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Two peas in a pod?

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I was thinking a lot in the last few days about the way the parties are campaigning in this election. The Liberals and the NDP are out there making big promises for national day care and home care and catastrophic drug programs.

Today Dion promised a $70 billion, 10-year infrastructure plan. Layton pledged a national home care plan.

They are glad-handing with voters and holding open public events across the country. Today, the Liberals even had one of the more ingenious campaign events of the event so far -- riding a commuter train into Toronto complete with media entourage in two -- on their way to their infrastructure announcement.

Meanwhile Team Tory is running a strict tour where every event is carefully orchestrated and only known supporters are allowed inside. Schedules are held back from release until the last possible moment ensuring as little interference as possible can be planned by opponents.

And Harper isn't promising anything enormous in this election. He made his big promises in 2006 -- the GST cut for example which cost over $10 billion. It got him elected and now he seems to be coasting on his record and just in case there are a few wafflers out there still thinking of going with the other guys, he's sprinkling around a little bit of love for seniors, women entrepreneurs who also want to someday become mothers, and people who want to buy their first home.

And it got me to thinking -- where have I seen this play before?

Oh right it was in Manitoba. I just went back and reread the analysis I wrote of the 2007 NDP campaign. And if I took out Gary Doer's name and the NDP and replaced it with Stephen Harper and the Tories I could run it again.

The opening for example:

"KEEP it simple and make it all about Gary Doer (Stephen Harper) -- that pretty much sums up the campaign run by the NDP. (Tories)

They're banking on the personal popularity of the premier (prime minister) . . .

Or this line:

"However, beneath the laid-back exterior lurks a no-holds-barred political personality who has little patience for mistakes, and even less for wasting time."

Little patience for mistakes? A party that is all about him?

Are Gary Doer and Stephen Harper really all that different? There are many ways in which they think differently but the similarities are starting to become a little too frequent for me to ignore.

This also makes me go back to a thought I had on the first day of the campaign.

Right before the 2007 provincial campaign began, like hours before, Doer got Harper to show up in Winnipeg and sign into reality the new Museum for Human Rights. It was considered a major coup for Doer and a great way to kick off the campaign.

Well right before the 2008 federal campaign, the Harper government managed to get Doer to finally sign on to the federal infrastructure agreement. Manitoba was the last holdout and had been fighting it because of a dispute over where the money for the floodway expansion would fit.

But 2 days before Harper dropped the writ, he got what he wanted, the province signed the deal in a big showy press conference, and while it wasn't quite the same as the pre-writ museum event, it is in the same ilk.

So much so that I can almost see the memo.

"Yo Gary.

I scratched your back with the museum before your election. It's quid pro quo time Kemo Sabe. Sign the Building Canada Fund my friend.

Steve-o."

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About Mia Rabson

Mia Rabson is a born and bred Winnipegger whose interest in politics seemed clear when she dressed up as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for Halloween in the 7th grade.

Her interest in writing was no surprise to her parents, who learned early in Mia’s life that no piece of blank paper — or wall, for that matter — was safe in her hands.

She holds an honours BA in English from Queen’s University, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario, and has completed a political journalism fellowship in Washington, D.C. with the Washington Centre for Politics and Journalism.

Prior to working for the Winnipeg Free Press, Mia briefly worked for the Detroit News in the paper’s Washington bureau.

Mia joined the Free Press team in February 2001, and in April 2001 was appointed to the Manitoba legislature bureau. In December 2004, she was appointed bureau chief at the legislature. She became the newspaper’s parliamentary bureau chief/national reporter in Ottawa in January 2008.

In 2008 she was nominated for a Michener Award with a team of reporters from the Free Press for its coverage of the province’s child welfare system.

She counts reliving the invasion at Dieppe, France, with veterans of the failed Second World War expedition and overcoming her fear of heights to touch the Golden Boy statue atop the Legislative Building among her favourite experiences as a reporter.

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