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Victoria Lib dismisses coalition talk on day Dion in town

The Liberal candidate in Victoria dismissed the idea of a coalition between her party and the NDP, while the NDP candidate said the way to solve what many see as a vote-splitting problem is to fix the voting system.

“I have to say it is highly unlikely,” said Anne Park Shannon, responding at an October 6 all candidates' debate to a question from former Green Party candidate Stuart Hertzog about whether a coalition is possible after the election. “The Liberals and the NDP are very different.”

The Liberals are a party of the centre, she said, with a track record of balancing the economy with social programs. Much of the NDP's agenda would not fit with the party's plans, she said.

The NDP incumbent, Denise Savoie, said she has heard party leader Jack Layton speculate on forming a coalition with the Liberals after the election, and hers is a party that is willing to collaborate with other parties to move progressive policies forward.

The real solution though, she added, is bringing in a proportional representation voting system so that each party gets a share of the seats that better reflects the percentage of votes they capture. That's something the NDP supports, but the Liberals do not.

* * *

Earlier in the evening, Shannon introduced Liberal leader Stéphane Dion at a rally at the Leonardo Da Vinci centre in Victoria West. Here are notes from that event:

* Wiry campaign worker Kit Spence got into a confrontation, complete with swearing in Italian, outside the hall with a much beefier guy who was pulling down Liberal signs set up on the boulevard. Another organizer rushed to Spence's defense brandishing a cellphone: “The police are just a phone call away.” All was defused with no blood shed.

* Saanich councillor and Capital Regional District director Vic Derman was at the event handing out material on greening the city. A cached version of the Elect Briony Penn website lists Derman as endorsing Penn, but interestingly his name has more recently been removed. Derman said he didn't know his name was on the site and it was probably included in error. He does like Dion's environmental policies, he said, and supports a carbon tax. There are pictures around of Derman with prominent NDPers, but he said he has always been an independent as a politician and a voter.

* Candidates Keith Martin and Briony Penn danced energetically to Holly Arntzen, Bill Henderson and Patrick Godfrey's folky groove. Penn departed for an all candidates' debate at a local school before Dion gave his speech, leaving Martin with sweat still beading on his forehead as he spoke with Dion at his side.

* Dion's best line: “[Stephen Harper] may speak better English than I do, but I speak the language of truth better than him in both English and French.”

* His second best line: “The only job a vote for Jack Layton will save is Stephen Harper's job.”

* Third best: “The speech I will deliver today has been inspired by a day I spent in Sidney. But maybe I need to say Sidney, British Columbia, Canada, not Sidney, Australia.”

* His worst double entendre: “You will never have a greener Prime Minister than me.”

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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