In a Hamilton cancer clinic, Michael Ignatieff spoke about Liberal platform commitments to healthcare, homecare, health promotion policy, the brain health strategy and work with the provinces on pharmacare. His big warning – Harper is trying to get the federal government out of healthcare. He took questions on what he can do to avoid another US Steel incident (he wants a more transparent Investment Act); Harper’s plans to ram through a giant omnibus crime bill (we voted against many of those bills); the challenges of healthcare costs, per David Dodge’s warning (Harper’s tax cuts and massive spending would leave no money for healthcare after 2014, and health promotion would help take demand out of the system); former Justice Reilly’s soft-on-crime judicial record (he gave an apology, the matter is closed); Rick Hillier’s concerns over lack of discussion on Libya during the campaign (we went into Libya to do one job – prevent the massacre on Benghazi, I helped write the Responsibility to Protect at the UN, but it’s not a charter to put boots on the ground. This is a matter for the Security Council); and his willingness to sign a new health accord with the provinces (stable funding means you sign an accord).
The Conservatives were in Mississauga to release their platform and – surprise – they, too, have five priorities. But not quite the five clear priorities of Conservative platforms past. Harper said that the platform presented a choice to move forward and not take a U-turn back into the '70s. He touted the platform as an extension of the budget – or “phase two of Canada’s Economic Action Plan™” and that it's a four-year look at low taxes and slaying the deficit. After going over the five priorities, he moved to a lame talk-show portion; his guests were seated in dull grey chairs and spoke about how their lives would be improved by all the generous things in the plan (once the deficit is paid off). Oh, and he made the insinuation that if you don’t vote Conservative, you’re not voting for Canada. And seriously, guys, the launch was lame. When horses are that lame, you shoot them. He then took his requisite five media questions, including how the platform had nothing about where they plan to cut spending (increasing transfers to provinces and doing a program review); Libya (we're working with our allies in concert); Larry Smith’s comments about more money for Conservative ridings (he has a great record of delivering programs in Quebec and the rest of Canada); and Elizabeth May’s assertion that carbon taxes create jobs (the evidence speaks for itself).
Over in Esquimalt, Jack Layton blasted Harper’s inability to secure the contract on the Navy’s replacement joint support ships, his pledge to cut naval operations support by half and the purchase of the F-35 fighter jets. He said, “Our defence policy is broken” and said that he wants to give military resources to focus on defending Canadians, disaster relief, peacekeeping and peace-building support. He pledged to maintain 2011 defence spending, commission a white paper on defence policy, ensure command of the Pacific fleet remains in Esquimalt and work for stability for shipyards. He took questions on the F-35s (it's time to go back to square one, ships are more vital right now and discussion on defence priorities are first); his bleeding voter-support in Ontario (I don’t comment on polls); the Conservative platform versus the budget (we can’t trust him if things weren’t in the budget and we need to stop the promise of omnibus bills); the 6 percent escalator pledge on healthcare by other parties (we're committed to that formula, but we’ll take more action right now); Libya (we're concerned about mission creep and have insisted on parliamentary review in three months); whether he’s advocating an outdated UN role with fewer “Chapter 5” missions these days (more Canadians want to see these kinds of missions); this being more about jobs than defence (why can’t it be both?); and whether those joint support ships will cost more money (we’re going to reprioritize spending).
The Liberals have put out an online ad that explains how the homecare plan works. It uses a much-less-creepy animation style than the NDP ads. In fact, it’s almost charming.
And Dan Gardner lets us in on the secret of political communications strategies – they think we’re stupid.