Evil reptilian kitten-eater from another planet

On September 12, 2003, during the provincial election campaign in Ontario, Canada, a press release disseminated by the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party contained a line at the end that referred to rival Ontario Liberal Party leader Dalton McGuinty as an "evil reptilian kitten-eater from another planet. (Sorry.)"

The email was denouncing various Liberal statements as scare-mongering against the Tories' record; the inclusion of the word "sorry" in brackets may indicate that the line's author or authors intended it to be an over-the-top sarcastic comment. According to the Globe and Mail:

"One sophomoric staffer [on the Progressive Conservative campaign] decided to vent his frustration with the campaign's reverses by drafting a bogus news release. It ranted about the fact that the media criticize so-called Tory attack ads and praise Mr. McGuinty for taking the self-styled 'high road.' The 'kitten-eater' phrase was included at the end as an illustration of a truly extreme attack. The release drew laughs from half a dozen campaign aides who saw it. More tellingly, in a collective somnolence, no one killed the release."

The incident was an embarrassment for the Tories, who were already having difficulty in the election. Their leader, Premier Ernie Eves, refused to apologize for the incident, but acknowledged that it was "over the top" and that someone had probably drunk "way too much coffee." Press reporting on the incident appeared to turn public opinion against the party, not due to the comment itself, but that the fact that it became public suggested a campaign that was badly out of control and growing desperate.

Mr. McGuinty denied the accusation of ailurophagy. "I love kittens, and I like puppies too," he commented. Though he initially pledged not to allow the issue to side-track the campaign, the Liberals ran with the joke. Slogans involving kittens were produced unofficially, a group of Liberals meowed at an assembly in Niagara Falls, and Mr. McGuinty had his picture taken with a kitten named Snowball as he visited a farm in Stratford. (Tory agents, fearing the photo opportunity, had tried to chase the kitten away, but to no avail; the picture was in all the newspapers the next day.)

Editorial cartoonists had a field day with the accusation, depicting the plain-faced McGuinty as a less-than intimidating reptile creature. Patrick Corrigan of the Toronto Star depicted Eves as a kitten on a plate in front of a hungry McGuinty.

Three weeks later the Tory accusation seemed to have backfired when, on election day, the "evil reptilian kitten-eater from another planet" swept the province with a landslide victory.

It is speculated that the original kitten-eater comment may have been written by fans of the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which at one point featured an actual evil reptilian kitten-eater, a character by the name of Clem the Demon. (He played "kitten poker," in which kittens are used as chips, and was reputed to eat his winnings.) It may also refer to the television series V, which featured evil reptilian aliens from another planet who were fond of eating small furry animals alive.

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