It appears the Conservatives have decided to make playing the Hitler card a talking point.
On Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird became the second prominent Tory to reference the Nazi leader during debate with the NDP on Canada's withdrawal from Afghanistan. On Thursday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper first made the argument that the NDP, which didn't exist at the time, failed to support the fight against Hitler.
The prime minister's fuzzy history sparked a Twitter firestorm which culminated in the trending hashtag #HarperHistory, with users joking about other historical events the NDP could be blamed for (See the best tweets in the slideshow below).
Asked by NDP MP Christine Moore about whether the U.S. has asked Canada to extend our involvement in Afghanistan past 2014, Baird responded, "The NDP don't support sending troop abroad for anything, Mr. Speaker. Let's look at the former leader of the NDP CCF when he said the following, 'I would ask whether we are to risk the lives of our Canadian sons to prevent the actions of Hitler?' So you know who said that Mr. Speaker? The former leader of the NDP CCF, J.S. Woodsworth."
Baird was immediately met with jeers similar to those Harper received on Thursday after making the same argument.
Baird wasn't the only MP to bring up Hitler on Friday. NDP MP Dan Harris read #HarperHistory tweets aloud in the House and Tory backbencher Scott Armstrong echoed Harper and Baird's CCF/NDP talking point.
The NDP was created in 1961 when the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) merged. The CCF's leader in the late 1930s and early 1940s, J.S. Woodworth, was an uncompromising pacifist who opposed Canada's involvement in the war. However, after Woodworth's death in 1942, the CCF's new leader, M.J. Coldwell, altered the party's position to support the war effort. The Canadian Labour Congress did not yet exist during the conflict.
So why are the Tories hammering home the Hitler argument and risking more public ridicule? On Friday night's "The National," CBC political reporter Kady O'Malley speculated that the Tories are using the Hitler argument as a "diversionary tactic."
With Minister Bev Oda's taste for expensive hotels making national headlines, Auditor General Michael Ferguson continuing to question the government's handling of the F-35 purchase and polls showing Stephen Harper's approval numbers tanking, perhaps it's not surprising that the Tories may be looking to create a diversion.
Whether that strategy backfires will depend not only on how Canadians feel about the appropriateness of invoking Hitler, but also about whether there is a role for Canada in Afghanistan post-2014.