For the first time in months, the social media accounts of the Conservative Party of Canada have taken notice of NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair.
Earlier that day, Mulcair was heard on CBC Radio's "The Current" attempting to debunk the suspicion that New Democrats can't be trusted to responsibly manage the economy. Recent polls suggest the surging NDP stands more than a puncher's chance of forming government for the first time this October.
Mulcair slipped, though, when host Anna Maria Tremonti asked him how much he would raise corporate tax rates — a key part of paying for signature NDP campaign promises like a national, $15-a-day child care program.
"Well, we're going to closer to the G7 average and it took several years for successive Liberal and Conservative governments to bring it down to its very low level right now. We're way below the G7 average," Mulcair said.
"Which is what?" Tremonti asked.
"Well, the G7 average is something in the 18, 19 (per cent) range."
"And remind us what Canada is right now?"
"We're about 12, 13. Something like that right now," Mulcair said.
Canada's corporate tax rate is actually 15 per cent, down six per cent since 2006.
Mulcair later admitted he misspoke and told reporters he was referencing the difference between Canadian and American rates.
"I'll take responsibility as I always tend to do for ... any lack of clarity there," he said. "That would be my fault."
Yet, Finance Minister Joe Oliver told reporters the error shows the NDP leader fails to grasp "basic facts" about the economy.
"He doesn't know where the tax rates are, and yet he wants to increase them," Oliver said. "I think it says a lot about the risk that he would represent in terms of economic management."
The gaffe also earned a sharp rebuke from Prime Minister Stephen Harper during a particularly feisty exchange with Mulcair in question period.
"Yesterday, (Mulcair) was out there saying businesses need to pay higher taxes and when asked, 'What is the tax rate exactly?', he did not know and stated it was three points lower than it actually is," Harper said.
"That is typical of the NDP. It does not know what the taxes are, it just knows everybody's taxes have to be higher."
In an email to The Huffington Post Canada, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau — whose party seeks to keep corporate tax rates the same — was a little kinder, but still critical.
"People misspeak sometimes, but the real mistake here is Mr. Mulcair's policy," Trudeau said. "We need to attract investment and create jobs. His policy will drive investment away and cost Canadian jobs."
Conservative Party Attacks Typically Focus On Trudeau
The Tories' jab at Mulcair on social media appears to be their first since October 2014, leading some to suggest online that the governing party could be shifting its focus in light of the NDP's rise in the polls.
Back in the fall, Tories fired off a shot at Mulcair after he unveiled his child care proposal. The party accused the NDP of wanting to "spend billions of dollars creating a massive bureaucracy" that takes control away from parents.
A few weeks earlier, Tories released a graphic on the NDP's satellite office controversy.
On Halloween, the party also released a cheeky graphic featuring both Trudeau and Mulcair, but the Facebook text focused only on the Liberal leader.
But since then, Mulcair’s team has been ignored on Tory social media accounts while Trudeau and other Liberals have been steadily attacked.
The Conservative Party has made a habit of featuring out-of-context quotes from Trudeau, often with unflattering screengrabs that make the Liberal leader appear confused.
The party even ran a "caption contest," asking supporters what Trudeau might say if he met Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Late last month, Tories released an ad that focused entirely on Trudeau's qualifications for prime minister. The spot made no mention of Mulcair.
The commercial, dubbed "The Interview," shows a group of people reviewing Trudeau's resumé and concluding he's "just not ready."
On "The National" last week, CBC commentator Rex Murphy suggested Canadians could soon see a Tory attack ad targeting Mulcair, signifying he has usurped the Liberal leader as the real threat.
"Watch for the first Conservative ad that does not feature Justin Trudeau, that goes after 'Angry Tom,' and you will know that the world — at least that little part of it that is Canadian politics — is on a different path," Murphy said.
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