It’s Day 15 of the campaign and Stephen Harper is taking the day off, likely starting his debate prep. Michael Ignatieff is in Toronto; Jack Layton is in Saskatoon and La Ronge, Saskatchewan.
Harper had the first campaign rally of the evening in Kitchener, where he delivered what was basically a mashup of his usual rally speech and the highlights of his platform-launch speech from earlier that morning. Yes, it included his reference to this election being a fork in the road; he said it's "like deciding to go forward or to make a U-turn.” (Never mind that it’s an inappropriate economic comparison.) And just for a bit of spice, he attacked Liberal candidate John Reilly’s comments on sentencing for sexual assaults. (Heaven forbid there would be such a thing as judicial discretion.)
At a pub in Markham, Ignatieff was hosting a meet and greet with local candidate Lui Temelkovski. He gave a pretty standard stump speech and then wished a happy birthday to Bruce Campion-Smith of the Toronto Star (and once again, happy birthday, Bruce!)
Jack Layton held a town hall in Kamloops, BC. There was no feed available, so I have no idea what was said. Judging from past NDP events, take an “Ottawa is broken” or two, add in a “Canadian leadership” and a couple of “only New Democrats can defeat Conservatives,” followed by “you can’t trust Stephen Harper” and “you can’t trust Michael Ignatieff,” and you should get the gist.
As has been said, the Conservatives have been able to shave a year off the elimination of the deficit at some point between the March budget and yesterday’s platform release. Analyses of the costing discrepancies between the Conservative budget and platform are apparently a bunch of hypotheticals. Magic thinking, everyone! But aside from that, they seem to be overly generous with the numbers being claimed in “efficiencies” and cuts; a strategic review found nowhere near the amounts they’re apparently banking on. This kind of talk should also have the public service very nervous about its future.
Speaking of magic thinking, Harper says that he has it in writing that Canada will be exempted from the spiralling costs of the F-35 fighters. Really!
In case you missed it yesterday, all the party leaders committed to keep the increase of health-funding transfers at six percent annually – err, at least until 2014. Michael Ignatieff got the ball rolling and the other leaders were all forced to follow. The CBC also notes some rather deliberate vagueness in the budget about post-2014 funding commitments on the part of the Conservatives.
The CBC looks at five similar planks in the three party platforms (or announcements for the NDP; their platform won’t be released until Sunday). The Liberals and NDP come out on top in every one of the five promises, but to varying degrees.
And in a stunning bit of hypocrisy, Harper is getting a Bollywood star to endorse him – even though said star is not a Canadian citizen and can’t vote here. All of this comes after Harper has been attacking Michael Ignatieff for not being Canadian enough. Seriously.