The Liberal Party has released a series of attack ads taking aim at Stephen Harper as the four main leaders head into their last debate of the campaign Tuesday night.
The ads come as Harper goes into the French debate as the perceived front-runner.
The ads display an unflattering picture of Harper slowly coming into focus, accompanied by a militaristic drumbeat in the background.
They slam him on a number of issues. He is criticized for his supposed links to a so-called "secret, ultra right-wing American think-tank."
One ad points out that he received an endorsement in the Washington Times that said he was "pro-Iraq war" and referred to him as President George W. Bush's "new best friend."
- Analysis & Commentary: Negative Ads
"A Harper victory will put a smile on George Bush's face. At least someone will be smiling, eh," the ad states.
Another ad questions why Harper has not released his list of donors for his leadership campaign and implies he may have had help from American conservatives.
"We do know he's very popular with right-wingers in the U.S." the ad states. "They had money. Maybe they helped. We just don't know."
One ad quotes Harper as saying that Atlantic Canada has a "culture of defeat." Another claims Harper has a "right-wing agenda" like former Ontario premier Mike Harris.
But CBC Ottawa correspondent Tom Parry said the ads don't tell the whole story.
He said the one that quotes the Washington Times piece doesn't mention that Harper wrote a response, in which he takes issue with a number of positions attributed to him, including that he would have sent troops to Iraq.
In one ad, where the Liberals suggest Harper may have accepted donations from right-wing Americans for his leadership campaign, but offers no proof.
The Conservatives say the ads are blatantly false, personal attacks on Harper and desperate acts by a desperate party.
"As we predicted, the Liberals have stepped up their campaign of negative and personal attacks on our leader and our party," said Conservative National Campaign Co-Chair John Reynolds. "These latest ads are similar to the ads that we saw in the last campaign â guns pointed into people's faces and dishonest misrepresentations of our policies."
Indeed, not long after the ads were released, one that claimed Harper would would put more Canadian "soldiers with guns" in Canadian cities was yanked.
Liberal Leader Paul Martin was asked about the ad following the leaders' debates in Montreal. He said it was never intended to air publicly.
"All political parties have ads which they don't play," said Martin. "That's one that was not played."
The Conservatives have produced their own ads that also don't give all the facts. For example, when they mention the Gomery inquiry in their ads, they don't mention that the inquiry actually exonerated Liberal Leader Paul Martin.