Here's where your party leaders are for day two of this eight-week campaign. I'm with the Harper campaign and we're waking up in Quebec City, do a quick series of photos with Quebec City-area Conservative candidates and then jet away to Halifax for a dinner-hour event. Then it's back on the jet and a flight to Pearson in Toronto. Harper will spend the night in Vaughan, just north of Canada's biggest city.
NDP leader Jack Layton is hangin' in Ontario. He'll be doing events in Toronto, Hamilton, and Oshawa and spend the night in Toronto.
Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe unveils his party's platform in Montreal.
And the Prime Minister spends the day in Montreal with a variety of campaign events.
Another reminder that, for the duration of the current general election in Canada, I’m going to be doing most of my blogging at CTV’s blog site. Today I posted on a Hill and Knowlton “Election Predictor” tool; on Gurmant Grewal’s status within the CPC; on Stephen Harper in an Ottawa-area riding; as well as speeches and press releases from the three main English-language campaigns.
Prime Minister Paul Martin goes to Rideau Hall this morning to ask the Governor General to call a general election. Everyone thinks January 23 is a lock but only Martin knows for sure. Martin holds a campaign event in Ottawa early in the evening and then he heads to Montreal by bus where he will spend the night.
Stephen Harper will have something to say about Martin's Rideau Hall visit then he will do a campaign event in Ottawa, kicking off the campaign of Ottawa-West Nepean candidate John Baird. Harper takes his campaign to Quebec City where he will overnight.
NDP Leader Jack Layton starts the day in Ottawa and then heads to his own nomination meeting this meeting in Toronto.
The riding of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell — Ontario's most easternmost riding stretching from Ottawa's east end along the Ottawa River to the St. Lawrence [ profile | 2004 Results ]– has voted in a Liberal MP since 1962. The current MP, Don Boudria (left), is retiring. Boudria was first elected in 1984.
That said, the Conservatives believe they have a decent shot at taking this riding.
Here's Boudria, today outside the House of Commons after his last Question Period, on that prospect:
“There's an independent conservative, by the name of Alain Lalonde. He's a former mayor who ran against me last time and did reasonably well all things considered. He lost the nomination when the religious right made a takeover of the entire riding association executive including the nomination and they chose someone else to espouse their views.”
The Conservative Party candidate is Pierre Lemieux .
The Liberals are running Rene Berthiaume and Boudria said he'd help.
The Liberal government is certain to fall tonight. Here’s what’s on the House of Commons Order Paper:
Opposition Motion — Deferred recorded division
November 24, 2005 — Deferred recorded division on the motion of Mr. Harper (Calgary Southwest), seconded by Mr. Layton (Toronto—Danforth), — That this House has lost confidence in the Government.
I will be in the House Press Gallery and will be blogging from BlackBerry.
[This post is also mirrored at my CTV blog.]
On Canada AM this morning, Seamus O'Regan asked strategists from the three major English-language parties what this election is all about.
Steve McKinnon, National Director, Liberal Party of Canada: “I think right now we have a virtuous cycle of surplus budgets, lower taxes and investments in social programs. Change what about Canada? Canada is a country that works.”
Tim Powers, Conservative Party strategist: “What about the vice? The Gomery sponsorship inquiry. The missing $40-million. There's lots of vice. The change is to a government that's accountable, a government you can trust, and a government that doesn't have 12 years of a tarnished image.”
Jamey Heath, NDP Communications Director: “In the last campaign, a million more people voted for the NDP and we got results in this Parliament. We delivered for people in a new budget and that is a new addition to this campaign. It's not just a question of Liberals or Tories”
You can watch McKinnon, Powers and Heath on Canada AM this morning. The link to the video is on this page — look for a heading called Video on the right-hand side of the page and then click on “Canada AM: Political panel discusses the situation in Ottawa.” You’ll need Windows Media Player to view it.
CTV is going to soon have some blogs up and running in time for the Canadian general election. I’ll be running one there and there will be a community blog. I may double-post — mirror whatever is posted over there, over here — but I encourage you to head over to my CTV blog. RSS feeds are available there as well.
The CTV blogs are still in development so if something goes wonky while you’re there, let me know. All the feedback helps.
Ipsos-Reid, in a poll released Saturday, has the Liberals slightly ahead on the eve of a general election:
“According to the latest Ipsos Reid poll conducted for CanWest News Service/Global News, the governing Liberal Party, with 34% of voter support (-2 points from a poll conducted last week), holds a slim lead over their chief rivals, the Conservatives (30%, +3 points). Meanwhile, the NDP at 16% (unchanged) and the Green Party (5%, -1 point) hold steady. And in Quebec, the Bloc Quebecois is up 9 points and now hold 59% of federal votes in this province versus 23% for the federal Liberals (-5 points).
But Ipsos believes the Liberals are vulnerable:
Forty-two percent of Canadians (up 3 points from 39% last week) agree with the statement that “I'd be comfortable voting for Stephen Harper and the Conservatives to form the government in the next election because we'll probably have another minority government which will keep them in check”.
This poll was conducted Nov. 22 to Nov. 24. A thousand Canadians were surveyed. Ipsos says this poll is accurate to within 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20.
The other night in Toronto, I won a Gemini award for Best Reportage.
That’s the publicity shot on the left. The one on the bottom is a snap, taken by the official awards photographer, as I delivered my thank you speech. That’s Global National anchor Kevin Newman standing off to the right. He was the presenter of the award in this category.
CTV also won big. My show, CTV News with Lloyd Robertson, won the Gemini for Best Newscast and CTV’s weekly newsmagazine show W5 won the Gemini for Best News or Information Series.
OK, we’re back.
Very shortly, though, this blog will be moving to CTV’s site.
I’ll be on the bus with Conservative leader Stephen Harper for the first two weeks of the campaign and then I’ll spend a week with NDP leader Jack Layton. (left) If CTV has plans for coverage beyond week three, they haven’t told me.
For those readers from another country, let me give you the backstory:
Canada has a parliamentary democracy based on the British system. The government is formed by the party with the most MPs in our House of Commons. Right now, the Liberal Party of Canada is the governing party and Paul Martin is the Prime Minister. He was elected in June 2004. The problem for Martin, however, is that he was elected with a minority government. That is: The combined votes of all MPs from political parties that are not Liberals is greater than those from MPs who are Liberals.
And so after about a year-and-half of a relatively shakys minority government, Martin has lost the “confidence” of the House of Commons, i.e. the MPs who are not Liberals. On Monday, at about 6:30 pm Ottawa time, those MPs will vote ‘no confidence’ in Martin’s government. Martin will do what prime minister’s are supposed to do when their government fails to win the confidence of the House: He will ask the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament and call a general election.
And so, on Tuesday, we will be on the campaign trail.
No one’s quite sure, yet, when the election will be but the best political gossip has it pegged for Monday January 23.