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Quick Quotes

One-liners on the campaign trail

Compiled by Carolyn Ryan

To suggest a contribution to this compilation of snappy remarks from party leaders and others, please e-mail us at canadavotes@cbc.ca, giving the name of the person who said it, the date and the location so we can confirm the exact wording, and some brief context.

"Stephen Harper said the other day he's so worried by his own program that he's got to be stopped."
  — Liberal Leader Paul Martin, after Harper says Canadians shouldn't fear a Conservative majority because the civil service, the Senate and the courts all tilt Liberal and would thus "for some time to come" serve as "checks on the power of a Conservative government."

"Next time, imply he has an illegitimate black child."
  — Stephen Colbert, host of the U.S.-based Comedy Network's Colbert Report, gives advice to Paul Martin after admiringly praising the Liberals' attack ads aimed at Stephen Harper.

"Stephen Harper lives in a legal Disney World. In that Disney World, there's no constitution, no Charter of Rights. No rule of law."
  — Irwin Cotler, the Liberal justice minister, reacts to the Conservative leader's comments about some Canadian judges being "social activists."

"Never is a long time."
  — Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, when pressed to promise that his government will never introduce legislation restricting abortion or allow a free vote in Parliament on the topic.

"Never means never."
  — Martin reacts to Harper's answer on abortion by promising to never "endanger a woman's right to choose."

"My God, I just stepped on Joe's foot. Thank God it wasn't Buzz's."
  — Martin at a campaign event at a crowded family restaurant in Strathroy, Ont., where he praises Liberal candidate Joe Fontana and is conspicuously flanked by CAW president Buzz Hargrove. Hargrove later steps on Martin's feet by comparing Harper to a separatist and urging Quebecers to vote for Bloc candidates where necessary to defeat Conservatives.

"The Liberal Party is going into the repair shop for a while to work through its ethical issues and to figure out what it's about. They're going to be busy thinking about themselves, not you."
  — Layton appeals to Liberal voters to "lend me your vote" on election day.

"We are watching the final throes of a party which is taking revenge upon itself. The Liberals are actually going to have to try and do everything they can to focus on ridings they think they can win, and see how many can hang on as the boat goes over."
  — Ipsos vice-president John Wright.

"It seems like I am convincing people to believe in God."
  — Harper, after a reporter questions him about a letter in the Globe and Mail from a Montrealer who wrote: "Mr. Harper puts the fear of God into me and, please note, I am an atheist."

"It�s easy to make 196 promises, but it�s much harder to make a choice– to choose between one program and another, one service or another."
  — Martin on Harper's platform, which he says will put the country back into deficit.

"God does not endorse that and we do not. But we do not hate people. You have to straighten people out. We don't go around hating people."
  — Saint John's former Conservative MP Elsie Wayne, at a Vote Marriage Canada meeting in Moncton, urging the crowd to support candidates who oppose same-sex marriage.

"When I look at the other parties in this election campaign I find myself thinking about chickens, because this time of year, a chicken standing out in the weather will have one foot on the ground and the other foot tucked in underneath the feathers where it's warm and dry. Whether it's the right foot or left foot that's up or down – a little bit like the Liberals or the Conservatives– the fact is: it's the same old chicken."
  — Layton to supporters in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

"We can paint this island Atlantic blue on Jan. 23."
  — Harper in Charlottetown Jan. 16.

"It's the last 10 minutes, you're down 3-1, we'd better pull the goalie soon."
  — David Emerson, the industry minister, describing how the Liberal campaign is going. He later said he would define "pull the goalie" as "rough up a few Conservatives."

"I would say it's early in the third period."
  — Martin, when a reporter asks if he agrees with Emerson's analysis of the party's situation.

"That captain of industry, that owner of ships, that destroyer of unemployment insurance, that terrible, angry boss is going down in a swirling pool of his own hypocrisy."
  — Ontario labour leader Leah Casselman on Martin during a campaign rally in Toronto for Layton.

"I feel an orange heat rising in the city."
  — Jack Layton at a Jan. 14 campaign rally in Toronto that drew 1,000 people.

"I believe that it is better to light one candle than promise a million light bulbs."
  — Stephen Harper, at his campaign platform announcement and in subsequent stump speeches.

"Let me tell you what I see. I see phantom numbers, I see nudges, I see winks, I see misdirection. ... The question is, what else is on the chopping block and what else is it he won't tell us?"
  — Paul Martin, who served as finance minister for almost 10 years, criticizes the math in the Conservatives' platform.

