First published: June 27, 2004
The fight between the two major parties for Prince Edward-Hastings riding was never more apparent than the recent leaders’ visits late this week, says the local Liberal candidate.
Prime Minister Paul Martin made a campaign stop in Belleville Friday morning at Liberal candidate Bruce Knutson’s campaign office. Conservative leader Stephen Harper gave a speech in the city the night before.
“It’s going to be a real battle ground in this riding,” said Knutson.
It’s a fight the Liberals have to win. According to an Ipsos-Reid poll released in the Globe and Mail on Friday, nationally the Liberals have 32 per cent support, the Conservatives are at 31 per cent, and the NDP 17 per cent.
Martin’s speech was aimed at stealing away some of the NDP support, urging people to vote strategically in order to prevent a Conservative government.
“I would like to send a message to those who are considering to vote for the New Democratic Party,” Martin said. “With an election race as close as this one nationally, an election race as close as this one in many ridings in Ontario, with the stakes as high as they are, the simple fact is that a vote for the NDP on Monday could very well make Stephen Harper prime minister on Tuesday.
“There are differences between (the Liberal party) and the NDP, and we shouldn’t try to hide them. But we share the same values; they spring from the same well. And the alternative, the Conservatives, share a very different perspective for the role of government and on the future of this country.”
Martin made specifically attacked Harper for his views on the role of the central government in Canada.
“He does not believe in a strong national government,” said Martin. “His only concern is that no matter how many national governments we have lying out there in the province, his only concern is that those governments be smaller, not better.”
While Martin spoke to the crowd of about 150 on the Liberal’s economic record, its support of agriculture, plans for military and foreign policy, health care and the creation of a national child care program, he relentlessly attacked Harper.
“This is not the time to look to Stephen Harper whose foreign policy is to go on bended knee to another country,” said Martin. “We are going to have an independent policy, we’re going to stand for ourselves, and we’re going to build a strong economy.”
Martin has three days left to scare people away from Harper and to try and steal some of the NDP support for the Liberal party.