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This article was published 31/8/2010 (3680 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
BADDECK, N.S. -- Forget all that talk about federal Liberals merging or forming a coalition with the NDP.
The Liberals now aim to co-opt NDP support and they're using debate over the long-gun registry to do it.
They announced Tuesday they'll open a national campaign to save the registry. In the process, they hope to mould a defining issue that will establish the Liberals as the only real alternative to Stephen Harper's minority Conservative government.
In particular, they want to woo urban supporters of the NDP, which is badly divided over the issue.
"We're not going to let the NDP off the hook," said Mark Holland, the Liberal public safety critic.
"I think the NDP's in a lot of trouble on this. And I think they should not underestimate the perilous waters they're walking into here. People are not going to accept them straddling both sides of the fence."
Holland called the matter "a defining issue of principle."
The campaign to save the registry is one of the ways Liberal strategists hope to sustain the momentum that began building modestly over the summer with leader Michael Ignatieff's cross-country bus tour.
Ignatieff told his caucus Tuesday they've still got work to do raising money, getting organized and in the upcoming parliamentary session before contemplating whether to plunge the country into an election.
"Let's take this thing one step at a time," he said. "We're up against the toughest and most ruthless machine in Canadian politics. Never forget that for a second. Let's not get ahead of ourselves."
Party pollster Michael Marzolini told the caucus the party has picked up some ground over the summer, but is still six points behind the Conservatives in his polls. And Ignatieff still lags Harper in leadership performance ratings. Nevertheless, he said the party is in better shape than a year ago and has some foundational support to build on.
-- The Canadian Press
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