2 min

Day 15 so far: an $11 billion hole

Michael Ignatieff held a press conference in Toronto to decry the $11 billion hole in the Conservative platform. He talked about Paul Wells’ interview with Jim Flaherty and how it was like an interview with a drowning man. After pointing to his costed platform, he opened it up to questions.

He was asked about the loss of the Vaughan seat and the Genco defection (the Liberal base is back and we have a great candidate now); the Conservative “fiscal prudence” (they didn’t put in the Quebec tax harmonization, their costing is not credible and ours is); the upcoming leaders' debate (yes, I’m the new guy there, I have a lot to learn, I'm spending the weekend preparing, and I feel good about it because this is what I do politics for); that $11 billion hole (it blows apart their credibility, they’ll take the money out of healthcare, and how can Harper wave around his secret letter on the F-35 costs when Barack Obama and US Defence Secretary Gates don’t know how much they’re going to cost); why his international reputation isn’t translating at home (his internationalism echoes the experience of so many Canadians); the heavy reliance on the investor class of immigration rather than other classes of immigration (that’s a disservice to the contribution of immigrants to this country and many immigrants are successful because of their families); who is likely to get hurt in the proposed cuts (they will be devastating on the capacity to deliver services, and healthcare negotiations in 2014 will not be credible with numbers that don’t add up); the Conservative pledge to create an Office of Religious Freedom (when you see religious minorities persecuted abroad, it’s an initiative that needs support from all sides); and campaigning on hope vs fear (the business of politics is to take fear out of Canadian life as much as you can).

John Baird and Lawrence Cannon also had a press conference in Ottawa, which basically warned about the coalition menace. John Baird claimed that only the Conservatives could protect the civil service from the evil Liberals. He was unable to answer specific questions on the $11 billion platform hole.

In Saskatoon, Jack Layton held a rally for about 700 people where he repeated his assertion that only New Democrats could defeat Conservatives. He gave his “making life more affordable” pitch without the benefit of his HST talking point, focusing instead on healthcare and credit card rates. He was also much more aggressive toward Ignatieff. Aside from saying that people can’t trust him because he voted for corporate tax cuts and to extend the mission in Afghanistan and that the Liberal platform doesn’t have a job plan, he took specific aim when speaking about that $11 billion hole. While pointing out the Conservative numbers, Layton decried that the Liberals have only a two-year plan and asserted that they will bring in cuts as well, just like Chrétien did. Layton closed with the claim that the NDP can protect and expand services without cuts or raising taxes.

Layton took questions on his platform (being last out means we’re the one they remember); poverty and housing concerns among First Nations (our local candidate will make a difference in Ottawa); their local ridings (We have a good base of support and are working to turn that into seats); and healthcare transfers (more than just the current 6 percent escalator). (I missed the first couple, so I do apologize for that.)

Elsewhere, The Globe and Mail has a really great feature that explodes a lot of myths about the “tough on crime” legislation the government is pushing – like how incarceration rates don’t affect the crime rate.

And John Geddes from Maclean’s takes a closer look at those healthcare numbers being thrown around.
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