We’re here in Richmond, B.C., to which destination the Stephen Harper campaign plane (official motto: “At Least We Have One”) flew from Quebec City last night, a five-and-a-half hour flight. We are ready to start the day’s only event. We are in a typical family’s back lawn. There are 40 journalists, a playhouse and the most astonishingly green lawn you ever did see. Tonight there will be pictures.
12:34:48 PM (Eastern)
“All right, cue the spontaneity,” one of the cameramen said once he’d set up. And as if on cue, here’s the PM. In a sweater-vest! Well, more a matching v-neck sweater with matching powder-blue shirt. “Look,” said a cynic in the press corps, “it’s Perry Como.”
The PM’s message is simple: he flew halfway across the continent so he could chat with Edwin and Fei Huang, who like him are family types with young children, or one child anyway — cute as a button, the young Huang is — so they could discuss the riverboat gamble that a vote for the Dion Liberals would represent.
Oops. Two children. The little Huang girl, also button-cute, was temporarily obscured by the also highly photogenic plastic playhouse.
Anyway. Dion: risky tax scheme. This cannot be repeated often enough, although clearly the Conservatives plan to try.
On to questions.
12:41:44 PM (Eastern)
The questions, in a new compromise system which we were amazed to discover none of us had a problem with, are drawn from a monster master list of every reporter on the bus. So I get my question tomorrow, and everybody who got a question yesterday goes back to the bottom of the list. Eerily…fair. Or Communist. Or egalitarian. Whatever.
1. Dalton McGuinty says something is unfair. Harper disagrees.
2. Do his candidates have the right to speak freely? “We campaign as a team.” So…kinda.
3. Liz May: should she be in the debate? The PM says it’s “not a strategic matter” for his party, but he clearly doesn’t want her there. That would be “two Liberals” and — this is striking, because I’ve been thinking the same thing — he “strongly” expects May to throw her party’s vote to the Liberals before the big day.
4. Will Harper buy carbon offsets for his plane? No, that’s a Liberal policy, he says.
5. Or 6. Or 7. I’m falling behind. Question for the Huangs: not yet. Later.
Next question: polls. “I’ve been through two national election campaigns…I have never yet seen a poll that was right on election night. So, take that for what it’s worth.”
12:51:30 PM (Eastern) (You think it’s easy to change blackberry time zones?)
The Liz May question in French. And again: he expects her to formally throw her party’s support to the Liberals by Oct. 14. Hmm.
Oh my. Now he’s making a hard, hard pitch to anglo Montrealers: supporting the Liberals bought you 40 years of national-unity wars. (No mention of 1987-92, I might note.) Won’t those nice Montrealers give another party a try? Say…his?
A Dawson College question. Dion’s there today. “Unfortunately the registry didn’t stop that incident.”
We checked the neighbour’s lawns, incidentally. They’re all gorgeous and manicured, so the Huangs’ astonishing lawn cannot, it seems, be chalked up to ambitious advance. It’s just great to have a lawn in Richmond. And you need to know that a vote for Dion would put those brilliant lawns at risk. See? I’m well trained.
12:58:34 PM (Eastern)
Ah. Local Chinese reporter asks: is it a coincidence that the local incumbent Liberal is Raymond Chan and the Huangs are Chinese? Answer: nope.