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Tories make campaign-like pitch at UBCM speech

Stephen Harper’s Conservative government survived a crucial confidence vote last night, yet the Tories appeared to be in full campaign mode during a speech to UBCM delegates this morning.

“We are on a track through this time of global downturn that I believe is in the right direction,” said federal trade minister Stockwell Day.

He punctuated his thirty minute speech to the annual convention of B.C. municipalities with not-so-subtle jabs at the federal Liberals. And spent the bulk of it playing up Tory initiatives in B.C.

In a fall election, the Conservatives would win 37 per cent of the vote compared to 27 per cent for the Liberals, an Angus Reid/Toronto Star poll suggested today.

“Just curious, because there seems to be a bit of debate going on,” he told the crowd. “How many people here by a show of hands think it’s time for a federal election?”

After a brief pause: “Okay, one person with two hands up, two other brave people…I needed to be brought back to reality.”

Day admitted he was a little “irritable” because he’d missed his morning jog. A House of Commons vote last night meant his plane didn’t arrive in Vancouver until the wee hours.

The minority Conservatives survived yesterday’s Liberal motion to bring down the federal government. With the NDP abstaining, the vote was 144-117 against a fall election.

Still, Day spent more than 20 minutes trying to convince the room of small-town mayors, councillors and other officials that the Tories are their best choice for national representation.

He reminded the crowd of $719 million in federal, provincial and local infrastructure spending announced for B.C. last week. Of the $130 million Harper recently pledged for the Northwest Transmission Line.

“A lot has been done,” Day said. “There’s still more that we can do.”

The federal trade minister told reporters after the speech he hoped last night’s House vote would dissuade the federal Grits from further election-mongering.

“I just wish they would get the message and help us focus on the economy rather than political game playing.”

Geoff Dembicki reports for The Tyee.

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