The party leaders: Where they went and what they said on Tuesday, March 29
Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper courted the small-business vote Tuesday during a swing through Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Speaking in a boat showroom and repair shop in Regina, he promised a tax break for small businesses to expand and hire new employees. "Small businesses are the engine of job creation in Canada and are indispensable in their role as job creators and innovators," he said. Later in Regina, Mr. Harper had to face questions about a 1997 TV interview in which he seemed to float the idea of a coalition of opposition parties bringing down a minority Liberal government. Mr. Harper also visited Winnipeg, where he met Maria Aragon, the 10-year-old girl who became an Internet star by covering a Lady Gaga song.
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff spent the morning Tuesday courting college-minded voters in the suburbs of Toronto. Speaking in Oakville and Mississaugua, he announced a $1-billion education program aimed at helping high-school students, especially those from low-income families, pay for college or university. "This is at the heart of the Liberal vision," Mr. Ignatieff said at Sheridan College in Oakville. "We can do this because we aren't going to give the corporations a tax break." The Liberal Party subsequently had to scramble when it was pointed out that the proposed program would give some students in Quebec twice as much money as their tuition, thereby allowing them to turn a profit. The Liberal leader later headed to British Columbia to campaign there.
NDP leader Jack Layton also spent the day in the vote-rich suburbs of Toronto, stopping in at the home of a middle-class couple in Brantford, Ont. and pledging to cap credit-card rates at five percentage points above prime. "Are we such terrible credit risks that we have to have the highest credit rates in the world?" he asked. He later spent part of the day campaigning in Kitchener, Ont.
Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe campaigned in Montreal on Tuesday, where he attacked a star Tory candidate, Larry Smith, for saying that younger Quebeckers are more concerned about finding jobs in a global economy than they are about the protection of the French language. "So openness on the world means not having a language that is ours?" Duceppe asked at a campaign stop. He also reiterated his call for French to be made the language of the workplace for Quebec's 300,000 federal employees.