Signs of trouble? Liberal tactics shift as campaign nears end

Embattled Liberals fighting to hang onto once-safe ridings are taking a highly unusual tack as the campaign ticks down: they're asking electors to vote for them not on their merits, but as the only way to stop the other guy.

Liberal labels new sign campaign a 'call to arms,' but NDP opponent calls it 'desperation'

Ottawa South Liberal John Fraser calls his new signs a 'call to arms' for voters to stop the Progressive Conservatives. (Amanda Pfeffer/CBC)

Embattled Liberals fighting to hang onto once-safe ridings are taking a highly unusual tack as the campaign ticks down: they're asking electors to vote for them not on their merits, but as the only way to stop the other guy.

Days after Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne admitted defeat and urged voters to prevent an NDP or Progressive Conservative majority, some Liberal candidates in Ottawa seem to have picked up on that cue.

In Ottawa South, the incumbent's team has erected striking black-on-yellow signs that read "STOP Doug Ford — VOTE John Fraser."

The campaign has abandoned traditional Liberal branding, eschewing the party logo and even the colour red.

'A call to action'

"It's a call to action to those voters in Ottawa South who don't want to see Doug Ford in the premier's chair," Fraser said.

Ottawa South had been a fairly safe Liberal seat since 1987, but in 2013 Fraser won in a close byelection, and PC candidates have consistently picked up 30 per cent of the vote.

"I have a lot of respect for my NDP opponent, and we have the same values," said Fraser, referring to Eleanor Fast. "They have no prospect of winning, so the only thing they can do in this campaign is to allow a Doug Ford candidate to come up the middle."
These YouTube ads appeal to centre-right voters to stop the NDP by opting for the Liberal candidate in their riding. (YouTube)

Sign of 'desperation,' NDP says

But the NDP candidate said Fraser needs a reality check.

"I saw those signs and I think really it's a sign of desperation," Fast said.

Meanwhile new YouTube videos warn: "Only the Liberals can stop the NDP in your riding." 

In Ottawa–Vanier, where the Liberals, who've held power since 1971, are locked in a battle for votes with the NDP, that means absorbing PC votes.

A video aimed directly at Ottawa–Vanier voters is appealing directly to the 22-28 per cent who traditionally lean PC, and who don't want an NDP candidate to win.

A spokesperson for the re-election campaign of Liberal Nathalie Des Rosiers said the team wasn't aware of the video.
Ottawa South NDP candidate Eleanor Fast says John Fraser's new signs are an act of 'desperation.' (Amanda Pfeffer/CBC)

Karin Howard, the Progressive Conservative candidate in Ottawa South, also objects to the way the new Liberal yellow and black signs use the same colour scheme as Elections Canada, which she said can be confusing for voters.

"It's a sad state of affairs, I mean rock-bottom low," said Howard. 

She said the Liberals should be defending their record and running on the issues.