Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau stands in the House of Commons during Question Period in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 4, 2014. Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press
Liberals reacted to a report of a leaked memo outlining a concerted Conservative strategy to target and undermine leader Justin Trudeau at the upcoming Liberal Party convention by calling it "a strong compliment."
The Conservative plan to disrupt Liberal communications and highlight disunity in the ranks was revealed in a Toronto Star story published Monday morning. It referred to a six-page memo to "drive" the Conservative narrative to portray Trudeau as inept, as well as "to fan the flames of Liberal infighting" during next week's policy convention in Montreal.
According to the memo quoted in the Star, the plan would be orchestrated mostly online through the use of websites, ads, videos and email updates. It also includes the idea to hand out Zig-Zag rolling papers emblazoned with Trudeau's face and the Liberal logo in reference to his comments about legalizing marijuana, according to the Star story.
CBC News has not seen the memo.
Liberal deputy leader Ralph Goodale chuckled when asked for his response at a press conference in Ottawa Monday.
"It really is a very strong compliment to the Liberal Party and Justin Trudeau that they are so preoccupied with this kind of manic obsession that they just have to write up memos about their dirty tricks plan," he said.
"If the Conservatives want to focus on us, that's fine with us. We'll focus on what matters most to Canadians and particularly to middle-class Canadians, " Goodale said.
The Conservatives would not confirm the memo but did not deny its message.
"In short, we know that in the next election Canadians will have a clear choice between the strong, stable leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the poor judgment of Justin Trudeau," said Conservative Party spokesman Cory Hann in an emailed response to CBC News.
Conservatives not the only troublemakers
Political parties have a history of disrupting each other's conventions.
Senior Conservative staff were present at the 2006 Liberal leadership convention in Montreal, where they handed out buttons with messages such as "Bob Rae — Harper's Choice" and one with a picture of Belinda Stronach saying "Vote ME at the Next Convention." Stronach had crossed the floor to join the Liberal Party after originally being elected as a Conservative.
In a bit of tit-for-tat, the Liberals gave out buttons at the Conservatives' convention in Calgary last fall with slogans such as "Jason Kenney 2014" and "For Moore Years," a dig at the possible leadership ambitions of Kenney and fellow cabinet minister James Moore.
New Democrats were there too, handing out "Senate Hall of Shame" trading cards, detailing the expense claims and legal troubles of some former Conservative and Liberal senators.
For the upcoming Liberal Party convention on Feb. 20, the NDP plans to send senior staff members Karl Belanger, Anne McGrath and MP Alexandre Boulerice. The Conservatives have not yet announced who they will send, but James Moore has attended past conventions as party spokesman.
It is not yet known what sort of buttons will be produced.