Gilles Duceppe sets out Thursday from Montreal along the St. Lawrence River Valley. For his first foray outside of greater Montreal, he chose some of the safest Bloc Québécois territory. After a quick stop in one last Montreal suburb, he hits the countryside and rural industrial installations around Trois-Rivières, about 100 kilometres east of Montreal. The Bloc's average margin of victory in these overwhelmingly Francophone ridings was 15,000 votes.
Stephen Harper will campaign on The Rock and in Nova Scotia, his first stop in Atlantic Canada. First, the Conservative leader will visit with local candidates in Halifax. Then he's on to a rally in St. John's.
Michael Ignatieff, the Liberal leader, will make a childcare announcement Thursday morning at a preschool in Winnipeg. This is to be his third major platform policy announcement of the campaign. And then he's visiting a local business before flying off to London, Ont., where he will participate in a townhall discussion. This is part of the Liberal strategy to show that their leader is open, spontaneous and likes to meet real people, in contrast to Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, who Liberal strategists say campaigns in a bubble.
Jack Layton's campaign travels to Montreal, where the NDP leader will make an announcement at Insertech Angus, which trains young unemployed adults for entry in the work force. The riding, Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, has been held by the Bloc Québécois since 1990, when the separatist party was born. Bernard Bigras, the Bloc candidate, won in 2008 with more than 50 per cent of the vote.
The NDP has been talking about expanding their reach in Quebec since winning Outremont in a by-election in 2007. Recent polls suggest that the New Democrats' fortunes are improving in the province, but the NDP was well behind in Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie in the last election with just 16 per cent of the vote.
Mr. Layton's tour will fly to Sudbury on Thursday night.