"The Conservatives want to increase income taxes on people with low incomes so that they can pay for a cut in the GST. That's not a tax cut. That's moonshine."
  — Layton attacks one of Harper's big promises.

"The ad was pulled because it was pulled, and because there were better ads – that's essentially it."
  — Martin on Jan. 12, asked about the ill-fated Liberal TV ad that ominously warned Harper would put soldiers in Canadian cities.

"There's only one government in history that declared martial law and put troops on the street - or a form of martial law - and that was the Trudeau Liberal government."
  — Harper responds to the same ad by referring to the 1970 October Crisis in Quebec.

"We hired somebody to put together 12 ads. Eleven ads the party approved, one ad the party found offensive and awful, but some idiot went and inadvertently threw that ad in with the other 11 that went out."
  — B.C. Liberal candidate and incumbent MP Keith Martin on how the controversial "soldiers" TV spot came to be released to the public.

"On my way in, I passed some individuals from This Hour Has 22 Minutes. I'm beginning to confuse them with the Liberal campaign."
  — Harper during a campaign event in Halifax.

"Pregnant women usually get this burst of energy in the last few weeks before the delivery. Most women clean houses, I'm told. I do campaigns."
  — May Chiu, the BQ candidate in Paul Martin's riding of Lasalle-Emard, who is due to give birth to her second child on Jan. 23.

"There's always a way to win; there's always a way to lose. And it's up to you to find that way before the final buzzer goes. And you know that if, in fact, that final buzzer goes and you don't find the answer, it's not that it wasn't there. It's just that you didn't find it. It was there. It was there all the way along."
  — Ken Dryden, Liberal cabinet minister and former NHL goalie, as polls continued to look bad for the party.

"If you don't vote Liberal, the sun will still rise. If you don't vote Liberal, the spring will still come. If you don't vote Liberal, the planet will not be destroyed by volcanoes."
  — Layton, in French, as he announces the full NDP platform on Jan. 11.

"Stephen Harper in August of last year was in a pine box with a stake through his heart. He almost had the word 'unelectable' tattooed on his forehead."
  — Former Liberal party pollster Michael Marzolini of Pollara Research on how the Liberals have allowed the Conservative leader to come back from the brink of electoral oblivion.

"Duct tape works."
  — Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, explaining how he managed not to get in the way of Harper's rise in the polls this time, basically by keeping his mouth shut.

"I'm 40 years old. I'm not going to be premier forever."
  — New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord, asked about his interest in national politics as polls showed Conservative fortunes rising.

Liberal Leader Paul Martin (CP photo)
"America is our neighbour; it�s not our nation. We should have our own set of values."
  — Liberal Leader Paul Martin to Conservative Leader Stephen Harper during the second televised English-language debate on Jan. 9.

"Will you tell us, Mr. Martin, how many criminal investigations are going on in your government?"
  — Harper to Martin at the same event.

"The fact is the buck has to stop somewhere. It has to stop at you."
  — NDP Leader Jack Layton to Martin at the debate.

"He's campaigning like an NDP, but when he's in power, he's acting like a Tory."
  — Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe describes Martin during the debate.

"They'll put new twists on things, but I can't see any new line of attack. I mean, they've accused us of just about everything. There's not much left. Alien invasion?"
  — Harper talks to reporters about how the Liberals might respond to a surge of support for the Conservatives in public opinion surveys.

"I'd really love to go for a fourth trip into space with maybe Mr. Duceppe and Mr. Boisclair, and I am convinced, I am convinced that after such a trip, Quebec sovereignty will no longer be an issue. Space travel affects us that much."
  — Marc Garneau, the first Canadian in space and a Liberal candidate in the Quebec riding of Vaudreuil-Soulanges, tells Radio-Canada he'd like to go on a long journey with Duceppe and Parti Québécois Leader André Boisclair.

"Obviously, his leader hasn't been able to bring him back to Earth … Maybe Mr. Garneau is eager to go back to space – if he's ever left it."
  — Duceppe responds to Garneau's comment. According to the Globe and Mail, the BQ leader then "chortled" and sang some bars from Fly Me to the Moon.

"It's a little bit like the United States going into Baghdad. It happened very quickly, but what after that?"
  — Garneau in an earlier interview, saying most Quebecers voting for sovereigntist parties "haven't thought it through."

