Jack Layton

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Posted by motoman 04/21/2009 @ 10:11

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News headlines
US tourists likely to stay home due to passport rule - Tampabay.com
Jack Layton met with White House officials and members of Congress to bolster President Barack Obama's intentions to reform health care. Layton said he wants to "destroy" the myths of right-wing health-care privatizers who say Canadians are suffering...
FCM welcomes NDP leader Jack Layton to its annual conference - Canada NewsWire (press release)
WHISTLER, BC, June 5 /CNW Telbec/ - The following statement was released today by Federation of Canadian Municipalities' (FCM) President Jean Perrault, following the speech to FCM delegates by Jack Layton, Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada:...
NDP won't try to topple government, Layton says - Globe and Mail
NDP Leader Jack Layton speaks during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday March 12, 2009. OTTAWA — From Monday's Globe and Mail, Monday, Jun. 01, 2009 09:09AM EDT NDP Leader Jack Layton said he won't seek to...
Stephen Taylor: Prospects for a summer election - National Post
For Jack Layton, leader of that fourth party in the House, his votes are critical to this government's survival. Though Mr. Layton's party is not poised to make any serious gains in an election held in the short-term any failure to deliver - in the...
Mitchel Raphael on Layton's tight pants - Macleans.ca
NDP Leader Jack Layton has tight orange pants “because he is very fit. Riding his bike to Parliament Hill and all.” There is also an Olivia Chow puppet; most people buy her with Layton so as not to separate the MP couple, says Thirlwall....
Jack Layton to spread virtues of Canadian universal health care to ... - The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Armed with the virtues of Canadian health care, Jack Layton is heading to Washington this week, hoping to bolster President Barack Obama's intentions to reform the American health system. The federal New Democrat leader is to spend two and a...
Layton pitches stronger relations with Jewish community ahead of ... - The Canadian Press
TORONTO — NDP Leader Jack Layton is making a pitch for stronger ties between his party and the Jewish community ahead of an award ceremony for Stephen Harper. The Canadian Jewish Congress is to give the prime minister the Saul Hayes Human Rights Award...
Layton urges health minister to save Matthews Memorial - SooToday.com
By SooToday.com Staff OTTAWA - (May 26) - New Democrat leader Jack Layton has followed up his visit to Sault Ste. Marie last week with a letter to Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq urging more federal funding for healthcare....
Hot Button - Washington Times
By Amanda Carpenter (Contact) | Thursday, June 4, 2009 The leader of Canada's New Democrat Party, Jack Layton, linked the future of his country's universal health care system to President Obama's proposed health reforms in a Washington speech Wednesday...
CPP pay packages draw Layton's ire - CBC.ca
But if you ask NDP Leader Jack Layton, the CPP head's pay cut should have been a lot more. President and chief executive David Denison earned a salary of $490000, a bonus of $735000 and long-term incentives totalling $1.6 million, according to the...

Jack Layton

Jack Layton addresses the 2003 NDP convention in Toronto, where he was elected leader

John Gilbert "Jack" Layton, PC, MP (born July 18, 1950) is a social democratic Canadian politician and since 2003 has been leader of Canada's New Democratic Party. He is a former city councillor and acting deputy mayor of Toronto, Ontario. On June 28, 2004, he was elected Member of Parliament for the constituency of Toronto—Danforth. He is married to fellow MP Olivia Chow.

The son of a Progressive Conservative cabinet minister, Layton was raised in Hudson, Quebec. He rose to prominence in Toronto municipal politics where he was one of the most prominent left wing voices on city and metro council, and was also a Board member for the Toronto Harbour Commission. In 1991 he ran for mayor, but lost to June Rowlands. Remaining on council he rose to become head of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. In 2003 he was elected head of the NDP on the first ballot of the convention.

Under his leadership, the NDP considerably increased their support, almost doubling the party's popular vote in the 2004 election, though vote splitting with the Liberals limited their gain in seats. Layton's NDP held balance of power in the Paul Martin's minority government, where in May 2005 the NDP supported the Liberal budget in exchange for major amendments, in what was promoted as Canada's "First NDP budget" In November of that year, Layton worked with other opposition parties in bringing down the Liberal government over the findings of the Gomery Commission. The NDP saw further gains in the 2006 and 2008 elections, in which the party won more seats than it had since its 1980s peak. The NDP's current tally of 37 MPs under Layton is just 6 seats short of the party's all-time high under Ed Broadbent.

Layton comes from a long line of politicians. His great-granduncle, William Steeves, was a Father of Confederation. His great-grandfather Philip Layton was a blind activist who led a campaign for disability pensions in the 1930s. His grandfather, Gilbert Layton, was a cabinet minister in the Union Nationale government of Maurice Duplessis in Quebec, and resigned due to the provincial government's lack of support for Canadian participation in World War II. His father, Robert Layton, was a Liberal Party activist in the 1960s and 1970s, and served as a Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) and Cabinet minister in the 1980s.

Layton was born in Montreal and reared in nearby Hudson, Quebec, a comfortable and largely anglophone community. He was elected student council president of his high school, and his yearbook predicted that he would become a politician. He studied political science at McGill University, and in 1969, at age 19, he married his high school sweetheart Sally Halford, with whom he had two children, Sarah and Mike. Layton and Halford's marriage ultimately ended in 1983 after 14 years.

In 1970, the family moved to Toronto where Layton went to York University to obtain his Ph.D. in political science. Layton then became a professor at Ryerson University. He also became a prominent activist for a variety of causes. He has written several books, including Homelessness: The Making and Unmaking of a Crisis and, more recently, a book on general public policy, Speaking Out.

At York and Ryerson, Layton developed close links with a number of Toronto figures including John Sewell and David Crombie. He was first elected to Toronto City Council in 1982, in a surprise upset against incumbent Gordon Chong. He quickly became one of the most outspoken members of council, and a leader of the left wing. He was one of the most vocal opponents of the massive SkyDome project, and an early advocate for rights for AIDS patients. In 1984, he was fined for trespassing when he handed out leaflets at the Eaton Centre during a strike by Eaton's staff, but the charge was later thrown out on freedom of speech grounds. Layton was also one of the few opponents to Toronto's bid for the 1996 Summer Olympics. In 1985, he moved to the Metro Toronto council, in the first direct elections for members of that body. In the 1988 municipal elections, Layton traded places with City Council ally Dale Martin, with Martin going to Metro and Layton returning to Toronto City Council. Layton was easily elected in a contest with former high school teacher Lois MacMillan-Walker. The election was a major victory for Layton as the reformist coalition of which he was the de facto head gained control of City Council, the first time in city history a coalition of New Democrats and independents controlled council.

In July 1988, he married Hong Kong-born Toronto school board trustee Olivia Chow in a ceremony on Algonquin Island. Their whitewater rafting honeymoon plans had to be abandoned, however, when days after the wedding Layton collided with a newspaper box while bicycling. Chow later joined Layton on Toronto City Council, and she has also been a candidate for the federal New Democrats three times, winning her seat the third time in a close race against Tony Ianno in the 2006 Canadian election.

Layton and Chow were also the subject of some dispute when a June 14, 1990 Toronto Star article by Tom Kerr accused them of unfairly living in a housing cooperative subsidized by the federal government, despite their high income. Layton and Chow had both lived in the Hazelburn Co-op since 1985, and lived together in an $800 per month three-bedroom apartment after their marriage in 1988. By 1990, their combined annual income was $120,000, and in March of that year they began voluntarily paying an additional $325 per month to offset their share of the co-op's Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation subsidy, the only members of the co-op to do so. In response to the article, the co-op's board argued that having mixed-income tenants was crucial to the success of co-ops, and that the laws deliberately set aside apartments for those willing to pay market rates, such as Layton and Chow. During the late 1980s and early 1990s they maintained approximately 30% of their units as low income units and provided the rest at what they considered market rent. In June 1990, the city's solicitor cleared the couple of any wrong-doing, and later that month, Layton and Chow left the co-op and bought a house in Toronto's Chinatown together with Chow's mother, a move they said had been planned for some time. Former Toronto mayor John Sewell later wrote in NOW Magazine that rival Toronto city councillor Tom Jakobek had given the story to Tom Kerr.

Originally known for coming to council meetings in blue jeans with unkempt hair, Layton worked to change his image to run for mayor in the 1991 civic election. He also started wearing contact lenses, abandoning his glasses, and traded in his blue jeans for suits. In February 1991, Layton became the first official NDP candidate for the mayoralty, pitting him against centrist incumbent Art Eggleton. In a move that surprised many, Eggleton elected not to run again.

Layton was opposed by three right-of-centre candidates: Susan Fish, June Rowlands, and Betty Disero. Right wing support soon coalesced around former city councillor Rowlands, preventing the internal divisions Layton needed to win office. Layton was also hurt by the growing unpopularity of the provincial NDP government of Bob Rae, and by his earlier opposition to Toronto's Olympic bid. Bid organizer Paul Henderson accused Layton and his allies of costing Toronto the event. Despite this, October polls showed Layton only four points behind Rowlands, with 36% support. However on October 17, Fish, a former provincial Tory cabinet minister who had only 19% support, pulled out of the race, and many of her supporters moved to Rowlands. Layton lost the November 12 election by a considerable margin. However, in the same election Olivia Chow easily won a seat on City Council.

Layton returned to academia and founded the Green Catalyst Group Inc., an environmental consulting business. In 1993, he ran for the Canadian House of Commons in the riding of Rosedale for the NDP, but finished fourth in the generally Liberal riding. In 1994, he returned to Metro Council, and he resumed his high profile role in local politics. He also came to national attention as the leader of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. He ran again in the 1997 federal election, but lost to incumbent Dennis Mills by a wide margin.

Layton was elected leader of the NDP at the party's leadership convention in Toronto, on January 25, 2003. Layton won on the first ballot with 53.5% of the vote, defeating Bill Blaikie and Lorne Nystrom. His campaign was focused on the need to reinvigorate the party, and was prominently endorsed by former NDP leader Ed Broadbent.

Layton did not seek election to the House of Commons by running in a by-election, as is the tradition among new party leaders without a seat. Instead, he waited until the 2004 federal election to contest the riding of Toronto-Danforth against Liberal Dennis Mills. With no seat in the House of Commons, he appointed the runner-up, longtime Winnipeg-area MP Bill Blaikie, as parliamentary leader. Although he had no parliamentary seat, Layton was noted for drawing considerable attention from the Canadian mass media. Much of his rhetoric has involved attacking the policies of Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin as conservative, and arguing the ideology of the Liberal Party of Canada has shifted in a more right wing direction. Another focus of Layton's leadership has been to focus the party's efforts on Quebec, one of the party's weaker provinces. One of his opponents in the leadership race, Pierre Ducasse, was the first Québécois to run for leader of the NDP. After the race, Layton appointed Ducasse as his Quebec lieutenant and party spokesperson.

The result of Layton's efforts was a strong increase in the party's support. By the end of 2003 the party was polling higher than both the Canadian Alliance or Progressive Conservatives and it was even suggested that the next election could see the NDP in place as official opposition.

Further controversy followed as Layton suggested the removal of the Clarity Act, considered by some to be vital to keeping Quebec in Canada and by others as undemocratic, and promised to recognize any declaration of independence by Quebec after a referendum. This position was not part of the NDP's official party policy, leading some high-profile party members, such as NDP House Leader Bill Blaikie and former NDP leader Alexa McDonough, to publicly indicate that they did not share Layton's views. His position on the Clarity Act was reversed in the 2006 election to one of support.

Layton advocated replacing the first-past-the-post system with proportional representation. He even threatened to use the NDP's clout in the event of a minority government. However, it was dismissed out of hand by the Liberal and Bloc Québécois leaders, as they tend to be favored by the first-past-the-post system, normally being allocated a greater proportion of seats than the proportion of votes cast for them. Historically, the NDP's popular vote does not translate into a proportional number of seats because of scattered support. This was most opposed by the Bloc Québécois, who usually had the lowest popular vote but nonetheless won many seats because their support was concentrated in Quebec.

