Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff gather every Wednesday with their parties in meeting rooms across the hall from each other on Parliament Hill. This morning, they opened up the closed caucus doors to reporters to do some gloating and a little politicking as they introduced their new MPs.
Jack Layton and his New Democrats, meanwhile, kept their doors closed. They were shut out of Monday’s by-election wins.
In Tory caucus, the Prime Minister noted his party was the only one to make “net gains” and concluded this was a validation of his government’s priorities, including law and order, jobs and the economy. He couldn’t help but mention that Monday was a “great day” for Conservatives.
And to great applause and standing ovations, he introduced his two new hires: Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette MP Robert Sopuck and his new star, Julian Fantino, from Vaughan, Ont. The Prime Minister posed individually with each of them, both sporting big smiles and a big thumbs up.
“At the best of times it is rare for governing parties to pick up seats in by-elections,” Mr. Harper said to rousing applause.
“And I should have mentioned that Robert got well over 50 per cent of the vote,” the Prime Minister added to yet more enthusiastic applause.
What he didn’t say was that the Manitoba constituency was a long-held Tory seat – and he also neglected to mention Mr. Fantino’s results, which were nothing to brag about.
Considered a shoo-in, the former Toronto police chief and Ontario Provincial Police commissioner only squeaked through, receiving 49 per cent of the vote compared to 46 per cent for Liberal candidate Tony Genco.
The Prime Minister nevertheless praised Mr. Fantino’s record in law enforcement, noting he’s someone who has kept Canadian streets safe. “He managed to overcome a two-decades-long Liberal hold on the riding and will be an important part of our Conservative team’s efforts to make sure we get the crime bills through Parliament.”
Across the hall, meanwhile, Mr. Ignatieff introduced his new MP, Kevin Lamoureux from Winnipeg North. “We’ve got a fighter here,” the Liberal Leader said. “We’ve got a fighter who made us all proud.”
But Mr. Ignatieff also spoke about the fight in Vaughan, noting again that the Liberals turned what was expected to be a “coronation” into a “dog fight.” He vowed the Liberals would take back seat in the next election.