"These guys can trust their friends in the advertising business with 100 million dollars of your money, but they won't trust mom and dad with 100 dollars a month."
  — Harper at a Jan. 5 campaign rally.

"Duceppe would be carried across the border on their shoulders and into Quebec like a hero."
  — Layton tells reporters that the Conservatives would transfer massive tax points to Quebec in their first budget.

"On the issue of loyalty to Canada, I don't know any party leader in the history of this country, other than Mr. Martin, any party leader who ever aspired to be prime minister who ran his life under the flag of Barbados and Liberia and tried to avoid paying taxes in this country. That's Mr. Martin's record on his love of Canada."
  — Harper on Jan. 4, after Martin's new stump speech accuses Harper of criticizing his own country in past speeches.

"I cultivate a reputation for frankness, and I would tell you (if) voters (had) said to me, 'Do you believe in removing the fingernails of small children?' I do not. I did not meet such voters."
  — Liberal candidate Michael Ignatieff to a Toronto Star reporter pressing him about whether controversial remarks from his best-selling books are hurting him on the campaign trail in the riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore.

"Don't let any Liberals near this."
  — Harper unveils a pile of cash amounting to $132,000 during a Jan. 3 campaign stunt.

"What if decades ago, Tommy Douglas and my father and Lester Pearson had considered the idea of medicare and then said, 'Forget it, let's just give people 25 bucks a week. It won't help much if you get sick, but we'll call it a strategy. We'll call it a solution. Heck, we'll call it medicare.'"
  — Martin, comparing the Liberal plan for a national child-care program to the Conservative approach of offering parents $1,200 a year per eligible child.

"Mr. Martin wants to live in another era and fight people who have long retired. That's his prerogative."
  — Harper, on the Liberal leader comparing the Conservatives to the Ontario Progressive Conservative government of Mike Harris, which drastically cut government services in the 1990s.

"Good morning, and welcome to the federal election campaign, Act II. I hope you enjoyed the intermission. As Sheila said, think about it, almost two weeks without a speech from me - you can't say you didn't get something nice for Christmas."
  — Liberal Leader Paul Martin, in a Jan. 3 speech in Winnipeg.

"There was a time when prime ministers themselves knew what they believe. � We now have a prime minister who thinks Lester Pearson is just the name of an airport."
  — NDP Leader Jack Layton takes a shot at Paul Martin.

"Mr. Harper believes, in fact, in a fend-for-yourself society. I do not."
  — Martin says the real question on the ballot will be the values of the two people who could become prime minister: himself and Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.

"Wayne Gretzky used to always say, 'I never go where the puck is, I go to where it's going to be.' � Our government believes the puck is giving a third of a billion bucks to old-style auto production. We believe a better strategy is to go where the puck is going to be."
  — Green party Leader Jim Harris.

"This is like a live grenade has just been thrown down Paul Martin's pants."
  — Frank Graves, president of EKOS Research Associates, on the Dec. 28 news that the RCMP was launching a criminal investigation into whether a November announcement about income trust and dividend tax changes was leaked to the financial markets early by someone in Finance Minister Ralph Goodale's office.

"The whole thing sure smells."
  — Harper commenting on the income trust scandal.

Jack Layton (CP Photo/Andrew Vaughan)
"This is the kind of thing that happens in the schoolyard."
  — Layton on his wife, fellow NDP candidate Olivia Chow, being compared to a chow chow on a Liberal party official's personal blog. The official, Mike Klander, later stepped down.

"Many of us in Alberta are working on our last federal campaign. If the Liberals remain in power, we will be working on Alberta separation after January 23."
  — Gordon Stamp, campaign manager for Edmonton-area Conservative MP Peter Goldring, writing on a website called Free Dominion under the nickname "Psycho." He resigned from his post on Dec. 31 as a result of the ensuing controversy.

"How did Minister Emerson describe his style at our convention dinner? Oh yes, he said that Jack Layton had a 'boiled dog's head smile.' That would have made even me wince if I hadn't have been laughing so hard."
  — Jamie Elmhirst, the federal Liberals' B.C. president, writing about the NDP leader in a blog entry Dec. 5. NDP officials in the province learned about the remark, which is a translation of a Cantonese insult, and went public with it the week after Christmas. The Liberal minister in question, David Emerson, said he meant no harm by the remark, adding that his Hong Kong-born wife had occasionally thrown it at him.

