Jack Layton was first out of the gate today, appearing at a kitchen cabinet factory in Oshawa, Ontario. Talking about his economic policy, Layton said that he wants to cut small business taxes from 11 percent to nine percent; raise the corporate tax rate back up to 19 percent; put in a hiring tax credit of $4,500 per new hire; and extend the capital cost allowance for another four years. He also said that he wants to keep our combined provincial and corporate tax rates below those of the United States to remain competitive, but he would rather make targeted investments that will keep jobs in Canada. His example was Electrolux, which had been getting corporate tax cuts in Canada before moving to Tennessee, where it was promised a huge cash incentive. During questions, Layton said that he has no problem with Elizabeth May being in the leaders' debate.
Later in the morning, Harper appeared (more than an hour late) at an auto-parts manufacturing plant in Brampton to give a recitation of his budget's highlights. He then gave some bland statements about whether Elizabeth May should be included in the debates (he said he’d welcome a one-on-one debate with Ignatieff since it’s all about a Harper majority or a coalition anyway); standing by his government’s estimates on the F-35 fighter jets (ignoring new numbers from the Pentagon and the US Accountability Office); and the opposition coalition without actually using the word “coalition."
Michael Ignatieff, in Vancouver, was last up and spoke about pensions, focusing on establishing a top-up option for CPP; enhancing the GIS by $700 million (which means $650 per year for seniors); and sitting down with the premiers to discuss the pension issue. (The issues outside of the GIS are provincial jurisdiction.) As well, he wants changes to the bankruptcy laws to create a stranded pension agency – associated with the CPP – so that workers from companies that go bankrupt will be able to salvage pension plans. During questions, he said that crime is a multifaceted problem, and giving options to youth (like his Learning Passport) does a better job of preventing it than tough-on-crime bills.
Here is the CBC piece that demolishes Harper’s 2008 coalition talking points.
Embassy looks at Jason Kenney’s legacy, which targeted certain refugee groups (like Tamils); pushed legislation that would harm our refugee system; reduced the number of asylum seekers we accept by some 30 percent; and used bogus human-smuggling arguments. But hey, it feeds the base, and that’s what counts, right?
Regina's Leader-Post describes the iron-fisted control at a Harper election event that occurred while local Conservatives were bristling under top-down control over the nomination process.
Liberal Glen Pearson gives us a video blog of setting up his campaign, if you’re interested in how the process works.
And a London NDP candidate has withdrawn from the race to back the Liberal candidate with hopes of stopping Harper. NDP faithful decried their former candidate as a coward; the Conservatives called it proof of a coalition; and Ignatieff said there is no deal between them, but it was pleasant news for him.