3 min

Dawning of Day 37: whistle stops to Toronto

It’s Day 37 of the campaign, and there's just one day to go! Harper has decided he’s no longer taking questions from reporters, Michael Ignatieff continues his whistle-stop tour down the 401 to Toronto, and Jack Layton is making whistle stops between Montreal and Toronto.

At a rally in Vancouver, Layton began by accepting a Canucks jersey and then moved into the very same “winds of change are blowing” speech he gave last Friday night. He talked about his vision of Canada bringing Canadians together, moved into his populist HST pitch and said that the NDP offered another alternative. With his shout-outs to his platform, he returned to saying that while the other parties attack with ads, he is going to attack poverty, healthcare wait times and so on. He said that change starts with a vote – their vote – and he needs everyone to convince friends, family and neighbours to vote NDP and get them to the polls on May 2. “We can’t leave a single thing to chance." And with one more plea to bring change to Ottawa, that was it.

Layton took media questions shortly thereafter on that Sun massage-parlour story (no story there, focusing on Canadians’ priorities); who might be responsible for the smears (no idea, this is why Canadians want to do politics differently); those mystery Quebec candidates (Canadians will make their choice between change and the same old squabbles); whether he has seen this kind of turnout in BC (no, and it’s exciting); whether he was nervous about getting the vote out (no, just focused on getting it out); why did your message work this time (people were prepared to give Harper a chance, and things didn’t change); his health (good); the HST helping them out in BC (tax was brought in badly, a lot of anger out there); whether he would form a coalition with the Liberals if the Conservatives get a minority (working to defeat and replace Harper, will evaluate after voting); the challenges of getting all candidates ready to be parliamentarians (most have deep experience – dodged the pointed question about the placeholders in Quebec); and what his pitch to Liberal voters was (same as everyone, let’s make change happen).

Ignatieff made whistle stops in Paris (Ontario) and Stoney Creek, ending up in Oakville, where he talked about his platform, unity and making sure you don’t say one thing in English and another in French.  He said that you have adversaries and not enemies in the House of Commons, you need to reach out to Conservative voters about the loss of fiscal conservatism and the contempt for Parliament, and to NDP voters about what is behind Layton’s smile, which would be tax increases, and the Liberals govern from the centre. He brought up the NDP mystery candidates, saying that rather than running campaigns, they were either on vacation or in other ridings some thousand kilometres away. He told people to ignore the polls because journalists won’t determine the outcome of the election; he admitted frustration at being forced to talk about polls rather than the ideas of his platform. He asked if people want a prime minister whose fiscal incompetence got them into a deficit, one who can’t cost his own platform or one who wants to serve them and has a vision of Canada that is just, fair, compassionate, prosperous and united.

Stephen Harper was in Windsor, Nova Scotia (in the riding of Kings-Hants, currently held by Scott Brison), where he got another rendition of “Happy Birthday” before touting his local candidates. He started in on dire warnings of how the NDP would raise federal taxes like they did provincially in Nova Scotia. He omitted the fact that it has long been his ideology to lower federal taxes to give the provinces room to raise their own taxes to pay for social programs because he has been slowly getting the federal government out of funding them. He made his appeal to Liberal voters who don’t want an NDP government with its high spending, said that a renewed Conservative government would hit the ground running by getting back to work on Tuesday and touted the Economic Action Plan™. With a couple of pitches to rural voters and seniors, tough-on-crime promises, he moved on to his stump speech appealing to patriotism and making sure that voters deliver him a majority.

John Ivison looks at the way Harper holds press scrums in front of supporters who will heckle and boo the media, possibly as a means of intimidation.

Alison Crawford talks to Michael Ignatieff about things like democratic reform and that persistent talk about “uniting the left” – which Ignatieff points out is bogus, considering the Liberals are a centrist and not a leftist party.

Here is a too-brief look at the loss of political integrity in the House of Commons over the past few years.

And the CBC’s Reality Check team considers truth-in-election campaigns, given that more than half of their checks have resulted in failing grades. They then proceed to give failing grades on the cost of tough-on-crime policies.
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