Bob Rae
3 min

Dawning of Day 33: reaching out to ‘homeless’ Progressive Conservatives

It’s Day 33 of the campaign; Stephen Harper is in Waterloo, Michael Ignatieff is in Sault Ste Marie, and Jack Layton is in Winnipeg.

Jack Layton held an online town hall in Toronto; the in-person, phone and online participants lobbed kitteny-soft questions to Layton about childcare, healthcare, open data (with a focus on international development projects), post-secondary education, gridlock, gas prices, housing and poverty, and pensions. Via Twitter, someone who had already decided to vote NDP asked Layton how he could convince his 53-year-old father to do the same (if you want to fix Ottawa, you can’t keep doing the same old thing). The Toronto Star's Joanna Smith compiled some of the unasked questions from the Twitter Machine here.

Stephen Harper held a rally at the Ottawa airport in the Canada Reception Centre; questions have been raised as to whether the event should have been held there, as it’s generally reserved for government functions. Harper decided it was cute to open the hangar doors and arrive in his campaign bus. Seriously. Early in his stump speech, his teleprompter failed, leaving him to read off his binder on a music stand. It was an entirely rote stump speech from there. Harper added nothing new other than a couple of digs at Layton and the NDP.

Michael Ignatieff was in Winnipeg-South, a riding the Liberals are hoping to win back from pro-life booster Rod Bruinooge. He started off the rally by touting his local team, then told the crowd that their diversity represented Canada and talked about polls for the first time. He said that the polls don’t measure conviction, determination, pride or hard work, and they don’t measure who will show up on May 2 – that’s how they’ll win. He said that the election is no longer about the Liberal or the Conservative Party; it's about the kind of Canada you want. He moved on to say that a vote for the NDP or the Bloc means another Harper government. He reminded the crowd about the finding of contempt and then pitched to former Progressive Conservatives, as well as fiscal conservatives, saying that “homeless Conservatives” are welcome in the Liberal Party. He moved on to an appeal for NDP voters who want the same things that the Liberals do – childcare, post-secondary education, homecare, pensions and better energy costs. He reminded them that the Liberals are a centrist party – neither left nor right. He also said that unlike other parties, such as the NDP, which has backed away from promises in its signed platform, the Liberals don’t tell fairy tales or have a campaign with holes in it. With a reminder that Harper hasn’t earned his majority, he moved on to his Rise Up! speech, which ended the night.

Oh, look – a civilized parliamentary debate on Afghanistan. In Westminster. With a coalition government. How very unlike Ottawa. *sigh*

There are reports of another NDP candidate on vacation during the campaign, as well as very thin resumés and campaign presences of other candidates, especially in Quebec.

Remember those young protesters who disrupted the House of Commons and were taken out of the gallery? It turns out that one of the ringleaders is now Olivia Chow’s campaign co-chair. He’s pretty media shy when confronted about his role in that protest, even if it raises questions about the NDP’s ability to be a mature political party when their campaigners organize yelling disruptions.

Remember those accusations that kept coming up in question period about how Parm Gill, the Conservative candidate in Brampton-Springdale, was being given special access and powers by Jason Kenney? The CBC looked into it and turned up some interesting results.

Attendance at advance polls was up 34 percent from the 2008 election. Could this mean better voter engagement?

Aaron Wherry describes the surreal nature of the Harper campaign.

Liberal Senator Larry Campbell muses about merging parties with the NDP, obviously not having read the memo that the Liberal Party is centrist and not leftwing.

And in a move that some see as hitting the panic button, Liberal heavyweights – and former NDP premiers – Bob Rae and Ujjal Dosanjh have sent out a release that questions the NDP platform. (The CBC has its own Reality Check here.) Rae took the extra step of posting a video on YouTube, which urges Canadians that “it’s time we woke up.”
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