2006/01/08

The Election: Day 41

While the leaders warmed up for the debates on Monday and Tuesday, a few salvos were fired. The Liberals claimed that Conservative promises will drive the federal government back into a deficit or force cuts in programs

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's promises made to date will produce a deficit "of at least $12.4 billion over five years," the Liberal campaign said in an analysis of Tory fiscal plans.

The Liberals say a Harper-led Tory government would have to either rack up huge deficits or slash programs to realize their vision of a smaller government.

The five-year deficit of $12.4 billion would be through the 2010-2111 fiscal year, according to the analysis, which is based on projections provided by Canadian economists.

The Liberals are also arguing that Harper's plan to redress the so-called fiscal imbalance between the federal and provincial governments could bring the deficit to between $23.4 billion and $53.4 billion over the next five years.

Goodale, in a telephone interview with CTV.ca, contends that Harper has not tried to address how this agenda would be funded.

"That question Mr. Harper has not yet even attempted to answer, and that will have a huge bearing on the bottom line," he said. "Otherwise he is leading the premiers down the garden path, implying there is a solution but knowing privately that he can't afford that solution.

The Conservatives were quick to refute Liberal claims. They released a letter of their own from the Conference Board of Canada, insisting they have the figures to back up their platform.They argued the party platform is fully affordable in each year from 2005 through to 2011.

"In summary, we found that the Conservative Party's economic platform is affordable in each fiscal year from 2005-2006 through 2010-2011," Paul Darby, the board's deputy chief economist is quoted as saying.

"In each year there is enough fiscal room to pay down at least $3 billion a year in debt, as in the (government's) fiscal plan."

The organization, which was given access to the entire Tory platform to conduct its analysis, also found that there is substantial surplus in the Conservative fiscal plan.

"Over the five-year forecast horizon to 2010-2011, the CBoC economic and fiscal outlook suggests that there remains $15.7 billion in unallocated fiscal room, over and above the annual debt payment, which provides further cushion to ensure that deficits do not occur due to adverse economic effects," Darby said.

Meanwhile Jack Layton was busy positioning himself as the champion of the working people and enlisted powerful union allies to his election cause. Layton held a big rally in B.C. Saturday to showcase the backing of some of the country's biggest labour organizations, such as the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the United Steelworkers and the Telecommunications Workers Union.

In a weekend interview with the Canadian Press, Stepen Harper suggested that a Tory minority government would be more stable than the one which just crumbled. One of Harper's principal advisers, should he win, is John Hamm, Nova Scotia's retiring Tory premier, who has used "a mixture of country charm and political cunning to survive 29 months in a minority position."

Harper again reached out to the NDP suggesting he could cooperate with them.

"I have a history, in terms of reuniting the (Canadian) Alliance and the Conservative party in being able to bring people together without asking people to sacrifice their most fundamental beliefs," Harper said.

"That's what you have to do in a minority Parliament. You do have to make compromises, but they can't be compromises that ask your own party or other parties to stand on their heads and swallow themselves whole."

His back against the wall as he enters the second round of debates, Paul Martin took some solace from a new Decima Research poll which indicates that uncommitted voters outside Quebec, who could determine the outcome of the close-fought federal election, were more likely to ultimately support the Liberals than the Conservatives.

The Decima Research online voter-tracking study found uncommitted voters in English Canada were less preoccupied than average with scandal and less likely to want change _ all of which gives the Liberals their first ray of hope.

Martin took less solace from a column by Sheila Copps in today's Sun entitled:

"Is that lifeless body Martin's campaign?"

Quote:

"The backdrop for the prime minister's health announcement last week said it all. An apparently lifeless patient on a gurney was laid out for a few stethoscope-clad doctors in white coats. The symbolism of that photo-op was not lost on anyone.

"The body Paul Martin was viewing (actually a med student posing for the cameras) had nothing to do with health care. It was a symbol of everything that has gone wrong with his campaign. No political organizer worth their salt would put the PM in such a position. Headgear, lifeless bodies and eating in front of cameras should be no-fly zones for politicians. (The Bloc's Gilles Duceppe is still remembered for appearing in a hairnet while touring a cheese factory.)

"But more important than the bad photo-op was the impression that Martin was nervously surveying his own demise. Here he was with one of the most important announcements of his post-Christmas relaunch and what we see is a body. What we hear is more talk about the RCMP investigating his government."

1 comment:

tony said...

That Sheila, she's quite the gal, telling it like it is! you gotta admire her spunk!