Welcome to Election 2011

10/08/2018 Posted by admin

by Peter Harris

One by one, four party leaders put a brand new spin on ‘Own The Podium.’

They took to the exact same spot Wednesday (where they were Tuesday, after the budget was announced) in front of the House of Commons to stake out political territory. It turns out this podium gave the leaders a chance to test run their election pitches and wound up being the last common ground they will share until mid-May.

First up was Prime Minister Stephen Harper who argued that – from the earthquake in Japan to unrest in the Middle East – there are too many threats to the Canadian economy, and an election could put any recovery at risk. “It is not too late for them to step back,” said the PM. “Our economy is not a political game.”

Photo by Sean Kilpatrick, The Canadian Press

He went straight to the theme he will try to stick to for the next few weeks: it’s the economy, stupid. You can expect him to push for a majority while he argues if he does not get it, Canada can expect an opposition coalition to seize the corner office.

He is not the first prime minister to try to protect his position using a warning – remember Paul Martin arguing Stephen Harper was hiding something back in 2005? The Tory leader is throwing a variation on the same fear-based pitch (simply replace ‘hidden agenda’ with ‘coalition’) right back at his Liberal counterpart.

Oddly enough, the prime minister literally did not share the spotlight with the other leaders. As one technical crew shut down its TV lighting, another group set up the lights for the opposition leaders speaking right after him.

One after the other, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, NDP leader Jack Layton, and Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe took turns in front of the House of Commons.

Photos by Sean Kilpatrick and Adrian Wyld, The Canadian Press

As the only leader who has not been tested on the road, Michael Ignatieff took the line about ethics you can expect from him in the coming weeks. “You have a government which, for years now, has failed to show respect for our democratic institutions,” Mr. Ignatieff said. He went on to list off his support for the Liberal pitch: the Tories shut down Parliament twice to avoid tough questions, Conservative party operatives face fraud allegations, and the contempt of Parliament ruling.

He even went so far as to suggest Canada has two choices: a blue door and a red one. Although it sounds a little too much like the movie The Matrix, the Liberals will try their best to make it seem like there are only two choices in this election.

NDP leader Jack Layton took his turn to remind everyone it isn’t as simple as two doors. Layton argued he tried to make it all work saying, “Stephen Harper has had five years to fix what’s wrong in Ottawa.” Obviously, Layton’s moment as the rainmaker Tuesday will factor into that party’s platform as he pushes the NDP record.

For Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe, the podium was a chance to push for $2.2 billion he says Ottawa owes Quebec for the HST. He is the leader with the least to lose in all of this so expect him to stick to a fairly well-worn Bloc theme and tie everything back to what is good for Quebec.

On the eve of an election, it simply took one podium to shine a spotlight on where the leaders stand. Welcome to Election 2011…

Peter is one of Global National’s correspondents based in Ottawa. Follow him on Twitter: @PeterHarris.

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