Despite these problems, Layton led the NDP to a 15% popular vote, its highest in 16 years. However, it only won 19 seats in the House of Commons, two less than the 21 won under Alexa McDonough in 1997, and far short of the 40 that Layton predicted on the eve of the election. However, some potential NDP voters may have voted Liberal to prevent a possible Conservative win. Layton's wife, Olivia Chow, and several other prominent Toronto NDP candidates lost tight races and Layton won his own seat against incumbent Liberal Dennis Mills by a much narrower margin than early polls indicated.

With the ruling Liberal Party being reduced to a minority government, revelations of the sponsorship scandal damaging its popularity to the point where both the Conservative Party and the Bloc Québécois were pressing their advantage for a snap election, the Prime Minister approached the NDP for its support. Layton demanded the cancellation of proposed corporate tax cuts and called for an increase in social spending. The ensuing compromise in the NDP's favour was protested by the other opposition parties who used it as a pretext to force a non-confidence vote. On May 19, two such votes were defeated and Layton's amendments went on to be passed on its final reading vote on June 23. As a result of this political coup and his apparent civil behavior in a spitefully raucous parliament, many political analysts have noted that Layton has gained increased credibility as an effective leader of an important party, becoming the major second choice leader in many political polls - for example, polling second in Quebec after Gilles Duceppe, despite the low polls for his party as a whole in the province.

In mid-November 2005, when Liberal support dropped after the Gomery Inquiry delivered its first report, Layton offered the Prime Minister several conditions in return for the NDP's continued support, most notably a ban on private health care in Canada. When the Liberals turned him down, Layton announced he would introduce a motion requesting a February election. However, the Martin government refused to allow the election date to be decided by the opposition. A motion of non-confidence followed, moved by Stephen Harper and seconded by Layton, triggering the 2006 federal election.

With a vote scheduled for January 23, 2006 many New Democrats expected Layton to deliver substantially more seats than he did in 2004. They hoped the NDP would hold the balance of power in a new minority parliament, so that they could carry additional leverage in negotiating with the governing party.

Mike Klander, the executive vice-president of the federal Liberals' Ontario wing, resigned after making posts on his blog comparing Chow to a Chow Chow dog and calling her husband an "asshole".

Through the course of the campaign, Layton attempted to cast himself as the sole remaining champion of universal health-care. Some opinion polls showed that Canadians found Layton the most appealing and charismatic of the leaders. Layton repeatedly insisted that "Canadians have a third choice", and urged Liberals to "lend us your vote". Some commentators and pundits mocked Mr. Layton for over-using these catchphrases instead of explaining the NDP platform. The rarely aired Jack Talk Conservative ad pasted Layton's mustache on the faces of "ordinary Canadians" to suggest that he did not speak for the average citizen, using phrases like "Raise my taxes" and "I like to pay higher gas prices".

The NDP's strategy had changed in that they were focusing their attacks on the Liberals rather than in 2004 where they criticized both the Liberals and Conservatives in equal measure prompting some criticism from Paul Martin. Andrew Coyne suggested that the NDP not only wanted to disassociate themselves from the scandal-ridden Liberals, but also because the Liberals were likely to receive credit for legislation achieved under the Liberal-NDP partnership. The NDP had also lost close races in the 2004 election due to the Liberals' strategic voting. Early in the campaign, NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis had asked the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to launch a criminal investigation into the leaking of the income trust announcement The criminal probe seriously damaged the Liberal campaign and preventing them from making their key policy announcements, as well as bringing alleged Liberal corruption back into the spotlight.

Layton's campaign direction also caused a break between him and Canadian Auto Workers union head Buzz Hargrove over the issue of strategic voting. Hargrove preferred a Liberal minority government supported by the NDP and he had earlier criticized Layton for participating in the motion of non-confidence that brought down the Liberal government. Hargrove allied with the Liberals and publicly stated that he "did not like the campaign that Jack Layton was running", criticizing Layton for "spending too much time attacking the Liberals". During the final week of the campaign, Hargrove and Martin urged all progressive voters to unite behind the Liberal banner to stop a Conservative government. Knowing that last-minute strategic voting had cost the NDP seats in several close ridings during the 2004 election, Layton intensified his attacks on the Liberal scandals, pledging to use his minority clout to keep the Conservatives in check. Shortly after the election, the Ontario provincial branch of the NDP revoked Mr. Hargrove's party membership because he had violated the party's constitution by campaigning for other parties during an election campaign, though Layton disagreed with this. Hargrove retaliated by severing ties with the NDP at the annual CAW convention.

The election increasing the NDP's total seats to 29 seats, up from 18 MP before dissolution. Among the new NDP candidates elected was Layton's wife, Olivia Chow, thereby making the two only the second husband and wife team in Canadian Parliament history. (Gurmant Grewal and Nina Grewal were the first husband and wife team in Canadian Parliament after the 2004 federal election).

In the end, the NDP succeeded in increasing their seats to 29, though they had far fewer seats than the Bloc Québécois (51) or the Opposition Liberals (103).

The NDP had the balance of power in the 39th Parliament. The Speaker votes only in a tie, so that reduces the Liberal caucus by one, enabling the Conservatives to pass legislature with the cooperation of the NDP (125 + 29 = 154 versus 100 + 51 + 2 = 153). The Conservatives were able to pass legislation with either Liberal or Bloc Québécois support.

At the NDP's 22nd Convention, held on September 10, 2006 in Quebec City, Layton received a 92-per-cent approval rating in a leadership vote, tying former Reform Party leader Preston Manning's record for this kind of voting. At the same convention, the NDP passed a motion calling for the return of Canadian troops from Afghanistan. On September 24, 2006, he met with Afghan president Hamid Karzai to discuss the NDP position. After the meeting Layton stated that Canada's role should be focused on traditional peacekeeping and reconstruction rather than in a front line combat role currently taking place.

Layton and his caucus voted to support the new proposed rules for income trusts introduced by the Conservatives October 31, 2006. The short-term result of the tax policy announcement was a loss to Canadian investors of $20 Billion, the largest ever loss attributed to a change in government policy. According to the Canadian Association of Income Trust Investors some 2.5 million Canadian investors were affected by the change in Income Trust policy.

Layton threatened to move a motion of non-confidence against the government over the "Clean Air Act" unless action was taken to improve the bill and its approach to environmental policy. Prime Minister Harper agreed to put an end to the Parliamentary logjam by sending the bill to a special legislative committee before second reading. He released his proposed changes to the "Clean Air Act" on November 19, 2006.

Layton wanted Canada to end its military role in Afghanistan as soon as possible and redirect its efforts towards "reconstruction, aid and peace".

On June 11, 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made it known that he had received private counsel from Layton on the matter of Indian residential schools and the apology to former students of the schools. Before delivering the apology, Harper thanked Layton.

When two NDP candidates withdrew due to marijuana use, Layton said their departures were voluntary and that no deal was made with the Marijuana Party. Marijuana promoter Marc Emery said that he raised thousands of dollars for the NDP and signed up new members in exchange for Layton supporting the cause of legalization.

In the end, the NDP gained 8 new seats, taking its tally to 37. This result still leaves the NDP as Canada's fourth party, behind the Bloc Québécois with 50. Notably, in a year where Quebec was especially hotly-contested, the NDP managed to retain its only seat in the province.

The 40th session of parliament began on November 27, 2008 with a fiscal update by the Conservatives that outlined their agenda for the upcoming term. This included a temporary suspension of Federal employees' right to strike and a removal of monetary subsidies for political parties. All three opposition parties including the NDP stated that they could not support this position. Layton along with Liberal leader Stephane Dion and Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe began negotiations to form a coalition that would replace the Conservatives as the government. The three opposition parties planned to table a motion of non-confidence in the House of Commons, and counted on the possibility that the Governor General would invite the coalition to govern instead of dissolving Parliament after the last election. It has often been suggested that had Layton planned the coalition prior to the fiscal update and then persuaded Dion to sign on.

On December 1, 2008, the three opposition leaders signed an accord that laid down the basis for an agreement on a coalition government. The proposed structure would be a coalition between the Liberals and the NDP, with the New Democrats getting six Cabinet positions. Both parties agreed to continue the coalition until June 30, 2011. The Bloc Quebecois would not be formally part of the government but would provide support on confidence motions for 18 months.

Opposition to the proposed coalition developed in all provinces except Quebec. On December 4, 2008, the Governor General granted Prime Minister Harper's request to suspend Parliament until January 26, 2009, at which time Harper has planned to introduce the budget. Dion has since been ousted from the leadership of the Liberals and his successor, Michael Ignatieff, has distanced himself from the coalition.

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Canadian federal election, 2008

Canadian federal election, 2008

The 2008 Canadian federal election (more formally, the 40th Canadian General Election) was held on Tuesday, October 14, 2008 to elect members to the Canadian House of Commons of the 40th Canadian Parliament after the previous parliament had been dissolved by the Governor General (Canada's de facto head of state) on September 7, 2008. The election yielded a minority government under the Conservative Party of Canada, led by the incumbent Prime Minister, Stephen Harper.

The election call resulted in the cancellation of four federal by-elections that had been scheduled to occur in September.

In 2007, Parliament passed a law fixing federal election dates every four years and scheduling the next election date as October 19, 2009, but the law does not (and constitutionally cannot) limit the powers of the Governor General to dissolve Parliament at any time, such as when opposition parties bring down the government on a vote of confidence. However, in this election there was no loss of a non-confidence vote, but the Prime Minister asked the Governor General to call an election nonetheless.

64.7% of all eligible voters cast ballots in the 2006 federal election. The Conservative Party received the most votes of any single party, with 36% of the vote and 124 seats (127 at dissolution). The Liberal Party won fewer seats than in 2006 — 103 seats (96 at dissolution), and 30% of the vote. The Bloc Québécois lost three seats, lowering its total to 51 seats (48 at dissolution), with 10.5% of the vote. The NDP retained its seats held at the dissolution of Parliament, and won 11 more, making its total 29 seats (30 at dissolution), with 17.5% of the vote. The Green Party received 4.5% of the vote, a minimal increase from the previous election, but did not win any seats (1 at dissolution). Independents and other parties constituted 1% of the total vote with one independent winning a seat.

Since the 2006 election, seven Members of Parliament (MPs) have changed party: David Emerson, Wajid Khan and Joe Comuzzi from Liberal to Conservative; Garth Turner from Conservative to Independent to Liberal; Blair Wilson from Liberal to Independent to Green; Louise Thibault from Bloc Québécois to Independent; and Bill Casey from Conservative to Independent. In by-elections, the NDP gained one seat from the Liberal Party, while the Conservative Party gained two seats, one from the Liberals and one from the Bloc Québécois. Four seats were vacant when the election was called: three previously held by the Liberal Party, one by the Bloc Québécois.

The parliament preceding this election was led by the Conservatives, who governed with the smallest minority ever in the Canadian House of Commons, just 40.6% of the seats. Although the average length of a minority parliament in Canada is 1 year, 5 months, and 22 days, minorities led by the former Progressive Conservative Party have been much shorter: the longest previous Conservative minority was just 6 months and 19 days. The 39th Parliament became Canada's longest serving Conservative minority on October 24, 2006.

On May 30, 2006, the Conservatives tabled Bill C-16, which would amend the Canada Elections Act to provide fixed election dates. The bill received royal assent on May 3, 2007. The bill states that there will be an election in 2009, and it would be the first to have a fixed election date, the third Monday in October (October 19, 2009). Despite the bill, on September 7, 2008, the Prime Minister sought the dissolution of the 39th Parliament, and the Governor General agreed to hold a general election on October 14, 2008.

On February 15, 2007, The Globe and Mail reported that the Conservatives were preparing for an election expected to be called shortly after the 2007 budget, due on March 19, 2007. Part of the reason for the timing of the election was given as strengthening Conservative poll numbers coupled with the desire to take advantage of the perception that Harper has "better leadership qualities than Liberal counterpart Stéphane Dion".

