the NDP spin doctors, the Liberal attack machine's heavy artillery appears to be nothing more than a water pistol.
"Are these a joke?" asked NDP communications director Jamey Heath after reading some of the quotes for the first time.
"The Liberals are attacking Jack for pointing out that George Bush did a disservice for American foreign policy for lying on weapons of mass destruction," he said. "This from the same party that is trying to vilify Stephen Harper for supporting the war in Iraq. I mean they're unbelievable."
Heath noted one of the Liberal quotes criticize Layton for suggesting Canada fight back in the softwood trade dispute with the U.S. by using the lever of energy exports.
"If they want to go to Vancouver Island and explain to softwood lumber producers why we shouldn't link energy exports with softwood exports, then you bring that on and you lose every seat on Vancouver Island.
"There is nothing in here that Jack Layton should be embarrassed about. These quotes are fine. I would put some of these quotes in our own leaflets."
The Tories responded today in a press release
to reports that the Liberals are planning to go ahead with a series of attack
ads targeting Harper.
"Many have been wondering about Paul Martin's rationale in running blatant attack ads on Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party, when he should be doing what he claims to be doing - governing.
"In light of all the recent dirty goings-on in Mr. Martin's party, the answer to this mystery is starting to become clear - Paul Martin simply can't win a fair fight."
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