A senior member of Harper’s inner circle has reportedly decided not to mail controversial, taxpayer-funded pamphlets that attack Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.
A spokesperson for Defence Minister Peter MacKay told The Halifax Chronicle Herald on Friday the Nova Scotia MP and deputy leader of the Conservative Party of Canada won’t be sending the flyers to his constituents.
The mailouts — called “ten-percenters” because MPs can send them to 10 per cent of their constituents — are funded through House of Commons budgets.
Conservatives received a sample of the flyers, designed by the party’s parliamentary research group, about two weeks ago. The tone of the mailouts match those of recent attack ads suggesting Trudeau is little more than a famous name who is “in over his head.”
More than 20 Tories have gone on record to say they won’t mail the attack, but MacKay is unquestionably the most high-profile.
Some Conservatives have said they are uncomfortable with the negative tone of the mailouts.
“The day it becomes personal that’s the day I’m not involved with that,” Ontario MP Daryl Kramp recently told a radio station.
The Toronto Star reported last week that several Conservatives have privately expressed to Trudeau that they are uneasy with the mail attack.
“Already a number of Conservatives have mentioned to me privately that they’re not particularly appreciative of it and they don’t intend to use them,” Trudeau told the paper.
Other Tory MPs, like Alberta's Mike Lake, have suggested the flyers should be used for a more 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," he told The Canadian Press.
The attacks against Trudeau since he took over as Liberal leader in April have sparked plenty of discussion and debate across the country. Even Trudeau’s mother, Margaret, made headlines after she recently claimed the Tories were “bullying” her son.
But a recent poll suggests the ads have failed to have any impact on national voting intentions. In fact, with Liberals now leading the governing Tories, some are saying they may have backfired.
What's more, all the attention the Tories have been heaping on Trudeau appears to be helping to boost Grit fundraising.
In a much-discussed video released on Monday, Trudeau — wearing cargo shorts and a green t-shirt — announced the Liberals had raised more than $1 million from 14,000 people since he took over the leadership just weeks ago.
Trudeau’s casual look in the clip was the subject of some mockery online.