And it's down to the wire in
the home stretch.
|Capt. Paul is pulling ahead of Even Stephen
with less than a week to go in the race.
OTTAWA - Can Paul Martin and
the Liberals hang on?
With less than a week to go in the campaign, the Liberals head into
the home stretch of the federal election with a bit of momentum in
the polls. The latest Ipsos-Reid poll had the Liberals six points
ahead of the Conservatives, with 34 per cent support compared to 28
Whatever happens in the next few days, it appears a minority Liberal
or Conservative government looks like the likely outcome.
Even though they are ahead in the polls, the Liberal campaign has
been a near disaster. One Ontario MP called the campaign a
"comedy of errors" and many are reportedly grumbling to
whoever will listen about why the prime minister called an election
when there was so much residual anger from the sponsorship scandal
and the Ontario Liberal budget. A Conservative minority could mean
the end of Paul Martin's brief reign as Liberal leader as the Toronto
Star reported this week that "the knives will be out"
if Stephen Harper becomes PM.
Even if they do not win the election, the Conservatives still appear
to be on their way to a successful campaign, with the party
appearing to be making major gains in Ontario. Conservative
Leader Stephen Harper appeared nearly unflappable for two weeks
during the campaign when he faced daily questions about the party's
position on abortion and gay marriage. However, he appeared unable
in the past week to shake off the prime minister's efforts to make
the election about former Ontario premier Mike Harris, former prime
minister Brian Mulroney and Alberta Premier Ralph Klein.
With no chance of winning the election, NDP Leader Jack Layton is
now urging voters leaning towards the NDP to make sure his party
will play a "central role" in the next Parliament by
denying the Liberals a majority. Layton's strategy may be working as
his party is holding on to about 20 per cent of the electorate,
despite efforts by the Liberals to have soft NDP support vote
Liberal in a strategic effort to block Harper and the Conservatives.
Meanwhile, the Bloc is cruising along the campaign trail in Quebec,
with a campaign powered by Adscam resentment across La Belle
Province. Bloc support is over 50 per cent in many polls. Reporters
on the Bloc campaign bus call the relaxed campaign Club Bloc. Things have
never been better for Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe, who won the
French-language debate and arguably was the strongest performer in
the English-language debate. And after the election, Duceppe could
play his greatest role yet -- king maker for a minority
The prime minister is describing the last two weeks of the campaign
as the "fight of our lives." It may be the fight of Paul
Martin's political life and his legacy. A Conservative minority
could make Martin's six months at the top a footnote in history,
much like the "summer jobs" of John Turner and Kim
Campbell. And it appears that the final week of the election will
come down to this question: Will Ontarians show up in droves to vote
Liberal as they have in the past three federal elections or will
they vote for change?
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