September 10, 2015 / 10:45 PM / in 4 years

Canada ruling Conservatives turn to 'Wizard of Oz' in campaign

Political strategist Lynton Crosby arrives at Downing Street in London October 16, 2014. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s Conservatives have turned to a high-powered Australian political strategist known as “the Wizard of Oz” to help Prime Minister Stephen Harper win a rare fourth straight term, campaign spokesman Kory Teneycke said on Thursday.

Maclean’s magazine said the strategist, Lynton Crosby - who helped engineer British Prime Minister David Cameron’s election win last May - would take over framing the Conservatives’ campaign message ahead of the country’s Oct. 19 election.

Crosby’s nickname refers to his homeland and campaign messaging skills. He also helped Boris Johnson become mayor of London and last month helped engineer victory in Sri Lanka’s election.

Teneycke, speaking to reporters, declined to confirm details but said: “He’s been around for a very long time, and continues to be around.”

A Canadian Conservative Party source commented: “He’s got a winning track record and has helped Conservatives (elsewhere) get to first place despite the odds. Why not have an extra hand? It shows no disrespect to the current crew.”

The source declined to be identified, on grounds of not having authority to speak to media.

Crosby guided Cameron to unexpected victory by focusing the British Conservative Party’s message on economic stability. His strategy that “you can’t fatten a pig on market day” meant voters were bombarded with a message in the hope that relentless repetition would help it “take.”

Harper’s oft-repeated message that Canada’s Conservatives are the best fiscal stewards has been undermined by an economy that was in recession for the first half of 2015.

The nine-year-old Conservative government is in third place in the polls, slightly behind the center-left Liberals and New Democratic Party.

Reporting by Randall Palmer and David Ljunggren; Editing by Tom Brown

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