Jack Layton was on Sun TV this morning and said that he plans to introduce legislation to fine MPs $1,000 if they miss more than 10 percent of votes in the House without having a good reason. Afterward, he met the media and was asked about the G8 misappropriation of funds (we've been calling for a full public inquiry of G8/G20); his first time on Sun TV (I had a great time); Planned Parenthood defunding (we're concerned), his popularity growth in Quebec but not elsewhere (Harper didn’t change things, and we’re growing everywhere); attacks from Quebec that say he's just a smile and has no substance (we’re talking about things that matter); the bump in the polls and the effect on him (I'm feeling great); the bump in support from new Canadians for the Conservatives (family reunification); youth unemployment (we would reduce small business taxes and give a tax credit for job creation), McGuinty's desire for the provinces to have more control over the class of immigrants they receive (I'm not familiar with details); skepticism of polls (I don’t talk about polls); his popularity being based on his personality (we talk about real concerns); the PMO trying to influence the Montreal Port Authority (Ottawa is broken!); and his plans to grab the youth vote (we have a strategy on digital communication).
At a hockey rink in Conception Bay, Newfoundland, Harper congratulated the town on winning the Hockeyville 2011 competition. Hockeyest prime minister ever! Then it was back to his stump lines by restating his plans to have defibrillators installed in arenas all across the country. He continued with even more stump lines. When he took questions from the media, he was asked about the “hidden agenda” and the abortion issue (people have a range of views on the issue, and I won’t reopen the abortion debate – which defunding Planned Parenthood has nothing to do with); his position on a woman’s right to choose (I’m not reopening the debate); polls on the NDP in Quebec (I’m not commenting on polls); concerns that Carson was lobbying in his office and his communications guy was trying to influence the Montreal Port Authority for a kickback – henceforth to be known as the Soudas Tapes (the latter is false, and we have been assured the rules were followed with the former); whether he would still fund Muskrat Falls if his local candidates were not elected; and why Canadians should trust him (we accept the verdict of voters, we will still work to treat the provinces and municipalities fairly).
In Montreal, Michael Ignatieff held a roundtable on culture; he reiterated his promises to double funding to the Canada Council for the Arts, provide stable long-term financing for the CBC, reintroduce international cultural promotion programs and introduce a better copyright reform bill (given that he’s the only leader who understands what it’s like to make a living off writing). He was asked about the Soudas Tapes (Soudas should be fired, especially as he may have lied to a committee); NDP strength on the campaign (the situation in Quebec is volatile, but they want to get rid of Harper and the Bloc, and only we can form the government); the possibility of exploiting the Planned Parenthood issue with pro-lifers in his own caucus (I support a woman’s right to choose, respect MPs with conscience, most Liberals are pro-choice, and we led a fight to defend this on the domestic and international scenes); Layton's going after his attendance record to undermine his credibility (I took democracy on the road – we have done democracy, not just talked about it); what Layton is doing that he's not (our message connects, and we feel a sense of people's frustration with the current government); whether saying he'll work with other parties tells people they can vote NDP (I'm not going to form a good idea, but Canadians want to hear that you’ll work with other parties in a cooperative spirit); and his saying the NDP has never formed government when he hasn't either (we have experience on our team).
Layton had another media availability after an announcement on his digital strategy. He was asked about his support for Bill 101 in Quebec (he supports language of work in Quebec – which isn’t Bill 101); comments that his Quebec strength is his own support and not hearing about his candidates (he lists a bunch); the job of translating polls into seats (we will do lots of hard work); the Soudas Tapes (we want an inquiry); and Ignatieff saying that he can’t form the government (he hasn’t either, and their arrogance is unattractive).