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Paltry war chest 'says a lot about Ignatieff's leadership'

Editorial cartoon by Brian Gable

The Globe and Mail

1. By the numbers. The national opinion polls are not being generous to Stephen Harper's Conservatives but contributors are. Over the past three months the Tories raised $4.1-million for their political war chest - aggressively outpacing Michael Ignatieff's Liberals in their best second-quarter fundraising result since they formed government in 2006.

Mr. Ignatieff and his team attracted $1.6-million from 17,064 Canadians, half the number (34,431) who contributed to Mr. Harper and his team. The Tories, not surprisingly, are gloating, saying this shows Canadians agree with their tough-on-crime and economic agenda.

"It's a far cry from when the Liberals claimed they would quintuple their revenues from 2008 and raise $25-million a year," Conservative Party spokesman Fred DeLorey says. "That says a lot about Ignatieff's leadership."

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Liberal Party president Alfred Apps wouldn't take the Tory bait. Rather, he said Wednesday morning that the Liberals are "on track and on budget."

"All debts have been paid off and we are building our war-chest for the campaign, whenever it comes," he said. "[The party]will have the resources for a fully-funded campaign including advertising."

And he noted that the so-called Liberal Express - Mr. Ignatieff's six-week cross-country bus tour - has been fully-funded within their budget.

Elections Canada posted the latest results on its website Tuesday afternoon. They show the Tories continuing to go from strength to strength, also earning $4-million in the first quarter of this year - money that is available to the party, for example, for initiatives such as pre-writ negative ads, which have proved effective against the Liberals.

The NDP raised $747,136.41 from 10,946 contributors compared to $711,269.13 that the party attracted last year in the same quarter; the Green Party raised $262,830.68 and the Bloc raised $80,243.52 (it doesn't have to concentrate as much on fundraising as it only runs 75 candidates in Quebec and like the other parties receives taxpayer subsidies for every vote cast for the party.)

And what a difference a year makes. Last year for the second quarter, the Liberals out-hustled the Conservatives by a slim margin, earning $4.05-million compared to $3.9-million for the Tories.

The Conservatives have always been consistently good at raising money, running anti-CBC campaigns or those aimed at scrapping the long-gun registry, which have proven effective. A Tory official does not believe for this quarter, however, that there was one particular campaign that "attracted a disproportionate amount of funds compared to the others."

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2. The meltdown that wasn't. Helena Guergis's local newspaper, the Collingwood Enterprise-Bulletin, has seen the video of the MP's infamous meltdown at the Charlottetown airport and reports that at "no point during the three-and-a-half minutes does Guergis appear angry or rude."

This contradict reports in February, when the story first broke, that Ms. Guergis - then minister of state for the status of women - was abusive when dealing with airport staff. The airport incident is considered to be the beginning of the end of Ms. Guergis's career as Tory.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper pulled her from her cabinet post in April after allegations of improper business dealings by her husband, former Edmonton Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer. Mr. Harper also dismissed her from caucus and called in the RCMP to investigate some "serious allegations."

The Mounties, however, recently cleared her and are no longer investigating. Still, the MP for the Ontario riding of Simcoe-Grey has not been welcomed back into the Tory fold.

3. A woman's right to choose. Canadians are ignorant about abortion, not realizing there is no law governing the procedure. Still, a new online poll shows that Canadians do not want the debate on the issue reopened.

The Angus Reid Public Opinion survey, released Tuesday, shows that only 21 per cent of Canadians know that a woman can ask for an abortion at any time during her pregnancy without any restriction.

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It notes that 41 per cent of Canadians believe that abortions are only available to women in the first trimester of their pregnancies and 15 per cent believe only women in their first trimester and whose life is in danger, who are the victims of rape, or whose fetus has "serious complications" are able to have the procedure.

The online poll of 1,022 Canadians was conducted between July 7 and July 8. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Angus Reid vice president of public affairs Jaideep Mukerji says the surprising statistic is that "most Canadians are unaware of what exactly the laws regarding abortion are (or rather the lack of a law regulating abortion)."

The poll also shows that only 30 per cent of the population would like to re-open the debate while 55 per cent say there is no point reopening the issue - statistics that should be instructive to politicians.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper resisted re-opening the debate this spring when after being challenged by the opposition over his refusal to include safe access to abortion as part of his signature maternal-health initiative at the G8 summit.

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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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