The Election: Day 15

Why are Americans intervening to help Martin get re-elected? Liberal strategists must be rubbing their hands in glee tonight after U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins told Paul Martin to shut up and stop using the U.S. as a campaign target to further his efforts to get re-elected. Wilkins said Martin risks damaging relations between the countries by dragging the United States into the election campaign. In response Martin thumped his chest and proclaimed he would defend Canadian interests always. If the Americans are truly annoyed at Martin's pious platitudes at the Climate Change Conference last week, why would they foster his chances for re-election by publicly chastising him? Are they just plain dumb? A scolding from George Bush might be the one thing that would unite the majority of Canadians behind the Liberal Party.

Harper made major announcement on defence today, promising more spending than the Liberals.He will buy transport planes so our troops won't have to hitch hike anymore. He will double the DART complement and he will restore the Air Borne Regiment. All the kind of defence policy statements you would expect from a Conservative leader.

Jack Layton finally took off his gloves and came out swinging on medicare.He promised to save a 'sabotaged' medicare. Layton proposed tough new rules to stop what he calls an agenda by his political rivals that have put medicare on a precarious path towards privatization.

"Make no mistake about it, medicare is being sabotaged by people who claim to be protecting it: Paul Martin, Ralph Klein, Stephen Harper, Jean Charest and Gordon Campbell are all on the same wavelength," Layton said.

"They want to open Canada's health system to the profiteers. They know that's the last thing Canadians want."

Layton expressed alarm over a recent Supreme Court decision in Quebec that ruled that a man could seek private health insurance if care was not provided quickly enough. Layton described the ruling as one that "may have opened the door to private providers to break our single-pay system."

He went on to accuse Alberta premier Ralph Klein and Quebec Premier Jean Charest of harbouring "wrong-headed plans" to take advantage of that ruling.

"And Canadians need to know that Paul Martin and Stephen Harper would both let them do it."

The New Democrat Leader said his party will defend public health care in the next parliament by:

-refusing to permit the dismantling of Canada's single-payer medicare system;

-prohibiting the use of federal transfers, directly or indirectly, to subsidize a new, profit-making private insurance system covering medically-necessary services;

-ensuring that no federal money be used to cover the salaries or costs of doctors and any other medical personnel involved in a new, separate, profit-making private insurance system; and

-tough monitoring and enforcement of these rules.

Finally, Layton has staked out a position in keeping with the NDP's core values and differentiated himself from the Liberals on the issue of key concern to Canadians. This should set the scene for an interesting debate later this week.

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