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Ignatieff trusts his campaign plane - but not his Tory rival

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff and his wife Zsuzsanna Zsohar walk to a Tim Horton's during a campaign stop in Conception Bay, Nfld, on April 5, 2011.


The Liberal campaign plane is safe - good to know as Michael Ignatieff and his team fly off to Quebec Tuesday in an attempt to convince voters in the province his party is the federalist alternative to Stephen Harper's Conservatives.

Questions about the Boeing 737-400 aircraft arose because of an emergency directive from the Federal Aviation Authority in the United States requiring operators of the older models to check for metal fatigue damage. Southwest Airlines found cracks on several of its planes after a flight made an emergency landing in Arizona with a sizable hole in its fuselage.

The Grits are notorious for having campaign plane troubles, especially in 2008 when Stéphane Dion's team had to scramble for one and ended up with an Air Inuit liner. It wasn't elegant but, in the end, it was all fine.

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Tuesday morning, while at a campaign stop in Conception Bay, Nfld., the Liberals issued their own statement saying their plane was built in 1991, that it was recently inspected and that it's cleared for travel.

So with the trust issue solved regarding his plane, Mr. Ignatieff moved on to another trust issue - that of Stephen Harper's leadership.

At a lively campaign rally in St. John's Monday night, the Liberal Leader spoke at length about trust. He asked audience members how they could trust a leader who misled them on the Atlantic Accord. Newfoundlanders, led by former Progressive Conservative premier Danny Williams, believed Mr. Harper betrayed them rby eneging on a 2006 election promise on equalization payments.

Mr. Ignatieff also asked how they can trust someone who "employs a man like Bruce Carson" - a former senior adviser in Mr. Harper's inner circle who, it has been revealed, was convicted of five counts of fraud.

The Liberal Leader was back on that theme Tuesday morning at a press conference, criticizing the Tories for prohibiting two young women from attending a Conservative rally in London, Ont., because they were suspected of being Liberals.

"I think we are in a very bad place when you've got a Prime Minister who does a background check on his audience at a democratic crowd and doesn't seem to do a background check on the people he hires in the Prime Minister's Office, like Mr. Carson," Mr. Ignatieff said.

Meanwhile, as the Liberal Leader heads into Quebec for second time in the campaign, he argued the contest in the province is between himself and Mr. Harper.

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"[Bloc Leader Gilles]Duceppe said in the first weekend of the campaign and he was just stating a fact, 'the Prime Minister of Canada after May the 2 will either be Mr. Ignatieff or Mr. Harper.' Even Mr. Duceppe understands that," Mr. Ignatieff said. "So what we'll be saying to Quebec voters is you've got to choose, folks."

Voters in the province can either pick more years of a man who "does not understand Quebec on key issues like gun control, on culture, on women's rights" or go with "a guy who gets it."

Mr. Ignatieff concluded: "A lot of Quebeckers think Ottawa is a very long way away, and I understand and respect that, but they've had five years of Stephen Harper and they've had enough.

"So they're looking for an alternative and we have to be that alternative between now and the second of May."

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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