In the U.S. election, a presidential candidate's vice-presidential running mate is often seen as the "attack dog," the one to unleash some of the harder rhetoric leaving the presidential nominee to take the high ground. That was the role Dick Cheney was seen playing for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, and was noted often in analysis of Barack Obama's choice of Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate this time around.
The role obviously isn't as clearly defined in Canada, but various MPs often pick up the mantle (leash?) with relish, as evidenced over the years by Conservatives Jason Kenney, Peter Van Loan and Pierre Poilievre.
Judging by the first posts on his blog since the election call, Liberal Bob Rae baring is his teeth too. Last week Rae wrote that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's campaign reminds him of a Twilight Zone episode:
(The Harper Conservatives) don't have a vision of Canada as it is, let alone as it could be. They live in a little world called Harperville. Daddy goes out to work and Mommy stays home. There are good guys and bad guys. The bad guys get killed or go to jail.
Daddy definitely knows best, and his word is law. If you like Daddy you can talk to him or even have your picture taken with him. If Daddy doesn't like you he will be very stern with you, and he won't even talk to you.
Wake up Canada, don't let the body snatchers put us all to sleep. This is a bad government, led by a man whose word is not his bond.
And Rae doesn't confine his barbs to the Conservatives:
Jack Layton's decision to fight Elizabeth May and the Green Party's participation in the leader's debate might surprise some. It didn't surprise me.
For a party that once immersed itself in principle, it is admittedly a come down, but it's been clear for some time now that it is narrow self-interest and not high principle that drives "Jack Layton's NDP".
The NDP is eternally frustrated by its own decisions to put itself on the margins, and it shows its frustration by retreating to its themes: class warfare and character assassination. So it was. So it will be.