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TO the Polls: The (4th) Week in Review

A weekly election crib-note

Can you smell that? That noxious odour that smells like approching feet mixed with smoke and one way glass? That's the smell of hypocrisy, and it seems to have been the dominant theme for this, the fourth week. Leaders of all parties seemed to make bold pronouncements decrying the lack of civility in the campaign, all the while turning their party machinery - and their stump speeches - towards the negative.

The other campaign theme that emerged this week, before the Leaders took their short break over the holidays was that of the Arctic, with Jack Layton venturing up North - beyond even Markham - and the Conservatives announcing a Canadian sovereignty programme for the northern Territories.

Perhaps the worst example of campaign hypocrisy came from Paul Martin and the Liberals, who, after more than a half year of claiming that the Tories were in bed with the Bloc Quebecois, had the gall to insist that it was dirty politics to link the Grits to any separatist party. In one of the most chutzpah-riddled political manuevers I've ever seen, Martin in one breath claimed that he was hurt that Harper would tie him to the separatist threat; and that he would never do the same to him, but then in the next breath claim that once again, Harper and the Bloc were working together to destroy Canada - this despite the fact that the BQ voted more often with the Liberals in the last Parliament than they did with the Tories. Who's working with the BQ Mr Martin?

Speaking of Martin and the BQ, last week Martin challenged Duceppe that he would debate him on any street corner of Quebec. When the Bloc leader took Martin up on that offer, Martin declined, saying he'd rather just stick to the four planned debates. Very brave indeed.

In terms of the Arctic policy, it seems that most Opposition parties agree that more must be done to defend Canada's claim to the northern oceans. Without citizens living up in the territories, and without a military presence, Canadian waters will fall prey to any merchant fleet that chooses to sail through - regardless of the environmental damages that they may cause. The plan to build a small fleet of heavy icebreakers is a good start, but it's only a start. More needs to be done.

Four weeks down, and four to go. If the election were a work week, this would be the hump day.

Even the politicians are planning on taking a break for the next few days. Happy Channukah, Xmas, belated Solstice, or anything (or nothing) else to everybody!

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