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John Baird goes hat in hand with enemy coalition at the gate

Government House Leader John Baird returns to his office after speaking with reporters in the foyer of the House of Commons on Jan. 24, 2011.

Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

A month ago, a $500-a-head fundraiser to help John Baird's re-election efforts noted that "in all likelihood a federal election will be called in 2011."

In a few short weeks, however, that rhetoric has been ramped up considerably. A second email invitation sent around this week suggests the enemy is now at the gate.

"There is a chance that the Ignatieff-led Liberal-Bloc Quebecois-NDP coalition may force an unwanted and unnecessary election on Canadians in 2011," says the invitation to the Feb. 9 reception.

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A recipient of the invite, who asked to remain anonymous, noted the change in tone: "Two weeks ago it's to help John prepare now it's to come celebrate or vilify the nasty coalition."

The soiree is being held at a private home by supporters. In last month's invitation, it advertised there would be "numerous Conservative Party of Canada Ministers and caucus colleagues" at the event. Well, now we know who they are.

In addition to Mr. Baird, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Treasury Board President Stockwell Day and Marjory LeBreton, the Government Leader in the Senate will be on hand as the "special guests."

"It is essential that John Baird MP - our Conservative Party of Canada House Leader - once again be victorious in the riding of Ottawa-West Nepean," the invitation says. "A re-election campaign for John Baird will cost upwards of $100,000. This reception will play a major role in ensuring John has sufficient funding to wage a winning campaign."

This second invitation comes after several weeks of heated election speculation. It has not abated as MPs returned to work in the Commons Monday and as the government's March budget approaches.

Mr. Baird has come under some scrutiny for this event; opposition MPs criticized him for "peddling access" to cabinet ministers. But it seems all rules are being followed.

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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