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Ignatieff, 'Liberal food' and a cantankerous Tory bowler

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has a hot dog for lunch with Winnipeg candidates Terry Duguid and Kevin Kevin Lamoureux at Kelekis restaurant on March 31, 2011.

FRED GREENSLADE/REUTERS

The Liberals wanted unscripted and they got unscripted Thursday when Michael Ignatieff visited a famous local diner.

He and his entourage (including RCMP bodyguards, senior staff, several candidates and a few journalists)- descended upon Kelekis Restaurant. The landmark is located in the Winnipeg North riding, which is now in Liberal hands after Kevin Lamoureux took it away from the NDP in last year's by-election.

The restaurant - with its famous French fries and hot dogs and where there is not an espresso machine in sight - is a Winnipeg institution. There's a picture of Pierre Trudeau on the wall of local and national celebrities who have visited. There are pictures, too, of former governor-general Adrienne Clarkson and her husband, John Ralston Saul, along with other politicians including former Mulroney cabinet minister Jake Epp and Lloyd Axworthy, a former long-time Liberal MP and minister.

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And so Mr. Ignatieff went there to eat - he had a hot dog, fries and a Coke - and to campaign among the lunch-time crowd. Not all of the patrons were pleased, however.

A table of nine elderly bowlers, who appeared to have a standing reservation after their Thursday game, were not impressed by Mr. Ignatieff, who was seated nearby.

One man was muttering under his breath about how annoying the whole scene was. He used profanity to describe the Liberal Leader but his wife shushed him a couple of times.

He would not give his name and when Mr. Ignatieff came up to shake his hand, he refused. "That's my prerogative," he said.

Mr. Ignatieff turned away quickly but not before he told the group to "have a nice lunch."

Later, the elderly gentleman said he was a Conservative. He thought the election, which he blamed on Mr. Ignatieff, was too expensive.

Offered a hot dog, he said he didn't want to eat "Liberal food."

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