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Burning Question

Is Harper on well-earned holiday <br/>or hiding from controversy? Add to ...

Stephen Harper's lack of ubiquity amid controversies around the long-form census and RCMP leadership is the subject of much discussion and derision among the opposition.

Much as there were last summer when Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff was away, there are daily references to the Prime Minister's absence. On Thursday, NDP Leader Jack Layton called a news conference to criticize Mr. Harper for his "silence" on the government's decision to scrap the mandatory long-form census controversy.

"Behind closed doors the Prime Minister made the decision to severely limit the way that the government can respond to the needs of Canadians," Mr. Layton says in a statement. "Trying to sneak this change through during the summer isn't the leadership Canadians are looking for."

And at various time this week Liberal MP Scott Brison has criticized the Prime Minister's absence. Most recently, he mentioned it during a heated debate with Conservative Senator Mike Duffy about William Elliott's leadership of the RCMP on CBC television.

And the Liberals aren't stopping there. They are distributing two Google maps - one showing where Mr. Harper has been this month, the other showing Mr. Ignatieff's travels.

The Prime Minister' s map shows only eight appearances, including the Calgary Stampede and events with the Queen in early July. The pinpoints come to halt on July 19.

<iframe width="425" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=101459189682861768008.00048c4c53fb8fa6f4d5c&ll=54.059388,-93.427734&spn=37.751158,112.5&output=embed"></iframe><br /><small>View <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=101459189682861768008.00048c4c53fb8fa6f4d5c&ll=54.059388,-93.427734&spn=37.751158,112.5&source=embed" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">Stephen Harper - Summer / Été 2010</a> in a larger map</small>

The Liberal Leader 's map details his summer bus tour - a far more hectic schedule than Mr. Harper's. There have been about 36 visits to cities and towns all over the country in July and more are scheduled. In fact, the Liberals cheat a little bit, flooding the map with stops yet to come in August.

<iframe width="425" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=101459189682861768008.00048abb707ead4a04748&ll=59.175928,-96.679687&spn=34.415597,112.5&output=embed"></iframe><br /><small>View <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=101459189682861768008.00048abb707ead4a04748&ll=59.175928,-96.679687&spn=34.415597,112.5&source=embed" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">Liberal Express / L'Express libéral</a> in a larger map</small>

All of this begs the question: Where is the Prime Minister?

"If you check I think you will find PM's secret vacation hideout is - wait for it - Harrington Lake!" a senior Conservative source told The Globe.

We did. But this is all we got from a senior official in the Prime Minister's Office:

"Since coming back from Moncton last week, the PM has been spending time with his family here in the Ottawa region. He's still working, being briefed and making decisions."

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