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Dawning of Day 36: NDP menace and new smears

It’s Day 36 of the campaign, and we’re near the finish line. Stephen Harper is in Richmond Hill, Jack Layton is in Burnaby, and Michael Ignatieff is in Oakville.

At a whistle stop in Ajax, Stephen Harper warned that a vote for the Liberals is a vote for the NDP coalition. Seriously.

At a rally in Brampton attended by Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, Harper thanked Ford for his support and for cleaning up the mess left behind in Toronto City Council by Jack Layton (never mind that Layton has not been on council for many years). He then had the crowd applaud the royal newlyweds. He followed with his pitch for a majority government with a new target, saying it was now a choice between a Conservative government or an NDP government, and that a vote for the Liberals is a vote for the NDP. He then went on a rant about tax increases, occasionally changing his attack between the Liberals and the NDP (possibly a cut-and-paste error), and closed off with his usual “trouble lapping at our shores,” an appeal to patriotism and a plea for his majority.

Michael Ignatieff held a rally of his own in Kitchener, where his local candidate has the endorsement of both the Green and the NDP 2008 candidates. He began going after Harper for his contempt for Parliament and his numerous scandals, then moved to what it means to be a Liberal. He said that elections don’t just happen and if Liberals show up on May 2, they"ll win. He told his party faithful to reach out to both NDP and Conservative Canadians to convince them to vote Liberal – especially as the fiscal conservatism has left the Conservative Party. He lamented the fear tactics of the Conservative campaign and said that while he faced constant attack, Layton got a free ride, coming up with a smile and not much else. Calling the NDP platform a series of uncosted promises that aren’t credible, he reiterated his platform promises and his commitment to equality of opportunity. Telling the crowd to ignore the polls and do everything they can to get the vote out, he said it’s time to get angry about the abuses of the Harper government. He finished with his Rise Up! speech, saying if it’s not us, it won’t be anybody.

And then this happened – SunTV reported that Jack Layton was found naked during a police raid of a Toronto massage parlour in 1996, though he wasn’t charged. Olivia Chow came out and said the allegations were false and that he was simply there for a massage, while Layton held a quick press scrum and called it a “smear.” Both said that this is why people want change in politics.

In Courtenay, BC, Layton, seemingly unfazed, followed up his media statement with a rally, where he talked about the winds of change picking up and Canadians turning away from the old politics toward his “better choice.” And then, it was his classic stump speech about people coming in to clean up scandals only to replace them with their own and not making life more affordable. He repeated his populist promise to not force BC to pay back their HST compensation if they vote to scrap the tax.

After making comments about interest rates, Jack Layton has had to clarify that he won’t meddle in the affairs of the Bank of Canada. The Liberals and the Conservatives have pounced, saying that this is why a possible NDP government would be an “amateur hour.”

The Pembina Institute thinks the NDP’s cap-and-trade policy might mean a four-cents-per-litre increase in gasoline prices instead of the 10 the Conservatives claim. That Layton acknowledges that he can’t keep companies from passing on costs to consumers, however, keeps his promises problematic. (The CBC’s Reality Check team examines the cap-and-trade issue here, as well as the NDP promises on new doctors.)

Remember that mystery Conservative candidate in Lethbridge? A blogger there filmed an attempt at a conversation with said candidate, who insisted he was too busy to talk, and to make an appointment – but it wouldn’t be the next day, because he was busy with a campaign.

The search for yet another mystery NDP candidate in Quebec continues…

And here are some more WikiLeaks’ Canadian highlights.
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