Stephen Harper's Conservatives are broadening their attack on the Official Opposition, painting New Democrats not only as being in the pockets of unions – but also as a party of tax hikers.
"After two weeks of infighting amongst senior NDP leaders, they have united on a major issue: given the chance they will raise taxes on all Canadians," Tory strategists say in a memo circulated to supporters this week.
The Conservatives are reacting to a declaration by perceived leadership frontrunner Brian Topp that he would raise taxes on wealthy Canadians. The former party president also said he would not rule out a sales-tax increase once the economy is in better shape.
Interim NDP Leader Nycole Turmel has also raised concerns that a loophole in the Tax Free Savings Account program allows older wealthy Canadians, who can afford to contribute to the TFSA, to still collect the Guaranteed Income Supplement. The party wants the loophole closed, saying it will cost the government an extra $4.2-billion annually by 2050 and that it drains funds meant for "struggling seniors."
Seizing on this, the Tories charge "the NDP's opposition to Canadians saving their hard-earned money [is]yet another worrying examples [sic]that the NDP is not fit to govern." (It's also another worrying example of backroom strategists struggling to put a cogent sentence together. )
NDP finance critic Peggy Nash dismissed the attacks, arguing "these kind of misleading messages are just meant to distract people from the Conservatives' own poor record on the economy and taxes."
She added: "Stephen Harper has rewarded banks, profitable businesses and multinational oil companies with generous subsidies and massive tax breaks. New Democrats proposed a cut to the small business tax rate and tax saving measures to reward job creating companies.
"Stephen Harper imposed the HST on the backs of families in the middle of a recession, while New Democrats proposed taking the federal sales tax off home heating and giving families a break."
Ms. Nash also noted that for the past eight years the Tories can't point to a "single tax on everyday families the NDP has proposed."
From their cold, dead hands
Conservatives are gloating after the introduction of legislation that will – once and for all – scrap the long-gun registry.
One of the biggest proponents of dismantling the registry is Cheryl Gallant, whose rural riding outside of Ottawa has long been anti-registry. In 2000, Ms. Gallant defeated the very colorful Liberal MP Hec Clouthier, partly as a result of his defence of the registry that was being pushed by his party at the time.
In the Commons Tuesday, Ms. Gallant delivered a Charlton Heston-esque take on what the new legislation means to her constituents: "For the first time in over 15 years, law-abiding sportsmen, thanks to our Conservative government, can look forward to doing what they have always done without the heavy, oppressive hand of big government on their shoulders," she said.
"There is a new attitude in Ottawa. It is one that respects the rights of individuals to enjoy lawful activities without passing judgment and constantly telling people what they can and cannot do. In the great riding of Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke we value our freedom and when it is fall, it is hunting season in the Ottawa Valley."
What women want
Female MPs from all parties gather Wednesday for an inaugural meeting to try to put together a non-partisan women's caucus.
It's an initiative being driven by Liberal MP and former cabinet minister Carolyn Bennett. She said Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose is expected to meet at the Parliamentary Restaurant with them as is the NDP's Francoise Boivin and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.
"The goal is for women parliamentarians to be able to work across party lines in the best interest of Canadian women and their families," Ms. Bennett told The Globe. In addition, their plan is hold an event with the women journalists from the National Press Gallery.
A record number of women – 76 – were elected to the 308-seat Commons in the May election.
It's officially poppy season
Governor-General David Johnston will be presented the first poppy of the season Wednesday morning, marking the beginning of the time to honour Canada's soldiers in the lead-up to Remembrance Day.
Patricia Varga, the dominion president of The Royal Canadian Legion, will present the poppy to the Governor-General. And once he pins it on watch for the Prime Minister, cabinet ministers and MPs to be wearing them on their lapels in the Commons and elsewhere.