It is now Day Nine of the campaign; the Liberals are about to launch their platform, which they say will be fully costed. They plan to do a live online launch that will allow virtual participants to interact with questions. I will watch it as it goes down. Jack Layton will be in Ottawa to visit a cabane à sucre, while Stephen Harper will hold a rally at a secret location, also somewhere in the Ottawa area, before heading to London, Ontario.
As for the other party platforms, the Conservative platform is basically their dead-on-arrival budget from two weeks ago, while the NDP promises theirs “before the debate.”
The NDP held a rally in Halifax yesterday that began with former veterans' ombudsman Pat Stogran decrying the way the Conservative government has handled veterans' issues. Stogran thanked both Peter Stoffer for his work on behalf of veterans and Layton for the opportunity to remind Canadians how the “so-called Harper Government” has cheated veterans.
When Layton took to the stage, he gave parts of his stock speech about how “Ottawa is broken.” (Again, what does that even mean?) Should he form a government, Layton promised veterans that he would end unfair conditions placed on veterans’ pensions, restore their insurance plans, ensure fair review of their files with the review board and open a public inquiry into toxic chemical spraying at CFB Gagetown. He also picked up on the pledge to help veterans' transition to civilian life, which the Conservatives promised in their budget. (We don’t have the specifics to know what differences there may be.) At the end of his speech, Layton started taking shots at Michael Ignatieff, saying that he propped up Harper while getting nothing in return and that Ignatieff wasn’t a choice to lead the country. It does make me wonder – does Layton’s decision to attack Ignatieff (after swearing he was gunning only for Harper in this election) mean he’s now feeling the squeeze in the polls?
The NDP rally again appeared to be managed; more people were kept behind the podium than in front of it and Layton was again framed by a pair of teleprompters. Nevertheless, it was probably their largest turnout (estimated to be about 400), but according to reporters, it was still far from a full house.
(Incidentally, Pat Stogran said he’d appear at a rally for any party willing to do something for veterans.)
John Baird and Lawrence Cannon held a Saturday morning press conference in Ottawa; they both simply reiterated Harper’s talking points. The event had a crasher: a woman demanded to know why Canadians should trust the Conservatives to uphold democracy when they’ve been holding it in contempt? Baird replied by saying, "I’ll mark you down as undecided on your election choices," rejecting the premise of her question and remarking that they’ve enjoyed the confidence of the House for the past five years.
What’s that, another defection? This time, it's a Liberal heading to the Conservatives in Manitoba. I’m wondering if this is common in other election cycles or is it unique to this election?
And the CBC’s Laura Payton talks about the “Twitter election.”