On March 17, 2007, an internal Conservative Party memo was leaked to The Canadian Press, telling members that they "need to be ready to campaign within the next week". The memo asked members to donate $75 to $150 to help to fund the early stages of the election campaign. None of these predictions for a federal election to occur in 2007 proved true, but the majority of pundits still believed a federal election would be triggered before the fixed election date of October 19, 2009, for sometime in 2008.

Stephen Harper hinted at the possibility of dissolving parliament on August 14, 2008. Speaking in Newfoundland and Labrador, he cited Stéphane Dion as the main player in making Parliament become increasingly "dysfunctional". "I’m going to have to make a judgment in the next little while as to whether or not this Parliament can function productively," Harper said. This came after repeated confidence votes that resulted in the NDP and Bloc parties not voting in favour of the government, and the Liberal Party voting in favour or not attending the vote. Rumours of a possible fall election were further fuelled by Harper's announcement of a fourth federal by-election for September 22 in the Toronto riding of Don Valley West.

On August 27, 2008. Harper asked Governor General Michaëlle Jean to cancel her trip to the Paralympic Games in Beijing, adding fuel to speculation that the Prime Minister would seek a dissolution. On September 7, 2008 after much speculation, Harper asked the Governor General to call a federal election on October 14, 2008.

1 Lesley Hughes of Kildonan—St. Paul was nominated as a Liberal, but lost party support after the nomination deadline and continued to run as an independent; she is listed here as a Liberal rather than an independent, as she was listed as a Liberal on the ballot. 2 Includes NDP candidates Julian West from Saanich—Gulf Islands and Andrew McKeever from Durham, who withdrew their candidacies but whose names appeared on their respective ballots. 3 André Arthur was re-elected in the Quebec City-area riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier with 15,063 votes. Bill Casey, formerly Conservative, was re-elected in the Nova Scotia riding of Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley with 27,303 votes.

In Quebec City, several ballot boxes containing votes from advanced polls disappeared after the close of advance polling on October 7. The boxes were stored in a closet at the home of a deputy returning officer. Although there was no tampering of the boxes or the votes, three deputy returning officers were fired. Deputy returning officers are the only polling officials allowed to handle ballots during the vote count and the law did allow for them to store the sealed boxes as may be necessary in large remote rural ridings. However the boxes were returned a day late after the riding returning officer ordered their return.

A number of political leaders and popular websites supported strategic voting in the election, mostly against the Conservative Party. The reasons varied from regional, such as Newfoundland and Labrador premier Danny Williams and his "Anything But Conservative" campaign, to ideological. The popular website VoteForEnvironment.ca, which received over one million page views in the first 12 days of its existence and whose founders were interviewed on CBC and other mainstream media, showed regional breakdowns per riding and offered recommendations based on which candidate was most likely to beat the Conservative candidate. If the Conservative candidate had little chance of winning the riding or was strongly entrenched, the site recommended "vote with your heart." Similarly, a vote swapping organization on Facebook entitled "Anti-Harper Vote Swap Canada" also gained press. The premise of that organization is that eligible voters in different electoral districts may exchange their votes, so that an opponent of a Conservative candidate in each district might have a better chance of being elected in that district. Elections Canada deemed the practice legal.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May sent out mixed signals about strategic voting. On October 12, she recommended that in close ridings, supporters of green policies should consider voting for the NDP or Liberals to defeat the Conservatives, but on the same day she said "I do not support strategic voting and I have not advised voters to choose any candidate other than Green." In addition, during the final days of the campaign the Liberals attempted to attract strategic NDP and Green votes to stop the Conservatives, and the Conservatives attempted to attract Bloc votes to stop the Liberals.

Some students, homeless, and transient voters were turned away at the polls when they were unable to provide identification showing or otherwise confirming a place of residence. The legislation introduced in 2007 requires all voters to show one or two pieces of identification which confirm the voter's name and address, or to be vouched for by another voter who is able to show such identification.

Voter turnout was the lowest in Canadian election history, as 59.1% of the electorate cast a ballot. All federally funded parties except for the Greens attracted fewer total votes than in 2006; the Greens received nearly 280,000 more votes. The Conservatives lost about 170,000 votes, the Liberals 850,000, the Bloc 170,000 and the NDP 70,000. Some voters were at first turned away because of failure to meet new and stricter proof of address requirements, including 2/3 of those attempting to vote at Dalhousie University. The effect this may have had on voter turnout is unknown.

In a federal election, a judicial recount is automatically ordered in a riding where the margin of victory is less than 0.1% (one one-thousandth) of the votes cast. In cases where there is a larger but still narrow margin of victory, an elector can request a judicial recount.

Judicial recounts were ordered in six ridings. In one case, Brossard—La Prairie, the judicial recount overturned the reported victor, giving the seat to the Liberals' Alexandra Mendès instead of the Bloc incumbent Marcel Lussier.

In four other ridings, the recount confirmed the election results, although Liberal Ujjal Dosanjh's margin in Vancouver South was reduced from 33 votes to just 20. This was the slimmest victory of any riding in the entire election, until the results of the Kitchener-Waterloo recount reduced Peter Braid's margin of victory to a mere 17 votes. Dosanjh's Conservative opponent, Wai Young, appealed the recount to the Supreme Court of British Columbia, citing that not all of the ballot boxes were fully recounted. All ballots were eventually counted by November 4, confirming Dosanjh's victory by 20 votes, after the initial partial recount indicated a margin of 22 votes.

In a sixth riding, the recount was cancelled when the elector who had requested it withdrew the request.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he was considering calling an election because of a lack of cooperation in Parliament, saying "all the signs indicate that this Parliament is at the end of its productiveness," while in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. The Conservative Party of Canada fueled rumours of an oncoming election when it released several campaign advertisements that focused on a range of issues, and attacked the Liberal Party of Canada for their proposed carbon tax. The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) confirmed that Harper would call an election for October 14 after meeting with New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton and Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe, which gave the Prime Minister little hope that a fall session of Parliament can be productive, PMO officials said. Senior government officials announced on the first of September that Stephen Harper would ask the Governor General, Michaëlle Jean, to dissolve parliament and call an election for October 14, after he met with Liberal leader Stéphane Dion who called the meeting a "charade". Dion said the two were unable to agree on how to make the upcoming session of Parliament, slated to begin September 15, more productive.

Liberal Party members gathered in Winnipeg on September 2, for a three day caucus which changed from preparing for a new parliamentary session to a strategy session to formulate a plan to attack the Conservatives while healing internal party rifts that have surfaced in recent weeks. Conservatives began spending at least $60 million dollars on pre-election funding projects to a wide variety of institutions and groups. A few announcements have been big, including Industry Minister Jim Prentice's pledge of $25 million for the expansion of the Northlands exhibition facility in Edmonton. But the Tories have also announced a number of smaller projects, including $40,000 for the 2008 55+ Games and $25,000 for the Peace Window of the Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Winnipeg. The announcements have also been spread out across the country. The Atlantic region is to get more than $500,000 for youth jobs and eight cultural organizations. The Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia will receive $81,000. Jack Layton attacked the Conservative Party as bribing the public and doing the same thing they used to complain about the Liberals doing before elections.

A survey conducted by Environics found that 38 per cent of Canadians would vote for the Conservative party if an election were held immediately, 28 per cent would vote for the Liberal party, 19 for the NDP, eight for the Bloc Québécois and seven for the Green party. The poll shows Conservatives taking early leads in Ontario, British Columbia and the Prairies. In Atlantic Canada, Liberals still hold a strong majority, while in Quebec the Bloc Québécois leads while the Conservatives and Liberals are almost tied for second. When asked, most Canadians said the Conservatives would handle the economy better, while most said the Liberals would handle the environment better.

On September 7, Harper officially asked for the dissolution of Parliament, and called for an election on October 14.

The 40th Canadian Federal Election campaign officially began at 8:20 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time when Governor General Michaëlle Jean accepted Stephen Harper's request to dissolve Parliament and call an election for October 14, 2008. The party leaders jumped right into the campaign, with Stéphane Dion attacking the Conservative's record, presenting the Liberal plan, and rejected the accusation by Harper that the Liberal party is a risky choice. Jack Layton took a more forceful approach than previous elections, in which the New Democratic Party has just tried to maintain a high number of seats in Parliament to influence government. Layton has made it clear he will campaign for the position of prime minister itself this time, but also returned to a longstanding NDP theme: alleged abuses by big business. He promised to stop what he called "ripoffs" by big oil, cellphone and banks, and his attacks are expected to focus on the Conservatives and all but ignore the Liberals. Elizabeth May of the Green Party said Canadians would care enough about the environment to vote for her party, as long as she was able to get into the television debates. Stephen Harper has stated his objection to including the Green Party into television debates because of the similar policies of the Green and Liberal party, and how it would be unfair. Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe said the Conservatives must be prevented from winning a majority, and the BQ is the only party that can do that. Duceppe compared Harper to US President George W. Bush, and said the government is incompetent.

The two Leaders' Debates of 2008, one each in French and English, included the leaders of five parties, Stephen Harper of the Conservatives, Stéphane Dion of the Liberals, Jack Layton of the NDP, Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc Québécois and Elizabeth May of the Green Party.

The French-language debate aired on Wednesday, 1 October from 8 to 10 p.m. EDT, moderated by Stéphan Bureau, a journalist and host. The English-language debate aired Thursday, 2 October from 9 to 11 p.m. EDT, with Steve Paikin of TVOntario as moderator.

Three parties — the Conservatives, the Bloc Québécois and the NDP — opposed the inclusion of the Green Party, citing statements made by Green Party leader Elizabeth May to the effect that the best outcome of the election would be a Liberal-led government, and a deal struck between the Green Party and Liberals where the Liberals would not run in May's riding, Central Nova, and the Green party in Liberal leader Stéphane Dion's riding, Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, which they say make May a "second Liberal candidate".

Stephen Harper and Jack Layton are reported to have said that if the Green Party were included, they would not participate in the Leaders' Debates. Dion said that while he supports May's inclusion, he would not attend if Harper does not, and the Bloc Québécois has stated it will not boycott the debates if May is included. The media consortium in charge of the debate, made up of the CBC, CTV, Global Television and TVA, had decided that it would prefer to broadcast the debates with the four major party leaders, rather than risk not at all or with minimal participation. The Green Party indicated they had begun procedures to lodge a formal complaint with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, as they have in past federal elections.

On September 10, Harper and Layton released statements that they would not oppose May's inclusion in the debate, citing public backlash and protests — with neither acknowledging making the threat of boycotting the debate — and that the media consortium would reconvene to discuss the matter. Layton stated that "debating about the debate" had become a "distraction", and that he had only one condition, that Stephen Harper be there. In response, spokesmen for Stephen Harper announced they would not stand alone in opposition to the Green Party's inclusion in the debates and also changed their position on the matter. Later that day the consortium announced that May would be allowed to participate in the debate.

On September 30, Harper announced that he would ask for the 12 minutes on the economy scheduled for the Leader's Debate to be extended to an hour, citing that the financial crisis affecting the U.S. "has deepened since the debate format was finalized", a change which would require agreement from the other parties in the debate to be approved. The NDP released a statement soon after that they supported the move, while public response has been concerned that other topics such as the environment would not end up with enough time to cover the issue.

On October 1, the day of the first debate, it was announced that both debates would get extended time, from 12 to 30 minutes, for the economy, and leaders would not give opening and closing statements, to allow for longer discussions on the economy without removing time from other topics. It was also revealed that instead of leaders standing at individual podiums for the debate, as had been done in past years, the debate would be done in a round table format.

