Since they've been elected the Conservatives have always been on the attack. It's the "American way to play", and they've learned well from their Republican masters... Right now they are on the attack full time (it's the only way they know how to govern).
The Liberal's problem is (and continues to be), with certain types of people this "attack politics" works. I'm talking about the types of people to whom right wing politics really appeals. Unfortunately some folks who aren't the perfect fit for the "conservative" demographic also get taken in by this... The pseudo-macho, aggressive, rant-filled, "carpet bomb them into the stone-age" jingoism does play well with a swath of the "regular joe" 20-40yr old males who may happen to be big sports fans, and just may be "regular guys" (as defined by the "Reform-a-tories"). This is a demographic we need to work on.
Many men in this demographic do fit into a "liberal" mindset, but are attracted to the "machismo" and angry bravado of the Cons (even if NOTHING else, or very little else in the Conservative policy platform - as compared to the Liberal one - matches their voting criteria). These people are often "under-employed", or living situations where a caring government will eventually, quite possibly be needed. This is a demographic that needs our outreach.
While we write off the Conservative rants as "infantile", and jokingly refer to their angst and antics, they pick up votes in a demographic that only matches up with one part of their platform (the aggressive male hormonal part)...
What can Liberals do? We need to sell a "dose of reality". Liberal pragmatism over Conservative idealistic "wing-nuttery" (sorry Wing-nutterer)... I can even see the election ads: "The Conservatives say... Here's a dose of reality: The economy has gone downhill since... Stephen Harper says he wants to bring integrity to Parliament... We're still waiting (list of scandals and infantile behavior)...", etc., etc. As Liberals we also MUST SELL OUR RECORD OF FISCAL GENIUS. We brought this country back from the brink, and have the skills to continue to build this Northern Tiger - even if it has been slightly derailed by the Conservative Recession...
Liberals need to be vocal in pointing out the Conservative anger and deception. We won't be "taking the low road"... we'll just be pointing out the truth. It is also important to know that so-called attack ads prior to the writ don't count as a "negative campaign". Meaning one could "define" the Conservatives for what they are - prior to the campaign - then, take the "high road" DURING the writ period. We would run the most virtuous campaign ever, but let 'em have it with both barrels RIGHT NOW!
The Cons have learned from their American Republican friends the value of a year-round campaign. While funds may be tight right now, they are rolling in, and we absolutely need to establish a credible and formidable pre-writ campaign.