OTTAWA—In a sign that Team Martin is taking seriously the polls indicating a statistical dead heat between the Liberals and Conservatives, it is reaching out to veterans of the Liberal’s vicious 2000 federal election campaign and other former Jean Chretien advisors. Among those joining the communications team of the Liberal campaign are former Chretien director of communications Peter Donolo, Chretien spokesman Senator Jim Munson, and Cyrus Reporter, the chief of staff to former cabinet minister Allan Rock. The Toronto Star reports that Donolo, Munson and Reporter will join Patrick Gossage, communications advisor to Pierre Trudeau, and Martin aide Michael Robinson, in twice-weekly meetings on “how to improve Martin’s message.” The meetings are an attempt to replicate the successful communications strategy of Jean Chretien’s campaign team in 2000. Then, Reporter, along with Liberal attack specialist Warren Kinsella and Chretien spokesman Francois Ducros, manned the Liberal war room, modelled on the James Carville-led Clinton campaign war room of 1992 and 1996. In his book ‘Kicking Ass in Canadian Politics’, Kinsella described how, in November 15, 2000, the three of them hatched the idea to attack then Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day over his evangelical views, including those on creation, by mocking them. On CTV the next day, Kinsella pulled out a plush toy Barney the dinosaur and said: “This is the only dinosaur that recently co-existed with humans.” Evangelical Canadians are worried that the hiring of a specialist in attack-style negative campaigning such as Cyrus, especially considering his role in the anti-Day gimmick, could lead to more serious criticism of religious conservatives.
Earlier this spring, the Liberal Party sponsored a poll to determine if voters would be less likely to support the Conservative Party if it had been “taken over by evangelicals.” Liberal pollsters asked if respondents were “more or less likely to vote for the Conservatives if you knew they had been taken over by evangelical Christians.” The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada said “This kind of question tries to create religious suspicion and division for political gain.” In a letter to the EFC, Prime Minister Paul Martin said such tactics would not happen again. Later, the Canadian Press reported that even Liberal MPs expressed outrage that the party brass would stoop so low. John McKay said that the tactic was “antithetical to everything I believe as a Liberal.”
For previous LifeSite coverage of the anti-evangelical polling see: https://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2004/05/08/452213-cp.html For the EFC’s reaction to the Liberal poll see: https://www.evangelicalfellowship.ca/social/initiatives.asp#Letter2PM For Canadian Press coverage of the Liberal reaction against the polling tactic see: https://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2004/05/08/452213-cp.html