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

Graffiti Days 2019 a huge success

Hundreds of cars and spectators — including a History channel TV personality — turned out for the event

Bus company fears for future if another licence issued for Interior routes

Adventure Charters waiting to see if Ebus BC is approved for Prince George-Kamloops run

Sea Cadets wind up another year with Ceremonial Review

Corps is fundraising for a trip to Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2020

WorkBC helping break down barriers to employment

Office offers a wide range of services to help people find sustainable careers

Local News Briefs: Get garden ideas with Ashcroft tour

The Rivertown Players are back, invasive plant management, reduced tipping fees, and more

Protesters rally in Victoria over newly approved Trans Mountain pipeline

The Still No Consent! No Trans Mountain! 20 kilometre march will end at Island View Beach

Wildfire burning in coastal forest

A fire beside the Sea to Sky Highway is burning up a steep slope

PHOTOS: Event marks one year since soccer team rescued from Thai cave

Nine players and coach took part in marathon and bike event to help improve conditions at cave

Rock climber dies after fall at Stawamus Chief in Squamish

The man had fallen about 30 metres while climbing in the Grand Wall area

Five B.C. students taken to hospital after playing with vaping device

School district said students were taken to hospital ‘out of an abundance of caution’

Being a pot dealer is not what it used to be

Sunday Big Read: the business of selling marijuana in B.C. is a slow bureaucratic slog

VIDEO: Two more pride flags have been stolen from Langley woman

Lisa Ebenal was “angry” and “fed up” after the latest theft. Then people started showing suppport

B.C. couple who has raised 58 children turns to community amid cancer diagnosis

Family who raised, fostered and adopted many kids hoping to gain some precious together time to fight cancer

Canucks acquire forward J.T. Miller from Lightning

J.T. Miller, 26, had 13 goals and 34 assists for the Lightning last season

Most Read