Harper in Brockville

Stephen Harper kicked off his campaign today by visiting Brockville Ontario at the centre of a riding which went Liberal in 2000 by 58 votes (the pain of that defeat was compounded conservative vote splitting). Indeed, a good place to begin: here’s a riding in which the Conservatives should win.

I was in attendance helping out with the Kingston and the Islands candidate, Blair MacLean, who was introduced at the event along with four other Conservative candidates from the area. Included among these candidates was Gord Brown, the candidate for this very winnable riding of Leeds-Grenville.

Harper’s speech underlined the platform effectively, focusing on government accountability, the gun registry and healthcare.

Other notable: when the members of the media arrived in their bus, a few of them immediately crossed the street to photograph and interview the eight people, most likely sent by the Liberal incumbent, to protest the Conservative gathering. I remarked to one journalist that the real story that they wanted was over on our side of the street as the large crowd behind shook their heads angrily at the disproportionate attention given to the obvious Liberal plants.

Other notable II: I met Paul Wells when he was hanging out in the parking lot killing time before the campaign event got under way. We talked a bit about the campaign, the campaign bus, and what he would expect from Harper’s speech. He also told me that he saw my Liberal Monopoly spoof via Andrew Coyne and told me that Coyne should be back blogging soon enough (he’s working on a book right now).

Other notable III: During his speech, Harper remarked that the Liberal incumbant of Leeds-Grenville is an Elvis impersonator. Harper then went on to impersonate the impersonator (to Heartbreak Hotel) “since my voters left me…” I gasped as he raised one eyebrow and started singing that line as I thought I was witnessing the beginning and the end of the Conservative campaign all rolled into one. But the impression elicited loud cheers from the crowd (and some nervous applause from his support team), so I guess he pulled it off.