Line from the unsuccessful 2003 Ontario Progressive Conservative re-election campaign that stands as an example of overreaching political attacks that boomerang back on to campaigns.

Early in the provincial election campaign, a member of the War Room staff of the Ernie Eves Ontario Progressive Conservative campaign, in an email to the media, described Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty [see Premier Dad] as an “evil reptilian kitten-eater from another planet”.

Needless to say, this singularly bizarre designation engendered a storm of controversy, immediately putting the Tories on the defensive. Indeed, it has been cited as a defining moment in what was a losing campaign for the Eves Conservatives.1

Among political cognoscenti, the phrase “kitten-eater” can be sure to evoke the image of over-the-top political attack tactics.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons


  1. 'Kitten-eater' McGuinty wins 2003 Ontario election. CBC Digital Archives.

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  • http://rodcroskery.wordpress.com Rod_in_Forfar

    What nobody seemed to realize at the time was that the “kitten eater” meme was a reference to a running gag in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer T.V. series where the lesser vamps appeared to use a basket of kittens as currency in their poker games. The accusation was funny only to Buffy fans. To everyone else it was simply bizarre. McGuinty played on it when a kitten walked up to him at a photo op the following day at a dairy farm. He glanced at the press corp, shrugged, picked up and cuddled the kitten. The cameras flashed. Monday morning’s lead photograph made the front page of the papers and the election was won.

    • NCSmith

      A quibble on “nobody”… think that a fair number of people recognized it for what it was, but they still believed it to be bizarre.

      Most people (I hope) would have asked themselves, “How will this help?” before hitting the send button for the original mess, and the lack of judgment shown by the operative was astonishing. I think this term also reflects the idea that some campaign workers get so wrapped up in the campaign that they lose touch with common sense.

      For a federal example, see the “Soldiers in the streets. We’re not making this up. ” ad.

  • Jeff

    Spelling error. Ernie Eves, not Eaves.

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