Pooping puffin paralyzes Canada Conservative event

Tue Sep 9, 2008 12:39pm EDT
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By Roberta Rampton

WINNIPEG (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper wanted to talk about his promised diesel tax cut on Tuesday but found himself sidetracked by his Conservative Party's depiction of a puffin pooping on his chief rival.

A Conservative website, notaleader.ca, showed an animated puffin flying across the screen and plopping a white blob on the shoulder of Liberal leader Stephane Dion, drawing an angry response from Dion and an apology from Harper.

"It was tasteless and inappropriate. We have enough differences with the Liberals without getting into that kind of thing," Harper told a news conference after announcing he would cut the diesel tax in contrast to Dion's proposal to raise it.

"I offer my sincere apologies to Mr. Dion."

The Conservatives quickly changed the graphic so that the puffin just flies by Dion without dropping anything.

It was his party's first gaffe of the campaign, which Harper launched on Sunday for a general election to be held on October 14 , as attention was at least partly diverted from his first policy announcement and from attempts to portray him as a family man.

In Montreal before Harper's news conference, Dion declared: "This is saying more about them than about us."

On matters of substance, Harper said his proposed diesel tax underlined the different visions he and Dion have.   Continued...

<p>Conservative leader and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper reacts to a question during a campaign stop at a vegetable processing plant in Winnipeg, Manitoba September 9, 2008. Canadians will head to the polls in a federal election October 14. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>