It’s now Day 12 of the campaign; Michael Ignatieff stays in Quebec for an event in Sherbrooke, Stephen Harper returns to Ontario to hold an event in Markham, and Jack Layton heads out to Vancouver.
Harper’s rally last night was in Saint-Agapit, Quebec. In an entirely new speech, he touted his Quebec candidates, the local benefits of the F-35 fighter jets and the proposed Thetford pipeline. He derided the Bloc as being a Montreal-centred party that doesn't care about other regions and went on to accuse the Liberals and the Bloc of looking to allow “backdoor immigration” by turning the borders into a sieve. (With messages like this and his “human smuggling” priority, how is this populist, xenophobic tactic working for Harper?) He talked a bit about the long-gun registry (which I thought was quite popular in Quebec), the need to focus on the economy and the need for more Quebec MPs in a Conservative government.
Layton held a rally for about 400 people in Winnipeg North, a riding he wants back from the Liberals. He appeared to have taken a cue from Harper and replaced his podium with wireless lapel mics, so that he, too, could do the talk-show bit. (He still had his teleprompters.) He started out by declaring that Awish Aslam, the student kicked out of the London Conservative rally, was an NDP supporter who wanted to hear the messages of the other parties and his door was open to her. He gave an appeal for federal aid for river flooding, moved on to how you can’t trust Stephen Harper and that he was putting practical solutions forward. He turned his guns on Ignatieff with his “part of the problem” line and said that he was the only one that Canadians could trust.
(Speaking of Aslam, the Conservative spokesperson is apologizing to her for the inconvenience caused – not for invading her privacy and accusing her of thought crime.)
Ignatieff had his Drummondville rally inside a greenhouse; the turnout was small at about 200, but it didn’t dampen his performance. He started off with the Aslam parable, saying that it showed everything that was wrong with Harper: his tactics are un-Canadian and dividing the country into friends and enemies, and that anything, including privacy violations, is allowed. He moved on to his five priorities, placing special emphasis on the provinces' role in the delivery of things like childcare. His appeal was that Quebeckers can change things by electing the Liberals; delivering another Harper government will mean rewarding his contempt for democracy and the Bloc can only talk and are not able to accomplish anything. He finished off with a personal appeal telling the crowd about his family roots in the area; it was there that his Russian-born family “rediscovered hope,” having lost everything before coming to Canada.
Elsewhere, the Conservatives put out another ad today, but this one isn’t an attack ad.
It’s an “inspirational” ad; Harper speaks about how great Canada is while all kinds of patriotic images are shown. As the ad comes to its end, the screen flashes “Prime Minister Stephen Harper.” It has been noted that it looks a lot like this particular SunTV ad or this Tea Party governor’s ad (albeit with lower production values and lens flares).
On CPAC last night, Don Boudria argued that Harper once demanded and got an auditor general’s report during an election and the parliamentary budget officer released a report during the last election. That may be the case, but this is the point where it should be said that two wrongs don’t make a right.
Elizabeth May is officially out of the leaders’ debate after the Federal Court turned down an expedited appeal – not that they won’t consider it later. Just not in time for the debate next week.
Paul Wells looks at the history of the Liberals courting the ethnic vote in Canada and notes that one of Jason Kenney’s staffers is someone who wrote the book on those strategies.
The author of Two Cheers for Minority Government does not relish the idea of another Conservative government as the current one has been found in contempt of Parliament and they shouldn’t be rewarded for it.
Chris Selley reminds people of the full context of the “damn right, we’ll raise taxes” quote the Conservatives are holding up – and yes, it was corporate taxes the Liberal party president was talking about.
And the CBC takes a closer look at the promise of tax credits for volunteer firefighters.