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ELECTION 2011: Fake lake or Lake Ontario?

Day 4: The forty-first general election in Canada continues today. Look for announcements from all the party leaders around 9 am ET this morning (setting the message for the day), as well as perhaps the unveiling of the party platforms of the NDP and Liberals.

THE FAKE LAKE: The Toronto Star reports, “Saying they were ‘returning to the scene of the crime’, the Liberals used the Toronto setting of last summer’s violence-marred, $1-billion G20 summit to underscore their promise to cut what they said was wasteful Conservative spending and refocus Ottawa’s priorities.” Another Toronto Star report says, “The G20 summit caused chaos in Canada’s largest city and accomplished nothing other than a $1-billion photo-op for Stephen Harper, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said Monday during a campaign stop in Toronto. …Liberal MP Mark Holland (Ajax-Pickering) said the ‘greatest symbol’ of the G8/G20 waste was the fake lake built at the Exhibition Grounds at a cost of almost $2 million when Lake Ontario was less than a kilometre away.”

CONSERVATIVES FAILING THE GREAT LAKES: Though Holland didn’t raise this point, it might also be noted that in March 2010 the Harper government’s federal budget allocated $8 million a year for the clean-up of the Great Lakes. That’s about $2 million for each of the four Great Lakes that border Canadian provinces (Lake Michigan is entirely within the United States). In June 2010, the Harper government spent $2 million on the ‘fake lake’ for the one-day G20 summit in Toronto. In other words, in 2010, the Harper government budgeted as much for cleaning up Lake Ontario as they spent on the fake lake.

FAMILY TAX CUT: Yesterday, Stephen Harper’s main message was that, as the Ottawa Citizen reports, “The Conservatives will allow Canadian families with children under 18 to split up to $50,000 of their income annually to lower their taxes… The initiative would cost the federal treasury $2.5 billion annually, but won’t take effect until the federal government balances its books — which now isn’t expected to take effect until 2015-16… (According to Harper) nearly 1.8 million Canadian families (would) save an average of $1,300 per year.” The announcement appears to fizzle given the four to five year wait for the tax measure and the trust needed to believe it will happen years down the road. The Toronto Star adds, “Armine Yalnizyan, senior economist at the Centre for Policy Alternatives, predicts many women may not realize the promised tax measure would do little for them if they work outside the home and earn about the same as their working spouse, but many will be drawn to it on an emotional level.”

2014 HEALTH CARE ACCORD: The Toronto Star reports, “With a deadline to renegotiate the current health-care funding accord only three years away, it’s vital that Ottawa get its financial books back in order, Ignatieff said at his news conference (in Toronto). This means re-examining the Conservatives’ planned spending of up to $30 billion on F-35 fighter jets, ($10 billion) on prisons and ($6 billion on) corporate income tax cuts, he said. ‘If you spend the money on jets and jails and corporate tax cuts and you face the renewal of that health accord in 2014, there isn’t going to be enough there to save health care,’ Ignatieff said.”

FLANAGAN ON THE (HARPER) COALITION: The CBC’s Terry Milewski comments, “Harper (attacks) Ignatieff, insisting that the Liberal leader has laid out a plan to seize power, even if he loses the election, by forming a coalition with the Bloc and the NDP. …Actually, no, it isn’t. The Liberal leader has expressly ruled out a coalition with the Bloc. Not only that, but Tom Flanagan, a former chief of staff to Harper, has now said that the 2004 arrangement was, indeed, aimed at installing Harper as prime minister.”

LIBERALS VS NDP: The Globe and Mail reports, “Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton have both painted Stephen Harper as their prime political target. But their words and their actions seem to tell a different story. In the first three days of the 2011 campaign, the Liberal Leader has taken his plane to ridings that are held by New Democrats (Outremont in Montreal, Ottawa Centre and Trinity Spadina in Toronto). And on Tuesday, Mr. Layton will repay the favour, heading to Brant and Kitchener, Ont., where the Liberals have always enjoyed good support even if they were not victorious on election night in 2008. If the hope is to hold the Conservatives to a minority – which would seem to be the most realistic aspiration for either of the former opposition parties at this juncture – would it not make more sense to go directly after Conservatives? And if the Liberals and the New Democrats split the centre-left vote, does it not just open the door for a third-place Conservative to sneak up the centre?” But a Toronto Sun article explains, “The NDP is the preferred second choice of Liberals, BQ, and Green voters while the Liberals are the preferred second choice of NDP supporters. …Most Conservative (voters in an Abacus Data poll) simply said there was no second choice…”

PARTY PLATFORMS: CBC reports, “The Liberals and NDP are expected to reveal the first planks of their campaign platforms Tuesday as Day Four of the federal election campaign gets underway.” There is no word yet when we’ll see the Conservative platform.

WHERE THE LEADERS ARE TODAY: Stephen Harper will be in Regina this morning (9:15 am), then Winnipeg this afternoon (5 pm). Michael Ignatieff will make an announcement in Oakville (9 am), then travel to Vancouver South and Richmond, just outside Vancouver. Jack Layton will be in Kitchener (for a 9:15 am event). Elizabeth May is focusing on her riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands.