1. Easy target. Michael Ignatieff's "Liberal Express" bus tour through small-town Canada continues today with a swing through Eastern Ontario and stops in Brockville, Kingston, Napanee and Peterborough.
Liberal organizers have fingers crossed today that Mr. Ignatieff's attempt to reintroduce himself to voters doesn't suffer any more mechanical failures like the ill-timed bus breakdown Tuesday.
The bus snafu was of course music to the ears of the Harper Conservervatives. The Tory Party's rapid-response team swung into action faster than you can say "schadenfreude," mailing out a note to party stalwarts and MPs that made gleeful fun of the Liberals' roadside woes. They also managed to get an extra dig in about the fact that Mr. Ignatieff spent 30 years outside Canada before returning to serve as Liberal leader.
"This can't be a great start to the tour... Hopefully the local mechanic services imports," Conservative talking points said.
Later party stalwarts circulated a picture of the hapless Liberal bus being towed away for service.
Industry Minister Tony Clement also got in on the act, tweeting that he's having trouble getting to Halifax for today's navy procurement announcement. "Oh no! Mechanical difficulties delays my AC flt from YOW to Halifax. Rona! Peter! Don't start without me...," Mr. Clement announced via Twitter this morning, referring to cabinet colleagues Peter MacKay and Rona Ambrose.
2. Once more with feeling. Today in Halifax, Defence Minister Peter MacKay and several cabinet colleagues will re-launch plans to buy several supply ships for the Navy. They're hoping second time's the charm.
In August 2008, the Harper government shelved the last $2.9-billion effort to buy three vessels under its Joint Supply Ship program, blaming defence contractors for being unable to deliver a proposal within the budget Ottawa had set.
Today's announcement couldn't come fast enough for the Navy, which has been getting nervous about the schedule of capital projects as Ottawa prepares for an extended period of restraint and cutbacks to fight the deficit.
Supply ships, vital to keeping the Navy operating at sea, are essentially floating depots for carrying and dispensing fuel, ammunition and parts.
The Tories are announcing the "definition phase" of the supply ships today: the specifications of what it's going to look like and what it must have on it. The government must still call for bids to build the ships.
The Conservatives have already unveiled the bare-bones plans to build 28 large vessels and 100 smaller ships for the navy and coast guard - at a cost of $35-billion over 30 years. They have said they expect to sign agreements with two Canadian shipyards to build major vessels while others will work on the rest of the ships.
3. Foreign influence. In other news, critics of the Chinese Communist Party are holding a presser on Parliament Hill this morning to attack a staffer in the Chinese embassy to Canada, accusing the senior consular official of interfering in Canadian politics.
The group, which includes former Liberal MP David Kilgour and Falun Gong, among others, is demanding the Harper government censure Liu Shaohua, the first secretary of the education department of the Chinese Embassy and declare him "persona non grata."
They say they have a recording that shows Mr. Liu calling on Chinese students and scholars to confront those protesting human rights abuses in China during President Hu Jintao's recent visit to Canada.
"The actions of the Chinese Embassy as a whole and Mr. Liu in particular went over acceptable diplomatic boundaries," the group says in a statement. "Provoking Chinese students to confront Canadian protesters is another example of the improper foreign interference in Canada by the party state of China."
4. Good luck with all that. Finally, Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson today is predicting Canada's broadcast regulator will throw a wrench in plans to launch a right-of-centre TV network in Canada modeled on Fox News. Mr. Simpson says the Quebecor Media application is asking for a lucrative "Category 1" or "mandatory offer" license "whereby cable companies are required to offer a channel as part of a package."
He says the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission "would lose every shred of credibility" if it grants Sun TV this kind of license. "It has to say - and Sun TV will likely hate the word - go 'compete.' Meaning, try to negotiate something with your 'friendly' cable giants such as Shaw, Rogers and Bell."Report Typo/Error