By: Jennifer Ditchburn,
The Canadian Press
OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper's speeches in the early days of the federal election campaign could give Canadians the shivers.
Harper paints a dire picture of war and financial calamity around the world, a teetering Canadian economy, and what he says is the "terrible price to pay" if the three opposition parties banding together to usurp a Conservative minority.
Harper opened the second day of his campaign Sunday once again sounding the alarm that his rivals were bent on overthrowing a future Conservative minority.
Aside from a description of measures his party introduced in the rejected federal budget, Harper has not yet mentioned new party policies.
"Friends, we are living in a fragile global recovery. Yes, Canada is doing relatively well, but a sea of troubles is lapping at our shores, disaster in the Pacific, chaos in the Middle East, debt problems in Europe and of course very serious challenges south of our border. Canada is the closest thing the world has to an island of security and stability," Harper told a crowd of about 300 in Brampton, Ont.
"What would the world think were we to suddenly head off into some whole new, high-tax economic direction, led by a reckless coalition, without a coherent program or even basic national principles?
"That is why Canada must have a strong, stable national government and only the Conservative party can provide that kind of government."
Striking fear in the hearts of voters about rivals is a tried and true tactic. The Liberals used it successfully in 2004, suggesting Harper had a hidden agenda that included taking away a woman's right to choose an abortion.
But the move backfired for Paul Martin in the 2006 election, when his party warned voters in an ad that Harper would put "soldiers on the streets" of Canadian cities. In the 2008 American presidential election, the Republicans used "socialist" as the dirty word against Democrat Barack Obama, warning of a scenario where the country would become a welfare state.
The Conservatives have chosen a supposed coalition as the centre of their doom-and-gloom scenarios, knowing how unpopular the former Liberal Leader Stephane Dion's attempt to form one was with voters in 2008. The Conservatives spiked in the polls shortly after Dion signed a document of co-operation with his NDP and Bloc Quebecois counterparts.
"If we don't win a stable majority, he believes he can get a mandate from the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois to govern even if he didn't win the election," Harper said.
"That's not right, that's not democracy, and Canada will pay a terrible price if that happens. That's what we've got to stop. We've got to have a strong, stable national Conservative government in this country."
Harper touched on the predominantly southeast Asian origins of the crowd in the suburban banquet hall, saying people who had sought out Canada as their new home didn't believe in taking the gamble on a risky coalition.
Winning the support of only a slightly larger swath of the ethnic vote in ridings in the Greater Toronto Area could help flip some to Conservative blue from Liberal red. A number were won with less than five per cent of the vote, including Brampton West where Liberal Andrew Kania won by only 231 votes over this Tory rival.
The Conservatives have been aggressively trying to court different cultural groups since before they came to power in 2006, and have been slowly moving toward the Liberal and NDP bastion of Toronto itself. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who was in the crowd Sunday, recently wrote to colleagues asking for their support in an advertising campaign designed to sway "very ethnic" ridings.
"We want to win everywhere, we want to represent all Canadians, we want to represent Canadians of all cultural backgrounds, and we have always to go, but now more than ever Canada needs a strong, stable national government and only the Conservative party is within range of forming that government."
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Posted by Brent Fullard at 1:30 PM