The Tory campaign plane, leased from Air Canada, was decked out with Christmas lights and holiday decorations - the pilots greeted passengers wearing. Christmas earmuffs - and when it was preparing to leave Winnipeg with a load of exhausted staffers and reporters, one of the pilots came over the intercom to tell the throng to look off the left wing as he entered the de-icing bay. The de-icing boom operator was sporting a Santa Claus hat and a fluffy white beard, and was waving to passengers. Earlier, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper dropped in on the campaign lunch room and - gasp - handed out gifts to the journalists from a bright red pouch. "I guess we're breaking our no-red rule, he laughed. It was a further sign of a thaw in the oft-prickly relationship Harper has with the national press corps. In the interests of full disclosure, each of the journalists accompanying the tour received a box of Laura Secord chocolate.