Harper vows elder abuse crackdown
Published Friday, April 15, 2011 11:30AM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 4:29AM EDT
Prime Minister Stephen Harper began Friday by announcing a Conservative government would crack down on those who commit crimes against seniors.
Harper made the announcement in the Thornhill riding of the Greater Toronto Area with a backdrop of seniors -- one of his key target groups in the election.
He said a re-elected Conservative government would ensure that the Criminal Code of Canada includes a provision to add age to the list of aggravating factors courts must consider when issuing a sentence.
Effectively, the provision would mean that those who commit crimes against the elderly could face tougher sentences than those who commit equivalent crimes against non-seniors.
"Elderly Canadians are among the most vulnerable members of our society," Harper said. "We must protect our seniors and ensure that criminals who prey on them are punished appropriately."
With two weeks to go before the federal election, all the party leaders on Friday are visiting ridings from east to west where they hope to shore up support or make new inroads.
After starting in Thornhill, part of the vote-rich Toronto area where the Conservative leader has focused much of his campaign, Harper was scheduled to fly to Saskatoon, Sask. before winding up his day in Vancouver.
The GTA is widely considered to be the key to the majority government Harper is seeking. He has spent much of the campaign courting ethnic and religious groups in a bid to gain new seats in the region.
On Thursday that strategy almost backfired when the campaign team for the candidate in Etobicoke Centre put a call out to the Canadian Arab Federation asking for people in "national folklore costumes" to attend a rally with Harper.
Harper later said such initiatives weren't his "style" and local candidate Ted Opitz said the email was sent by a volunteer, without his permission.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff began his day in Ottawa at the home of a local family.
He repeated campaign promises about family care, including six months of unemployment insurance for those who leave work to tend to a sick loved one, and tax credits for those who provide care at home for a family member.
Ignatieff also said he believes a number of controversies that have been dogging the Conservatives are revealing a "drip, drip, drip" effect to Canadians that will play out on election day.
The latest controversy, Ignatieff said, is that the Conservatives are pushing to cancel votes at a University of Guelph advance poll, claiming the poll was not sanctioned by Elections Canada.
Later Friday Ignatieff will fly to Sudbury, Ont., then on to Regina.
New Democrat Leader Jack Layton is starting his day in Montreal, campaigning with deputy party leader Thomas Mulcair and candidate Andre Boulerier.
The NDP's poll numbers have been rising in Quebec and the party believes it has a chance of adding to its single seat in the province, said CTV's parliamentary correspondent Richard Madan.
Later on Friday Layton will head to Atlantic Canada, with stops in Charlottetown, P.E.I., then St. John's, N.L. and Nova Scotia.
Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May will be campaigning in their home provinces of Quebec and B.C.
Madan said the party leaders are beginning to focus in on the ridings they believe have the most political value.
On Thursday, the day after the French-language debate, all the major party leaders focused on Quebec, announcing initiatives or policies designed to woo voters in the province.
Harper discussed plans to move the head office of the Economic Development Agency of Canada from Montreal to a rural region. Ignatieff focused on a green energy retrofit program that he would make permanent, while Layton was critical of the fact Quebec has never signed the 1982 Constitution.
From here on in, Madan told CTV News Channel, the leaders' itineraries will reveal much about the ridings they feel are in danger and the ones where they feel they have a shot at winning.
"It seems today at least, heading into the weekend, all leaders are on the offence," Madan said.