Much of French debate revolved around the economy and the environment, with the two topics repeatedly being brought up in discussions allotted for other topics. Stephen Harper came under criticism from every other leader in nearly every topic, especially the economy and environment, with the other party leaders stating that Harper's politics had led to Canada's current crises in those two areas. Their points included that Harper's environmental plan was considered the worst of all developing countries by organizations around the world, with Elizabeth May labeling it "a type of fraud," and that his attempts to remove regulations in the financial sectors, similar to those done by the Bush administration in the United States, have led Canada to being nearly as hard hit by the current financial crisis as the United States.

Following the same tone as the French debate, much of the discussion revolved around the economy and the environment. The other four leaders keep criticizing Harper, especially for his lack of an economic platform despite asking for the format change to focus more on the economy in light of the ongoing financial crisis, and instead using the time to criticize the economic platforms of the other leaders. May lashed out at Harper for not understanding that Canadians were worried about their homes, jobs and finances, and comparing the current situation to Dutch disease, Dion stated that the only thing that keeps Canada from being hit as hard by the crisis as the US are laws created by the previous Liberal government that the Conservatives had been attempting to overturn, Duceppe repeatedly criticized Harper for financial practices and attitudes similar to the Bush administration, and Layton at one point stated that Harper's position showed he was either incompetent or uncaring to the situation, and asked which one he was, to which Harper did not respond. Harper also came under criticism for his laissez-faire attitude to the job sector, supporting primarily the oil companies and companies that outsource jobs in the manufacturing sector.

When it turned to the environment, the Carbon Tax proposal came up repeatedly, with both Dion and May supporting it, although May to more ambitious figures than Dion, pointing out it was the most recommended and proven way to deal with carbon emissions by countries and organizations around the world, noting the growth that Sweden and Germany have had with this system. Harper criticized the plan, saying would increase taxpayers' burden and that Dion should be "honest with the people" that some environmental measures will cost the economy and said the plan includes $40 billion in carbon taxes and $26 billion in tax cuts. Dion defended the Liberal's Green Shift, saying that " not true at all", and that "for every dollar that we will raise, you will have a tax cut, and these tax cuts will be on your income". Duceppe commented that he would like targets to be applied to individual provinces, thereby allowing Quebec to financially benefit due to already-implemented greenhouse gas reductions. Layton, who favours a cap-and-trade system, said that it is a "figment of Mr. Harper's imagination" that emissions will fall under his plan. When Harper sought to outline his government's record on other environmental fronts, giving examples of his minority government supported the preservation of hundreds of thousands of hectares of environmentally sensitive land through the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and that the government declared a protected marine area by Lake Superior and created a whale sanctuary by Baffin Island, May responded by saying "The only word he said that's true is on national parks".

Layton also criticized Dion for his lack of accomplishments as official opposition during the minority government, and his party's previous leader's broken promises in areas such as Child Care and Pharmacare.

Duceppe painted the Conservative government's $45 million in national arts and culture funding cuts as an assault on the province's identity, saying "How can you recognize the Quebec nation and then cut culture , which is the soul of a nation?" followed by citing the economic benefits of culture.

Harper also said he had erred in calling for Canada's participation in the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, saying "It was absolutely an error, it's obviously clear", adding that the claim of weapons of mass destruction proved false.

Commenting on the debate, Layton said that he "thoroughly enjoyed" May's contributions to the debate. Reporter Julie Van Dusen said that Harper managed to take the hits calmly, as "someone must have told him … if you fight back or get too partisan, you're going to alienate voters, especially women". Duceppe said he was happy to have forced Harper to admit his support of joining the Iraq war in 2003 was a mistake, adding he will use the admission in the campaign as "Exhibit A" that the Conservative leader lacks solid judgment skills, and that Harper was weakened when he confirmed he does not support a refundable tax credit for the manufacturing industry to encourage companies to improve productivity.

Stephen Harper had cut $45 million from arts funding while in office, a move that drew much criticism from the other leaders and Quebec citizens, with most leaders seeking to restore the funding. The Conservatives have stated that the money is being reallocated to other arts and cultural programs, including various official languages projects, the 400th anniversary of Quebec City and projects connected with the 2010 Vancouver-Whistler Winter Olympic Games, although the Conservative's refusal to have a parliamentary review of their cuts and for a moratorium on the measures until the House of Commons Heritage Committee had a chance to hold hearings on culture and arts funding has most opposition members calling foul.

Both Stéphane Dion and Jack Layton have promised to reverse the cut, with Dion also promising to increase funding to Canada Council for the Arts to $360 million, while Layton also promised to bring income averaging for artists to the national level and providing an annual tax exemption of $20,000 for income earned by copyright and residuals, stating that "one of the key things we must do, before we start giving $50-billion tax giveaways to banks and oil companies, is to protect and promote the arts" and "stable, sure and appropriate funding" for CBC/Radio-Canada while also protecting Telefilm Canada and the Canadian Television Fund.

Harper has said that he believes that the issue is a "niche topic", and that "ordinary Canadians" are not particularly concerned with the issue. A group of Canadian performers, which included Art Hindle, Wendy Crewson and Gordon Pinsent, held a press conference on September 24, saying the cuts would cripple the Canadian arts industry.

On September 29, Harper unveiled a new tax credit plan worth an estimated $150 million a year to encourage parents to enroll their kids in arts programs like music and drama. The credit will apply on up to $500 of eligible fees for children under 16 who participate in eligible arts activities. Harper said that " spend a lot more on culture and arts" but "in a way that we ensure is an effective use of taxpayers' money and ultimately, in this case, benefits families and all of society as well". Harper has come under criticism when the week before he expressed his opinion that "ordinary working people were unable to relate to taxpayer-subsidized cultural elites when they see them at a rich gala on television".

In early 2008 it was alleged that Independent MP Chuck Cadman of Surrey North, who was terminally ill with cancer at the time, had been offered a half-million life insurance policy in exchange for voting against the proposed Liberal budget in May 2005, which he turned down. Under section 119 of the Criminal Code of Canada, it is illegal to bribe an MP. Accordingly, Opposition Liberal party Intergovernmental Affairs critic Dominic LeBlanc asked the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in February 2008 to investigate this allegation, that the Conservatives had offered Mr. Cadman a million-dollar life insurance policy in exchange for his support on the budget vote. In May 2008, the RCMP announced that there was not enough evidence to support charges. Cadman died in July. The following month, Harper stated in a court deposition that he personally authorized an offer made to Cadman in 2005. There is currently an ongoing legal battle between the Liberals and the Conservatives over the matter.

On September 24, while campaigning in Surrey North, Stephen Harper's campaign team barred reporters from talking with the local Conservative candidate, Dona Cadman, who is Chuck Cadman's widow. The campaign team called in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and ordered them to "Keep out" while Cadman was taken away by staff. Harper spokesman Kory Teneycke later stated that he had not seen the incident, but the local candidates did not need to be interviewed, that "Local candidates' priority is campaigning in their local ridings, and not talking to the national media", and that it should be enough that they hold daily news conferences with the party's most prominent members.

The incident has reminded people of Conservative tactics during the 2006 election, where attempts by the media to speak with local candidates were stopped by campaign personnel, especially the Harold Albrecht incident, where campaign officials forced Albrecht to stay in a restaurant kitchen when journalists attempted to interview him.

The Conservatives chose former FBI agent Bruce Koenig to analyze a tape of reporter Tom Zytaruk interviewing Harper on the Cadman bribe attempt. The tape was a key piece of evidence in the ongoing legal battle. On October 10, Keonig announced that the tape had not been altered in any way, contrary to the claims by Stephen Harper that it had been altered.

The ongoing involvement of the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan may also influence voters. Desmond Morton, a political science professor at McGill University suggested that the Conservatives could be blamed for the war because they have extended the mission twice, despite the fact that it was then Liberal Leader Jean Chrétien who was Canada's prime minister when Canada's current military involvement in Afghanistan first started in 2001. Both the Conservatives and Liberals have at various times agreed to extend the mission(s) to at least 2011, so this may result in some Canadians who are strongly against Canada's ongoing involvement, who might have otherwise typically voted either Liberal or Conservative in the past, to take their votes elsewhere in 2008.

Toronto Mayor David Miller has spoken out that the parties need to focus more on cities and their infrastructure, stating that 8 out of 10 Canadians live in cities, and that so far only the Green party has revealed a platform on the issue, with a national transit strategy and plans to give cities a permanent revenue source to help fix a growing infrastructure backlog. Miller stated he will not endorse a specific party, but urges people to choose a party that will "help cities thrive". He disagrees with Stephen Harper's opinion that "cities are not of national importance".

On September 18, Stéphane Dion pledged to spend more than $70 billion over the next 10 years to improve Canada's infrastructure if elected, and budget surpluses that exceed a $3-billion contingency fund to infrastructure projects, particularly those with a green focus, calling Canada's cities and towns "the engines of our economy". Stephen Harper immediately lashed out at the spending proposal, saying Dion was "promising money no government could afford" and that the Conservative's infrastructure plans "are modest and affordable within the four-year budget we've published".

On September 23, Montreal and Toronto mayors Gérald Tremblay and David Miller laid out their demands for urban municipalities, describing cities' current financial problems as a national issue, saying that cities have become the country's economic, social and cultural development engines and need appropriate support, and that they need better "fiscal tools" to continue their role as Canada's economic engines or the country will suffer. They listed Homelessness, traffic gridlock, crowded buses and overstretched police departments as just a few of the symptoms, that "These problems are too big and too important to be solved on the backs of property taxpayers" and that "in order to remain competitive, transport goods efficiently and attract new talent, our cities require quality infrastructure, affordable housing and first-rate recreational and cultural facilities". Jean Perrault, president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and mayor of Sherbrooke, Quebec, has stated that things like the Federal Gas Tax Fund were an important federal commitment, but that more is needed to tackle cities' overwhelming infrastructure needs.

On September 29, Layton announced plans to direct one cent per litre of the gas tax, approximately $400 million a year, into transit projects across the country, and direct $350 million from the sale of carbon permits to big polluters, saying that "the major polluters would be the ones paying to make transit greener, not you and your families", and that "fighting climate change requires investing in transit, and that's what our plan does".

Polls have suggested that the economy is the major issue going into this election, especially with the resulting high price of gas, along with rising prices of other goods and services, such as food, and the possible impact the current financial crisis may have on Canada. Some experts say that Canada has just narrowly dodged a recession, although the economy is in its worst shape since 1991.

Both Dion and Harper have said that the others' plans will lead Canada into a recession, while Dion also stated that Harper has "mismanaged a once-booming economy into one with growth dropping to among the lowest of the G8 nations".

The Conservatives have stated possible negative consequences that could happen to the economy based on Liberal election promises if they were to be elected. As of September 20, 2008, Liberal election promises have totaled in excess of $80 billion spending over the next decade. In contrast, the cost of programs promised by the Conservatives to date is less than $2 billion annually. Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister, has criticized the Liberal's spending promises, saying they are making "mind-boggling" spending plans that he predicts would send Canada into deficit.

After the rejection of the proposed bailout of the United States financial system and resulting market fluctuation all over the world, including the Toronto Stock Exchange, Jack Layton called for Harper to call a special meeting for federal party leaders to discuss the potential effects of the U.S economic crisis on Canadians, suggestion the afternoon of October 1, since all leaders would be in Ottawa for the first Leaders' Debate that night. A spokesman for Harper later reported that Harper would not call such a meeting, and to save discussion for the Leader's Debate, as " will have an opportunity later this week to debate — not behind closed doors but in front of all Canadians — the issues at stake not for our economy but for our country". Harper later announced that he would ask for the 12 minutes on the economy scheduled for the Leader's Debate to be extended to an hour, citing that the financial crisis affecting the U.S. "has deepened since the debate format was finalized", a change which would require agreement from the other parties in the debate to be approved. The NDP released a statement soon after that they supported the move, while public response has been concerned that other topics such as the environment would not end up with enough time to cover the issue. All the leaders supported the idea, and the opening and closing statements were dropped and the allotted time for the economy extended to 30 minutes without affecting the other topics.

