Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday October 23, 2000
They’re Off; Chretien calls Nov. 27 vote; opposition calls it opportunistic
Canadians will decide Nov. 27 whether the Liberals should be punished for calling an early election or rewarded with a third mandate.Amid opposition claims that his government is arrogant, cynical and out of touch with ordinary Canadians, Prime Minister Jean Chretien visited Governor General Adrienne Clarkson at her official residence yesterday.
He asked her to dissolve Parliament, officially triggering a campaign that had been going on informally for weeks.
Speaking outside Rideau Hall against a backdrop of autumn leaves, the prime minister said an early election is necessary to let Canadians decide what should be done with the country’s burgeoning massive budget surplus.
Immediately, the other parties dumped all over the Liberals, protesting that the election call — just three-and-a-half years into their five-year mandate — is unnecessary and opportunistic.
Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark, NDP leader Alexa McDonough and Canadian Alliance campaign co-chairman Jason Kenney each described Chretien’s go vernment as arrogant, framing what is likely to emerge as a central theme of the campaign.
“What’s happened today is that Jean Chretien has walked off the job, ” Clark said. “He’s walked off the job with a lot of business left to be done.”
The dissolution of Parliament leaves 20 pieces of legislation unfinished, effectively killing them.
“The record of this government is that of arrogance, ” Kenney said. “Canadians are tired of this tired government.”
Chretien calls Nov. 27 vote; opposition calls it opportunistic
“I wouldn’t expect them to say anything else, ” Heritage Minister Sheila Copps said.
“It is an election campaign and obviously they’re out to oppose the government. The reality is it’s the Alliance-Reform that asked for the election originally. Asking people to make a choice when you’re in the fourth year of the mandate — I don’t consider that arrogant.”
The smiling prime minister, who walked to the Governor General’s residence with his wife Aline, said he was feeling both confident and humbled by the opportunity to ask Canadians for another mandate.
Copps enjoys the highest profile among local Liberal MPs, who represent every riding in Hamilton, Halton, Brant and Niagara.
But Marlene Richards, Canadian Alliance riding association president for Ancaste r-Dundas-Flamborough-Aldershot, said she is sensing that voters in the Hamilton area are hungry for a change.
“There’s something exciting in the air, ” she said. “I’m feeling very, very positive about our own riding.”
Most local Alliance riding associations expect to nominate candidates within the next week.
During the weekend’s provincial Tory party convention in Toronto, both federal Alliance leader Stockwell Day and Conservative leader Joe Clark made appearances, seeking to win support for their competing camps among Mike Harris Tories.
The future for Day and Clark will depend on their ability to make gains in vote-rich Ontario, which holds more than one-third of all the seats in the federal Parliament. (Hamilton Spectator, A1, 10/23/2000)