Saturday, January 14, 2006

Reuters pour more dirt on Martin and the Liberals

Canada: As they pick up on the media and pundits turning on them, even I'm amazed at the sheer amateurish campaign of the Liberals.

HUNTSVILLE, Ontario, Jan 14 (Reuters) - All indications on Saturday pointed to the Conservatives ousting Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin in Canada's general election on Jan. 23. With a little more than a week to go and polls showing the opposition party enjoying a commanding lead, pundits from all sides were turning against Martin and Conservatives candidates -- once reluctant to sound confident for fear of scaring away voters -- were speaking more openly about victory. For the first time since 1988, the influential Globe and Mail newspaper abandoned its support of the Liberals and cautiously endorsed Conservative leader Stephen Harper. "We are on the cusp of reversing 12 years of Liberal rule," Conservative parliamentary candidate Tony Clement said in introducing Harper at a rally in this snow-covered rural area north of Toronto. The Liberals, in power in Ottawa since 1993, have won this district for the last four elections. Harper was then set to go to North Bay, which the Liberals have held for the last 17 years. "Mr. Martin is campaigning in Montreal, which was considered not too long ago the strongest set of Liberal ridings (districts) in the country. That's an encouraging sign," Harper said. "Indications on the ground are good everywhere."
That is a bad sign if you have to cover areas in the last week of an election that should be squared away by now.
'LONG OF TOOTH AND SHORT OF ENERGY' This time Harper's lead is much stronger -- up to 11 percentage points -- and it has shown little sign of eroding. Most observers agree that he has run a more disciplined campaign than in 2004 and than the Liberals are doing now. "More than ever, Paul Martin gives the impression of a weak man surrounded by incompetents," columnist Lysiane Gagnon wrote in the prominent Quebec newspaper La Presse. Besides battling the public's desire for change, the Liberals have suffered from scandal and criminal investigations. Martin's government fell on Nov. 28 after a judicial inquiry concluded the Liberals had taken kickbacks from public contracts which were then illegally used to finance elections.

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