It’s now lucky Day 13 of the campaign. Stephen Harper is in Vaughan to shore up support, Michael Ignatieff looks to do the same in Montreal and Jack Layton is out in Surrey (if we’re lucky, we may even get a live feed from one of his events today).
On Wednesday, Jack Layton was in Prince George to make an announcement on healthcare. Once again, he ditched the podium and was standing with a wireless microphone in the centre of a smallish group. He began by saying that the jobs platform he laid out a few days ago would create 200,000 jobs. He moved on to his topic of the day: homecare. His plan will enshrine it in the Canada Health Act, increase aid to independent living programs, create a dedicated funding transfer for long-term care and extend residential long-term care with federal funds tied to legislated standards worked out with provinces. He closed off by asking the audience who they trusted to negotiate the health accords.
Afterward, he was asked about that Liberal candidate’s racist remarks and Conservative candidate Chris Alexander’s remarks about poverty (it was an “outrageous statement”); those students being thrown out of rallies (showing the face of the Conservatives when they try to look friendly); what he hopes to gain in strongly Conservative ridings (people said we could never get the seats we did and we have HST anger on our sides); why healthcare isn’t an issue on the campaign (it should be, as Harper can’t be trusted to negotiate in 2014 and I will keep talking about it); the Liberals’ homecare plan (they don’t have a dollar value assigned); and why is Harper still ahead if he’s so hostile (apparently, we need proportional representation). Layton also said that despite BC being paid billions in compensation for implementing the HST, they should be allowed to keep it, even if it is rejected in a referendum. That not only makes sense, but also is great for the state of the federation.
Later in the evening, Michael Ignatieff held a rally in Brossard, Quebec. He opened up by reminding the audience that while Gilles Duceppe can only talk, the Liberals can take action about Quebec. He moved on to his message of fear vs hope, derided Harper as “His Majesty the Prime Minister” when speaking of the students expelled from those rallies and talked about Harper's refusing to take responsibility for his actions. He accused Harper of living in fear of Canadians asking him a question and added that Harper must be afraid of democracy if he’s trying to frighten Canadians about an election. He went on to promise a new Champlain bridge within 10 years and tout both his "family pack" platform and his “government-ready” team of experienced candidates.
Harper immediately followed with a rally in Ajax, Ontario, the riding that Chris Alexander is trying to win. In a bit of interesting irony, the rally was held at a country club on the day Alexander’s comments about poverty were making the rounds. The speech itself was pretty much the same one Harper has given elsewhere in English Canada, with an additional mention of the foreign credentials training loan announced that morning. He played up how it would be much like the '70s if the Liberals came to power (of course, without the rampant inflation and spiralling interest rates). And with a list of stimulus spending in the GTA, he was out.
Oh, and by the way – that foreign credentials loan program is apparently nothing like it’s billed as, but rather a call for proposals from provincial groups that offer such loans.
Jack Layton held a rally last night at the Mission Hills Golf Course in Cranbrook. Apparently, it wasn't aired; the only thing I could find about it was that he talked about the HST.
Elsewhere, the RCMP now admits that it was involved in ejecting those students from the rallies, but spokespeople say it’s not part of their responsibility and have reminded their officers to not do so again. And if you want to get some examples of how the Conservatives won’t give clear answers on their alleged Facebook creeping, here are media attempts to get answers out of Harper’s press secretary, Dimitri Soudas, and their main media guy back in Ottawa, Ryan Sparrow.
Stories about Conservative candidates refusing to attend all-candidate debates are appearing once again. In one case, the organizers of a debate in Calgary replaced the local Conservative with a potted plant after he refused to show.
Aaron Wherry exposes some of John Baird’s intellectual dishonesty with respect to his criticism of the Liberal cap-and-trade policy. (Remember when the Conservatives loved cap-and-trade instead of a carbon tax? Because Baird doesn’t seem to.)
Since we’re digging into candidates’ pasts, it looks like a Liberal candidate in BC had a drunk driving conviction in 2003. He says that he paid his debt to society, was clearly remorseful and it’s not an issue today.
And Sun Media makes a klassy dig at the fact that Ignatieff’s wife, Zsuzsanna Zsohar, is not yet a Canadian citizen.