It’s Day 34 of the campaign, and Jack Layton is in Yellowknife, while Michael Ignatieff is in Quebec City. (I have no idea where Stephen Harper is because no one sent out an itinerary, which was thoughtful.)
Harper held a rally in St Catharines last night, where he delivered an almost-entirely-stock speech, though he occasionally used “Mr Layton and his partners” in place of a few of his usual “coalition” slams. He pushed a little harder on the gun registry issue, seeing as he was in a riding where the NDP MP voted to keep it. With a final parting shot that reminded voters of what Bob Rae's NDP government did to Ontario, that was it for Harper.
In North York, Jean Chrétien was onstage with Michael Ignatieff; the former PM warned that Harper would allow things like loosening gun control, criminalizing abortion and backtracking on gay rights – by stealth, through the use of private member's bills. He reminded the crowd that he was responsible for the strength of the banking system, which Harper is now taking credit for. He brought up the closure of embassies in Africa and the loss of the Security Council seat. He questioned Harper’s Canadian-ness for his lack of respect for diversity and his desire to build firewalls around provinces, and said he’s afraid that if Harper continues, his grandchildren won’t recognize the Canada he fought for. With one final dig at the NDP, saying that no one bothered to read its platform until a few days ago, he turned over the stage to Ignatieff. He began by reminding Layton that polls don’t make you prime minister – you have to earn it. He spoke about the strength in Canadian diversity, equality and why his platform was the best economic program for the country. He closed by thanking the volunteers and supporters and reminding them that they have to turn out on May 2 if they are to get rid of Harper and his contempt for Parliament. With a shortened version of his Rise Up! speech, he closed the evening.
At an Edmonton rally, Jack Layton told the crowd that the NDP offers a choice to the same old scandals and corporate giveaways of the other parties. He said that people don’t want Ottawa to fix everything; they just want practical solutions that will give Canadians a break (never mind that his own solutions are not practical). He repeated his “the other parties are on the attack, I’m attacking healthcare wait times” line, which he debuted in the morning. After promising to be a prime minister who will “get things done,” he reminded the crowd to get out on May 2 not only to vote, but also to convince friends and family to “support change.”
Top civil servants are now going over the NDP platform as they prepare for the next government to be formed.
On ipolitics.ca, Lawrence Martin has a damning piece on the decline of democracy under the Harper government (caution – possible pay wall). Basically, he tallies up all the ways this government has abused democracy and Parliament. It’s a frightening list, which people keep shrugging off.
The Toronto Star looks into another NDP mystery candidate, this time in Don Valley West, who won’t attend debates, talk to the media or really be found anywhere.
Also missing? The NDP constitution, which is apparently not publicly available, just in case any tire-kickers were wanting to do more research on the party that has momentum in the polls.
The CBC’s Reality Check team gives a failing grade to the NDP’s plan to get billions in revenue from cracking down on tax havens.
Liberal Ruby Dhalla is asking the auditor general to look at the special access that Jason Kenney allegedly gave her opponent in the lead-up to the election.
PS: Here's a bit of shameless self-promotion: I have two stories in another outlet. In the first, I ask the three federal party leaders a question and receive only two responses, and in the second, you'll find my editorial on this election.