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Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is giving a speech in Vancouver today, while Prime Minister Stephen Harper is delivering money.

Thus will begin a busy week for the two federal politicians, whose fortunes have gone in opposite directions in recent days. With the House of Commons on a one-week break, both of them will be vying for media attention in British Columbia, with the Prime Minister having a clear advantage over the Leader of the Official Opposition.

At 11 a.m., Mr. Harper is scheduled to be flanked by Conservative MPs to make an announcement at Port Metro Vancouver, with officials in British Columbia saying there will be a new round of infrastructure spending.

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One hour later, Mr. Ignatieff will appear before the Vancouver Board of Trade to give a speech titled, Canada as a Pacific Power in a Changing World.

Unless Mr. Ignatieff comes up with a surprising twist on the theme, odds are that he will come in second behind Mr. Harper on the evening newscasts.

Pollster Peter Donolo said that given recent poll results, with the Liberals trailing the Conservatives by 13 points nationally, Mr. Ignatieff needs to take some risks.

In addition to his Vancouver speech, Mr. Ignatieff this week will go campaigning in the riding of New Westminster-Coquitlam, where there will be a by-election on Nov. 9, before heading off to Regina to meet high-school students and then to Thunder Bay.

"They're all essential things that an opposition leader must do, but they are not sufficient," said Mr. Donolo of the Strategic Counsel.

In addition to putting the government on the hot seat in Parliament, Mr. Donolo said, the Liberals need to create a buzz around their policy positions, in particular in Mr. Ignatieff's speeches.

"He needs to find issues that have sharp edges to them and that serve as really sharp wedges between him and the government. And he needs riskier events to do that." .

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According to the most recent polls, Mr. Harper's Conservative Party has been winning over new supporters and is now approaching majority territory.

The Liberals, on the other hand, have been going in the opposite direction after a recent bout of infighting.

Mr. Ignatieff acknowledged last week that he has a lot of work to do to persuade Canadians that he is ready to form the next government, after having been cast in an unfavourable light in a series of Conservative attack ads.

"I've got to lift that big frame off and let Canadians see who I really am," he said. "If there are things that I need to do better, I am certainly going to be ready to try."

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Daniel Leblanc studied political science at the University of Ottawa and journalism at Carleton University. He became a full-time reporter in 1998, first at the Ottawa Citizen and then in the Ottawa bureau of The Globe and Mail. More

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