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Paul Martin goes to market
- Federal Finance Minister tells Day to go all the way home.
By Mike Murphy
The Liberal government's top number cruncher went to market yesterday and tried to ensure the re-election of local Liberal candidates by condemning the Canadian Alliance's election platform to the cheers of about 300 onlookers.
Health care, the Canada Pension Plan and a proposed flat tax were the issues Finance Minister Paul Martin focussed on in his denunciation of Stockwell Day's party. Flanked by London's three incumbent Liberal Members of Parliament, Martin spoke about no other political party besides the Alliance during his speech and made only passing mention of post-secondary education.
"Health care was brought in by a Liberal government and we are not going to let Stockwell Day take it away from Canadians," he said.
He also accused Day of planning to dismantle Canada's pension system. "Day would see the Canada Pension Plan shrivel up and die," he said. "We will not let him take it away from us."
Another accusation Martin made repeatedly was that the Alliance is concealing its true platform. "His agenda is hidden," he said. "Stockwell Day talks about an agenda of respect. I'm here to tell you a hidden agenda is not an agenda of respect."
Martin's strong words came after a quick midday tour through Covent Garden Market, during which he gladhanded, posed for photographers and talked with stall owners.
Asked about Liberal policy on post-secondary education in a media scrum following his speech, Martin defended his party's record.
"The first budget that we did after eliminating the deficit was, in fact, the education budget. We put over $7 billion into education, into research and development," he stated.
He said the Alliance concentrates too much on tax and debt reduction and not enough on social programs like education.
"The way you build for the future is by investing in it and that's what we're doing," he said.
Pat O'Brien, the incumbent Liberal MP for London-Fanshawe, also said the Liberals have a great deal to offer students.
"We have substantially increased the amount of money [students] can claim monthly [as tax exemptions]," he said. "This is a government that's very sensitive to the needs of students."
Bud Polhill, who was elected onto London's municipal Board of Control on Monday night, attended the Liberal rally and said he supported the Liberals.
"Based on what I've seen so far I would be much more comfortable with them than with any of the other parties," Polhill said.
Don Smith, a 76-year old London resident on hand, said he was impressed with Martin. "I think it was a very fiery speech," he said. "He's a pretty powerful minister."