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OT: Election 2000 recap: highlights, low blows and blunders

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David Migicovsky

Nov 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM11/27/00
Sun. Nov. 26 2000 7:31 PM

With less than a day to go before the polls open, CTV News recaps the past
35 days. A look back at a campaign filled with highlights, low blows and
memorable blunders:

Jean Chretien kicked it all off, calling an election only three-and-a-half
years into his mandate.

The Liberals began with a classic front-runner's campaign. A new Red Book
stuck to a familiar script and Chretien played up the Liberal team. But
before you could say Liberal majority, trouble popped up.

Chretien took a pounding in the French and English debates, as he was
barely able to get a word in when the four other party leaders went on the

And before Chretien could recover, he was on the defensive again after new
revelations surfaced about his involvement in securing a federal loan for a
friend. Although a federal ethics counsellor cleared him of any wrongdoing,
the incident led to a slip in Liberal support in the polls.

In the final week of the campaign, Chretien went on the attack demonizing
Canadian Alliance Leader Stockwell Day and calling a vote for Progressive
Conservative Leader Joe Clark and NDP Leader Alexa McDonough a wasted vote.

Chretien is worried that some voters may drift away to third parties, like
the Tories and the NDP. He's also worried that some voters, turned off by
the negative campaign, might not vote at all.

While Chretien insists he will win a majority, his tough tactics in the
final days of the campaign suggest he might be a little more worried than
he would like to admit.

On Nov. 27, everything's on the line for the prime minister. If he wins a
third straight majority government he goes into the history books. If he
loses, he's probably out of a job.

To silence his critics within the party, Chretien must not only need to win
a majority, but he must win it by a convincing margin.


Stockwell Day's campaign started off on a bumpy note with the memorable
geography gaffe about which way Niagara Falls flows. Day compared the brain
drain of qualified Canadians to the United States to the southern flow of
the river. The only problem was the river flowed north.

But that wasn't the worst of it. Throughout the campaign, issues such as
abortion, gay rights and health care dogged the leader. And allegations of
racism, his negative platform, even Day's personal beliefs have all created

Despite this controversy, the Alliance leader came on strong at the debates
and brought out big crowds along the campaign trail.

However, inexperience and a seasoned Liberal campaign team who knew how to
play hardball caught the Alliance team off guard. The Liberals managed to
convince some Canadians that Day might have a "hidden agenda."

As a result, Day was on the defensive almost everyday of the campaign which
meant he wasn't able to stick to his game plan of talking about issues.

If Day fails to break through in Ontario, it may be difficult for him to
stay on as Alliance leader. There's already a movement growing within the
party ranks to bring back Preston Manning.


Of all the major party leaders, Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe got
the most praise from the pundits.

Duceppe avoided serious mistakes and scored a number of campaign coups such
as a tour of so-called patronage hotspots in the prime minister's home

The Bloc leader also came out so strongly against organized crime, a big
issue in Quebec, that he received death threats and required a team of

Duceppe's biggest problem may be voter apathy. The Bloc's core support is
usually rather apathetic toward federal elections.

To help get the vote out Duceppe went on a 36-hour marathon blitz of Quebec
in the final days of the campaign.

If Duceppe fails to win enough seats the future of the Bloc in Ottawa could
very much be in doubt. Many separatists believe the party should
concentrate its efforts in Quebec where it can make the biggest difference.


As for New Democrat Leader Alexa McDonough, she tried to make a point of
staying out of most of the mudslinging, and sticking to the issues such as
health care and tax cuts.

The question of income got McDonough into trouble during an interview on
CTV's Canada AM, when she implied that Canadians who make $60,000 per year
are wealthy.

McDonough is fighting to maintain her party's official status in the House.
And in the final hours of the campaign, it's anybody's guess how she will

McDonough could find herself weilding the balance of power in a minority
Liberal government or with so few seats that her party becomes irrelevant.

Regardless of the outcome, McDonough's future as NDP leader is secure. No
one from within the party is pushing for her resignation. However,
McDonough might ask herself if she should continue.


And finally, Pregressive Conservative Leader Joe Clark had the least to
lose in this campaign and the most to gain.

At first, no one paid attention. But then Clark emerged as a star in the
debates. The presence of his daughter Catherine added pizazz, campaign ads
hit the Liberals hard, and before you knew it a Joe Clark comeback seemed

Yet, in his own riding of Calgary Centre, Clark is in the fight for his
political life, where he's running neck and neck against Alliance MP Eric

If Clark's party wins a convincing number of seats, but the Tory leader
goes down in defeat, it may rekindle calls for Joe to step down.

To silence critics Clark must win not only his own seat but make solid
gains across the country.

>>David ========>

David Migicovsky
d m i g i c o v at n e w s c e n e dot c o m
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