They're not full meals, but the hors d'oeuvres of politicking: Mini-promises that are tasty but don't have hefty costs that weigh down the federal budget. And, if all goes according to strategy, they can nudge a few key ridings and constituencies into the win column. Here are five promises made by the Conservatives this week, in their platform and elsewhere.
The Promise: Create a special Office of Religious Freedom in the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
The Cost: $5-million a year starting in 2012-13; includes other efforts to defend religious freedom.
The Strategy: No religious minorities are named in the platform, but Coptic Christians, under attack in Egypt, are surely at the top of the list. Looking for the biggest concentration of Coptics? You'll find them in Mississauga - including the riding of Mississauga-Erindale, which Conservative Bob Dechert won by just 397 votes in 2008.
The Promise: Establish a new air expeditionary wing at CFB Bagotville.
The Cost: No numbers in the platform, but it was pegged at $300-million when first proposed in 2007.
The Strategy: CFB Bagotville is in Chicoutimi-Le Fjord, where the Conservatives lost to the Bloc Québécois by 3,057 votes in 2008. That might not seem like a tight race, but it's an opportunity in a part of the province where the Bloc typically racks up double-digit victory margins. Plus, cabinet minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn is just one riding over.
The Promise: Introduce an adult-fitness tax credit and install defibrillators in every hockey arena in Canada.
The Cost: $69-million annually for the tax credit starting in 2014-15; $2.5-million a year for the defibrillators starting next year.
The Strategy: Call this one the Don Cherry gambit. If the hockey commentator - who has crusaded for defibrillators - wasn't won over to the Tories before, this should do it. Beyond Grapes, the two measures should appeal to beer-league players who hit the ice on weekends, as the Tories look to score in suburban ridings.
The Promise: Establish a new national park in Toronto's Rouge Valley.
The Cost: $10-million annually, starting in 2012-13.
The Strategy: The immediate area of the Rouge Valley is a washout zone for the Tories, with Liberals winning by hefty margins in several Scarborough-area ridings. But the message for the wider region is clear: We're greener than you think and we're thinking of you.
The Promise: Keep command of the Pacific fleet in Esquimalt.
The Cost: Zero, though that doesn't take into account any lost efficiencies.
The Strategy: The riding of Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, home to the Pacific fleet, barely tilted Liberal in 2008, with Keith Martin winning by just 68 votes. With Mr. Martin not running, Tory hopes of commandeering the seat are high - all the explanation needed for Stephen Harper's rapid squashing this week of the notion that command might be centralized in Halifax.