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Liberals go online to test messages attacking Poilievre’s record

The Liberal Party is beta-testing new videos attacking Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, one of which compares him to former U.S president Donald Trump.

The party has been posting commercial-length videos, one of which compares Poilievre to Donald Trump

Pierre Poilievre in the House of Commons, holding a paper, wearing a poppy.

The Liberal Party is beta-testing new videos attacking Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, one of which compares him to former U.S president Donald Trump.

The party confirms that a video it posted online earlier this week was its first to splice together footage of both Poilievre and Trump.

The Liberals' video uses Polievre's own recent viral apple-eating moment — when he got into a brusque exchange with a local journalist in B.C. — and attempts to show him taking a page out of Trump's political playbook. The video shows Poilievre and Trump using similar language.

Pierre Poilievre: What are you talking about? What page? Can you give me the page? Give me the page!<br><br>The page: <a href="https://t.co/JedejAQFVl">pic.twitter.com/JedejAQFVl</a>


Other videos the Liberals have posted online in the past week or so include one of Poilievre calling Bitcoin a "very clever financial decision." The video cuts to clips of his opponents in the Conservative leadership race criticizing Poilievre's views on cryptocurrency.

Peaking in value in November 2021 at over $80,000, Bitcoin's price subsequently fell by almost three quarters to just over $21,000 at its lowest point in the last year. It has since rebounded in part, reaching around $48,000 this month.

Pierre Poilievre's priorities for the economy would hurt Canadians.<br><br>But don't take our word for it, even fellow Conservatives think it’s “lunacy.” <a href="https://t.co/WqatAwuZSn">pic.twitter.com/WqatAwuZSn</a>


Another video includes a clip of then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2012 talking about raising the retirement age to 67 and Poilievre in the House of Commons supporting it.

When Pierre Poilievre and Stephen Harper were in power, they raised the retirement age to 67.<br><br>We reversed their reckless policy, lowering it back to 65 and boosting payments for seniors – because when Conservatives try to make cuts, Liberals will always have your back. <a href="https://t.co/Ku40tbc7ZL">pic.twitter.com/Ku40tbc7ZL</a>


Dan Arnold, former director of research and advertising at the Prime Minister's Office, said it appears the Liberals' new videos are being used to test out messages before the party sinks millions of dollars into an advertising campaign.

"It's a bit of a testing ground to see what you want to push forward with when you move toward that big TV campaign at some point in the future," said Arnold, chief strategy officer at Pollara Strategic Insights and senior adviser at Alar Strategy Group.

"I think right now the government and the Liberals are being a bit more aggressive in terms of how they go at Poilievre. I don't know if they've necessarily landed on what's that vulnerability yet."

The Conservatives, who have been soaring in the polls lately, launched a national ad campaign this summer depicting Poilievre as a family man who wants to fix the country. The party planned to spend more than $3 million over three months to air the ads across the country, CBC News has reported.

David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data, said the video comparing Poilievre to Trump indicates the Liberals know they can't win as "long as people think Poilievre's a comfortable and safe alternative."

"I think they've finally perhaps noticed that they can't cede the platform just to Pierre Poilievre and let him tell his story, that they've got to get out there and counter it with a counter attack."

Coletto presented data to Liberals this summer showing the bleakest polling numbers the Trudeau government has ever seen. While the negativity he reported seems to have softened somewhat, he said, the current polling climate "isn't fundamentally different" from a few months ago.

"The government's approval rating still remains really challenging," he said.

WATCH/ Conservatives reintroduce Pierre Poilievre with $3M ad campaign

Conservatives reintroduce Pierre Poilievre with $3M ad campaign

3 months ago

Duration 1:58

Featured VideoThe Conservative Party of Canada is reintroducing leader Pierre Poilievre to Canadians with a $3 million ad campaign that some insiders say is a move to rebrand him with a softer image.