During the Leaders' Debates Harper repeatedly came under fire for lack of an economic plan in the current time of crisis and while campaigning, and for his lack of ability to explain how he would deal with the current crisis, merely repeating that Canada was unlikely to face such a crisis as he had made "different choices" than the US while in power without being able to explain what those different choices were, as all of his examples were immediately compared to practices done by the Bush administration, and insisted that Canadians "don't panic." In response to mounting pressure from the public, Harper announced on October 3 that he would reveal his party's platform, including economic matters, on October 7, one week before the election.

Shortly after the election was called, Harper was criticized for using a four-vehicle motorcade that included a van and SUV to travel the 395 m (1,300 ft) across the street from the door of 24 Sussex Drive to the door of Rideau Hall to dissolve parliament. In return, the Conservatives criticized the Liberal party's decision to use a 29-year-old Boeing 737-200 for campaigning, saying that the older airplane's poor fuel efficiency demonstrates hypocrisy on environmental matters. Daniel Lauzon, a spokesperson for the Liberals, denied their airplane was substantially less efficient than the Conservatives' Airbus A319.

The Tories have been previously criticized for backing out of Canada's commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. Their new plan requires industries to reduce the rate at which they generate greenhouse gases, with a goal of reducing overall emissions by 45 to 65 percent by 2050. The plan has been criticized by groups such as the Sierra Club, who called it "completely inadequate". Criticism has focused on the use of "intensity-based" targets, for which emission reductions are relative to overall production, so overall emissions could potentially increase if production also increases. This is in contrast to a "hard cap" on emissions, for which the overall amount cannot increase. The Conservatives' plan includes a hard cap to begin in 2020 or 2025, while environmental groups have advocated for an immediate hard cap.

The Liberals have developed a "Green Shift" plan, creating a carbon tax that will be coupled with reductions to income tax rates. Criticism of the Green Shift plan has focused on its economic effects, with the Conservatives predicting it would cause a "big recession". When pressed by reporters to provide evidence of this impact, Harper "wasn't able to cite a study that specifically modelled the impact of the Liberal Green Shift plan", instead citing an older economic model about the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol.

One trucking association claimed the Liberal carbon tax plan could put up to 10,000 jobs in jeopardy in Moncton alone. Environmental activist David Suzuki has come out in support of Dion's plan, saying "To oppose , it's just nonsense. It's certainly the way we got to go" and giving an interview explaining why it is the most effective way to solve the environmental crisis.

The NDP's plan for the environment has focused on emissions trading, claiming their system will decrease greenhouse emissions by 80% by 2050. The plan includes a series of financial incentives to retrofit public transit systems and transition the economy to be "green-collar". The plan would also halt new tar sands development until emissions have been capped. Layton has also criticized the Liberal carbon tax plan, stating it taxes families instead of polluters.

Danny Williams, the Progressive Conservative premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, launched a campaign called Anything But Conservative, primarily targeted at Harper and the federal Conservatives. He opposes a Conservative majority, due in part to Harper's promise during the 2006 election to modify the equalization formula to fully share offshore oil revenues with the province, which Williams says Harper has broken, and what Harper has stated he will do with a majority government. Accordingly, virtually all members of the provincial PC caucus supported Liberal or NDP candidates in this election.

Leo Power, a veteran of federal politics and the Conservative Party of Canada's campaign co-chair for Newfoundland and Labrador, said raising money and recruiting volunteers has proved difficult, and blames Williams's ABC campaign, saying it has cut deep into the federal election machine that is struggling to compete. Power has also said his party's best hope of winning a seat in the province is in the riding of Avalon with incumbent candidate Fabian Manning. Manning was defeated by Liberal Scott Andrews, while St. John's East and St. John's South—Mount Pearl, which were represented by Conservatives not running for re-election, were won by the NDP and Liberals, respectively, leaving the Conservatives with no representatives in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Since before the election was announced, the Conservative party has been running attack ads about Dion, saying he is not a capable leader. Dion has criticized the Conservatives for running the ads.

On October 9, Stephen Harper called into question the abilities of Liberal leader Dion after footage from the false starts of an interview on CTV Atlantic, and later rebroadcast on Mike Duffy Live, were aired to the public, and criticized Dion's grasp of the English language and the strength of the Liberals' plan for the Canadian economy.

Former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien has come out criticizing Harper's leadership abilities, noting especially Harper's controlling ways with his cabinet ministers, saying he would have quit if former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau had treated him that way, that "Mr. Dion was a minister for nine years. And Mr. Harper arrived there with no experience and it shows", that the phrase 'Tory times are bad times', in use since the 1930s, was still true and that "Harper destroyed 50 years of relationships with China", Canada's second biggest trading partner after the US, noting both past Liberal and Progressive Conservative governments sought to maintain its dealings with the key trading partner. Former Prime Minister Paul Martin has also supported Dion's plans and abilities, and many have noted Dion's ability to get both Chrétien and Martin to support him, despite Chrétien and Martin's ongoing feud.

The Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz, who has already been criticized by Canada's food scientists for his handling of the 2008 listeriosis outbreak, has also been criticized for making inappropriate comments, further angering the families of those affected. Ritz had joked about the outbreak while he was on a conference call with scientists and political staffers on August 30, saying the political fallout from the outbreak was "like a death by a thousand cuts, or should I say cold cuts". In addition, when he was informed of a listeriosis-related death in Prince Edward Island, he quipped "Please tell me it's Wayne Easter." Despite calls for Ritz's resignation from the other parties and the public, Stephen Harper has supported Ritz and rebuffed calls for his resignation.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada revealed to the media that the Conservative party plans to cut federal funding to meat inspection programs by $3 million, effectively ending their operation in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

On September 30, it was revealed by Bob Rae of the Liberal Party that on March 20, 2003, Stephen Harper had plagiarized a speech that called for troops to be deployed to Iraq to assist the US invasion from Australian Prime Minister John Howard, which Howard had delivered two days before, on March 18.

Following Rae's statement, Harper's spokesman Kory Teneycke dismissed the issue as irrelevant, saying "I'm not going to get into a debate about a five-year-old speech that was delivered three Parliaments ago, two elections ago, when the prime minister was the leader of a party that no longer exists".

The Canadian Alliance staff member and former Fraser Institute policy analyst, Owen Lippert, who wrote that speech was working on the current election campaign at Conservative campaign headquarters. On September 30, 2008 he issued a statement and resigned as a result of the incident.

On October 3, there was a second plagiarism allegation from the Liberals, who said that Harper had copied several sentences from a speech by former Ontario premier Mike Harris. Harper denied the allegation, saying "we're talking about a couple of sentences of fairly standard political rhetoric".

On October 6, the Conservatives contended that Dion had also committed plagiarism when, as Minister of the Environment in 2005, he went to a United Nations conference on climate change to deliver a speech which had substantial similarities to the executive summary of a year old UN report. The Liberal party has yet to respond to the plagiarism allegation.

Chris Reid, the Conservative candidate from Toronto Centre, resigned over controversial statements on his blog, which advocated revising Canadian gun control legislation to legalize concealed carriage of handguns. He was replaced by David Gentili.

Liberal candidate Simon Bédard was also asked to resign after he reiterated his 1990 comments, suggesting that lethal force should have been used in the Oka Crisis.

Liberal candidate Lesley Hughes was dropped by the Liberal Party after making controversial comments about the September 11, 2001 attacks. She continued to campaign as an independent, though she appeared as a Liberal on the ballot.

Andrew McKeever, an NDP candidate in Durham, announced on October 3 that he would resign from the election campaign after it was revealed that he had posted comments on Facebook in which he called one war activist a “fascist bitch” and threatened to beat up another person. Mr. McKeever wrote comments peppered with expletives and calling the operators of a war resister website “Nazis.” McKeever was also quoted as saying “I like the part in Schindler’s List when the guard starts waxing the prisoners.” McKeever’s decision to drop out of the race came with just over a week left in the campaign, meaning his name would remain on the ballot. One week before the publication of McKeever's resignation, NDP leader Jack Layton defended McKeever and refused to make him step down.

Julian West, the candidate for the riding of Saanich—Gulf Islands, dropped out of the race after details surfaced about an environmental event he attended 12 years ago when he went skinny-dipping and asked two teenagers to body-paint him. Two other candidates in British Columbia who were proponents of marijuana decriminalization — Dana Larsen and Kirk Tousaw — resigned earlier after videos they had produced for Internet site Pot-TV were released to the media. One of the videos, filmed in 2000, showed Mr. Larsen, former leader of the BC Marijuana Party, preparing to light up a joint before driving a car, after having taken the short-acting hallucinogenic drug DMT earlier in the evening.

John Shavluk, the Green candidate in Newton—North Delta, was removed from the party's slate of candidates on September 4, just before the election call, after it was revealed that he had previously published comments in his blog about the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, in which he referred to the World Trade Center as "the shoddily built Jewish world bank headquarters". He was replaced by Liz Walker as the Green Party candidate, but remained on the ballot as an independent.

At an all-candidates debate staged for a high school student audience in Sudbury on September 29, independent candidate David Popescu responded to a question about same-sex marriage by stating that "homosexuals should be executed". His remarks were widely criticized across Canada, and the Greater Sudbury Police Service announced an investigation into whether the comments constituted a crime under Canadian hate speech legislation. He was subsequently investigated by the Toronto Police as well, after a radio interview on October 2 in which he specifically advocated the execution of Egale Canada executive director Helen Kennedy.

Supporters of Ontario Liberal MPs Carolyn Bennett (St. Paul's) and Gerard Kennedy (Parkdale—High Park) who had Liberal signs outside their houses were subject to vandalism during the later hours of October 3, including graffiti, phone and cable lines being cut, and damage to vehicles that included brake cutting. Toronto police reported over 30 incidents of vandalism as of October 6. Some of the victims did not realize their brakes had been cut until they were in traffic, and there was at least one near-accident. Liberal Senator Jerry Grafstein was one of the residents who reported vandalism to his car.

Vandalism was also reported at the campaign offices of Trinity—Spadina Liberal candidate Christine Innes and Beaches—East York New Democratic Party candidate Marilyn Churley, as well as in Niagara Falls.

The following is a list of ridings which had narrowly been lost by the indicated party in the 2006 election. For instance, under the Liberal column are the 15 seats in which they came closest to winning but did not. Listed is the name of the riding, followed by the party which was victorious (in parentheses) and the margin, in terms of percentage of the vote, by which the party lost.

These ridings were targeted by the specified party because the party had lost them by a very slim margin in the 2006 election.

Up to 15 are shown, with a maximum margin of victory of 15%.

On December 1, 2008, as the result of opposition dissatisfaction with the government's economic update (which failed to include stimulus measures to help the Canadian economy contend with the global crisis and included a 'poison pill' regarding the cessation of public party financing), the leaders of the Liberal Party, New Democratic Party, and Bloc Québécois announced they had reached an agreement to approach the governor general for the purpose of forming a coalition government. Combined, the three opposition parties constitute a majority of seats in the House of Commons. Parliament is due to vote on a no-confidence motion on December 8; if successful, the Liberals and NDP would formally form the coalition for 30 months, while the BQ pledges to support it for at least 18 months. Liberal leader Stéphane Dion would become prime minister until the selection of his successor at the Liberal leadership convention in May 2009, and a coalition cabinet would comprise 18 Liberal members (including a finance minister) and 6 NDP members. Governor General Michaëlle Jean had cut short a state visit to Europe "in light of the current political situation in Canada." On December 4, 2008, Jean granted Harper's request to prorogue Parliament until January 26, 2009, thereby staving off the prospect of an imminent change in government.

By-elections in progress in four vacant ridings were cancelled when the general election was called.

