Day 7: Layton in Sudbury to talk about health care; will have to talk about the gun registry
Posted by Joanna Smith, Ottawa Bureau
Good morning from Sudbury, where New Democrat Leader Jack Layton will begin the day by doing some radio interviews, including a morning talk show with with local country music station Kicx FM. Expect the debate over the gun registry to be a hot topic.
NDP candidate Glenn Thibeault took the seat from former Liberal MP Diane Marleau in the 2008 election, but this riding looks like a three-way race and Thibeault could be vulnerable. Thibeault was initially one of the dozen NDP MPs who supported Conservative Candice Hoeppner's private member bill to scrap the long-gun registry, but then switched sides for the final vote that shut down that Conservative dream. NDP incumbent Claude Gravelle (Nickel Belt) did the same thing but with 46.5 per cent of the vote in 2008 he might be in less trouble. Nonetheless, both Thibeault and Gravelle will join Layton as he visits the Sudbury riding for some support. They will be joined by Wendy Wilson, the NDP candidate running against Conservative cabinet minister Tony Clement in Parry Sound-Muskoka.
Layton will then make announcement concerning health care at Laurentian University at 9:30 a.m.
Expect a proposal to train and hire 1,200 doctors and 6,000 nurses, which was one of the things Layton demanded from Harper in the failed federal budget. It was also a 2008 NDP campaign proposal. So was a plan to reduce the student debt of health professionals who practiced family medicine for at least a decade. Given most of the campaign promises Layton has made so far are recycled, it is a good bet that forgiving student debt for family doctors will be in there too.
Another clue: I recall Layton made this promise at an event at the Dalhousie University medical school in Halifax when I was travelling with the campaign in 2008. Laurentian University, where we will be this morning, is home of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, a joint initiative with Lakehead University in Thunder Bay. If the NDP handlers line up a bunch of med students in white coats to stand behind Layton as he makes his speech, then I will know for sure.
At 2 p.m. there will be a "town hall" meeting, the first event of its kind for the Layton campaign this year. I will be watching for whether the people that show up and the questions they ask are scripted.