The Election: Day Nine/Hypocrisy Day

The second week ofthe campaign got into full gear today with all three major party leaders staking out new positions (or trotting out old ones wrapped in Xmas paper).

Steven Harper's new proposal today was relatively modest compared to his earlier pronouncements. Campaigning in Saint John, Harper offered a package of tax relief to small businesses.The Conservative proposal would raise the threshold for the small business tax rate to $400,000. Currently it's $300,000. Businesses with an income above the threshold pay 21 per cent tax. Below it, they pay 12 per cent.
Harper claimed that tens of thousands of businesses would benefit from raising the threshold. He also promised to reduce the small business tax rate by a percentage point, to 11 per cent, within five years.

Campaigning in Montreal, Jack Layton announced the electoral reform part of the NDP accountability package. In particular, members of Parliament who switch parties should have to face their constituents in a byelection, Layton said. Following hard on the heels of a speech a couple of days ago where Belinda Stronach defended her
switch of parties by comparing herself to Churchill, Layton used the Stronach example:
"The next time Belinda Stronach decides to change leaders, she'll have to go back to a byelection to see if her voters agree."

The NDP proposals also include electoral reform that would see proportional representation added to the current system of constituency-based representation.

The NDP accountability proposals also include:

Reducing the influence of lobbyists.
Ensuring key appointments are based on merit, not on connections.
Improving the access to information legislation.
Better protection for whistleblowers.
Accountability on leadership contests.

Layton also took the occasion of his appeal to Quebec voters to clarify that
he had reversed his opposition to the Clarity Act and no longer wants to repeal it.

Also in Montreal, Paul Martin used the occasion of the UN Climate Change Conference
to urge nations to get tough on energy consumption.Long again on rhetoric, Martin said there is no way societies around the world can sustain their current level of energy consumption and called for a change in human behaviour to fight global warming. He called on world leaders at the conference to reach a consensus on global warming:

"If we fail to meet the challenge of climate change, it will be not be a failure of nations. It will be a failure of people, of me, of you, a failure of character for all who today are confronted with the clear cost of our indulgence and who refuse to submit to sacrifice and new ways."

Apparently he conceded that Canada's record on fighting climate change needs to be improved. The Opposition leaders were quick to pounce.They slammed the prime minister, saying the environmental record of Paul Martin's own party is dismal.

Harper said: "It's kind of strange to go around preaching that you believe greenhouse gases should be reduced as a number 1 priority and then you preside over a 25 per cent increase in greenhouse gas emissions."

He was referring to the fact that while the Kyoto Protocol calls for a six per cent cut in Canadian emissions from 1990 levels by 2012, Canada's have so far risen 24 per cent.

NDP Leader Jack Layton also attacked the Liberals' record on the environment stating that "We have one of the worst environmental records in the world."

Green party Leader Jim Harris also joined the attack on Liberal hypocrisy.

The score today:

Harper: 3 stars for the proposed small business tax changes which will appeal to his Conservative base.

Layton: 4 stars for announcing a solid proposal for electoral reform.

Martin: -5 stars for the most hypocritical speech of the campaign so far. In fact I would give him the first Hypocrisy Award of the campaign. How he can stand up before such an audience and call for international action to combat global warming in the face of Canada's track record is mind-boggling.

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