Put smiling Jack 'under the microscope,' take hard look, Ignatieff tells voters

Opposition attacks grow as NDP surge holds firm.

QUEBEC -- Jack Layton has a "lovely smile,'' but it's time the NDP chief went under the microscope, says Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.

Confronted by polls suggesting the NDP has surged to second place and is closing on Stephen Harper's Tories, Ignatieff told a campaign rally in Quebec City today that Layton's policies don't pass muster.

"He has a nice smile, that's true,'' Ignatieff said. "He has a lovely smile. ... But no one has put Mr. Layton under a microscope.

"I've been under a microscope for the last five years.''

Both Ignatieff and Harper have shifted the focus of their attacks on Layton in recent days as the NDP leader rides newfound popularity in Quebec and across the country.

Former prime minister Jean Chretien is also drumming up donations to finance a final ad blitz over the weekend.

Polls suggest the NDP is opening a gap on the Liberals and closing within mere points of the Conservatives as Monday's vote nears.

Ignatieff suggested Layton is trying to please everyone, telling voters one thing in French and another in English.

"That's not consistent. That's not worthy of a federal leader.''

Layton has not adequately costed his promises and he's particularly vague on Quebec sovereignty, Ignatieff said. The NDP leader has said he will reopen constitutional talks with Quebec once confronted with "winning conditions.''

"I think we need to be consistent and say the same thing in both languages,'' he said.

"We are clear about clarity.''

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