06/22/2015 12:45 EDT | Updated 06/22/2016 01:12 EDT

Tories create vehicle to raise money, counter left-wing attacks on Harper

OTTAWA - Conservatives have formed a political action committee to counter attacks against Prime Minister Stephen Harper from progressive groups and labour unions.A group of former ministerial aides have created HarperPAC, a vehicle that allows Conservatives to raise and spend money beyond the limits and disclosure rules imposed on political parties.HarperPAC is a direct response to Engage Canada, a group of veteran Liberal and NDP strategists who have been collecting money from unions and other groups to run a concerted campaign against Harper's re-election.Engage Canada's first television ad began running earlier this month, asserting that income inequality has skyrocketed under Harper and that his Conservatives "won't be there for you."HarperPAC spokesperson Stephen Taylor says his group is needed to counter what he calls the "tide of cash from professional leftist agitators and big union bosses" aiming to take down the Harper government.Third parties such as HarperPAC and Engage Canada are not subject to any spending limits in the weeks leading up to the formal call of an election; nor do they have to disclose who gives them money or how much they spend.Once the election is called, each third party is subject to disclosure rules and can spend no more than $205,800 over the course of a 37-day campaign; of that, no more than $4,116 may be spent in an individual riding.