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article imageOp-Ed: Harper and Layton clash in BC

By Gibril Koroma     Mar 28, 2011 in Politics
Vancouver - The leaders of Canada's Conservative Party and New Democratic Party were in British Columbia over the weekend hammering at each other in two cities close to each other. Harper was in Burnaby and Layton was in Surrey.
Following the fall of the Harper government last Friday over a non-confidence vote from the opposition parties, the Tory leader immediately hit the campaign trail, appearing first in Brampton, Ontario on Saturday and Burnaby, British Columbia, on Sunday.
In BC, he (Stephen Harper) chose the NDP-held Burnaby New Westminster riding of Peter Julian, one of his most ferocious critics, to present his case to the voters. He did not hide his desire to have a majority government this time while laying out his government's economic successes. He also spent a lot of time on what he perceives as the "coalition" threat of his opponents.
He warned that Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff would form a coalition government with the other major parties- the NDP and the feared Bloc Quebecois- if voters fail to vote massively for the Conservatives in the next election slated for May 2. He used the word "coalition" several times in his speech. There are reasons for Harper's love for the word and here are some of them:
1. Many Canadians, including British Columbians, fear a coalition government involving the Bloc Quebecois(who they know want to separate from the rest of Canada) and the NDP(who many say or think are either socialists or communists). These are salient and actual fears Harper and his team are aware of and will exploit to the fullest through out this campaign even though Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff keeps saying he is not interested in a coalition government.
2. The Conservatives have successfully sold the idea that Canada is doing well economically compared to other countries in these days of global recession and economic meltdown. The opposition has been trying to refute this, so far with little success, by talking about the huge deficit and rising unemployment. Many voters therefore think it's safer to have Harper in place to protect the economy than the other guys.
So the only way, it seems to me, that the opposition could dislodge Harper is to provide facts and evidence that Harper did not do much to protect the economy or better the lot of the average Canadian. This is a huge task that would involve a lot of research. The Tories, on the other hand, have a lot of statistics to prove their case.
In his speech in Surrey (a city heavily populated by immigrants a few miles from Burnaby) the NDP's Jack Layton seems to be very much aware of Harper's economic "success story" and he spent most of the time attacking it by dwelling on bread and butter issues like rising food prices, the problems of immigrants, the hated HST, historical wrongs and so on.
NDP leader Jack Layton.
NDP leader Jack Layton.
British Columbians are going to do a lot of voting this year. Apart from the federal election on May 2, there is the BC NDP election of a new leader coming up on April 17, a vote on the Harmonized Sales Tax on June 24, and an imminent bye election in former premier Gordon Campbell's riding (in which current premier Christy Clark is interested). There is also talk of a provincial election before 2013.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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