By JEFF GRAY
Globe and Mail Update
Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5
With Ottawa's colourful leaves of fall as a backdrop, Jean Chrétien and his wife, Aline, walked over to Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson's residence to ask that she dissolve Parliament.
"There are very important choices to make for the future, as we enter an age of large budget surpluses," Mr. Chrétien told reporters outside Rideau Hall.
It was Sunday, Oct. 22, the Liberals were sky high in the polls, and the 37th Canadian federal election campaign was under way. (Chrétien calls election for Nov. 27)
Opposition leaders weighed in, but there was no word from Canadian Alliance Leader Stockwell Day, who had pledged to spend Sundays with his family. Key lieutenant Jason Kenney spoke for the party instead.
Mr. Chrétien took some flak for calling a snap election just 3˝ years after the last vote, especially from Tory Leader Joe Clark, who accused the Prime Minister of "walking out in the middle" of his mandate. (Opposition reacts)
Right away, Mr. Day, the fresh-faced Leader of the Canadian Alliance, ran into trouble with his campaign. His message about Canada's "brain drain" was obscured by gaffes, including Mr. Day's assertion that Lake Erie drained southward. (It drains into the Niagara River, which flows north.) (Another gaffe)
Mr. Clark released his underdog party's platform in Toronto, making several law-and-order promises and pledging to pay down Canada's national debt within 20 years. ('Fiscally conservative, socially progressive')
Later in the week, Mr. Day dug up Mr. Chrétien's record as Finance Minister under Pierre Trudeau in the deficit days of the late 1970s, calling him one of the worst finance ministers in Canada's history. (Alliance: Chrétien bashing)
And an Ipsos-Reid poll suggested the Alliance's hammering over the Human Resouces job creation grants scandal has paid off. It shows the Liberals at 45 per cent of decided voters, and the Alliance at 28 per cent — their highest number yet. (‘We've got an election race': Alliance gains in poll)
The NDP releases its platform, detailing $30-billion-a-year in new spending and its promises for national pharamcare and home care programs.
(NDP: Platform released)
A debate erupts after Canadian Alliance MP Jason Kenney tells The Globe that his party would support a universal public system that was supplemented by the expansion of private clinics. (Alliance would support two-tier health care)
Mr. Day says his party does not support two-tier health care, but Liberals charge his plans to transfer tax points to the provinces would take away any leverage Ottawa would have to stop a province from implementing such a system.
The Liberals release their platform, which makes much of the government's recently announced tax cuts and health-care deal with the provinces, and emphasizes research-and-development spending. The platform is criticized from both the right and the left for what some say is its empty pledge of sticking to the government's so-called 50-50 formula committing half of the surplus to new spending and half to tax cuts and debt reduction.
(Chrétien launches platform, attacks Alliance on health care)
(Liberals draw fire for 50-50 platform)
(Red Book contains $70-billion blank cheque: Day)
NDP Leader Alexa McDonough, who made health care the centrepiece of her campaign, says both the Liberals and the Alliance want to privatize the system. (NDP: Chrétien, Day both want to privatize health care)
The Alliance is again put on the defensive after policies contained in confidential briefing documents distributed to candidates — obtained by The Globe and Mail — appear to contradict statements by the leader and party officials.
(Day's plan found in secret paper)
(Transcript of Time for Change)
The party's referendum policy, and the number of signatures it would require to trigger one on a controversial social issue such as abortion or capital punishment, is at the centre of the storm.
Tory Leader Joe Clark is seen as gaining ground after both the French and English debates, and Mr. Day is criticized for breaking the rules of the English debate and holding up a hand-drawn sign the reads "No Two-Tier Health Care." All of the leaders aim their attacks at Mr. Chrétien.
(Debate highlights: The quotes, the exchanges)
(Leaders hammer Chrétien)
Health care continues to dominate the campaign, with the Liberals citing another leaked Alliance document — this one suggesting the party consider medical user fees — as proof voters can't trust Mr. Day on health care. (Liberals keep up health-care heat) The Alliance says it was only a rookie researcher's memo, and is not policy.
Mr. Chrétien and his Health Minister, Allan Rock, also threaten to withhold funds from Alberta and Quebec if they continue to allow patients to jump the queues by getting private magnetic-resonance imaging tests. (Rock, Chrétien talk tough on health care).
Mr. Day tries to change the topic from health care to criminal justice issues, an issue on which his party is perceived as strong. (Day continues with crime theme).
Accusations of racism were flung at Alliance supporters by Immigration Minister Elinor Caplan, and a CBC documentary that discussed Mr. Day's conservative ideas and religious beliefs had the leader defending creationism.
(Day, Alliance under attack)
Mr. Chrétien said he might retire early. (If re-elected PM may consider early departure)
But the week ended with Mr. Day calling for a criminal investigation into the Prime Minister over his intervention with a Crown-owned bank to get a loan for a friend in his riding.
(Day will demand criminal investigation of Chrétien)
Winnipeg Alliance candidate Betty Granger resigns after a videotape shows her talking about an "Asian invasion" of immigrants on the West Coast. She later says the party forced her out. (Candidate says she was 'manipulated' into quitting)
The federal government's ethics counsellor, who was appointed by Mr. Chrétien, says he is looking into the Prime Minister's intervention with the Business Development Bank of Canada on behalf of a friend.
(Ethics counsellor reconsidering hotel case) The ethics counsellor later says Mr. Chrétien broke no rule, but the opposition puts little faith in these findings. (Chrétien cleared, goes on attack)
A couple of political jokes fall very flat this week. Mr. Chrétien angered some westerners when he said they are "a different type."
(Chrétien catches heat for joke)
And native groups demand the resignation of Saskatchewan Alliance candidate Brian Fitzpatrick, who tried to poke fun at his baldness by saying he did not have enough hair for his aboriginal audience to "scalp" him. (Aboriginals want Alliance candidate ousted)
An Ipsos-Reid polls suggests the Liberal majority is at risk and that the Tories may have gained some support. (Liberals on the knife edge) Alliance candidate Ken Epp speculates about Alliance plans to scale back the pension plan and eliminate Old Age Security, forcing party officials to scramble to clarify his comments.