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Dawning of Day Six – will we see another defection?

It’s now Day Six. Stephen Harper will kick things off in Halifax; Michael Ignatieff will make an announcement on childcare in Winnipeg; and Jack Layton will make an announcement in Montreal.

During a Toronto rally yesterday afternoon, Layton castigated the Liberals for having supported Stephen Harper so often in the House of Commons. He went on to talk about the “Tim Hortons emergency room” incident, the challenges facing the “sandwich” generation and bringing home the troops. As with all NDP events so far, the crowd was situated behind Layton as he faced a teleprompter.

In Montreal, Harper had former senator Larry Smith introduce him. As a definite sign of the changing message, Harper didn’t address his five previous priorities. (Remember those? It seems the health-wait-times guarantee has been excised from history.) He also appears to have dropped his constant use of the term “coalition"; he’s instead using “an Ignatieff-led government that all of these other parties will support.” He also talked about how the F-35 fighter jets are crucial for the local aerospace industry.

And in St Boniface – Shelly Glover’s riding – Ignatieff spoke at a town-hall meeting. He talked about hope versus the language of fear; how the Franco-Manitoban community led the way for language rights outside of Quebec; and the Human Rights Museum, which is now under construction. He took questions on a variety of subjects, speaking at length about the need for a national food strategy; preventive healthcare; the national brain strategy; opening up the First Nations truth and reconciliation process; the need for electronic health records; pharmacare discussions with the provinces; and his established platform points.

Partisans, make what you will of this – Tony Genko, Julian Fantino’s former challenger in the Vaughan by-election, is now supporting Fantino, saying that the Liberal Party he joined while in university is now gone. Apparently, this has happened within the last 60 days. So the question becomes – how is this different from the London NDP candidate dropping out to throw his support behind the Liberal? Is it proof of the Liberal-Conservative coalition? Is he a traitor to the party? (Liberal partisans and others, meanwhile, have been going through his old Twitter posts and statements, posting the ones where he disagrees with Conservative policy and Julian Fantino’s positions.)

Another potential embarrassment on the campaign trail: with the revelation of another disgraced campaign staffer, Harper has declared that he won’t take any more questions about local campaigns. And so, his media access becomes further restricted.

My Xtra colleague Noreen Fagan has a story about why Harper’s income-splitting plan is harmful for anyone other than the June-and-Ward-Cleaver family unit.

The Liberals have released two new ads; the first is another direct-to-camera appeal:

This ad builds on previously introduced policy on home and family care, which the Liberals have made a central plank in their platform. The second ad updates the previous attack ad by focusing on Bruce Carson rather than Bev Oda. It seems to shift toward the angle of sleaze and away from contempt for democracy.

And it looks like Harper is promising to give loan guarantees to the Lower Churchill deal in Newfoundland and Labrador if he’s elected. With Danny Williams no longer in power touting an “anything but Conservative” policy, this could dramatically change the province’s political landscape.
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