Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Commentary: The Montreal Gazette

While Harper and Layton jetted out west, Stéphane Dion campaigned in safe Montreal ridings. Photograph by : ANDY CLARK, REUTERS

Dion Stumbles

A campaign launch is all about the leader's tour, and it's supposed to convey two messages - momentum and competence.

In the rollout phase of this campaign, it's advantage Stephen Harper, with a nod to Jack Layton. As for Stéphane Dion and the Liberal campaign, it is apparently still in the garage.

Harper made a statement with his campaign launch on Sunday. After the requisite call on the governor-general, followed by a statement and press conference in the rose garden of Rideau Hall, he got on his plane and flew to Quebec City, Ground Zero of the Conservatives' ambitions to graduate from minority to majority government.

Harper was making a deliberate show of strength in an important market, area-code 418, where the Conservatives are poised to sweep Quebec City and be very competitive with the Bloc Québécois in the rest of eastern Quebec, a region where the Liberals are not even in the game.

Then Harper got back on his plane and flew to Vancouver, using the time change to his advantage and getting in another opening-day event on the West Coast in the key battleground of the lower British Columbia mainland.

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