Sunday, April 17, 2011

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 “Saskatchewan 13” the MPs have proven to be ineffective and useless.

The MPs were silent during last fall’s $38.6 billion takeover bid by Australia’s BHP Billiton of PotashCorp. And to this day they refuse to own up to Harper breaking his $800-million-a-year promise to Saskatchewan in the 2006 election to remove natural resources from the equalization formula. They live to serve Harper and little else.

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 St. George’s Senior Citizens’ Centre (1235 20th St. W.). The NDP, Liberal and Green Party candidates said they plan to be there.

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 Saskatoon’s poorest neighbourhoods. Given the challenges some of her constituents face with skyrocketing rent, poverty and poor health it’s mystifying why Block would devote so much time to a cause that has no impact in her riding.

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 Saskatchewan caucus.

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.

Canada needs a strong, stable national, majority Conservative government,” said Harper.

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 Canada leading the global economic recovery.

A Postmedia News article published in the StarPhoenix two weeks ago set the record straight stating: “Canada ranked sixth in 2008 and 2009 in economic performance out of the 17 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), according to a report by the Conference Board of Canada. But Canada is expected to slip to 10th in 2010 and ninth in 2011, according to the report.

Canada’s economy has been improving, but not at the same rate as the leading economies. Australia and Sweden are expected to lead in economic improvement in 2011, according to the report.” [Reality ‘cheque’: Tory claims about the economy (StarPhoenix, March 28, 2011)]

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 Saskatoon the previous evening, but it remains unknown what he did between then and the rally. [Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Saskatchewan (NewsTalk 650, April 15, 2011)]

Blackstrap MP Lynne Yelich introducing colleagues

Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar MP Kelly Block introducing Prime Minister

Email invitation from Kelly Block campaign office (Apr. 12, 2011)

Conservative sticker required for rally


At 7:34 PM, Blogger susansmith said...

That was an excellent post. My sister and brother in law in that riding and they are working for Nettie!

At 8:37 AM, Blogger Derv said...

^ Oh neat, my girlfriend works for Nettie! My brother and I are volunteering for her too, even though we don't live in her riding. We are determined to get her in - the alternative is simply not acceptable. Candidates who play it low and refuse to speak before an election do not belong in parliament.


Post a Comment

<< Home