“I haven’t sent out an attack ten-percenter for over four years,” said Edmonton Tory MP Laurie Hawn. “It’s just not my style.”
“I don’t feel it’s appropriate for me to do it,” said Joe Daniel, a Toronto Conservative MP. Some MPs told The Canadian Press they’ve been hearing complaints from constituents on the issue. Ontario MP Larry Miller said a voter told him he didn’t like it when former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin attacked Stephen Harper, and doesn’t like what the Conservatives are doing now. “I don’t participate in criticizing anybody else. I like to talk about me,” said Miller. “I don’t like negative advertising, I don’t use it, and that old saying — I control what I can control. I’ve voiced my opinion on it, I don’t like it,” he added.
Said Alberta MP Kevin Sorenson: “I don’t use that type of householder. I haven’t heard from anyone who’s going to either.” Fellow Albertan Mike Lake said he rarely sends out the flyers, and when he does it’s for a practical purpose. “I generally use them for things like advertising our pancake breakfast or our Christmas open house and maybe some of the other things I’m trying to communicate to my constituents,” said Lake.
They join Mike Allen, Brent Rathgeber, Dan Albas and Stephen Woodworth, which is 5.48% of the Conservative caucus. And Mr. Sorenson’s comments would seem to suggest it might be much more than that.
Of course, as Adam Goldenberg suggested yesterday, just because MPs don’t use their budgets to send out these particular attacks doesn’t mean they won’t benefit generally from attack ads. They might not, as Adam put it, owe their election to such ads, but if you believe that attack ads helped the general Conservative cause in 2008 and 2011, then it stands to reason that the candidates who ran under the party banner benefited individually.
Asked about the flyers yesterday afternoon, Mr. Trudeau noted that they were being deployed on the “public dime.” To completely ban the use of public funds for such mailouts would probably require a rule that no mention of or reference to any other party but one’s own could be permitted.