Morning memo: Being a leader means you can’t possibly win




The logical corollary to the Conservatives’ relentless and oftentimes bizarre ‘not a leader’ campaign against Stéphane Dion holds that Stephen Harper is, by contrast, a leader. And for a while at least, Canadians seemed to agree. Going into the campaign, Harper held a 15-point lead on Dion (47% to 32%) when Canadians were asked if they had a favourable impression of the party leaders. That’s no longer the case. Harris-Decima now ranks Dion’s appeal ever so slightly higher than Harper’s. It should be noted, however, that both men still leave Canadians with a generally negative impression. (The figures in brackets represent the percentage of people with an unfavourable impression.)

Stephen Harper: 40% (51%)

Stéphane Dion: 41% (48%)

Jack Layton: 53% (34%)

Elizabeth May: 52% (23%)

Gilles Duceppe: 60% (28%)


Stephen Harper, firing back at rivals who say he’s out of touch: “”Tell me how imposing a carbon tax on our economy right now that would drive up the cost of everything Canadians buy, tell me how that shows you care or understand the situation. Tell me how advocating new taxes on investments that would hurt the savings of ordinary people, tell me how that shows anybody cares.”

Stéphane Dion, on his ideological peers’ legacy: “History shows us that in tough economic times, it is progressive governments that put economies back on track. Clinton after Reagan and Bush. Blair after Thatcher and Major. Chretien and Martin after Mulroney. And, of course, McGuinty after Harris.”

Jack Layton, with a cheery lookahead to the future: “Pensions are at risk, your savings are at risk, even your mortgages and housing are at risk and your jobs are risk. And everybody knows it and we all can feel it.”

Elizabeth May, on her party’s plan to expand Canada’s social safety net: “No Canadians should be made to pay the price for greed in the marketplace and for incompetent and callous government. We need to act now, as we focus on our long-term plan for a new green economy.”

Gilles Duceppe, rallying the Bloc’s anti-Harper contigent: “Harper doesn’t respect Quebec. In this election don’t take a chance. Vote for who we are, vote for what you want, vote for what you believe in but, damn it, go out and vote.”


It’s no secret: The Conservatives aren’t the most gregarious bunch on Parliament Hill. Stephen Harper has made a habit of shunning interviews and his penchant for keeping his MPs out of even the dimmest spotlight is well-documented. The election campaign appears to have little to change the party’s approach—even when ostensible supporters are involved. The Conseil du patronat du Québec, a prominent conservative think-tank said Wednesday that the Conservatives were the only party that couldn’t be bothered to fill out a questionnaire the organization submitted to the four parties in the House of Commons. “It’s more of a shame for them than for me,” said CPQ president Michel Kelly-Gagnon, “because, on the whole, the answers they would have given would have been the answers we wanted.” Harper can’t possibly think the CPQ is in on the anti-Conservative conspiracy led by the Parliamentary Press Gallery, can he?


Stephen Harper is starting the day in Vancouver before heading to Winnipeg for a late afternoon rally.

Stéphane Dion is in Halifax for a luncheon, and will be travelling to Laval, Que. in the evening.

Jack Layton is in Sudbury to meet with supporters.

Elizabeth May is spending the morning canvassing in Pictou county, N.S. She’ll make an appearance at a later in the day in Antigonish, N.S.

Gilles Duceppe is campaigning in Alma, Que.