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Bashing better than a Buzz for Martin

[PoliticsWatch Updated 6:00 p.m. December 13, 2005]

Prime Minister Paul Martin says there is a "global conscience." 

OTTAWA  — It's hard to tell who is giving the Liberals a bigger boost in luring NDP voters, Buzz Hargrove or the U.S. State Department. 
 
The U.S. ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins, issued a rebuke against Prime Minister Paul Martin on Tuesday for what he sees as anti-American rhetoric on the campaign trail, providing Martin with yet another opportunity to put on a display of standing up to the U.S. and the unpopular Bush administration. 

"I feel like a hanging curveball," explained Wilkins.

"It may be smart election-year politics to thump your chest and criticize your friend and your No. 1 trading partner constantly," Wilkins said in a speech in Ottawa in which he never specifically mentioned Martin by name. "But it is a slippery slope, and all of us should hope that it doesn't have a long-term impact on the relationship."

Last week the prime minister angered the U.S. administration for his criticism of the U.S. for its decision not to join the Kyoto accord and for a photo op he had with former U.S. President Bill Clinton in Montreal. 

Wilkins said he wants the issue of the United States out of the Canadian election campaign, saying "the United States should not be on your ballot."

He tried to explain the damage the PM is doing to Canada-U.S. relations in the most simplest of terms.

"What if one of your best friends criticized you directly and indirectly almost relentlessly? What if that friend demanded respect and offered little in return? Wouldn't that begin to sow the seeds of doubt in your mind about the strength of your friendships?"

A little more than an hour later, the PM put on his defender of Canada hat at a press conference in B.C.

"I will defend the Canadian position and I will defend our values against anybody," Martin said forcefully. 

"Nobody can tell me I'm not entitled to defend my country. I'll keep on doing it."

Martin actually went further then he has in the past on Tuesday when he suggested that on issues such as softwood lumber and Kyoto there is a "global conscience," which he suggested the U.S. was not onside with. 

"This is one world and the leadership of the world has got to be able to speak to the global conscience."

The latest SES Research tracking poll shows the Liberals eight points ahead of the Conservatives and the NDP dropping to 13 points nationally, about three points lower than they were in the last election and below where the Bloc is polling.

If the NDP is really polling at 13 per cent then that means about half of the seats they hold in the House of Commons could be at risk. 

Alberta Report

Things are quiet in Alberta this election campaign. 

The Conservatives are expected to win all but perhaps one of the province's seats in the federal election - the Edmonton seat held by Deputy PM Anne McLellan - and because of that none of the party leaders are paying much attention to the province. 

As we enter week 3 of the campaign, Green Party Leader Jim Harris is the only party leader to visit the province. 

CBC News reports the NDP says Jack Layton could show up in the province next week and the Conservatives say Stephen Harper may visit the province where his riding is located in the next two weeks. The Liberals have not been that specific but say Martin wants to visit all parts of the country during the campaign. 

While it's pretty quiet from the leaders' tour perspective, former Liberal MP David Kilgour is making things interesting. 

In an interview with the Canadian Press' Joan Bryden, Kilgour, who is not running for Parliament for the first time since 1979, says he is "appalled" by how the PM's campaign is going and "ashamed" to have been a member of Martin's caucus. 

And those were the more positive things he had to say. Kilgour described Martin as "a prime minister who has no scruples at all," who is "prepared to say anything, anything" or build "any bridge he thinks will bring him a few votes."

Fortunately for the Liberals Kilgour says he is not endorsing the Conservative candidate running in his riding of Edmonton-Beaumont. 

Then again, he says he tells anyone who asks him not to vote Liberal. Kilgour was one of just two Liberals to be elected in Alberta from 1993 to 2004. 

Layton criticizes Supremes, turns to Tommy Douglas

Now for a little policy. 

NDP Leader Jack Layton was first out of the gate on Tuesday with the policy pollsters say is the most pressing issue for average Canadians - Health care.

Layton made an announcement in Regina with Shirley Douglas, daughter of former NDP Leader Tommy Douglas. Tommy Douglas is widely considered "the father of medicare" in Canada.

In that speech, Layton criticized the Supreme Court for the Choaoulli decision, which some say could open the door to private medical insurance in Canada. 

Layton called that ruling "surprising and unfortunate" and argued that it "attacks Canada's single-payer medicare system at its core." 

The NDP are promising to work toward the following in the next Parliament: 

> Refusing to permit the dismantling of Canada's single-payer medicare system; 

> Prohibiting the use of federal transfers, directly or indirectly, to subsidize a new, profit-making private insurance system covering medically-necessary services; 

> Ensuring that no federal money be used to cover the salaries or costs of doctors and any other medical personnel involved in a new, separate, profit-making private insurance system

> Tough monitoring and enforcement of these rules.

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