Liberals enter election bruised by controversy
Liberals remain optimistic as they head into an election campaign tomorrow,
despite a bruising few weeks of controversies and missteps that left Prime
Minister Jean Chretien looking irritable, his caucus divided and his
government facing accusations of being cynical, arrogant and manipulative.
Strategists acknowledged yesterday that the governing Liberals haven't had
the smooth couple of weeks full of good news that they would have liked
leading into an election.
But they predicted the "minor" controversies that have gripped Parliament
Hill won't have any lasting impact.
The only event voters will remember, the Liberals fervently hope, is
Wednesday's mini-budget, packed with $100 billion in tax cuts.
"I think in terms of things that really matter, in terms of the economic
statement, that's very positive," said David Smith, co-chairman of the
Liberal national campaign team.
As for the rest, "I think those aren't stories of lasting significance."
So far at least, public opinion polls show the Liberals maintaining anywhere
from a 19- to 33-percentage-point lead over the Canadian Alliance. They have
registered no significant drop in support over the past few weeks, despite a
barrage of opposition and media criticism over Mr. Chretien's "cynical"
decision to go to the polls only three-and-a-half years into his second
mandate or the public outburst against the "arrogance" of renaming Mount
Logan after former prime minister Pierre Trudeau.
But the polls have not yet taken into account the past week of
- Mr. Chretien's decision to appoint former Newfoundland premier Brian Tobin
to his cabinet without waiting for the election.
- A scathing report from the Information Commissioner accusing the Prime
Minister's Office of excessive secrecy and intimidation of his staff.
- Auditor General Denis Desautel's report rehashing the government's
mismanagement of job creation grants.
- The failure of Liberal MPs to show up for a committee hearing with Mr.
Desautels and Mr. Chretien's terse command to "get out of my way please"
when a reporter asked about the no-show.
Click link below for full article.