Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is hitting the road again this week on what's being billed as the "20/11 tour" - a sprint through 20 ridings in 11 days.
But where his summer and fall cross-country excursions were intended to reassure and re-engage Liberals, Mr. Ignatieff will use the winter outing to take direct aim at vulnerable rival MPs.
All 20 ridings that Mr. Ignatieff is scheduled to visit are currently held by the Conservatives, NDP or Bloc Québécois.
They are among the top ridings Liberals believe they can steal away in an election, which could come as early as this spring.
Party insiders say the tour will mark a more aggressive stage in Mr. Ignatieff's pre-election sorties, what one strategist called "taking the fight to our opponents."
Liberals are hoping the next election will come down to a two-party contest, between them and Stephen Harper's Conservatives.
As the strategist put it, Mr. Ignatieff intends to hammer away at a simple message: "If you vote NDP or Bloc to send Harper a message, you get Harper and he doesn't get the message. So, if you want to get rid of Harper, you have to vote Liberal."
Mr. Ignatieff is scheduled to visit every region of the country before returning to the capital for a Jan. 24-26 caucus retreat to plot strategy for the Jan. 31 resumption of Parliament.
Among the targets for Mr. Ignatieff are Tory-held ridings in Winnipeg South, Richmond, B.C., and Kitchener, Ont., the NDP-held riding of Acadie-Bathurst in New Brunswick and the Bloc's Montreal-area riding of Jeanne-Le Ber.
However, he will start his tour on Wednesday by taking the fight to the Ottawa doorstep of one of Mr. Harper's most valued and influential ministers, Government House Leader John Baird.
Meanwhile, friends of Mr. Baird are advertising a $500-per-head fundraiser next month in which guests will be able to rub elbows with "numerous Conservative Party of Canada Ministers."
An e-mailed invitation circulating last week stated the Feb. 9 event in Ottawa is already 50 per cent sold out after just 11 days - adding in bold face it is necessary because, "In all likelihood a federal election will be called in 2011."
As recently as Oct. 28, Conservatives were railing in the House of Commons about Liberals "selling access" to Mr. Ignatieff in a similar fundraising project that targeted female donors.
And Tory MP James Bezan has described the $1,100-per-head Ignatieff meet-and-greet sessions at his official Opposition Leader's residence in Ottawa as a "shocking development."
"By selling access to himself, the Liberal Leader proves once again that he is not in it for Canadians, he is just in it for himself," Mr. Bezan charged in the Commons last June.
It's been a persistent theme of Conservative parties in Ottawa, who have long complained about well-heeled donors buying preferred access to key members of the government.
Baird spokesman Garry Keller said the issue with the Ignatieff fundraisers was the use of his taxpayer-funded residence, not the fact he was - in Mr. Bezan's words - "selling access to himself."
"At the end of the day, it's pretty common practice for politicians to attend and support their caucus colleagues' events, whether a fundraiser or another type of event," Mr. Keller said.
The Liberals are advertising a $400-per-head fundraiser in Ottawa on Jan. 25 they say will include shadow cabinet critics, MPs and future candidates.
Neither event contravenes any Elections Canada or other ethics rules.
NDP MP Pat Martin, a long-time critic of such fundraisers under Liberal and Conservative governments, said there's a "time-honoured tradition of peddling access to ministers."
"If it were just a fundraiser for John Baird, why would you have to advertise that if you show up you'll get to meet all kinds of influential cabinet ministers?" Mr. Martin said in an interview.
"The message is quite clear. For a nominal fee you get to touch the hem of the garment of people who dish out government's largesse. You pay to play."
The Canadian Press