In Rivière-du-Loup, Quebec, Stephen Harper gave his usual urban-versus-rural Quebec talking points. He then talked about how the local candidate delivered on promised infrastructure projects and people telling him they were satisfied with the budget. He touted all the great things he did for seniors and reiterated his budget promise to raise the GIS. He then took questions from the media on whether the onus was on him to work with other parties in a minority to avoid his “nightmare scenario” (look at how terrible they would be, give us a majority); how would it be illegitimate for Ignatieff to gain the confidence of the House (it's a choice for voters – coalition or Conservative majority); his refusal to change the budget after Ignatieff said he wanted to work with him (I don’t agree with what he said, and they want power); his solution to inflation (it’s why we need to keep taxes down, and the coalition would raise them); his office trying to influence the board of directors of the Montreal Port Authority (it’s not unusual for a government to express its preference); and voter apathy (I don’t understand why people don’t vote, but vote to give us a majority).
Layton was on a farm near Essex, Ontario, where he expressed his support for farmers. Taking questions from the media, he was asked about inflation (Harper and Ignatieff brought in the HST, which we’d take off home heating, and we want to create a gas-price ombudsman); Ignatieff’s comments on working with other parties (I work well with others, but I want to lead the government); a coalition (I work well with others); improving Ontario’s risk management for farmers (it's under provincial jurisdiction, but we want to help); tour stops (we’re in a Conservative riding, see!); job creation (we propose no tax breaks for big corporations, a tax reduction for small business and help with debt and insurance for young farmers); a new Conservative budget (the next budget will be an NDP budget!); and the PMO's pressure on the Montreal Port Authority (it's the same thing the Liberals did, nomination commission).
Michael Ignatieff was at a pub in Saint John, New Brunswick, to address voters. He met the media and said that the Liberals have put three questions to Harper about his position on healthcare that are based on his previous statements and went on to talk about catastrophic drug coverage. He took questions about the local nuclear plant refurbishment (Harper said it’s your problem, and there is a federal responsibility as AECL is a crown corporation); a coalition (Harper has the problem with it, and I’ve ruled it out); the issue of attempted PMO interference in the Port of Montreal (there's a history of issues with the PMO); the previous coalition (I’m just explaining the rules, and I didn’t say I'd vote against the budget, but I will read it first); Jane Taber's saying that he is going to form a coalition (no); that story in the Sun that claims he helped plan the Iraq war (it's entirely false); nuclear power in general (we also need to look at potential for green power here); and the theoretical Conservative budget (any government has an obligation to present a budget that will gain the confidence of the House).
Margaret Atwood writes a “dark fiction” about an evil vacuum-cleaner salesman as election parable.
There are questions about the apparent antipathy to the Bloc in English Canada and whether it could translate into broader anti-Quebec sentiment.
And the Liberals have another health-related attack ad out, which appears to be in a Police Squad-Naked Gun style. Make of it what you will.