Campaign bubble continues as Harper takes no questions from audience or media at rally in Saskatoon; Kelly Block misses debate deadline
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s campaign bubble tour was in Saskatoon on April 15, 2011, with a Conservative rally at Prairieland Park Trade and Convention Centre (Hall A).
As with every other election stop by the PM since the federal election campaign began on March 26, the event was tightly controlled and scripted.
Those attending were required to pre-register by April 14 and show photo ID at the door. Anyone without a media pass or a round blue Conservative Party sticker reading “Here for Harper Canada” was denied entry to the hall.
In the crowd were such familiar faces as city councillor Bev Dubois and Saskatchewan Party cabinet ministers Don Morgan and Ken Cheveldayoff.
The rally lacked any spontaneity. The supporters that filled the risers at the back of the stage were coached on how to wave their signs by Conservative handlers before the event started. Once under way, the audience clapped and cheered seemingly on cue.
The first to take the stage was Blackstrap MP Lynne Yelich, who introduced the province’s other 12 Conservative MPs, along with several senators. Dubbed the “
The MPs were silent during last fall’s $38.6 billion takeover bid by
Next up was Saskatoon–Rosetown–Biggar MP Kelly Block to introduce the Prime Minister.
Block’s claim to fame is her refusal to participate in any debates during the 2008 federal election. This campaign seems to be no different. Block failed to meet a recent deadline to inform organizers if she will attend an all candidates forum hosted by the Riversdale Community Association on April 28 at the
In October 2010, Block introduced a private members bill seeking to disclose the salaries and expenses paid to First Nations chiefs and councillors. The StarPhoenix noted at the time that Block does not represent any First Nations communities in her riding and that she came up with the idea for the bill by speaking with fellow MPs. [Disclose band salaries: MP (StarPhoenix, October 2, 2010)]
Block’s riding includes
StarPhoenix columnist Doug Cuthand hit the nail on the head last month when he called the bill “a shiny bauble aimed to keep the party’s right wing happy.”
“While it’s a private member’s bill,” said Cuthand. “Make no mistake that under the tight control of Stephen Harper, it had the blessing of the PMO.”
In Cuthand’s opinion, since taking power five years ago, “the Conservative government has done very little to improve conditions for First Nations.” [First Nations’ issues on Tories’ backburner (StarPhoenix, March 18, 2011)]
Harper was ushered into the hall through a side door and steered directly to the stage, shaking a few hands as he walked by his
In his speech, Harper took every opportunity to paint the opposition parties as a coalition ready to seize power in the event of another minority Conservative government. He said such an arrangement would be “unstable” and only lead to another election.
Harper reminded the crowd that Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff once said he wouldn’t “take a GST hike off the table.” Naturally, he didn’t mention that most economists worth their salt have said his government’s decision to cut the GST by two percentage points was a mistake that cost the treasury billions of dollars in lost revenue. Even the StarPhoenix said the move was “unwise.”
And, of course, Harper took time to talk about tax cuts and being tough on crime.
Harper also repeated the Conservatives’ Big Lie about
A Postmedia News article published in the StarPhoenix two weeks ago set the record straight stating: “
The same article also debunks Harper’s lies that the Liberals would raise taxes and increase spending should they form government.
Harper spoke from notes for nearly half an hour and then left without taking questions from the audience or the media.
NewsTalk radio 650 later reported that Conservative staffers said the Prime Minister was there strictly for rallying purposes, and that he was taking no questions from the media.
Harper arrived in