DAY 2: At 9:20 am yesterday morning, Stephen Harper announced that a federal election will take place on Monday May 2. The prospect of a coalition government was the focus driven by Harper yesterday, although health care emerged in at least one poll as the top issue Canadians want discussed in this election. Beyond that, it’s important to note that the Conservatives need just a net gain of 12 seats to form a majority government, and to look at the ‘where’ and ‘ways’ this election will be fought and won.
WHERE THE LEADERS ARE TODAY: CBC reports that, “Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is planning to spend time in the Toronto area. Breaking through in Toronto and hanging on to seats in its surrounding communities are seen as key for Harper to hold on to power. Harper is speaking at a rally at 9 a.m. in Brampton, just outside Toronto. From there he crosses the country to B.C. to do another rally in Burnaby. …Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is going to be in Montreal’s Outremont and Papineau ridings. The NDP’s Thomas Mulcair currently holds Outremont, with Liberal MP Justin Trudeau representing Papineau. …Ignatieff will be mainstreeting earlier in the day, with a major speech planned for noon. He’s also planning an evening rally… NDP Leader Jack Layton is visiting Surrey, a city just outside Vancouver, with a rally at the Sheraton Guilford Hotel followed by meeting local business owners. The Surrey-North riding has changed hands (between the NDP and Conservatives) regularly in recent years. …Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe will be in Laval, just outside Montreal…” That’s at http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadavotes2011/story/2011/03/26/cv-campaign-sunday.html. Green Party leader Elizabeth May has no planned events until Monday.
TARGETED RIDINGS: The Globe and Mail reports that the Conservatives need a net gain of 12 seats to form a majority government. And they highlight that while there are 308 ridings, “50 ridings from Vancouver Island to St. John’s will ultimately swing the election. In many of these seats, the Conservatives hope to capitalize on their efforts to attract new Canadians, seniors, women and suburban voters, delivering the net gain of 12 MPs that will lead to a majority government.” To see that list of 50 key ridings, go to http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/the-big-fifty-seats-that-will-steer-the-country/article1957526/. Expect that the party leaders will be visiting these ridings often during this 38-day election.
HOW THE ELECTION WILL BE FOUGHT: The Montreal Gazette reports, “Apart from the national tours, the campaign will be fought on three fronts – organizational battles in the nation’s 308 ridings, TV ads and the leaders’ TV debates. In the ridings, it’s clear that the national outcome will be determined in two regions – vote-rich Ontario and, to a lesser extent, British Columbia and Quebec. The Conservatives have been gaining ground steadily in southern Ontario and have targeted Liberal-held constituencies in the area, including some in Toronto. …The success of the Liberal campaign could ultimately hinge on their ads; party strategists are convinced a slumbering electorate will wake up once they learn of the depth of the Tories’ misdeeds. It’s not known yet when the televised debates will occur or how many there will be.” That’s at http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Question+clear+Should+Harper+rewarded/4507172/story.html.
WHAT EACH DAY WILL LOOK LIKE: The Toronto Star‘s Susan Delacourt says, “Policy announcements will be made in the morning, the rest of the day will be a flurry of reactions while the campaign planes/buses travel, and the evenings will be devoted to rallies.” That’s at http://thestar.blogs.com/politics/2011/03/ten-lessons-from-eight-campaigns.html.
YESTERDAY WAS ABOUT THE COALITION: Delacourt says there will be policy announcements in the morning then reactions the rest of the day. Yesterday, Harper set the stage by attacking the notion of a coalition government. The Ottawa Citizen reports, “It was the debate over the prospect of a Liberal-led coalition government that stole the show (yesterday). ‘Canadians need to understand clearly, without any ambiguity: Unless Canadians elect a stable, national majority, Mr. Ignatieff will form a coalition with the NDP and Bloc Québécois. They tried it before. It is clear they will try it again. And, next time, if given the chance, they will do it in a way that no one will be able to stop,’ Harper told reporters outside Rideau Hall. …On Saturday, Ignatieff (said that) the party that wins the most seats on election day should be called on to form the government… ‘We will not enter a coalition with other federalist parties,’ Ignatieff said in a statement released just before Harper arrived at Rideau Hall. ‘In our system, coalitions are a legitimate constitutional option. However, I believe that issue-by-issue collaboration with other parties is the best way for minority Parliaments to function.’ The Liberal leader also ‘categorically’ ruled out a coalition or formal arrangement with the Bloc Québécois.” More on this at http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Intense+bruising+campaign+begins/4511013/story.html.
YESTERDAY SHOULD HAVE BEEN ABOUT HEALTH CARE: The Ottawa Citizen reports, “Ipsos Reid asked Canadians to name an important issue they’d mention if a local candidate for Parliament knocked on their door in the middle of a campaign. 18 per cent of Canadians felt health care was the most compelling issue, 15 per cent of respondents selected the economy, 12 per cent chose taxes and 8 per cent felt unemployment was a national issues parties needed to address. … Trustworthiness — an issue the Liberals hope to highlight — was cited as the top issue by 7 per cent of those asked, while the environment got support as the top issue from 5 per cent of those polled.” This is at http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Health+care+issue+Canadians+Election+poll/4510204/story.html.
TODAY’S POLL: CBC reports, “The final survey by the polling company (EKOS) before the election call suggests the Conservatives have the support of 35.3 per cent of voters and the Liberals 28.1 per cent. The poll suggests the NDP have 14.2 per cent support, the Green Party 10.6 per cent and the Bloc Quebecois 9.7 per cent.” That’s at http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2011/03/25/pol-poll.html. And the Montreal Gazette reports that, “49 per cent of those who responded to an online (Ipsos-Reid) poll say the Conservative leader is the best fit as the country’s prime minister. …NDP leader Jack Layton trailed with 34 per cent, while only 17 per cent of those polled said they thought Liberal leader Ignatieff would be the best prime minister. 9 per cent of Canadians polled named Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe as their top choice to run the country.” That’s at http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/canada/Canadians+trust+Harper+best+leader+poll/4511417/story.html.