4 min

Day 24 so far: cities and the North

In Quebec City this morning, Jack Layton laid out his support for cities and talked about transferring more of the gas tax to them. Then he took questions from the media on how he was going to ensure his momentum wasn’t going to slip, even though polls don’t necessarily translate into seats (he’ll work hard to let people know they have a choice); whether he wanted to put the Quebec Nation in the constitution (his party has introduced proposals for language of work and shown the capacity for bettering the situation); why he says he’s the number one choice in Quebec (Ottawa is broken, I bring people together); the Davie shipyard issue (he wants more investment in shipyards); and his belief that Conservative voters can become NDP voters – really! He was also asked why Quebec City residents would vote for him and not the Bloc (we have an infrastructure fund for local investment, and people are angry with Harper over the arena); about renewed sovereignty fears (right now people want to talk about change in Ottawa and with availability of private healthcare delivery in Quebec, the Canada Health Act should be enforced).

In Yellowknife, Stephen Harper touted everything he’s doing for the North – the new icebreaker, sovereignty exercises, CanNor development exercises, the RADARSAT network and expanding national parks. His announcement detailed the intention to complete the Dempster Highway linking Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk. He then rattled off his talking points and added that a weak federal government means the Bloc wants to force another referendum. No, seriously, that’s what he said. He took questions on his Bloc point (Duceppe himself said a weak federal government sets up a referendum); whether his majority would alienate Quebec and fan the flames of separatism (look at all the wonderful things we’re doing for Quebec!); social issues in the North, including substance-abuse problems, poverty and problems with the Food Mail Program (look at all the significant investments we’ve made and the increased transfers! Yay, economic development in the North); news that Canada isn’t concerned about a proposed UK law that would allow women to be equal in the line of succession to the throne (it's not a priority and would require a constitutional debate – which is actually a complicated question, considering that the rules of succession to the Canadian monarchy aren’t fixed).

Michael Ignatieff was in Dettah, NWT, across the bay from Yellowknife, to speak about his commitment to improving healthcare and homecare in the North. Taking questions from the media, he was asked about the poll that placed the Liberals in a tie with the NDP (the choice is not who will be the best opposition to Harper, but who can replace Harper); the Conservative demands that the Liberals remove the attack ad on healthcare (we took the quote in good faith from The Globe and Mail and are happy to correct the record if it’s reciprocated; there have been two-and-a-half years of selective misquotes about him); devolution of powers excluding the Dene (we're meeting with the Dene leaders later); private healthcare delivery in Quebec (we need to appeal to Quebeckers about the support of universally accessible healthcare); uniting the left (the Liberal Party is not necessarily a left party, it’s a centre party); whether he is returning to Ontario to save his seats in light of a strong NDP showing (everyone knows how important Ontario is, we're not rushing back, and we want to treat voters with respect by giving them a better reason other than just to keep Harper out); and Harper’s new separatist warnings (that's the politics of fear, Canada is bigger and stronger than that).

As mentioned above, in a major twist of irony, the Conservatives are demanding truth in political advertising and demanding the Liberals pull an attack ad that appears to contain a misquote on healthcare that is attributed to Harper. The original author of the quote has been identified, and the Liberals now say they’ll revise the ad.

It looks like Jason Kenney used a speech to make partisan election statements about Harper’s strong support for Israel and encouraged the Jewish school’s students to get involved in the campaign. This could run afoul of the Canada Revenue Agency: registered charities, such as the school, are prohibited from doing anything that "can reasonably be construed as intending to influence the outcome of the election." One thing that the story didn’t mention – when Kenney says this isn’t about targeting the ethnic vote because the Jewish population is too low, what goes unsaid is the substantially larger Christian Zionist population who pays attention to these kinds of messages so that the End Times can come about. No, seriously.

Samara’s research of “exit interviews” with former MPs shows the great degree of frustration they have with their parties. Not that this should be a big surprise, seeing how much power party machinery has accumulated. I also noticed key things in the Q & A that Samara’s Alison Loat did with Susan Delacourt, including that the general public doesn’t understand the role of parties in nominations. This is a very big issue that we need to address in order to help rebalance the power distribution between the central party and the grassroots.

An NDP “fact check,” attacking Ignatieff’s record on abortion, neglects to mention that he also told the North Vancouver rally that he believes MPs should be able to vote their conscience on the issue.

And I stumbled across this interesting Liberal Facebook ad. Are they trying to reach out to the gay vote?


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