The election has been called and the leaders have been making their first appeals on TV.
Stephen Harper was good both in speech and questions. He has also lost a lot of weight! His campaign would seem to be focussed on the government's record and leadership. No surprise there. The press in both his and Dion's question sessions seemed very focussed on the use of "family man" in Harper's commercials. He had a decent answer, saying he isn't arguing that others aren't family men but his advisors have pointed out that Canadians don't know him as a father, etc and it is worthwhile to inform people of that side of his persona.
Stéphane Dion used a teleprompter for his speech and the result was to show a stark difference between his ability in English when reading a speech and when answering unrehersed questions. I am not sure it would be wise for the Liberals to have him use a teleprompter in the future except when giving speeches where questions will not follow. Dion has boiled his "three pillars: economic prosperity, social justice and sustainability" down to the catchier "richer, fairer and greener Canada". Dion said "I am as nationalistic as Gilles Duceppe" which could come back to haunt him in an attack ad.
Gilles Duceppe had the same appeal as usual (only we will stand up for Quebec!) but the meat was a bit light because of the nationalistic things Harper's government has done ("nation within a nation", UNESCO, etc). Duceppe reminded people of Harper's 2003 support of the Iraq War which may be a wise approach for him to take.
Neither CTV nor CBC cut to Jack Layton has he began his remarks, CBC didn't even acknowledge that he existed while CTV showed him in a side box but did not cut to him. I am not sure why this was, I expect we will soon learn as the NDP complains. I left to write this post and am not sure if they cut to him or if they will cut to Elizabeth May.
Two high profile Conservative candidates have been announced in New Brunswick. Former cabinet minister and Lord chief of staff Rodney Weston will run in Saint John while Downtown Moncton CEO and former Lord riding assistant Daniel Allain will run in Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe. Preliminarily, I am not totally sure what to make of these.
In Saint John, Paul Zed only won by four points (43% to 39%) in 2006, but Weston, while well regarded by the political class in Fredericton and by the media, was defeated in his attempt for re-election in 2003 despite representing a conservative riding. Weston is from rural Saint John County and his old riding (Saint John-Fundy) only includes a small part of the city. I am not sure how well he would play in the city proper and the higher-end suburbs. I'll keep an eye on this but this may actually be to Zed's benefit.
In Moncton, having a fluently bilingual individual with a record of public service inside and outside of politics may be formidable. The difference between Bradshaw in 2004 and Murphy in 2006 was 11% (59% vs. 48%). Allain certainly faces an uphill battle but this is interesting enough for me to move the riding from safe Liberal to leans Liberal.
In the next few days I will do a less detailed round-up of Atlantic ridings.