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On the campaign trail: The daily photo recap

The party leaders: Where they went and what they said on Wednesday, March 30

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Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff spent Wednesday in the Vancouver area, where he visited a drugstore and unveiled a plan to allow working Canadians, 75 per cent of whom don’t have private pension plans, to top up their retirement savings through the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP). “Let’s be clear here,” Mr. Ignatieff said. “This is a case where the federal government has to step up and provide leadership on pensions.” The plan faces a major hurdle: It would have to be negotiated with all the provinces. Mr. Ignatieff also embraced the idea of a one-on-one debate with Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper, an idea Mr. Harper floated while campaigning Wednesday in Ontario. “Any time, any place,” said Mr. Ignatieff.

CP

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Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper woke up Wednesday to a new poll giving him a 10-point lead in the election, virtually the same margin that won him a minority government in 2008. He spent the morning on a swing through Brampton, Ont., where he watched an important cricket match between India and Pakistan in a middle-class family’s home; later he visited an auto-parts plant where he promised to extend a tax break that allows manufacturers to write off investments faster on machinery and equipment. “If you want people to invest, you need to make it easy for them,” Mr. Harper said. The Tory leader spent some of the day defending his government’s estimate of the cost of purchasing new jet fighters, saying the government figure of about $75-million per plane was accurate in spite of U.S. forecasts that the price would come in as high as $115-million per plane.

CP

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New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton was in working-class Oshawa, Ont., on Wednesday, mining for a second day in a row the vote-rich ore of the Toronto area. He had to deal with an unexpected setback when the NDP candidate in a London, Ont., riding announced he was pulling out of the race and endorsing the Liberals, all in a bid to prevent a Conservative victory. “I think people who think that way are in for a little bit of a surprise because what you see is New Democrat support has been growing,” Mr. Layton said in response. He used his stop at an Oshawa cabinet-making factory to promise a cut in the small business tax rate, from 11 to 9 per cent, and an increase on the corporate tax rate, from 16.5 to 19.5 per cent.

CP

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Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe campaigned in the Montreal area for the fifth day in a row on Wednesday, prompting the media to ask him whether he is too focused on safe seats in the province’s largest city. He countered that his party is the dominant federal force in the ridings outside Montreal and that he will be hitting the road by the weekend. One important stop will be the Quebec City region, where the Bloc has lost ground to the Conservatives. Mr. Duceppe has yet to make a major policy announcement, something he is saving for the road.

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