The Election: Day Eleven

The major issue today was not the proposed handgun ban by the Liberals but rather blowback from remarks Martin made in Montreal at the UN Climate Change Conference on Wednesday.Washington is supposedly furious over Martin's climate change comments. Apparently the White House officially complained about Martin's comments this week.

Jim Connaughton, chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality,told Canadian Ambassador Frank McKenna that Martin's comments are the worst slight against President George W. Bush since Germany's Gerhard Schroeder suggested Bush's stance against the Kyoto Protocol was responsible for hurricane Katrina.

The focus of the indignation was Martin's statement that:

"To the reticent nations, including the United States, I say there is there is such a thing as a global conscience. Now is the time to listen to it. Now's the time to join with others in our global community. Now is the time for resolve, for commitment and leadership and, above all, now is the time for action. Because only by coming together can we make real and lasting progress."

In fact Martin's speech was the hypocritical peak of the campaign so far, given Canada's track record with greenhouse gas emissions increasing 24% since 1990.

Today Martin capitalized on an appearance at the Conference by former US President Bill Clinton to show up again and hold a joint press conference with Clinton. Questioned about the US reaction, Martin stated the obvious- that Canadian foreign policy is set by the Canadian PM, not the White House.

Is it possible that the Liberals are stoking the fires of anti-Americanism to isolate Harper as an American "lackey"? While Harper is laying a policy foundation in the first part of the campaign, the time will come for Harper to start reminding voters of the Liberals' scandalous track record in Quebec.

After a couple of polls (SES and Leger) which showed the Liberals gaining nationally, the Conservatives could take some solace from the latest Strategic Counsel results. This suggests that the Liberal Party's steady lead in the national election polls is masking a series of regional swings that would significantly reduce Paul Martin's minority and leave Canadians with an even more deadlocked Parliament than the last one.

The poll indicates that the Liberals have lost a substantial amount of support in Montreal, where the Bloc Québécois is poised to pick up more seats, while the Conservatives are doing better in Southwestern Ontario than they did in the 2004 election.

By the same token, regional changes in British Columbia suggest the Tories could see their Ontario gains offset by losses to both the Liberals and the New Democratic Party in British Columbia.

Overall this suggests a significantly reduced minority government for the Liberals. The Strategic Counsel points out that a shift of a couple of percentage points could see the Tories under Stephen Harper form a minority government, even without taking as many overall votes as the Liberals.

One final note: the NDP has come out with the best English campaign ad so far. See GiftAD. Basically it suggests the Liberals should be "given the boot".

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