VANCOUVER - The British Columbia NDP celebrated April Fools' Day on Monday by mocking the political attack ads of its B.C. Liberal rival.
With tongues planted firmly in cheeks, the party released a social media ad deeming NDP Leader Adrian Dix the architect of all that went wrong in the 1990s — from the Asian financial crisis to the loss of the Winnipeg Jets.
The New Democrat leader is also to blame for Wayne Gretzky's retirement, the federal GST and the Vancouver Canucks' Stanley Cup loss, said the online ads.
"Adrian Dix, architect of the decade of despair, destruction, disappointment, and desperation," said the ads, which were distributed via email and online but didn't air on television or radio.
"The evil genius behind the Spice Girls, Marilyn Manson, destruction of the Brazilian rain forest, plaid shirts, the hair...."
The campaign pokes fun at B.C. Liberal attack ads targeting Dix for his time as chief of staff to former New Democrat premier Glen Clark from 1996 to 1999.
The Liberals have launched websites such as RiskyDix.ca and CantAffordDix.ca, calling Dix the creator of B.C.'s economic decline during the 1990s. The sites, along with television and radio ads, highlight the fact that Dix admitted to back-dating a memo in an attempt to clear his former boss of wrongdoing in a scandal that ultimately forced Clark to resign.
Dix said Monday that he's accepted responsibility for the mistake, and voters will ultimately be the judges.
The campaign for the May 14 provincial election will begin in a couple of weeks, and Dix has vowed to run a positive campaign.
"I think the ad is fun and I think its message is gentle," he said at a news conference in Vancouver where he was celebrating the demise of the Harmonized Sales Tax in the province.
"I think the election will be fought on the real issues."
The New Democrats will not run personal attacks on B.C. Liberal Premier Christy Clark, Conservative Leader John Cummins or B.C. Green Leader Jane Sterk, he said.
"As many attack ads as the Liberal party wants to run against me, we're not going to respond in kind. We're going to hold them accountable, we're going to make criticism of the Liberal government — as we should in a democracy — but I think people have been discouraged by a political process that's too personal and too nasty so we're taking a different approach," Dix said.
But if Dix didn't exactly stray from the political high road, he may have skirted the edge to throw a stone at the Liberal party.
"Obviously, the Liberals are kind of doubling down on nasty, so we'll see how it goes."