Conservatives Leader Andrew Scheer. (The Canadian Press)

Competing ads during NBA finals to paint very different pictures of Scheer

He’s painted as either a family man or a ‘yes man’ to Ontario Premier Doug Ford

The Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors aren’t the only ones who’ll be trying to score during Game 5 of the NBA finals.

The Conservative party will be competing with a third party advocacy group, Engage Canada, in a bid to define Tory Leader Andrew Scheer ahead of this fall’s federal election.

The Conservatives have been running television ads throughout the basketball playoffs, introducing Scheer to viewers as a regular guy from a middle class family who’ll repeal the carbon tax and otherwise help make life more affordable for average folks.

But on Monday, Engage Canada will join the fray with two 30-second spots painting an entirely different picture of Scheer: as a “yes man” to Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

Engage bills itself as a non-partisan third party, founded by former Liberal and NDP strategists and made up of individuals, labour organizations and professional associations who share the common goal of ensuring Scheer never becomes prime minister. The group was similarly active against former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper in the run-up to the 2015 campaign.

Engage spokeswoman Tabitha Bernard refuses to say how much money the group has devoted to the Game 5 ad campaign, other than to say “our buy is substantial.”

“We’re pretty excited to be able to be competitive. This is sort of a David and Goliath operation,” Bernard said in an interview.

Ads that run during the NBA finals would be among the most expensive available, reaching an audience of some 10 million or more Canadians who have rallied behind the Raptors as “Canada’s team.”

Bernard confirmed that Unifor, Canada’s largest media union, is involved in Engage but refused to quantify its role. Unifor president Jerry Dias, whose union also represents auto workers among others, has vowed to be Scheer’s “worst nightmare.”

READ MORE: Scheer vows to make free trade between provinces a reality if Conservatives elected

The Conservatives have been denouncing the Liberals’ intention to include Dias in an expert panel that is to advise the government on the make-up of an independent body that will decide how to divvy up almost $600 million over the next five years in tax credits and other incentives for struggling news outlets.

By running ads now, Engage does not have to reveal where its money is coming from or face any limit on its spending.

Under new rules imposed by the Trudeau government, all third parties will face spending limits and must disclose donations as of June 30, the start of what’s called the “pre-writ period” before the official start of the election campaign. Bernard said Engage has plans for ads up to the end of June and will “see what happens” after that.

In late May, Engage unveiled its first TV ad, which portrayed Scheer as a bobblehead who says yes to tax cuts for wealthy individuals and big corporations and to Ford-style cuts to health care. The group has also been running “lapdog” radio ads. All the ads, including the new one to air during Game 5, end with the tag line: “Andrew Scheer. His weakness will cost you.”

The new ad combines a shortened version of the bobblehead ad with a new segment featuring a photo-shopped picture of a seated Scheer with a menacing-looking Ford standing behind him while a narrator warns that Scheer won’t stand up to Ford’s cuts to health care and education and will make similar cuts at the federal level.

While the ad will have broad reach across the country, Bernard said the ad is aimed particularly at voters in urban and suburban centres in Ontario, where Ford’s popularity has plunged since winning power just a year ago.

Joan Bryden , The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Columbia River Treaty: ‘It is going to get tough’

B.C. negotiator tells Nelson meeting that talks are cordial, so far

Snowfall warning for Kootenay and Paulson passes

Up to 30 cm expected in mountain passes Saturday and Sunday.

Community Futures launches cannabis consultation program

The Cannabis Business Transition Initiative helps businesses move into the legal economy

Moose tests positive for Chronic Wasting Disease in northwest Montana

This is the first time the disease has been detected in the species in Montana

Castlegar woman to appear on Dragons’ Den

Happy Gut sells water kefir beverages and kits to make water kefir at home.

VIDEO: ‘Climate emergency’ is Oxford’s 2019 Word of the Year

Other words on the shortlist included ‘extinction,’ ‘climate denial’ and ‘eco-anxiety’

Algae bloom killing farmed fish on Vancouver Island’s West Coast

DFO says four Cermaq Canada salmon farms affected, fish not infectious

Three cops investigated in connection to ex-Vancouver detective’s sexual misconduct

Fisher was convicted in 2018 after pleading guilty to kissing two young women who were witnesses in a criminal case

Violence response procedures updated for B.C. schools, police

ERASE program expands to target gangs, bullying of students

A pawsitive ending: Missing puppy found after nine-day search in Chilliwack

Pit bull Frankie ran from dog sitter booked through app

Federal laws at heart of West’s anger up for debate, as Liberals begin outreach

Vancouver mayor to Trudeau’s western critics: ‘Get over yourselves’

Snowboard pioneer Jake Burton Carpenter dies at 65

He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011

Teen developed ‘popcorn lung’ due to vaping: Ontario doctors

Boy went from being in perfect health to being on life support after just five months

Most Read