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Canadian federal election, 2006

Canadian federal election, 2006

The 2006 Canadian federal election (more formally, the 39th General Election) was held on January 23, 2006, to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons of the 39th Parliament of Canada. The Conservative Party of Canada won the greatest number of seats: 40.3% of seats, or 124 out of 308, up from 99 seats in 2004, and 36.3% of votes: up from 29.6% in the 2004 election. The election resulted in a minority government led by the Conservative Party with Stephen Harper becoming the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada. By proportion of seats, this was Canada's smallest minority government since Confederation. Despite this it became the longest serving continuous minority government in Canadian history as of June 21, 2008.

This unusual winter general election was caused by a motion of no confidence passed by the House of Commons on November 28, 2005. The following morning, Prime Minister Paul Martin met Governor General Michaëlle Jean, who then dissolved parliament, summoned the next parliament, and ordered the issuance of writs of election. The latter set January 23, 2006, as election day and February 13 as the date for return of the writs. The campaign was almost eight weeks in length, the longest in two decades, in order to allow time for the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Recent political events, most notably testimony to the Gomery Commission investigating the sponsorship scandal, significantly weakened the Liberals (who, under Martin, had formed the first Liberal minority government since the Trudeau era) by allegations of criminal corruption in the party. The first Gomery report, released November 1, 2005, had found a "culture of entitlement" to exist within the Government. Although the next election was not legally required until 2009, the opposition had enough votes to force the dissolution of Parliament earlier. While Prime Minister Martin had committed in April 2005 to dissolve Parliament within a month of the tabling of the second Gomery Report (which was released on schedule on February 1, 2006), all three opposition parties—the Conservatives, Bloc Québécois, and New Democratic Party (NDP) — and three of the four independents decided that the issue at hand was how to correct the Liberal corruption, and the motion of non-confidence passed 171-133.

Harper was reelected in Calgary Southwest, which he has held since 2002, ensuring that he has a seat in the new parliament. The election was held on January 23, 2006. The first polls closed at 07:00 p.m. ET (0000 UTC); Elections Canada started to publish preliminary results on its website at 10:00 p.m. ET as the last polls closed. Shortly after midnight (ET) that night, incumbent Prime Minister Paul Martin conceded defeat, and announced that he will resign as leader of the Liberal Party. He will continue to sit as a Member of Parliament representing LaSalle—Émard, the Montreal-area riding he has held since 1988.

At 9:30 a.m. on January 24, Martin informed Governor General Michaëlle Jean that he would not form a government and intended to resign as Prime Minister. It was announced a month later that there will be a Liberal leadership convention later in the year, during which Stéphane Dion won the leadership of the Liberal Party. Later that day, at 6:45 p.m., Jean invited Harper to form a government. Martin formally resigned and Harper was formally appointed and sworn in as Prime Minister on February 6.

The elections resulted in a Conservative minority government with 124 seats in parliament with a Liberal opposition and a strengthened NDP. In his speech following the loss, Martin stated he would not lead the Liberal Party of Canada in another election. Preliminary results indicated that 64.9% of registered voters cast a ballot, a notable increase over 2004's 60.9%.

The NDP won new seats in British Columbia and Ontario as their overall popular vote increased 2% from 2004. The Bloc managed to win almost as many seats as in 2004 despite losing a significant percentage of the vote. Most of the Conservatives' gains were in Ontario and Quebec as they took a net loss in the west. The popular vote of the Conservatives and Liberals were almost the mirror image of 2004, though the Conservatives were not able to translate this into as many seats as the Liberals did in 2004.

A judicial recount was automatically scheduled in the Parry Sound—Muskoka riding, where early results showed Conservative Tony Clement only 21 votes ahead of Liberal Andy Mitchell, because the difference of votes cast between the two leading candidates was less than 0.1%. Clement was confirmed as the winner by 28 votes.

Conservative candidate Jeremy Harrison, narrowly defeated by Liberal Gary Merasty in the Saskatchewan riding of Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River by 72 votes, alleged electoral fraud but decided not to pursue the matter. A judicial recount was ordered in the riding, which certified Gary Merasty the winner by a reduced margin of 68 votes.

Most observers believed only the Liberals and the Conservatives were capable of forming a government in this election, although Canadian political history is not without examples of wholly unexpected outcomes, such as Ontario's provincial election in 1990. However, with the exception of the Unionist government of 1917 (which combined members of both the Conservatives and the Liberals), at the Federal stage, only Liberals or Conservatives have formed government. With the end of the campaign at hand, pollsters and pundits placed the Conservatives ahead of the Liberals.

Prime Minister Paul Martin's Liberals hoped to recapture their majority, and this appeared likely at one point during the campaign; but it would have required holding back Bloc pressure in Quebec plus picking up some new seats there while also gaining seats in English Canada, most likely in rural Ontario and southwestern British Columbia. Towards the end of the campaign, even high-profile Liberals were beginning to concede defeat, and the best the Liberals could have achieved was a razor-thin minority.

Stephen Harper's Conservatives succeeded in bringing their new party into power in Canada. While continuing weaknesses in Quebec and urban areas rightfully prompted most observers to consider a Conservative majority government to be mathematically difficult to achieve, early on, Harper's stated goal was to achieve one nonetheless. Though the Conservatives were ahead of the Liberals in Quebec, they remained far behind the Bloc Québécois, and additional gains in rural and suburban Ontario would have been be necessary to meet Stephen Harper's goal. The polls had remained pretty well static over the course of December, with the real shift coming in the first few days of the New Year. That is when the Conservatives took the lead and kept it for the rest of the campaign.

Harper started off the first month of the campaign with a policy-per-day strategy, which included a GST reduction and a child-care allowance. The Liberals opted to hold any major announcements until after the Christmas holidays; as a result, Harper dominated media coverage for the first weeks of the campaign and was able to define his platform and insulate it from expected Liberal attacks. On December 27, 2005, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced it was investigating allegations that Liberal Finance Minister Ralph Goodale's office had engaged in insider trading before making an important announcement on the taxation of income trusts. The RCMP indicated that they had no evidence of wrongdoing or criminal activity from any party associated with the investigation, including Goodale. However, the story dominated news coverage for the following week and prevented the Liberals from making their key policy announcements, allowing the Conservatives to refocus their previous attacks about corruption within the Liberal party. The Conservatives soon found themselves leading in the polls. By early January, they made a major breakthrough in Quebec, pushing the Liberals to second place.

As their lead solidified, media coverage of the Conservatives was much more positive, while Liberals found themselves increasingly criticized for running a poor campaign and making numerous gaffes.

The NDP has claimed that last minute tactical voting cost them several seats last time, as left-of-centre voters moved to the Liberals so that they could prevent a Harper-led government. Jack Layton avoided stating his party's goal was to win the election outright, instead calling for enough New Democrats to be elected to hold the balance of power in a Liberal or Conservative minority government. Political commentators have long argued that the NDP's main medium-term goal is to serve as junior partners to the Liberals in Canada's first-ever true coalition government. NDP leader Jack Layton was concerned last time over people voting Liberal so that they could avoid a Conservative government. Over the course of the last week of the campaign, Jack Layton called on Liberal voters disgusted with the corruption to "lend" their votes to the NDP to elect more NDP members to the House and hold the Conservatives to a minority.

The Bloc Québécois had a very successful result in the 2004 election, with the Liberals reduced to the core areas of federalist support in portions of Montreal and the Outaouais. Oddly enough, this meant that there were comparatively few winnable Bloc seats left—perhaps eight or so—for the party to target. With provincial allies the Parti Québécois widely tipped to regain power in 2007, a large sovereigntist contingent in the House could play a major role in reopening the matter of Quebec independence. The Bloc Québécois only runs candidates in the province of Quebec. However, Gilles Duceppe's dream of winning 50%+ of the popular vote was dashed when the polls broke after the New Year, and the Conservatives became a real threat to that vision in Quebec.

In addition to the four sitting parties, the Green Party of Canada ran candidates in all 308 federal ridings for the second consecutive election. Though the Greens had been an official party since the 1984 election, this campaign was the first in which they had stable financial support with which to campaign. After a breakthrough in the 2004 election, they exceeded the minimum 2% of the popular vote to receive federal funding. Supporters and sympathisers criticize that the party were not invited to the nationally televised debates even with its official status. Though no Green candidate has yet been elected in Canada, the party has occasionally polled as high as 19% in British Columbia and 11% nationwide. Critics of the Green Party contend that, by drawing away left-of-centre votes, the Green Party actually assists the Conservative Party in some ridings. The Greens deny this .

Other parties are listed in the table of results above.

An early election seemed likely because the 2004 federal election, held on June 28, 2004, resulted in the election of a Liberal minority government. In the past, minority governments have had an average lifespan of a year and a half. Some people considered the 38th parliament to be particularly unstable. It involved four parties, and only very implausible ideological combinations (e.g., Liberals + Conservatives; Liberals + BQ; Conservatives + BQ + NDP) could actually command a majority of the seats, a necessity if a government is to retain power. From its earliest moments, there was some threat of the government falling as even the Speech from the Throne almost resulted in a non-confidence vote.

The Liberal government came close to falling when testimony from the Gomery Commission caused public opinion to move sharply against the government. The Bloc Québécois were eager from the beginning to have an early election. The Conservatives announced they had also lost confidence in the government's moral authority. Thus, during much of spring 2005, there was a widespread belief that the Liberals would lose a confidence vote, prompting an election taking place in the spring or summer of 2005.

In a televised speech on April 21, Martin promised to request a dissolution of Parliament and begin an election campaign within 30 days of the Gomery Commission’s final report. The release date of that report would later solidify as February 1, 2006; Martin then clarified that he intended to schedule the election call so as to have the polling day in April 2006.

Later that week, the NDP, who had initially opposed the budget, opted to endorse Martin's proposal for a later election. The Liberals agreed to take corporate tax cuts out of the budget on April 26 in exchange for NDP support on votes of confidence, but even with NDP support the Liberals still fell three votes short of a majority. However, a surprise defection of former Conservative leadership candidate Belinda Stronach to the Liberal party on May 17 changed the balance of power in the House. Independents Chuck Cadman and Carolyn Parrish provided the last two votes needed for the Liberals to win the budget vote.

The deal turned out to be rather unnecessary, as the Conservatives opted to ensure the government's survival on the motion of confidence surrounding the original budget, expressing support to the tax cuts and defence spending therein. When Parliament voted on second reading and referral of the budget and the amendment on May 19, the previous events kept the government alive. The original budget bill, C-43, passed easily, as expected, but the amendment bill, C-48, resulted in an equality of votes, and the Speaker of the House broke the tie to continue the parliament. The government never got as close to falling after that date. Third reading of Bill C-48 was held late at night on an unexpected day, and several Conservatives being absent, the motion passed easily, guaranteeing there would be no election in the near future.

On November 1, John Gomery released his interim report, and the scandal returned to prominence. Liberal support again fell, with some polls registering an immediate ten percent drop. The Conservatives and Bloc thus resumed their push for an election before Martin's April date. The NDP stated that their support was contingent on the Liberals agreeing to move against the private provision of healthcare. The Liberals and NDP failed to come to an agreement, however, and the NDP joined the two other opposition parties in demanding an election.

However, the Liberals had intentionally scheduled the mandatory "opposition days" (where a specified opposition party controls the agenda) on November 15 (Conservative), November 17 (Bloc Québécois) and November 24 (NDP). These days meant that any election would come over the Christmas season, an unpopular idea. Following negotiations between the opposition parties, they instead issued an ultimatum to the Prime Minister to call an election immediately after the Christmas holidays or face an immediate non-confidence vote which would prompt a holiday-spanning campaign.

To that end, the NDP introduced a parliamentary motion demanding that the government drop the writ in January 2006 for a February 13 election date; however, only the prime minister has the authority to advise the Governor General on an election date, the government was therefore not bound by the NDP's motion. Martin had indicated that he remained committed to his April 2006 date, and would disregard the motion, which the opposition parties managed to pass, as expected, on November 21 by a vote of 167-129.

