2 min

Day 29 so far: ethnic media outreach and religious freedom

In Toronto, Layton met with local ethnic media. He started off by saying that Ottawa is broken and laying out his major platform planks. He took questions on affordability (he took a shot at the HST and said that he wants it off home heating); commodity prices and inflation (we need stronger anti-collusion action by government on gas prices by way of an ombudsman, public transit as an affordable alternative, giving the CRTC the mandate to protect the consumer, pharmacare and more local food); forming a coalition (we want an NDP government but will work with other people); dividing the left and bleeding from the Bloc (you have political freedom in this country), foreign policy (we need to focus on peace through the UN and get our troops home from Afghanistan); the Conservatives’ office of religious freedom (we support freedom of religion and religious expression); China’s human rights situation (Canada’s role should include promotion of human rights, and we need to use our abilities and reputations to generate dialogue); the NDP's rise in the polls (Ottawa is broken, list of scandals, and we have lots of work to do); Sikh genocide issues (we need recognition of events to have a better understanding and a Komagata Maru apology); how great he’s doing – from a journalist who admitted he was a New Democrat (look at all the hard work we’ve done, new Canadians are flocking to the Conservatives over social issues, and I don’t agree with the premise of the question); discussing polls that are positive, considering his comment that people don't comment on polls when they're down (I don’t comment on polls); and 36-day election periods being enough (yay fixed election dates and proportional representation).

Harper was at the Canadian Coptic Centre in Mississauga and started by thanking Jason Kenney for all his hard work. He spoke about immigrants in Canada and meeting with slain Pakistani Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, who he spoke to about the need to do more for religious minorities. This led to his reiterating his pledge to create a special office of religious freedom and speaking about the Conservatives' generous resettlement programs. He moved to some rote talking points, adding that instead of being in an election, they should be in Ottawa to work on religious freedom. He took questions on the rise of the NDP (attack ads against Layton have been running since January and the Coalition Menace); the contentious issues of the candidate who endorsed the Tamil Tigers, candidate Wei Young's endorsement from the Air India bombing funders, and his lack of action about the security commissioner (the candidate has disavowed the Tamil Tigers, Young doesn’t agree with the endorsement, and he didn’t agree with the recommendation on the security commissioner – then his staffers got the crowd to applaud, drowning out the attempt at a follow-up); and Senator Housakos’s role in the Soudas tapes affair (the nomination didn’t take place, and there's nothing to see here).

Michael Ignatieff also held a media event at a hospital in Halifax to talk about prescription drug coverage – but CPAC hasn’t shown it. I’m afraid I can’t tell you much more than that, except that he apparently also called the NDP platform “science fiction.”

And yes, the Liberals have finally turned their gaze to the NDP and have not only launched a new attack ad against Layton’s policies, but have also started issuing “reality checks” about the costs of their platform promises. So how well does fighting a war on two fronts tend to go?

And it looks like Cheryl Gallant might just be in danger of losing her seat; it seems that her constituents have had enough of her behaviour.
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