When Michael Ignatieff took over as leader of the Liberal Party in 2008 he looked straight into the camera and sent Harper a warning that he wasn't going to do to Ignatieff what Harper and the Conservatives did to Stephane Dion with their attack ads.
"It would be a very bad mistake," Ignatieff said. "I hope I make myself clear."
Harper apparently wasn't exactly scared off. The Conservative machine that helped take down Dion (which is not to underplay how much Dion's own decisions and actions contributed to his downfall) went into anti-Ignatieff overdrive. The Conservatives spent millions of dollars on repeated advertising campaigns -- see below -- attacking Ignatieff's patriotism and purpose. Conservative talking heads painted Ignatieff as an elitist from a Russian aristocratic background who doesn't understand the needs of working families.
To what end? Canadians' impression of Ignatieff could almost not be any worse. Even teenagers have been heard to question why Ignatieff came back to Canada after years working as a journalist, author and professor in England and the United States.
For a man who so soundly declared he wouldn't become the next Conservative punching bag, Ignatieff certainly has done little to dispel any of the attacks against him.
Many have wondered when Ignatieff might fight back.
Apparently the answer is now, on the eve of a spring election more and more political watchers feel is inevitable.
Last week Ignatieff released two new television advertisements -- also below -- attacking Harper's policies and the way he runs the country. Then he went on George Stromboulopoulos' show on CBC and issued some stern rebukes at the attack ads that had targeted him. (His appearance actually made me think if anybody believes Ignatieff has an inflated ego it may in fact be because who wouldn't think they were important when another party has spent so much time and money working to discredit you.)
On Friday he posted a blog entry with a video (below) giving Canadians a testimonial to where he actually came from. Hint: it wasn't a palace in Russia. The video seems to target the very voters the Conservatives want very badly -- immigrants who came to Canada with little and worked their way up.
Game on. Set and match still to come.