Martin took the day off. Harper and Layton campaigned in B.C. Duceppe marched in the Montreal parade against global warming.
Harper struck again to seize the headlines by announcing tough Conservative policy on drug crimes. A Conservative government would legislate mandatory minimum prison sentences of at least two years for people convicted of serious drug offences.
The terms would apply to people convicted of trafficking, manufacturing or importing hard drugs, such as heroin, cocaine and crystal methamphetamine.The CPC would also introduce mandatory prison time for anyone convicted of running marijuana grow operations. As well the party would ban conditional sentences and house arrest for serious and repeat drug offenders.
Jack Layton seized some media attention by denouncing the current government's inaction on the softwood lumber issue.He announced that the NDP would pursue export levies on energy going to the U.S.
Some columnists described the Liberal strategy in the first week as "lying low" waiting for Harper to shoot himself in the foot. So far that hasn't happened except for a couple of miscues earlier in the week which were buried with the GST reduction promise. The proposed GST cut has secured lots of media coverage. Numerous economists have been trotted out to condemn it as poor public policy. But even those criticizing the proposal describe it as good politics likely to attract votes. It's been funny watching the Liberals trying to denounce it but doing so cautiously, not wanting to remind voters of the Liberal flip flop following the 1993 election. Sheila Copps who was a key player during that period and who resigned her seat and won it back because of the broken promise has an interesting piece on how the caucus forced the inclusion of the promise in the Red Book and how Martin worked afterward to undercut it.
I think Tom Kent, old war horse of the Liberal party, was very insightful when he described Martin thus:
He wishes he could be more optimistic about Mr. Martin, but says it’s not possible because the prime minister — despite his “floating interest” in a range of public policy issues — has not shown any disciplined central purpose or sense of priority.
“The essential problem is that Martin desperately wanted to be prime minister, as did his father before him. But the junior Martin has come to it without any firm ideas about what he wants to do as prime minister. I think that becomes clearer, unfortunately, all the time.
“He has vague good intentions and great ideas — transformative change and all these things drip from him — but there has been no substance at all. He’s been dominated by the desire to be, instead of the desire to do.”