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CTV News, Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Conservatives' 'truth squad' to follow Martin

"Is Peter MacKay going to tell us about truth after the David Orchard deal?'

by CTV News Staff

In an election where every opportunity to get your message out counts, the Conservatives are renewing a strategy called the "truth squad."

CTV's Mike Duffy recalls the method was used in the 1960s by the Liberals against former Tory prime minister John Diefenbaker.

"They got three people to go around wherever Diefenbaker was speaking and say, 'We're the truth squad. We're going to tell you about the truth of the ..election day. Deputy Conservative leader Peter MacKay will be keeping tabs and offering rebuttals on what Martin says on Monday.

Duffy said the stunt might backfire. "Is Peter MacKay going to tell us about truth after the David Orchard deal?"

MacKay famously allowed a merger between the Progressive Conservatives and the Alliance, even after he promised PC leadership candidate David Orchard he wouldn't do so.

"This could get very nasty very quickly," Duffy said.

He suggested the Liberal Party won't appreciate MacKay "hogging the cameras and taking the spotlight away from Prime Minister Paul Martin."

Conservative campaign co-chair John Reynolds is standing behind the idea. "If it was good enough for the Liberals at one time, it should be good enough for us."

Reynolds says members of the "truth squad" will ensure that everything Martin says is "accurate." He says the need to fight back when accusations are made is important. It's "somebody to answer from our point of view."

But Liberal campaign co-chair John Webster isn't sure it's a good idea. "I think it's part of what the Alliance/Conservatives are doing as their negative campaign," he said.

"Stephen Harper opened by being very negative and going on the attack, on sponsorship, and now we hear that they are going to send their candidates out to do much the same thing," Webster added.

NDP campaign co-chair Libby Davies, however, says "truth squads" might be a good idea for both the Liberals and Conservatives.

"It's pretty hard to tell them apart," she says. "Their policies seem to have merged on many questions." News Staff

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