The three opposition leaders had agreed to delay the tabling of the no-confidence motion until the 24th, to ensure that a conference between the government and aboriginal leaders scheduled on the 24th would not be disrupted by the campaign. Parliamentary procedure dictated that the vote be deferred until the 28th. Even if the opposition hadn't put forward the non-confidence motion, the government was still expected to fall—there was to have been a vote on supplementary budget estimates on December 8, and if it had been defeated, loss of Supply would have toppled the Liberals.

Conservative leader Stephen Harper, the leader of the Opposition, introduced a motion of no confidence on November 24, which NDP leader Jack Layton seconded. The motion was voted upon and passed in the evening of November 28, with all present MPs from the NDP, Bloc Québécois, and Conservatives and 3 Independents (Bev Desjarlais, David Kilgour and Pat O'Brien), voting with a combined strength of 171 votes for the motion and 132 Liberals and one Independent (Carolyn Parrish) voting against. One Bloc Québécois MP was absent from the vote. It is the fifth time a Canadian government has lost the confidence of Parliament, but the first time this has happened on a straight motion of no confidence. The four previous instances have been due to loss of supply or votes of censure.

Martin visited Governor General Michaëlle Jean the following morning, where he formally advised her to dissolve Parliament and schedule an election for January 23. In accordance with Canadian constitutional practice, she consented (such a request has only been turned down once in Canadian history), officially beginning an election campaign that had been simmering for months.

Early on in the campaign, polls showed the Liberals with a solid 5-10 point lead over the Conservatives, and poised to form a strong minority government at worst. Around Christmas, after reports of an RCMP investigation into allegations of insider trading within the Finance department, this situation changed dramatically, leading to the opposition parties to consistently attack the Liberals on corruption. Almost at the same time, the Boxing Day shooting, an unusually violent gun fight between rival gangs on December 26 in downtown Toronto (resulting in the death of 15-year-old Jane Creba, an innocent bystander), may have swayed some Ontario voters to support the more hardline CPC policies on crime. The Conservatives enjoyed a fairly significant lead in polls leading up to the election, but the gap narrowed in the last few days.

Several issues—some long-standing (notably fiscal imbalance, the gun registry, abortion, and Quebec sovereigntism), others recently brought forth by media coverage or court decisions (the sponsorship scandal, same-sex marriages, income trusts, or Canada-United States relations)—took the fore in debate among the parties and also influenced aspects of the parties’ electoral platforms.

Prior to and during the election campaign, opinion polling showed variable support for the governing Liberals and opposition Conservatives. In November 2005, the first report by Justice John Gomery was released to the public; subsequently, poll numbers for the Liberals again dropped. Just days later, polling showed the Liberals were already bouncing back; upon the election call, the Liberals held a small lead over the Conservatives and maintained this for much of December. Renewed accusations of corruption and impropriety at the end of 2005 – amid Royal Canadian Mounted Police criminal probes of possible government leaks regarding income trust tax changes and advertising sponsorships – led to an upswing of Conservative support again and gave them a lead over the Liberals, portending a change in government. Ultimately this scandal was linked to a blackberry exchange to a banking official by Liberal candidate Scott Brison. Polling figures for the NDP increased slightly, while Bloc figures experienced a slight dip; figures for the Green Party did not change appreciably throughout the campaign.

The election involved the same 308 electoral districts as in 2004, except in New Brunswick, where the boundary between Acadie—Bathurst and Miramichi was ruled to be illegal. Many of the candidates were also the same: fewer incumbents chose to leave than if they had served a full term, and the parties have generally blocked challenges to sitting MPs for the duration of the minority government, although there had been some exceptions.

An on-going issue in Canadian politics is the imbalance between the genders in selection by political parties of candidates. Although in the past some parties, particularly the New Democrats, have focused on the necessity of having equal gender representation in Parliament, no major party has ever nominated as many or more women than men in a given election. In 2006, the New Democrats had the highest percentage of female candidates (35.1%) of any party aside from the Animal Alliance, which only had one candidate, its leader, Liz White. The proportion of female New Democrats elected was greater than the proportion nominated, indicating female New Democrats were nominated in winnable ridings. 12.3% of Conservative candidates and 25.6% of Liberal candidates were female.

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Buzz Hargrove

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Basil Eldon "Buzz" Hargrove (born March 8, 1944, Bath, New Brunswick, Canada) is the former National President of the Canadian Auto Workers trade union. He also serves as a Vice-President on the executive committee of the Canadian Labour Congress.

Hargrove first became involved in the automotive sector as a line worker for the Chrysler assembly plant in Windsor, Ontario. He succeeded Bob White as president of the CAW in 1992. On July 8, 2008, he announced his intention to retire, before he turned 65, in September 2008. The CAW National Executive Board and staff endorsed then CAW Local 444 president Ken Lewenza to replace Hargrove as National President, and on September 6, 2008, Lewenza was formally elected to the position at a special union convention.

In 1998, Hargrove co-authored the book Labour of Love: The Fight to Create a More Humane Canada with Wayne Skene. Also in 1998, Brock University honoured him with a Doctorate of Laws degree. He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Windsor in 2003, and from Wilfrid Laurier University in 2004. He currently is serving as a distinguished visiting professor at Ryerson University. In 2008, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Hargrove is seen as a proponent of social unionism, and his supporters claim that he has steered the CAW to become a more activist union. In the field of electoral politics, however, under his leadership the CAW has broken from its longtime support for the left-wing New Democratic Party and lent increasing support instead for the Liberal Party of Canada.

Hargrove is married to Denise Small, a mediation officer for the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

Hargrove was the leading advocate of tactical voting (sometimes also called "strategic voting") in the 1999 Ontario provincial election. Hargrove proposed this approach in an attempt to defeat the Progressive Conservative Party government of Mike Harris. Hargrove's support for this approach, and his union's subsequent commitment of resources in its pursuit, marked the CAW's first major departure from its previous policy of unconditional support of the Ontario New Democratic Party, although the CAW had been somewhat estranged from the Ontario NDP ever since the union had opposed the "Social Contract" austerity measures imposed by the previous 1990-1995 Bob Rae NDP government. The 1999 election, however, was the first time that the union did not at least formally endorse the NDP, instead urging its members (and all voters) to vote for whichever candidate, NDP or Liberal, had the best chance of defeating the Progressive Conservative candidate.

Tactical voting not only failed to prevent the re-election of the Tories to another majority government, it was blamed by New Democrats for the party's poor electoral performance, returning only 9 Members of Provincial Parliament, down from 17 in the 1995 election.

An attempt, following the 1999 Ontario election, to expel Hargrove from the Ontario NDP was defeated, but Hargrove's relationship with provincial leader Howard Hampton has remained acrimonious.

Hargrove was also a long-time critic of federal NDP leader Alexa McDonough, calling for her resignation on several occasions. He criticized McDonough for her effort at modernizing federal NDP's policy, which involved moving towards the political centre and adopting "Third Way" policies. Hargrove stated repeatedly that NDP should move to the left instead.

In 2002, he planned to run for the NDP leadership, but found a "notable lack of enthusiasm" for his potential candidacy. He instead endorsed CAW lawyer Joe Comartin who placed fourth.

Hargrove was initially much more publicly supportive of McDonough's successor, Jack Layton, and the CAW unequivocally supported the federal NDP in the 2004 federal election. The NDP made significant gains in popular vote, although they only gained 5 seats for a total of 19, well short of its aspirations of 40 or more.

Hargrove reportedly played a role in bringing Prime Minister Paul Martin and Jack Layton together to negotiate a budget agreement to keep the federal Liberal government in power in exchange for including NDP proposals in the 2005 federal budget.

However, Hargrove sharply criticized Layton when he joined with Conservative leader Stephen Harper and Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe to bring down the Liberal government with a vote of non-confidence in November 2005. He also echoed his earlier criticism of McDonough by suggesting that Layton, too, was not sufficiently moving the party to the left. The eventual bringing down of the Liberal minority government led to a Conservative minority in the subsequent election.

For the 2006 Canadian federal election, Hargrove resumed his previous endorsement of tactical voting and urged CAW members (and all voters) to vote for whichever candidate, NDP or Liberal had the best chance of defeating the Conservative candidate. During the final days of the 2006 campaign, Hargrove urged all progressive voters in Canada to vote Liberal, which he claimed was the only party that could prevent the Conservative Party of Canada from winning the election. He publicly stated that "ideology does not matter" when the reporter asked about his position.

Traditional NDP supporters were also opposed to aligning their movement with the Liberals, who were embroiled in the Sponsorship and income trust scandals.

Despite being one of Hargrove's 40 endorsed NDP candidates, Sid Ryan, president of the Ontario chapter of the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the candidate for Oshawa, blamed his loss on tactical voting. Ryan claimed Hargrove's statement confused potential NDP supporters in his riding and caused some of them to vote Liberal even though the Liberal candidate was not a viable contender. A poll in Oshawa found that the proportion of voters sampled who initially planned to vote for Ryan before switching their support to the third-place Liberal candidate late in the campaign (thinking it might help prevent a national Conservative victory) significantly exceeded the narrow margin of Ryan's loss - if the poll is accurate then the tactic did indeed result in Tory Colin Carrie's election.

Some pointed out that Hargrove's call for strategic voting has also caused financial harm to the NDP under Canada's system of public financing for federal elections, which pays a subsidy to each federal party based on their popular vote.

On January 18 2006, Hargrove made a widely criticized speech at a Liberal rally in Ontario where he urged voters in Quebec to vote for the Bloc Québécois in preference to the Conservatives, calling Conservative leader Stephen Harper's view of Canada "a separatist view" and recommending "anything to stop the Tories" including, strangely enough, voting for a declared separatist party. The statements forced Liberal leader Paul Martin to defend Harper later in the day by saying "I have profound differences with Mr. Harper, but I have never questioned his patriotism". Afterwards, many commentators viewed Hargrove as having been an active hindrance to the gaffe-filled Liberal campaign.

Near the end of the 2006 campaign, sensing the momentum that would result in a Conservative victory, NDP leader Jack Layton defied Paul Martin and Hargrove's pleas to unite all progressive voters under the Liberal banner. Layton intensified his attacks on the Liberal scandals, while also pledging to use the NDP's clout in a minority government to "keep the Conservatives in check".

The NDP increased their caucus to 29 seats, a significant gain over the 2004 election. Hargrove afterwards argued that strategic voting had in fact prevented the Conservatives from forming a majority government and suggested that the three main opposition parties could form a coalition to get several key pieces of legislation passed.

Following the election, on February 11, 2006, the provincial executive body of the Ontario NDP voted to suspend Hargrove's NDP membership and effectively expel him from the party for supporting the Liberals. This move also automatically suspended his membership in the federal party. Hargrove stated he was "shocked and surprised" by this decision, but he would not apologize for his actions during the 2006 election nor would he commit not to endorse candidates for other parties in the future. On February 23, 2006, Hargrove also confirmed that he would not appeal the Ontario NDP executive body's decision.

Although Jack Layton and Sid Ryan did not support Hargrove's tactical voting, they opposed Hargrove's suspension from the NDP.

The CAW retaliated against the NDP for Hargrove's suspension by severing all union ties with the Party, a move formalized at the CAW's 2006 convention.

On December 9, 2005, Hargrove confirmed that he would seek a sixth and final three-year term as CAW President at the union's convention in Vancouver, British Columbia in August, 2006. This would be the final term that Hargrove would be eligible to serve under the CAW constitution, which provides for mandatory retirement at age 65. Hargrove will be 62 years old by the time of the upcoming CAW convention.

On February 8, 2006, Maclean's reported rumours that, for the first time, Hargrove may face an opposing candidate for the CAW presidency. CAW Local 1256 chair and Oakville and District Labour Council President Willie Lambert was subsequently confirmed as an opposition candidate. In 1999, Lambert won the support of over 40% of voting delegates at that year's Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) convention, in an unsuccessful challenge to Wayne Samuelson for the OFL presidency.

