Do elections count as stimulus spending, minister? Liveblogging John Baird's reaction to Ignatieff's speech

ITQ is headed to the Hill for Transport Minister John Baird’s impromptu tete-a-tetes with the media outside the House of Commons, in which he will, she fearlessly predicts, weave a dire and terrifying tale of the many overpasses, hockey rinks and festivals who will be cut off without a cent if those dastardly Liberals carry out their threat to bring down the government. Maybe he’ll even throw in a vampire or two.

Check back at 3:30 for full scrum coverage.

3:22:03 PM
Greetings, Bairdomaniacs! Are we all ready for some red hot rhetoric? Because if there’s one thing our transport minister can deliver — other than giant novelty cheques, that is — it’s a fine Irish harangue against his enemies. Bombast on short notice is his specialty.

Oh, and the verdict here in the foyer on Ignatieff’s speech: lose the growl. Please. Our compulsive desire to imitate will leave the entire press gallery voiceless.

3:29:29 PM
Well, the line of cameras is aimed and ready, but as yet, no sign of the minister. I wonder how it is that Baird has been designated the official rapid responder of the pre-election season: Wasn’t it Jason Kenney last time around?

3:33:39 PM

I can report that the mood amongst the journalists dispatched to this hastily-called event is buoyant — downright giddy. With the exception of certain glowery National Post columnists who shall remain nameless, it seems that most of us are more than ready to quit speculating about elections and actually *cover* one.

3:37:18 PM
Punctuality is a virtue, minister.

3:43:25 PM
Okay, this is starting to feel like we’ve switched to Harper Standard Time. Is the minister actually *in* the building? Is he caught in traffic? Being drilled on talking points by PMO communications?

3:48:55 PM
I wonder if they’re having more fun in the filing room in Sudbury. Oh, and before I forget, apparently, there *won’t* be an Ignatieff scrum after today’s caucus session, so tomorrow afternoon is the next chance we’ll get to pester him with questions about exactly when he’s going to bring down the government — like, to the minute, ideally.
3:52:33 PM
Okay, apparently he’s enroute — like, striding purposefully down the hallway. This, according to PMO wonderflack Mike White.

3:53:22 PM
And the Wonderflack did not lie! The minister is here — wearing a dark brown tie — and despite our kvetching about his lateness, is insisting on delivering his talking points: This is all about Michael Ignatieff, not Canadians — he’s doing this in the best interest of himself, not everyone else, and this kind of “political bravado” is just wrong.

Second verse, same as the first – but en francais!

3:55:17 PM
And questions! First, from a Francophone reporter — is the government’s only option now to seek out the support of “the socialists or the separatists”? No, no. Well, no, not ‘no’ – he’s not here to ‘play games’.

Ooh, a blistering question from CanWest’s David Akin — who is lambasting the minister. It was *his* goverment that was ‘playing games’ last fall, he points out – calling an election when nobody wanted one, and then afterwards, with the fiscal update. The minister cites him for “strong words” and refuses to “get into a debate.”

3:57:32 PM
Another reporter wonders if this minority government is capable of working with *any* other party. What about the NDP, she points out — they offered a list of areas they’d work with the government. Oddly, Baird seems to dismiss that notion, giving the impression that the answer to that question is ‘no’.

3:58:53 PM
Again with the “Ignatieff is putting his own interests instead of Canadians” line. Does that mean Baird thinks Ignatieff will *benefit* from an election?

4:02:24 PM
And — wow, that’s it? I guess so. Huh. I think that Akin question really rattled him — probably because it’s not a bad one, especially in conjunction with Rosemary’s softer, but no less stark point about how minority governments that can’t work with even one other party can’t really complain when they lose the confidence of the House.

Anyway, that’s all from here — but I’ll keep you posted on any other developments. The summer holidays, by the way, are definitely over.