It’s Day 23; Jack Layton is in Halifax and Michael Ignatieff is in Vancouver. Presumably, Stephen Harper is still in Vancouver; none of the parties have sent out notices as to their itineraries, so I have no idea what any of them are doing. Thanks, guys!
Harper held a rally in Burnaby, BC, in front of more than 700 attendees. James Moore introduced him and declared that on May 2, he would be proud to vote for Stephen Harper (err, unless he lives in Calgary-Southwest, seeing as this isn’t a presidential system). Harper then gave his same rally speech that he always does, though he took a few additional shots at the NDP (seeing as he was in a NDP riding). His new dig was that an Ignatieff-led coalition “would trust the NDP with the economy and the Bloc with the country.” He moved on to his usual plea for stability and security, made his patriotic appeal and closed off by saying a Conservative majority is a “victory for Canada.”
Michael Ignatieff was in Edmonton – enemy territory – along with Paul Martin. He took questions from the media on oil-sands-related issues (we need to look at health effects on the First Nations communities up there); the Edmonton bid for Expo 2017 (we would have tried to find a way to help Edmonton, since we don't take those votes for granted); Paul Martin’s opinion on how the Conservatives can find $11 billion in cuts without touching healthcare (their numbers aren’t credible and Martin doesn’t think they can do it); and equalization (Ignatieff says he wants to ensure equity in equalization, and he's reminded that Martin's good fiscal management protected our economy from the peso crisis and the Asian currency crisis).
Shortly thereafter, Ignatieff held a rally for approximately 1,000 people. During his introduction, Paul Martin decided to “correct the record” by giving Anne McClelland the credit for forcing him to implement changes in the tax system that allowed the oil sands to develop, helping to save the CPP and working with municipalities against the objections of the Conservatives. He slammed Harper’s fiscal management, took credit for the biggest tax cuts in Canadian history (that didn’t come from borrowed money) and generally savaged Conservative economic credentials. One is forced to wonder why the Liberals have waited so long to bring him out. After calling the Liberal platform a better economic document than the last Conservative budget, he turned the stage over to Ignatieff. He reminded the audience why this election was actually necessary and talked about his Family Pack by using the anecdote of meeting a truck driver in Sudbury who needed the homecare provisions to look after his wife, who has a chronic medical condition. He moved on to talking about reaching out to Canadians who aren’t engaged in politics. He then said that the tale of our country's recent history needs to be told: prorogation; killing the long-form census; the “Harper Government"; firing watchdogs; Kairos and foreign-aid cuts; losing our seat on the Security Council; Facebook creeping; and the smearing of Helena Guergis while Bruce Carson and his escorts are in the PMO. This led up to his new “Rise Up!” rallying cry. He said it wasn’t about him – it was about Canada and that Canadians need to stand up to preserve the institutions that keep us free.
As previously mentioned, former prime ministers Chrétien and Martin are joining Ignatieff on the trail to remind Canadians of their good fiscal management, turning a deficit into a surplus and forging the health accords that are responsible for the healthcare funding Harper is touting as his own. How many former prime ministers can Harper count on supporting him? Oh, none – since he’s either alienated them or they’ve declared that his isn’t the Conservative party they once led.
In another bizarre Cheryl Gallant incident, the Conservative incumbent called the radio station host of an all-candidates' meeting a liar before walking out and then said it was because the Greens were barred from the event. They weren’t actually barred; they just didn’t accept before the deadline. This was naturally fodder for her opponents, who carried on after she left.
And in depressing news, the Star wonders if we’re growing tired of democracy in Canada, considering that we can’t be arsed to actually participate in our elections anymore.