The Liberals' latest videos attacking Poilievre come after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heard complaints from his own caucus about the government's response to Poilievre's attacks. Some MPs said they wanted the party to take a more aggressive approach.

MPs aired their concerns at a Liberal caucus retreat in September after spending the summer knocking on doors in their ridings and hearing anger and anxiety about the rising cost of living.

London West MP Arielle Kayabaga told CBC News at the retreat she wanted to see attack ads targeting the Conservative leader.

"I think people need to see who he really is," she said. "I think people need to see who he's been for the last 19 years that he's been an MP."

Since then, the Liberals have been posting "a lot more video" about Poilievre and more "polished products," Arnold said. Those videos are cut to "almost commercial length," he added.

Arnold oversaw the Liberals' research program during the past three elections. He said if the Liberals want to change public opinion on their primary opponent, they'll need to spend at least $3 million to $5 million on a national advertising campaign.

That's not the goal of the Liberals' latest videos, since there isn't big money behind them, he added.

Instead, the newest videos targeting Poilievre seem intended to give those already in the Liberal tent something to "chew on," he said.

"It gives them something to get them excited, to motivate them," said Arnold. "Certainly taking a few shots at Poilievre, at Trump, is going to motivate the Liberal base.

"Donald Trump is about as low as it can get when you're polling on people's approval ratings in Canada."

The videos give Liberal supporters talking points for family gatherings, he said, and help to boost MPs' morale.

"It gives them some actual content to push out there and MPs like that," said Arnold.

"Especially the ones that are in Parliament Hill fighting with Poilievre every day. Just for their own morale, it's kind of nice to see shots being taken at him. Certainly, Poilievre is taking a lot of shots at them."

The Liberals have long talked about taking a positive approach to politics. When CBC News asked Immigration Minister Marc Miller about the Liberals' video comparing Poilievre to Trump, he defended the move.

"I don't think it's a question of being negative all the time, but about clearly showing Canadians, in a way that we haven't been demonstrating, at least over the last little while, who this person really is and to not be fooled by him," Miller said. "I think he's very, very dangerous for the state of democracy …

"He's kind of a guy when you're around him, you want to check your wallet afterwards. I have no particular like for him. These things shouldn't necessarily be that personal. But in the case of Mr. Poilievre, I think he's a guy that's trying to take Canadians for a ride."

Miller's comments triggered a fierce reaction from Conservatives online.

"Oh man," Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner posted on X with a retweet of the video. "Don't go out this way."

"Unhinged Liberal Cabinet Minister resorting to desperate smears on @PierrePoilievre as they plummet in the polls," Conservative MP Marc Dalton posted online. "It's obvious Conservative pocketbook policies are rattling them."

That’s mighty rich coming from a government that has been picking the pockets of Canadians for the past eight years. Looks like Marc has enjoyed his gulps of Kool-Aid and now gets to watch as his integrity evaporates for all to see. <a href="https://t.co/YFr9gfBtqz">https://t.co/YFr9gfBtqz</a>


"That's mighty rich coming from a government that's been picking the pockets of Canadians for the past eight years," Conservative MP Jamie Schmale posted on X.

The Conservatives continue to hold a big fundraising lead over the Liberals, having brought in more than $7 million during the latest quarter ending on September 30 — about $4 million more than the Liberals raised during the same period.

The Liberal Party's director of communications Parker Lund said the party "will continue to contrast Pierre Poilievre's priorities that would take Canada backwards" in its "communications, advertising and digital engagement."


Ashley Burke

Senior reporter

Ashley Burke is a senior reporter with the CBC's Parliamentary Bureau in Ottawa. She focuses on enterprise journalism for television, radio and digital platforms. She was recognized with the Charles Lynch Award and was a finalist for the Michener Award for her exclusive reporting on the toxic workplace at Rideau Hall. She has also uncovered allegations of sexual misconduct involving senior leaders in the Canadian military. You can reach her confidentially by email: ashley.burke@cbc.ca or https://www.cbc.ca/securedrop/

    Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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