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Day 22 so far: town halls and tough talk

At a daycare centre in Regina (yes, on a Saturday), Michael Ignatieff held a town hall with parents. (There was apparently a media availability, but it has not yet aired anywhere.) He then held an online meeting (reiterating his promise to hold such “people’s question periods” if he forms a government) and later participated in a powwow at First Nations University. He spoke to the crowd about treating First Nations with respect, extending the residential schools agreement, better funding for aboriginal students for post-secondary education and the need to investigate the issue of the more than 500 missing or murdered aboriginal women.

At a rally in St John’s, Jack Layton started by talking about what Harper didn’t do for the province. He then turned his guns on Michael Ignatieff; he repeated the disingenuous lines about Ignatieff’s voting record and added that when Ignatieff did vote, it was to prop up Harper. Outbursts from the crowd kept throwing him off his message; in the end he basically pleaded with them to let him finish. Afterward, he took questions from the media about how he felt his chances were in the province (Jack Harris will help us win more candidates because people have long memories of Harper) and his support for the Lower Churchill project (it's part of the green energy revolution – but I would add, good luck with all the gains you wanted to make in Quebec with that promise).

Stephen Harper was in Vancouver-Quadra to talk about his tough-on-crime policies. He listed a lot of the half-measures or useless changes his government has passed, then went on to talk about how he’s going to get tough on child sex offenders and his plans to make criminals pay mandatory fines to victim-services programs. He followed with his promise for “drug-free prisons” (which is only going to create a permanent prisoner population, but hey, details). He finished it off with some of his “best of” talking points. He then took questions from the media about the HST referendum in BC (he’s not getting involved as it’s a provincial matter); why he’s attacking the NDP in BC (they’re the bigger threat here); the pay raises his staffers will be getting in an age of cutbacks (those raises are across the board, not just political staffers, and ministers offices budgets are getting cut); the dangers facing our personnel in Afghanistan (we can’t remove the danger and as we won’t be in a combat mission, it’ll be minimal); public transit (we invested in that a lot – really!); and the Liberal attack ads on healthcare (we’ve always increased funding, they cut it – though Harper didn’t mention their increased funding was simply keeping up with the deal that Paul Martin reached).

Reaction polling data finds that most Canadians were annoyed, rather than engaged, by the debates.

Once again, Michael Ignatieff defends himself on the NDP accusation that he’s never in the House (as one of three reporters who is there every day, I feel confident in reminding you that it isn’t true) and reminds Canadians about how much time he’s spent on the road taking questions from ordinary Canadians, unlike any other leader.

And the Liberals have put out a video from Ignatieff’s “Rise Up” speech in Sudbury, complete with music.

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