2006/01/05

The Election: Day 38 (Tories clearly in lead)

All three parties except BQ made significant policy announcements today.

The Conservatives, now shown by several polls to clearly be in the lead, took a tough stance on law and order, one of the five priorities announed earlier in the week by Harper.

A new Conservative government would "completely overhaul" the criminal justice system by beefing up police forces across the country and by toughening up the sentences served by criminals, Harper said Thursday.

"The revolving door of criminal justice of this current government bears significant responsibility for the tide of gun, drug and gang crime plaguing our cities," Harper stated.

Harper said his government would impose mandatory minimum prison terms of between five and 10 years for major firearms offences, and a minimum sentence of five years for people convicted of possessing a loaded restricted or prohibited weapon, such as a handgun.

There would be no more conditional sentences, or so-called house arrest, for serious gun crimes, he said. The Conservatives would also put more police on the streets.

The Conservatives' platform also includes proposals to:

Shut down the federal gun registry.
Raise the age of consent to 16 from 14 years old to prevent the sexual exploitation of children.
Sentence anyone 14 years old convicted of a serious violent crime or repeat offence as an adult.
Re-establish the Canada Ports Police to combat drug smuggling.
Allow border guards to carry sidearms.
Expand the mandate of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to allow it to spy overseas.

More details at the CBC

Paul Martin attempted to catch the votes of post-secondary students and their votes today. He announced that a Liberal government would pay half the tuition for students in their first and last years of post-secondary education.The so-called "50-50" plan would pay a maximum of $3,000 in each of those two years for students enrolled in a Canadian college or university.

Meanwhile Jack Layton took aim at both the Liberal and Conservative pledges to gaurantee maximum wait times for specified medical tests and procedures. Layton criticized the Liberal and Tory proposed guarantees, arguing that government should instead spend more money on training doctors and nurses to cut wait times. He announced that the NDP will set aside another $200 million a year to train health workers. Layton said that would fund the equivalent of another 16,000 nursing training spaces.

He also promised that the NDP would introduce a bill to stop federal money from going to provinces that allow for-profit, private health insurance.

In the broader context, new polls released over the past two days clearly show that the Conservatives have the momentum, with a lead of up to 6 points in an EKOS poll released today. The new EKOS poll done for the Toronto Star and La Presse shows the Conservatives leading the Liberals 36% to 30%. This supports a SES poll indicating Conservatives lead the Liberals 36% vs 33%. Tonight a Leger poll, done by Leger Marketing for The Canadian Press, had the Tories at 34 per cent and the Liberals at 32 per cent. The NDP stood at 16 per cent and the Bloc Quebecois at 11.

One significant feature of the recent polls is the Conservatives appear to be making significant inroads in Ontario and have doubled their support in quebec to the 20% range. The increase in Quebec appears to have come at the expense of the BQ. This raises the possibility that the Conservatives might gain 1-3 seats in Quebec. They may also help deny the BQ the magical 50+1% of the popular vote they are seeking.

On a final note, tonight the Globe and Mail broke a story about a possible new (old) scandal that might further ensnare the Liberals in the coming days.The RCMP is looking into a controversial $4.8-million grant that was awarded to a pro-Canada group at the time of the 1995 referendum on Quebec sovereignty. The Option Canada group was headed by Claude Dauphin,who worked in the late 1990s as an aide to Prime Minister Paul Martin, who was minister of finance at the time. The Option Canada "incident" is apparently the focus of an upcoming book by Quebec investigative journalist Normand Lester. No doubt we'll hear more about this in the days ahead.

1 comment:

Marvin said...

the libs are in serious trouble at this point. unless martin pulls a rabbit out of his hat soon, they'll go over the precipice on the 23rd