March 3, 2004) OTTAWA
- Prime Minister Paul Martin effectively said today his Liberal government's election strategy will be to distance itself from the Liberal government of
former prime minister Jean Chretien.
"I think that what this is all about is essentially saying, 'This is what we're about. This is the kind of country that we are going to build. We are a new government and we essentially approach government very differently than previous governments have.'
"I think that's what really Canadians are looking for. I think if we do that we will win," he told reporters in Peterborough.
Martin's comments appear to confirm parts of a Globe and Mail story this morning that reports senior Liberals say the party plans to "bet the house" on Martin in an expected spring election instead of the Liberal brand, which has been badly damaged by the sponsorship scandal.
According to the Globe, internal party polling shows that Martin ranks 15 points higher in approval than the party, which has been hovering between the mid 30s and low 40s in various polls released since Auditor General Sheila Fraser tabled her report on the misappropriation of up to $100 million in funding from the sponsorship program.
The paper also reported that the party plans to release a new logo featuring the words "Team Martin."
"In an election you obviously look to your right and you look to your left," said Martin. "But fundamentally, it is my view if we provide good government, if we demonstrate that we are driving towards our agenda on the one hand, that we are dealing with the problems such as the sponsorship issue on the other, then in fact we'll be re-elected."
The prime minister also said that he feels "very confident" about the party's
chances in Quebec in the next federal election, despite polling showing party
support dropping in the province.
"As long as we as a government are seen to respond to the needs of
Quebecers, there's no doubt in my mind we'll do very, very well."
Martin is expected to call an
election in early April.
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