Dion says Oct. 14 vote violating rights
The Toronto Sun
Thu 25 Sep 2008
Byline: BY CHRISTINA SPENCER, NATIONAL BUREAU
For the second time in less than a week Stephane Dion touched down in Winnipeg yesterday, hoping to shore up support among Manitoba voters in general and ethnic communities in particular.
He also found himself fending off a devastating critique by a former Liberal party president.
Stephen LeDrew, party president from 1998 to 2003, wrote in the National Post that the Liberals "are going to take a drubbing in this election." He said Dion "doesn’t resonate with the public," that the Liberal platform is "either incomprehensible, or just plain dumb," and the campaign team "seems to have all its oars pulling on the same side of the boat."
The attack came as Dion tries to hold on to his three Manitoba seats in the next Parliament.
The Liberal leader said he is telling supporters to ignore LeDrew’s remarks.
"I do nothing with these comments," he said.
"I know how much our party is convinced that we need to win. It’s not like it was only a battle for who will have the power to enjoy the power. It’s a philosophy, an approach, the kind of Canada we want."
Dion used the Winnipeg trip to re-announce a $75-million "Communities at Risk" program for minorities to improve security at synagogues, mosques and other places of worship, and at schools and community centres.
In remarks to Grade 9 students at the Asper Jewish Community Campus, he also delivered fresh criticism of Prime Minister Stephen Harper for calling the election for Oct. 14, the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.
"Holding the election on this day violates the rights of many Jewish Canadians to equal participation in the electoral process," he said, noting that many would have to go to advance polls to cast their ballot. "This did not have to happen, in fact Mr. Harper did not have to breach his own law on fixed election dates to call this election for Oct. 14."
Dion repeatedly stressed the deep ties he said exist between the Liberal party and the Jewish community. But he also ducked a direct question from a student who asked if a Liberal government would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
"I hope we will find a healthy solution for Jerusalem," he said.