Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Election Countdown Changes Character of Break Weeks for Members of Parliament

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Election Countdown Changes Character of Break Weeks for Members of Parliament

Article excerpt

MPs' break weeks different in election year

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OTTAWA - Before question period even ended, members of Parliament were making for the exits, carry-on bags in hand to get home to their ridings for the first constituency week of this sitting.

The rush isn't just to catch planes or beat the highway traffic. Time in the riding is limited and precious, especially in the year leading up to an election.

Unless the government chooses to drop the writ sooner, the next voting day is almost exactly a year away: Oct. 19, 2015.

As elections near, door-knocking in the ridings gets more political because politics is more often on people's minds, said NDP MP Don Davies, who represents Vancouver Kingsway.

"To that extent, I think they may have an importance that perhaps break weeks in Year 1 or Year 2 don't have," he said.

The decision this week to go to war in Iraq will also change the dynamic at the doors, Davies said.

"I think that's a political issue of a unique type that engages Canadians in a profound way," he said. "People will want to talk about it and it will continue to be on their minds."

All three parties kicked off the fall sitting with election-style energy.

The New Democrats launched a new slogan, the Liberals had leader Justin Trudeau give a prime-time speech and Prime Minister Stephen Harper laid out his fall agenda not in Parliament but at a Conservative party rally in dowtown Ottawa.

All three major parties have made it clear they know the countdown is on. Harper demonstrated it explicity on Thursday by wrapping up the first segment of the fall sitting by making a campaign-style stop and a campaign-style announcement in Whitby, Ont.

As promised just before the 2011 campaign, the government will be doubling the child fitness tax credit, Harper said.

It's part of a series of announcements expected to roll out over the coming months as the Tories aim to spend the surplus they're anticiapting next year.

Those kinds of promises are gold for Tory MPs going door-to-door during constituency week. …

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