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ELECTION 2011: What ridings are the Tories targeting?

Day 25

TARGETED RIDINGS: The Toronto Star reports, “A list of (30) so-called targeted ridings is central to Conservative Leader Stephen Harper’s national campaign, which started the election holding 143 seats, a dozen short of a majority government. That list is filled with races in Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario, but dominated by Toronto-area ridings including the Conservative-held seats of Thornhill (Peter Kent), Julian Fantino (Vaughan) and Mississauga-Erindale (Bob Dechert). In Ontario, the seats they hope to win are mostly held by Liberals. There’s Brampton-Springdale (Liberal Ruby Dhalla), Eglinton-Lawrence (Liberal Joe Volpe), Ajax-Pickering (Liberal Mark Holland) and Mississauga South (Liberal Paul Szabo). …The Barrie-area riding of Simcoe-Grey is high on the Conservative party’s list. …In Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar, it is incumbent Kelly Block who introduces Harper; in Guelph it is hopeful candidate Marty Burke. In Etobicoke North, Priti Lamba warms up the crowd, and in Burnaby-Douglas a seat vacated by the NDP’s Bill Siksay, it is Ronald Leung, draped in a Vancouver Canucks hockey sweater. …If you haven’t seen a high-profile Conservative visiting your local Tory candidate, your riding is simply not in the mix.” A Toronto Star graphic with the 30 ridings is at http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/976827–a-30-seat-road-map-to-a-tory-majority?bn=1.

MESSAGING: CTV reports, “With less than two weeks remaining before Canadians go to the polls on May 2, the leaders of the two frontrunner parties are trying to drive home their central message while criss-crossing the country to shore up support in key ridings. Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has ratcheted up his warning that a vote for the Conservatives is a vote against health care, while Prime Minister Stephen Harper is cautioning an Ignatieff victory would be a win for Quebec sovereignty. …(Harper’s) message had shifted in recent days away from the economic risks posed by the Liberal party, to the threat they represent to national unity. Harper’s argument is based on the fact that Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe, who is openly seeking Quebec’s separation, has said his party is the only one that can stop the Conservatives from achieving a majority. Harper maintains only a Conservative majority would be strong enough to avert another referendum on sovereignty.

CANADA HEALTH ACT: CTV reports, “The Liberals launched an attack ad that questioned Harper’s commitment to the Canada Health Act, but the quote attributed to Harper in the ad turned out to belong to someone else. The quote actually came from Harper’s former boss at the National Citizen’s Coalition, David Somerville. The Liberals acknowledged the error but said it didn’t change their message that health care would be in danger under the Conservatives. …The advertisement takes aim at Harper’s record on health care and suggests the Conservative leader once wanted to have the Canada Health Act ‘scrapped’. …The quote has been wrongfully attributed to Harper for some time, including in a Globe and Mail column that was amended after the controversy over the attack ad flared up on Monday. …Hours after the controversy ignited, the Liberal Party added a poll to its website asking Canadians ‘What’s Harper’s best quote on health care?’ The five options are quotes the party attributes to Harper, including a 1997 speech in which he said ‘Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it.'”

NO BLOC IN A COALITION: Global Winnipeg reports, “Jack Layton says he’s open to some kind of coalition in the next Parliament if the Conservatives fall short of a majority. But the NDP leader is quick to add the Bloc Quebecois won’t be part of any coalition cabinet or government. …Layton says he sees working with the Bloc on a case by case basis.”

BARLOW ELECTION VIDEOS: Maude Barlow’s third election video-commentary can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukqw2derkRE. Her first week of the election commentary can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueixe7SIF70; her second week commentary is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hXiyT-PXsM. Check them out and be sure to forward them.

CHAPTER ORGANIZED DEBATES: Council of Canadians chapters are involved in all-candidates debates across the country. They include three today – in Calgary Centre-North, South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale and Peterborough, as well as in Prince Albert, Williams Lake (both on April 20), and Red Deer (April 28). Debates took place yesterday in Medicine Hat, Brockville and South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale, as well as in Vancouver Island North/ Comox Valley (on April 13) and Kamiloops (April 15). The Council of Canadians is offering $250 to chapters to help cover the costs of organizing all-candidates debates. Please be sure to let us know if you are organizing or involved in an all-candidates debate. And take pictures and let us know how it went!

TODAY’S POLL: The Globe and Mail reports, “(A Nanos Research) three-day rolling poll, released Tuesday morning, has the Conservatives at 39.8 per cent – exactly where they were Monday – and the Liberals with 30.2 per cent, just up from the day before. Jack Layton and the NDP are at 17.3 per cent support nationally; the Green Party is at 3.1 per cent and the Bloc is at 8.6 per cent. There are 15.7 per cent undecided. Mr. Nanos says the Conservative support will not likely win Mr. Harper his coveted majority government because of the way in which the vote is spread across the country. He has strength in the Prairie provinces but his support is way down in Quebec – at 15.4 per cent compared to 25 per cent when the campaign began last month. The Conservatives have 11 seats in the province – seats that Mr. Nanos now predicts will be in jeopardy.”