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The campaign that was

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Mr. Duceppe continued to press on the sponsorship scandal, calling on Mr. Martin to come clean on the issue and name the ministers who were politically responsible for the controversial program.

The latest poll numbers lead to whispers of a Bloc-Conservative coalition in the House, but both leaders dismiss the idea.

The Liberals began to show signs of crumbling from within when Ontario Liberal MP Carolyn Parrish slammed the progress of the campaign, calling it "a comedy of errors." Jean Chrétien's former chief of staff Jean Pelletier derides the state of the Liberal campaign and calls for the retraction of an allegation made by Public Works Minister Stephen Owen that he was involved in the sponsorship scandal.

David Herle, Mr. Martin's top political adviser, told a number of Liberal MPs and candidates in a conference call that the campaign is "in a spiral." The party tried to change its sagging fortunes with attack ads that feature a female voice saying that Mr. Harper wanted to take Canadian troops into Iraq, wants to limit a woman's right to choose, wants to ally with the Bloc Québécois and wants to spend heavily on military hardware.

Mr. Harper dismissed the ads, saying he will let the Liberals "descend into the gutter."

The NDP also hits a rough patch when Mr. Layton rebuked candidate Malcolm Azania for "completely and utterly unacceptable" anti-Semitic comments in a 1994 posting to an Internet newsgroup.


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The week began with the two-hour French television debate. Mr. Martin spent most of the night on the defensive, with the other leaders attacked his government's record and accused him of corruption. Mr. Duceppe is considered the winner by most, opening the debate by telling Quebeckers that sovereignty is not an issue in the election and constantly chipping away at the Liberal leader.

The English debate the following night saw Mr. Harper and Mr. Martin duel over protecting minority rights and improving child care. Mr. Layton tried gamely to make his points as he called on Canadians to give the NDP a "central role" in the new Parliament to guard against the risks of Liberal arrogance and the Conservatives' "hidden agenda."

New Brunswick premier Bernard Lord joined Alberta premier Ralph Klein in endorsing Mr. Harper's Senate reform plan of electing senators.

Mr. Klein stumbled into in the middle of the campaign by announcing he would wait until two days after the June 28 election to unveil changes to Alberta's health system that might violate Canada's medicare law.

Mr. Martin jumped on the comments, charging that the Alberta Premier was hoping the Conservatives will win and allow the changes, including more services delivered through private clinics and user fees. Mr. Klein and Mr. Harper both insist their is no hidden agenda.

Mr. Harper also insisted he will hold Mr. Klein and other premiers to a national health accord the provinces reached with Ottawa last year, although he did not say if he would use the Canada Health Act to stop Mr. Klein.

The Conservative Leader steps into more controversy at the end of the week when his party issues a news release that accused Paul Martin and the NDP of condoning child pornography. Mr. Harper reworded and reissued the release, but refused calls to apologize to Mr. Martin.


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Mr. Martin started the homestretch in full attack mode over health care, slamming Mr. Harper for not calling on Mr. Klein to reveal the details of his new health plan before voting day.

Mr. Klein's government bows under the immense pressure of the federal campaign and releases the details of its reform plan. The outline offers few specifics and takes a far less aggressive stance on privatization and users fees than Mr. Klein hinted it originally would.

His role as kingmaker all but assured, Mr. Duceppe says he would shop around and offer his support to a minority government based on the proposals for the Speech from the Throne.

Mr. Layton declares holding a national referendum within a year on proportional representation. will be a key condition of NDP support if a minority government is elected.

The final Ipsos-Reid poll shows that the Liberal Party has 32-per-cent support among decided voters, good for a one-point lead over the Conservative Party. The NDP stands at 17 per cent, while the Bloc Québécois is set to dominate in Quebec with 48-per-cent support.

A seat projection shows the Conservatives have the best chance of winning the most seats, though far short of a majority

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