Ad firm refuses to run Tory attack ads on gas pumps
The ad in question is an animated blob of grease that hates carbon tax.
The Harper Conservatives' plan to run anti-Liberal attack ads on mini-television screens at gas pumps in Southern Ontario is backfiring because the company that was to place them is refusing.
The 15-second ads, featuring an animated blob of grease criticizing a yet-to-be released plan by the Dion Liberals to put a tax on carbon, were to begin running today until July 7.
Conservative Party spokesman Ryan Sparrow said the company, the Fuelcast Network, refused to take the ads yesterday morning.
The Tories had been trying to get in touch with the company for an explanation, said Mr. Sparrow, who was going around Ottawa yesterday showing reporters the party's contract with the company, signed on June 5.
The contract clearly identifies the client as the "Conservative Party."
"We have a binding contract," Mr. Sparrow said. "The Conservative Party and we fully expect them to honour the contract."
The ads are just one piece of an aggressive advertising campaign by the Tories against the Liberals on the environment.
There are also radio spots, in French and English, bright yellow T-shirts and postcards with a picture of Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion shrugging and suggesting he will tax everything. The campaign is costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to a senior Conservative official, who says that the gas pump ads represent about 5 per cent of the entire buy.
Fuelcast said it became aware of the political nature of the ads only on Sunday, when one of them was broadcast on CTV's Question Period. The company has said it reserves the right to not play an ad with a political message.
While there was much indignation from the Liberals about the tactics, the Harper Conservatives managed to reignite the debate over a Liberal carbon tax and take the spotlight off Tory controversies such as the Maxime Bernier affair.
In fact, Mr. Dion led off Question Period yesterday accusing the Tories of not taking the environment and carbon pricing seriously.
"... What do the Conservatives offer Canadians? They offer a cartoon, a talking grease spot," he said. "When are the Conservatives going to stop insulting Canadians and offer a real plan to tackle climate change instead of cartoons and a campaign of lies?"
Later, one Conservative official laughed, saying the Liberals "took the bait."
Mr. Dion's plan is expected to be released in the next few weeks.