It’s Day 21 on the campaign; Jack Layton remains in Montreal, and Michael Ignatieff returns to Ottawa for another announcement before heading off to Sudbury. No word on where Stephen Harper will be today.
At the NDP rally last night, Thomas Mulcair came out swinging against the Liberals. Layton then came out and declared the Montreal Canadiens game to be “much more important” than the debate and again talked about how he was going to watch the game at a sports bar later that night. He told the crowd about his Montreal roots and then went after the Liberals. He made a dig at the Conservatives' use of ethnic communities for photo ops and then said that he would be a prime minister that Canadians can trust. He went through his platform points and attacked Ignatieff again while saying that only he could replace Harper and defend Quebec. Layton then went to pull pints at a sports bar during the Habs game, showing that he, too, can be in the running to become the hockeyest prime minister ever!
At a barbecue in St Isidore, Ontario, Michael Ignatieff was the first subject of a “cupcake crash” by Conservative partisans, which he brushed off by welcoming them to join in and thanking them for bringing desserts. (Some of the Liberal supporters were not so welcoming.) With fire trucks as his backdrop, Ignatieff began by giving a shout-out to the Franco-Ontarian crowd and lamenting that there were no questions during the French debate posed by francophones from outside Quebec. He teased the Conservative crashers for showing up with English signs in a Franco-Ontarian community and said the Liberals don’t run against the policies they have, but they do against those they don’t have (like the fictional iPod tax). He made a plea for the release of the auditor general’s report as well as the Afghan detainee documents and continued to give the false notion that the AG’s report is on Harper’s desk. (It’s not there and Sheila Fraser has stated that she won’t break the rules by releasing it without a sitting Parliament.) He made a short shout-out to his platform and turned it over to the festivities.
In the wake of the “ethnic costume” email incident, protesters, dressed in “ethnic garb,” waited outside of Harper’s Etobicoke event. Inside, Harper dropped reference to the fact that he was near where he grew up and then launched into his same rally speech. Honestly, listening to that speech is like being trapped in a temporal causality loop. He then made the usual plea for security and stability before listing the local infrastructure projects. He added a few new patriotic lines at the end, just to keep things interesting.
The other big story of the day is the Conservatives' attempt to shut down a special ballot at the University of Guelph. The ballot, designed to encourage more student participation, appears to have been a success; the polling station in question gathered more than 700 votes. The Conservatives are trying to shut it down as “illegal,” and one of their campaign workers allegedly tried to grab the ballot box to disrupt proceedings. This could really blow up in their faces, which they probably don’t want to happen at this point in the campaign.
As mentioned, the former Supreme Court justices overseeing the handling of the Afghan detainee documents have determined that the papers can’t be released until there is a sitting Parliament. Ignatieff has suggested all parties agree to modify the memorandum of understanding that governs the process. My cynical side wonders whether, if these documents are released and there is more incriminating evidence of this government’s contempt for Parliament, would people even care? There is already a long list of issues that no one seems to be paying attention to.
Those “serious allegations” against Helena Guergis have been revealed, which included the story of her snorting cocaine off a prostitute’s breasts (hello return of #bustyhookers). The allegations were discovered to be from one person and contained no hard evidence; the RCMP dismissed them after an investigation. Harper has refused to discuss the issue until now. Guergis will be responding later this morning.
While the Conservatives bang on about a fictitious iPod tax, their own plan would have to double the current levies charged to compensate performers and artists to meet the international obligations their copyright bill sets out.
And here’s a CBC Reality Check on the issue of temporary foreign workers.