It’s Day 31 of the campaign. While the Liberals are in Thunder Bay and the New Democrats are in Saint John, New Brunswick, I have no idea where Harper is because nobody bothered to send out an itinerary. Thanks, guys! It's also the last day of advanced polling; if you can’t make it out on the big day, this is your chance.
Michael Ignatieff held a media availability mid-afternoon in a Toronto hotel with Bob Rae and Christine Innes. He talked about the final week of the campaign coming down to being a choice of governments and the kind of Canada you want to have. He took questions on corporate tax cuts versus the Ontario economy and the faltering manufacturing sector (it's about jobs without people, people without jobs and comes down to education and training); dirty politics – slashed tires, cars keyed – versus Harper giving a message about the opposition stealing the election (it’s not my Canada and is utterly unacceptable. Rae added that he doesn’t think Harper is responsible); the energy at his rallies not translating to Canadians (we’ve got more volunteers on the ground and donations than ever before, but there's work to be done, and we're trying to stay positive); Canadians in Iranian prisons (I have no illusions about the regime, and we're doing anything we can to be helpful); getting dirty in the last week (we can't get into a scrap, we won’t fight dirty or on personalities, elections can't be won on a negative message, and we need to keep positive); the three Liberals who got into trouble over housing expense claims (it was over a year ago and was cleared up a long time ago); the booing incident (I would have booed too, but I met lots of people and took lots of pictures with them); working with a Layton-led opposition (we would work with all parties to get the business of the country done); any mistakes on the campaign (I'll quote Edith Piaf: “Non, je ne regrette rien”); Harper winning with negative campaigning (I believe that hope will conquer fear, and we have a message of equality of opportunity); and attacking career politicians like Harper and Layton (it's not an attack, it's a statement of fact, I have different experience and wanted to make a contrast in the lives we have lived, and I'm proud to be a politician).
Harper held a rally in Vancouver at a Chinese church and began with a tribute to the hope, optimism and renewal of Easter. And… that seemed to be it. CPAC cut it off as the Chinese translation began. Apparently, the church leader asked God (on behalf of Harper) for “protection from evil actions and evil people” and blessings on Harper.
At the Khalsa Day parade in Toronto, Jason Kenney, Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton made speeches with their candidates. Kenney spoke of the Office of Religious Freedom, while Ignatieff spoke about how this event demonstrated the guru’s message, the need for a formal, parliamentary apology for the Komagata Maru incident and how the Quebec legislature’s ban on kirpans was wrong. I’d like to tell you what Layton said other than referencing the Komagata Maru, but the reporters that were there could talk only about how the crowd loved him.
While in Queen’s Park, Ignatieff visited the tree planted by his father.
Harper had a one-on-one interview with Global's Dawna Friesen. She asked about the rise of the NDP (we're always running against the other three, and this is not that much different – he omitted the contempt issue again), the NDP costing him a majority (there are key ridings, but it's still the same question of wanting a majority or a coalition); compromise with other parties (that’s how we’ve been the longest-serving minority, but they’re too frustrated with being in opposition and they won’t accept us); the same budget reappearing (we have specific commitments and are not going to scrap the budget); fear-mongering over a legitimate constitutional arrangement (it's not a constitutional question, it's a political one); fear-mongering in general (they'll raise taxes, create instability, etc); and finally, the contempt question (there was no case for it, and it was just a pretext for an election – and he steamrolled over her attempt to follow up and press him on it).
Elsewhere, it seems the NDP is backtracking on some platform promises, such as green spending; it looks like they won’t be able to book those billions in revenues from a cap-and-trade system after all. Who would have thought?
Also backtracking is Conservative Peter Kent after he criticized one of his fellow candidates for having a history with the Tamil Tigers. Kent now says that his previous comments were made when he was unaware of the candidate’s assurances that he wasn’t a Tiger supporter, and that was that. Okay, then.
And The Globe and Mail is officially endorsing the Liberals, in case you were wondering.