It’s Day 27 of the campaign; Stephen Harper is in St John’s, Michael Ignatieff is in Montreal and Jack Layton is in Toronto.
Conservative Brad Trost has told pro-life supporters that their efforts have ensured that the government would no longer fund the International Planned Parenthood Federation – a decision that has not been announced. Planned Parenthood spokespeople say their applications to CIDA haven’t been replied to, but this would seem to be their answer. Will this now blow up on the campaign? Or will the electorate shrug their shoulders on this one, too?
Harper’s press secretary held a scrum at 1:30am to say that Trost’s comments don’t reflect government policy – but won’t commit to funding Planned Parenthood.
Yesterday afternoon got off to an interesting start. Liberals Ralph Goodale, Marlene Jennings and Anita Vandenbeld held a press conference to say that there was no need to wait for the auditor general’s report. They announced that they had gone through the documents and found where the likely illegality was: the Conservatives asked for money for border infrastructure in the spending estimates (by which spending is legislated); the public account (which tells how the money was spent) shows that $44 million was transferred from border infrastructure to the “G8 legacy fund” – spending that was not authorized and therefore illegal. Jennings has written to the director of public prosecutions to pursue charges against the cabinet ministers involved.
Ignatieff was in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. He took questions from the media on addressing local issues during a national campaign (I visited the area before the Liberal Express, I've done the roadwork and seen the issues, and the local candidate will help); the Yarmouth ferry (we're committed to restoring it); aquaculture and lobster fishing (we would protect lobsters from farmed salmon pesticides, and aquaculture needs to be driven by science); the national implications of dealing with the provincial NDP in Nova Scotia (it's having an effect, and May 2 is a choice between a Conservative or a Liberal government); his message to Quebeckers (we're not changing our strategy, and only we can replace Harper); and local beef research (I have family connections to it, so I understand its importance).
He then held a rally for some 300 people; apparently, he spoke fairly openly about working with other parties. CPAC didn't air it, so I can’t say to what extent that happened.
Joined by the premier of New Brunswick, Harper held a rally in Fredericton. Yet again (I would really, really love to escape this temporal causality loop), he gave his very same rally speech: the [insert daily announcement here] was, of course, increasing the GIS, followed by the coalition said no, the Coalition Menace, the iPod tax, the referendum scare, security, stability, appealing to patriotism, Harper out.
At a rally in Thunder Bay, Jack Layton claimed the NDP is gaining in Quebec because the Bloc wouldn’t support his local candidate’s pension bill. He took shots at Harper for the HST, the scandals and not doing anything about healthcare (“that’s not healthcare – that’s malpractice”). Layton then turned on Ignatieff, saying that he’s a latecomer to the healthcare file and that he couldn’t even get a Harper quote right. He talked about his platform planks, used Ignatieff’s “did we check your Facebook” gag and then took questions from the audience. An 11-year-old asked him how she should go about becoming prime minister one day (40 percent of our candidates are women, and stand up and say what you believe), and her nine-year-old sister asked how she would get a good job when she's older (job creation is a top priority). Questions from the room followed on his environmental plans (we support regulating pollutants, and the evil Senate killed our climate bill); official languages (we’ll support them); childcare for low-income families (we’ll pass a bill to mandate childcare); affordable post-secondary education (we propose front-end grants and making the federal government responsible alongside the provinces); banning GMO foods (we've already taken action, but the Liberals and the Conservatives voted down our motion); and getting more youth to vote… for the NDP (we need both policies that are exciting or engaging and new communication tools, and we support lowering the voting age to 16).
A group of immigration lawyers and professors is calling on Canadians, particularly new Canadians, to vote out the Conservatives by pointing out the truth behind the supposedly glowing things that the Conservatives say they’ve done for immigration when, in fact, they’ve made things worse.
And today in Bruce Carson news: it seems that Guy Giorno, Harper’s previous chief of staff, wrote to the ethics commissioner about Carson two years ago regarding a possible conflict of interest and the measures taken to correct it.