A brief look at key developments in the federal election campaign:
1. Harper launches XL election campaign
Prime Minister Stephen Harper asked Gov. Gen. David Johnston to dissolve Parliament, triggering a 78-day election campaign prior to voting day Oct. 19. Harper made it clear he’d be campaigning on three strengths: leadership, security and the economy. Asked why the extra 41 days of campaigning, Harper said it was to ensure all parties were soliciting support with their own money, not those of taxpayers. He didn’t mention the fact that taxpayers are being forced to spend millions more on the longer campaign, and subsidizing the additional party spending through rebates.
2. Protesters crash Harper event in Mount Royal
Demonstrators tried to crash the Conservative party at an evening rally in Montreal, a city that’s no stranger to violent marches and protests. Outside the auditorium where Harper spoke, a group of activists plastered one of his campaign buses with stickers; one man was arrested for uttering threats. Inside, a shouting protester entered the building, but was tackled and hauled out before Harper took the podium. Harper was in the riding of Mount Royal — a Liberal garrison for the past 75 years, and one that was once represented by Justin Trudeau’s father, Pierre Trudeau.
3. Ontario premier calls for CPC defeat
Kathleen Wynne wasted no time flexing Ontario’s electoral muscle, wading into the campaign to call for the defeat of Harper’s Conservative government. The Liberal premier of Ontario — home to more than one third of the 338 seats up for grabs on Oct. 19 — says Canada needs to replace Harper with a prime minister who will work constructively with the provinces. In particular, she says a new prime minister is needed who’ll be a partner with the country’s largest province.
4. Tom Mulcair launches ‘Campaign for Change’
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair launched his campaign moments after Harper, delivering a speech — but not answering media questions — from a museum in Gatineau, Que., across the river from the majestic silhouette of Parliament Hill. Mulcair looked nervous as he kicked off the NDP’s so-called “Campaign for Change,” his first full-blown federal campaign since taking over as leader from the late Jack Layton in 2011. Instead of a distant third, the NDP has been at or near the top in a number of recent public opinion polls — rarefied air for a party far more accustomed to having little to lose. “Mr. Harper’s priority is to spend millions of dollars on self-serving government advertising and an early election call. My priority is to invest in affordable, quality child care to help families and the economy,” he said.
5. Justin Trudeau marches with Pride
Justin Trudeau was airborne when Harper asked Johnston to fire the starting gun, but hit the ground running, looking confident and comfortable as he kicked off his election campaign in Vancouver. He promised to stay focused on improving the lives of Canadians, particularly members of the shrinking middle class and those keen to join it. He said he had already committed to march in Vancouver’s Pride parade, and wasn’t about to change his plans. “No one’s going to get me to break my word — particularly not Stephen Harper.”
6. Gilles Duceppe vows not to ruin summer
Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe confirmed he would run as a candidate in the riding of Laurier-Sainte-Marie, “because I like the riding,” and promised not to get in the face of Quebecers who might not be keen on the idea of an election campaign in August. “We won’t let Stephen Harper and his schemes ruin our summer,” he said. “We will go out to meet you at your rhythm, without pushing you.” He also repeated his pledge to work towards making Quebec a country, a fixture of Bloc campaigns.
7. Elizabeth May says Greens are ‘not what you think’
Green party Leader Elizabeth May launched her campaign in Sidney, B.C., chastising Harper for calling an early and lengthy campaign, and running through a roster of Green candidates to dispel the notion that the party is little more than the two MPs it had at dissolution. Among others, the party has former CBC meteorologist Claire Martin running in Vancouver and former Ontario environment commissioner Gord Miller running in Guelph, Ont. “The Green party invites Canada to come to get to know us because we’re not what you think,” an ebullient May said. “The Green party is not a one issue party.”