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Belinda goes ballistic

[PoliticsWatch Updated 5:45 p.m. January 12, 2006]

Liberal MP Belinda Stronach. 

OTTAWA  — Liberal MP Belinda Stronach issued a statement Wednesday blasting her former boss, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, and other people she was in caucus with just a year ago. 

Stronach released the statement in reaction to a Globe and Mail article that reported the president of the Conservative Party sent an e-mail out last year confidently predicting a Conservative backbench MP would introduce a private member's bill on abortion. 

The Conservative party voted against supporting any abortion legislation at their policy convention last year. 

Nonetheless, Liberals, including Stronach, are having a field day with the leaked e-mail.

Here are Stronach's toughest quotes.

"Just beneath the surface of the safest campaign planning lies the real heart of the Stephen Harper Conservative Party - ideological, narrow, intolerant," Stronach said. 

"Mr. Harper himself has not changed since the days not long ago when he was an outspoken neo-con ideologue, who ran a right-wing organization and admired the Republican right in the U.S. more than his own Canadian political culture. Mr. Harper authored the 'firewall' letter on Alberta separatism. And he surrounds himself with a small group of like-minded individuals.

"Mr. Harper leads a group trying to convince Canadians to let them run the country, but, with them, come all kinds of other people who stay in the shadows until January 24 with agendas not on the ballot."

Stronach crossed the floor in the days before the May non-confidence vote and was immediately promoted to Prime Minister Paul Martin's cabinet. 

At the time she said she defected because the Conservatives were not a national party and were trying to force an election that would hurt federalism in Quebec. 

Most of the latest polls show the Conservatives ahead or neck and neck with the Liberals in Quebec with 11 days left in the campaign. 

Harper gives Zeisman the boot

Less than 12 hours after it hit the media, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said Thursday a B.C. Tory candidate who will go on trial for smuggling next month will not sit in the Conservative caucus. 

Derek Zeisman is running in the riding of B.C. Southern Interior. Since nominations are now closed under the Canada Elections Act, the Conservatives cannot field another candidate in the riding and will have to write it off. 

The Liberal party Web site was calling for Harper to withdraw Zeisman's nomination. 

Harper said Zeisman failed to tell the party about his situation. 

"Obviously I became aware of this yesterday," he said. 

"It is not a criminal matter, it is however a serious matter. It should incumbent upon this candidate to reveal this information before it became public."

Zeisman was charged by Canada Customs with attempting to smuggle a Mercedes-Benz and 112 containers of alcohol from the United States into Canada.

The riding was narrowly won by Conservative Jim Gouk in the last federal election and the NDP candidate who finished a close second is running again. 

It now appears a lock for the NDP. 

Zeisman's campaign was already facing major obstacles. 

An essay he wrote eight years ago for Magna's As Prime Minister contest surfaced. In that essay, Zeisman proposed abolishing the Charter of Rights. 

And Zeisman has been hospitalized since shortly before Christmas after he was involved in a serious auto accident. 

Are the Liberal attack ads working?

Thursday's SES Research daily tracking poll -- known informally by bloggers as "The Daily Crack" -- show the Conservatives have maintained their nine-point lead over the Liberals. 

The Tories are down a point to 38 but the Liberals are down a point to 29. If that number holds on election day, it could be a disaster for the Grits. 

Only once since after the Second World War have the Liberals finished below 30 per cent at the polls --- that was in 1984 when John Turner won 28 per cent of the vote and just 40 seats. 

However, a closer look at the polls show the Liberal attack ads may be having an effect. 

Harper continues to have a three point lead over Martin for best PM, but he has dropped in all leadership indicators overnight. On Trust Harper is at 22 down from 24; competence is 23 down from 28; And vision from Canada dropped nine points to 23 from 32. 

As another pollster Darrell Bricker of Ipsos recently noted in a comment at AndrewCoyne.com, leadership indicators are independent variables that can cause a shift in the dependent variable, better known as party support. 

He highlighted Martin's slide in these indicators in December: "Vote is a trailing indicator, not a leading indicator. The fundamentals started going downhill some time ago, vote is only now catching up."

The question is, can the Liberal vote catch up with 11 days to go.

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