Justin Trudeau made a surprise visit to Vancouver this week, hoping to give his party a boost in a province that could cast the deciding votes next Tuesday on election night.
Mr. Trudeau, the son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, is trying to follow his father into political life, running for election in the Montreal-area riding of Papineau.
Mr. Trudeau warmed the crowd yesterday at a morning rally for Vancouver's slate of Liberal candidates, introducing Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion and criticizing Conservative Leader Stephen Harper for offering a narrow agenda that lacks vision.
Afterward, Mr. Trudeau acknowledged he's taking a bit of a risk by leaving his riding, where he is hoping to steal a seat from the Bloc Québécois.
"But it's nice to come out and see so many friends in B.C. I have deep roots here and to be able to see what a national campaign looks like is a lot of fun, too," he said. "I ran into a few old friends and colleagues that I taught with, but really it's been a focus on my friends in politics out here."
Mr. Trudeau campaigned this week in Richmond, Burnaby-Douglas and Surrey and also made a stop at the University of British Columbia.
After Mr. Trudeau's introduction, Mr. Dion made a direct pitch to nervous seniors yesterday, saying a Liberal government would explore the option of easing the rules governing their pension savings.
Mr. Dion said the option would be part of his "30-day" plan to meet with financial experts to hammer out the best form of government action to address the international credit crisis.
Liberals explained that by the age of 71, seniors who have turned their Registered Retirement Savings Plan into a Registered Retirement Income Fund are required to withdraw money from the fund on a set schedule.
Liberals say they will ask regulators for their views on suspending those rules so that seniors are not required to withdraw their funds while their savings are taking a hit on the stock market.
He said a Liberal government would immediately study the merits of raising the individual amount of savings that are guaranteed by the government, which is currently $100,000.
"This is the thing you do when you care," Mr. Dion told supporters at a morning rally in Vancouver.
Mr. Dion would not commit to implementing the two ideas, saying he would first want to consult with financial experts in the federal government and private sector after the election.
Reacting to early reports on the Conservative platform, Mr. Dion said the $400-million to boost Canadian industry is less than the $1-billion in comparable programs the Liberals are offering.
After reviewing Mr. Harper's announcement, Mr. Dion dismissed the Tory platform as a "brochure" of small tax cuts that do not amount to an economic plan.
"Stephen Harper says 'Don't switch votes in the middle of a storm,' but we have a captain who is asleep at the wheel," said Mr. Dion.
"For the sake of Canadians, what we need to change is the captain and his crew," he added.
Mr. Dion acknowledged that the Conservatives did raise the age at which seniors are required to withdraw from their RRIFs, but said that is different than what he is proposing.
"He's proving again today that he has no plan," said Mr. Dion.
"The only things he knows how to do is to distort the Liberal plan, as he did again today."
Mr. Dion said the policies behind his "Green Shift" - taxing carbon emissions and reducing income and corporate taxes - was praised in a report yesterday by 230 economists.
Asked about the plan in the Conservative platform to abolish the Senate if it can't be reformed, Mr. Dion said such a measure would be impossible without the support of the provinces.
"It shows he has no respect for the premiers and no respect for the Constitution of Canada," Mr. Dion said. "He has no power to abolish the Senate alone.
"We have a Prime Minister who wants to bully the country the way he bullies his own cabinet and his own caucus."
On the issue of the two new options Mr. Dion floated yesterday, the Liberal Leader noted that other governments have recently announced plans to raise the deposit insurance amounts that are guaranteed by the government.
Mr. Dion rejected a reporter's question suggesting the Liberal Leader is dangling a promise to seniors on which he may not deliver.
"No, because what I am saying to Canadians is they will have a prime minister and a government that will care and that will have a plan to consider these issues right now and considering everything that makes sense with the best expertise in our country," Mr. Dion said.
The new details surrounding Mr. Dion's "30-day plan," which he first outlined last week in the French-language leaders debate, is a clear attempt by the Liberals to portray the Conservatives as unwilling to use the tools of government to help Canadians during hard economic times.