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Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on December 2, 2009.

BLAIR GABLE

The opposition argued today that domestic politics should be fought on Canadian soil, painting the Prime Minister as a scaredy-cat for releasing the latest report on the Conservative stimulus plan on the road to China.

The NDP got the ball rolling in the House, accusing Stephen Harper of being afraid of the opposition and the press.

"The Prime Minister unveiled his economic platform over Siberia, about as far away from Canadians and the House as he could possibly get," NDP Leader Jack Layton said during Question Period. "Where is the accountability and the truth?"

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The Liberals said the release of the document should have occurred in Parliament, and that the Conservatives wasted money by organizing a mirror announcement in Winnipeg for Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

"We all remember that the previous Conservative report card road shows cost taxpayers more than $100,000 each," said Liberal MP John McCallum.

"Can the government tell us what it is spending today to fly the Finance Minister to Winnipeg to release a report that was secretly tabled last night and already unveiled by the Prime Minister while flying 30,000 feet above Siberia?"

The Conservatives had fun with the controversy, which focused attention away from the actual content of the report.

"The Minister of Finance was very proud to travel to Winnipeg," said Transport Minister and Tory attack dog John Baird. "I know there are not a lot of Liberals in Winnipeg any longer. They have a one-member caucus in Winnipeg, but we believe it is important to work with Canadians in every part of the country."

The other dominant theme of Question Period was the Canadian mission in Afghanistan, with the Liberals arguing for a greater emphasis on diplomacy.

"Other countries have created high-level envoys for the whole region. The United Kingdom, France, the United States, Germany have done this. Canada has earned the right to be at the table and to participate in those efforts," Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said. "Can the government explain why, over month after month after month, it has refused to take that step?"

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Defence Minister Peter MacKay was far from stumped by the question, which allowed him to state that Canada is sticking with its own approach.

"I know the Leader of the Opposition would model himself after other countries. We are taking a unique Canadian approach. We have an ambassador in Afghanistan. We have a whole of government approach that has in fact been the envy of other countries," Mr. MacKay said.

(Photo: Blair Gable/Reuters)

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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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