On February 13, 2006, the CAW's former chief economist Sam Gindin raised a series of questions about the political, electoral and bargaining orientation of the CAW in an open letter addressed to Hargrove. That letter, Hargrove's response and Gindin's response to Hargrove were posted on the Canadian political website rabble. Gindin later wrote another piece criticizing recent bargaining concessions by the CAW at the General Motors plant in Oshawa, Ontario, which was published in the Socialist Project bulletin on March 22.

On May 22, 2006, auto parts workers at A.G. Simpson in Oshawa, Ontario went on strike against their employer. Hargrove characterized the dispute as a "wildcat" (unauthorized) strike and criticized the workers involved, describing the situation as a "powder keg" that threatened other auto workers jobs. Hargrove's rival Lambert, however, fully supported the workers, joining the picket line and condemning Hargrove's conduct in an open letter. The labour dispute was successfully resolved on May 25, 2006, although the workers involved remained critical of Hargrove and the National CAW's interventions.

On June 22, 2006, the executive committee of CAW Local 1256, Lambert's home local, adopted a motion to reconsider its support for Lambert's campaign and lend support instead to Hargrove. Lambert alleges that the local executive took this action at the prompting of Hargrove's executive assistant, Hemi Mitic, who allegedly threatened to dissolve Local 1256 and merge it into the larger CAW Local 707. Both Mitic and the local union president, James MacKenzie, deny this allegation. The motion to reconsider support for Lambert was overwhelmingly defeated by the general membership of Local 1256 on July 9, 2006, confirming that Local 1256 continued to support Lambert.

The CAW's Constitutional Convention, at which the leadership election was scheduled to occur, took place Tuesday, August 15 through Friday, August 18 at the Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre. Delegates were scheduled to vote for CAW executive officers on Thursday, August 17. However, on Wednesday, August 16, the union announced that Lambert had withdrawn his candidacy for CAW president, leaving Hargrove unopposed. This was, however, a half-truth. According to standard union practice, candidates for CAW offices must be nominated before they can run. As Lambert was not himself a delegate, the decision on whether or not he was able to contest the presidency fell to the nearly 1000 elected delegates present. Since no one came forward -- not even delegates from his own local which had recently declared its unanimous support for his candidacy -- Lambert was effectively barred from contesting the leadership and Hargrove was therefore acclaimed for another term.

Basking in the glow of his "victory", Hargrove concluded his acceptance speech by proposing to his long-time girlfriend Denise Small. Small accepted. The two were subsequently married at a small, private ceremony in Toronto on December 22, 2007.

In the 2007 Ontario provincial election the CAW as a union again endorsed strategic voting. Hargrove, however, again went further to slam both the NDP and its leader, Howard Hampton. He told the editorial board of the Toronto Star that the NDP had "lost complete touch" with the people of Ontario and that he saw "absolutely no reason to vote NDP." Hargrove then went on to lavish praise on the Ontario Liberals, claiming the party had been "more left than the NDP over the last four years" and predicting left-leaning voters would vote Liberal in the upcoming election. The Ontario Liberal Party ultimately won a second consecutive majority government.

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Canadian federal election, 2004

Canadian federal election, 2004

The Canadian federal election, 2004 (more formally, the 38th General Election), was held on June 28, 2004 to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons of the 38th Parliament of Canada. The Liberal government of Prime Minister Paul Martin lost its majority, but was able to form a minority government after the elections. The main opposition party, the newly amalgamated Conservative Party of Canada, improved its position but with a showing below its expectations.

On May 23, 2004, Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, on the advice of Martin, ordered the dissolution of the House of Commons. Following a 36-day campaign, voters elected 308 Members of the House of Commons.

All three major national parties had changed their leaders since the 2000 elections. Although the election was initially widely expected to be a relatively easy romp for Martin to a fourth consecutive Liberal majority government, during the campaign many began instead to predict a far more closely-fought election after the Sponsorship scandal broke out. Polls started to indicate the possibility of a minority government for the Liberals, or even a minority Conservative government, fuelling speculation of coalitions with the other parties. In the end, the Liberals fared better than the final opinion polls had led them to fear, but well short of a majority.

On election day, polling times were arranged to allow results from most provinces to be announced more or less simultaneously, with the exception of Atlantic Canada, whose results were known before the close of polling in other provinces due to the British Columbia Supreme Court's decision in R. v. Bryan.

A Canadian party must hold 155 seats to form a majority government. The Liberals came short of this number, winning 135. Until extremely close ridings were decided on the west coast, it appeared as though the Liberals' seat total, if combined with that of the left-wing New Democratic Party (NDP), would be sufficient to hold a majority in the House of Commons. In the end, the Conservatives won Vancouver Island North, West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast, and New Westminster-Coquitlam, after trailing in all three ridings, as sub-totals were announced through the evening.

As a result, the combined seat count of the Liberals and the NDP was 154, while the other 154 seats belonged to the Conservatives, Bloquistes, and one independent Chuck Cadman (previously a Conservative). Rather than forming a coalition with the NDP, the Liberal party led a minority government, obtaining majorities for its legislation on an ad hoc basis. Nevertheless, as the showdown on Bill C-48, a matter of confidence, loomed in the spring of 2005, the Liberals and NDP, who wanted to continue the Parliament, found themselves matched against the Conservatives and the Bloc, who were registering no confidence. The bill just barely passed with support from the Liberals, the NDP, and the independent members of the Commons.

Voter turnout nationwide was 60.9%, the lowest ever in Canadian history , with 13,683,570 out of 22,466,621 registered voters casting their ballots. The voter turnout fell by more than 3% from the 2000 federal election which had 64.1% turnout .

1 Conservative Party results are compared to the combined totals of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party in the 2000 election.

Until the sponsorship scandal, most pundits were predicting that new Prime Minister Paul Martin would lead the Liberal Party of Canada to a fourth majority government, possibly setting a record for number of seats won.

However, polls released immediately after the scandal broke showed Liberal support down as much as 10% nationwide, with greater declines in its heartland of Quebec and Ontario. Although there was some recovery in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, Liberal hopes of making unprecedented gains in the west faded. The unpopularity of some provincial Liberal parties may also have had an effect on federal Liberal fortunes. In Ontario, for instance, the provincial Liberal government introduced an unpopular budget the week of the expected election call, and their federal counterparts then fell into a statistical dead heat with the Conservatives in polls there. The Liberals were also harmed by high profile party infighting that have been plaguing the party since Martin's earlier ejection from Cabinet by now-former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.

The campaign was criticized openly by Liberal candidates, one incumbent Liberal comparing it to the Keystone Kops.

In the final months of 2003, the Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance were running a distant third and fourth, respectively, in public opinion polls.

Many pundits predicted that the combination of the popular and fiscally conservative Martin, along with continued vote-splitting on the right, could have led to the almost total annihilation of the Progressive Conservatives and Canadian Alliance. This fear prompted those two parties to form a united Conservative Party of Canada, which was approved by the members of the Canadian Alliance on December 5, 2003 and controversially by the delegates of the Progressive Conservatives on December 6, 2003.

The new Conservative Party pulled well ahead of the NDP in the polls just before the election, although its support remained below the combined support that the Progressive Conservatives and the Alliance had as separate parties. On March 20, the Conservatives elected Stephen Harper as their new leader.

The Conservatives gained more ground in polls after Harper became leader, and the poll results in the weeks before the election had them within one to two points of the Liberals, sometimes ahead, sometimes behind them. Party supporters hoped that the voters would react negatively to the Liberal attacks on what they called Harper's "hidden agenda," and that anger over the sponsorship scandal and other Liberal failures would translate to success at the polls.

Late in the campaign, the Conservatives began to lose some momentum, in part due to remarks made by MPs and candidates regarding homosexuality, official bilingualism and abortion. Additionally, the Liberal Party began airing controversial TV ads. Harper was also criticized for his position supporting the American-led 2003 invasion of Iraq. The term "hidden agenda", used commonly in the 2000 election to refer to Stockwell Day, began surfacing with increasing regularity with regard to Harper's history of supporting privatized health care. Further damaging the Conservative campaign was a press release from Conservative headquarters that suggested that Paul Martin supported child pornography. The momentum began to swing against his party, although some polls suggested it was neck and neck right up until election day.

Although on the eve of the election the party was polling slightly ahead of the Liberals everywhere west of Quebec, it had dropped in support, polling behind or on par with Liberals everywhere except the West (Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba), where it held onto its traditional support.

All together the new Conservatives fell from the combined Canadian Alliance-Progressive Conservative vote in 2000 of 37%, to only 29% of the vote, yet still gained 21 extra seats, finishing in second-place with 99 seats.

Before the announcement of the union of the right-of-centre parties, some were predicting that the New Democratic Party would form the official opposition because the NDP was polling ahead of both right-of-centre parties. A new leader (Jack Layton) and clear social democratic policies helped revitalize the NDP. Polls suggested that the NDP had returned to the 18% to 20% level of support it enjoyed in the 1984 election and 1988 election. Layton suggested that the NDP would break their previous record of 43 seats won under former leader Ed Broadbent.

The NDP focused the campaign on winning ridings in Canada's urban centres, hoping especially to win seats in central Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa and Winnipeg. The party's platform was built to cater to these regions and much of Layton's time was spent in these areas.

The campaign stumbled early when Layton blamed the deaths of homeless people on Paul Martin, prompting the Liberals to accuse the NDP of negative campaigning. The NDP benefited from the decline in Liberal support, but not to the same extent as the Conservatives. There was an increasing prospect that NDP voters would switch to the Liberals to block a Conservative government. This concern did not manifest itself in the polls, however, and the NDP remained at somewhat below 20 percent mark in the polls for most of the campaign.

The NDP achieved 15% of the popular vote, its highest in 16 years. However, it only won 19 seats in the House of Commons, two less than the 21 won in 1997, and far short of the 40 predicted. There was criticism that Layton's focus on urban issues and gay rights marginalized the party's traditional emphasis on the poor, the working class, and rural Canadians. Long-time MP Lorne Nystrom and several other incumbents from the Prairie provinces were defeated, with the NDP being shut out of Saskatchewan for the first time since 1965. Layton won his own seat in a tight race, while Broadbent was returned to Parliament after many years of absence.

The Bloc Québécois (BQ) had managed their best showing back in 1993, but they lost seats to the Liberals in 1997 and 2000, prompting pundits to suggest a decline in support for Quebec sovereignty. The Bloc continued to slide in the polls in most of 2003 after the election of the federalist Quebec Liberal Party at the National Assembly of Quebec under Jean Charest, and during the long run-up to Paul Martin becoming leader of the federal Liberals.

However, things progressively changed during 2003, partly because of the decline in popularity of the Liberal Party of Quebec government of Jean Charest, and partly because support for independence in Quebec rose again (49% in March). The tide took its sharp turn when, in February 2004, the sponsorship scandal (uncovered in considerable part by the Bloc) hit the Liberal federal government.

These events led to a resurgence of the BQ, putting it ahead of the pack once again: according to an Ipsos-Reid poll carried out for The Globe and Mail and CTV between the 4th and the 8th of June, 50% of Quebecers intended to vote for the BQ against 24% for the Liberals.

Speculation was ongoing about the possibility of the Bloc forming alliances with other opposition parties or with an eventual minority government to promote its goals of social democracy and respect of the autonomy of provinces. Leader Gilles Duceppe stated that the Bloc, as before, would co-operate with other opposition parties or with the government when interests were found to be in common, but that the Bloc would not participate in a coalition government.

The Greens ran candidates in all 308 ridings for the first time in its history. The party won twice as many votes in this election than it had over the previous 21 years of its history combined, although it failed to win a seat. It also spent more money than in the previous 21 years, and although much of this money was borrowed, the Greens' share of the popular vote enabled them to receive federal funding.

These are the official slogans for the 2004 campaigns. The optional parts of the mottos (sometimes not used for efficiency) are put in brackets.

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Source : Wikipedia