"When you look at Czechoslovakia, it split in 1992. Since then, Canada has won four championships, the Czech Republic won five championships and Slovakia one. Not bad for a country that split."
  — Duceppe returns to the hockey sovereignty theme he broached earlier in the campaign.

"It turns out that the Conservatives are today's Liberals in a hurry�. Paul Martin's record looks a lot like Stephen Harper's platform."
  — Layton analyzes his opponents.

Stephen Harper (CP Photo/Fred Chartrand)
"Frankly, I don't go around demanding apologies. I can take a punch."
  — Harper, after Martin said the Conservative leader crossed a line by saying the Liberals would prefer to see a separatist government elected in Quebec so that they could ride to the country's defence.

"The Liberals are a Toronto version of a Seinfeld show: a caucus about nothing, and that does nothing."
  — Layton at a campaign appearance in Canada's largest city.

"Duceppe has nothing to do but set up little traps here and there."
  — Liberal candidate Pierre Pettigrew on the BQ leader's challenge to Martin to show up for a one-on-one debate in Quebec on national unity issues.

"They all want to go to bed with us, but they don't want to marry us."
  — Duceppe after Harper made campaign pledges to boost Quebec independence but continued to distance his party from the Bloc, with which it co-operated to bring down Martin's minority government in November.

�He wants to transform Canada into a big Wal-Martin.�
  — Bloc Qu�b�cois Leader Gilles Duceppe on Liberal Leader Paul Martin�s focus on increasing Canada�s competitiveness in the global market, which Duceppe says will lead to lower salaries in this country.

"I did it in the French-language debate many times and will do it more often. I will do it right now if you'd like."
  — Martin answering a reporter�s question about why his most passionate defence of Canada and attack on Quebec separatism of the campaign was delivered in English, not French, during the Dec. 16 leaders debate.

�I was trying to think of any accomplishments of the Conservative party in the last 12 years, and the only one I could think of was that they changed their name three times.�
  — NDP Leader Jack Layton on the party that was formed from a merger between the Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance, formerly the Reform party.

�This is a campaign kind of war�. Debates and what leaders do is just the air war. In the end we have to take advantage of the bombs we drop. We�ve got to have the troops go out there on the ground and hold that territory.�
  — Conservative Leader Stephen Harper to party supporters after the Dec. 16 debate.

�In my view, if you won't protect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, then you have no business trying to become prime minister of Canada.�
  — Martin on Harper�s intention to hold a free vote in the House of Commons to overturn same-sex marriage legislation.

�It�s a lot like milking a cow, actually. At certain hours, you�ve got to do it.�
  — Duceppe tells a group of Quebec farmers he has to wrap up a Dec. 12 question-and-answer session with them in order to get ready for a news conference, one of two he does each day.

�A broken record who has a broken record."
  — Layton on Martin.

�What Mr. Harper has done is essentially copy, a year and a half later, what we have put out.�
  — Martin on a Dec. 13 military policy announcement by the Conservatives.

�When I was a boy, I remember a lot of fights in the schoolyard. I was in very few of them, but I always remember the kid always name-calling from a safe distance. There wasn't really much risk of a fight. And Mr. Martin reminds me of that kid. He couldn�t throw a punch to save his life.�
  — Harper on Martin�s criticism of the American record on global warming.

�I get election-year politics. I understand political expediency. But the last time I looked, the United States was not on the ballot for the Jan. 23 election.�
  — David Wilkins, the United States� ambassador to Canada, giving a Dec. 13 speech about anti-American rhetoric in the Canadian election campaign.

"Don't give people 25 bucks a day to blow on beer and popcorn. Give them child-care spaces that work."
  — Paul Martin's communications director, Scott Reid, who later said he meant $25 a week. The Dec. 11 comment drew fire from the Conservatives, who said it insulted parents. Reid apologized, but another Liberal campaign worker, John Duffy, had already endorsed and expanded upon the remark.

"I'm not very good at cards, but I don't cheat."
  — Conservative Leader Stephen Harper to a group of seniors playing bridge at a photo op in Guelph, Ont. At least one senior was not impressed by the remark. "I could have said that I'm a card-carrying Liberal and I don't cheat either," said Fred Fletcher.

"The NDP so far."
  — Another bridge player at the same photo op, when Harper asked the group who was winning.

"The Bloc campaign, my friends, is all fire and brimstone, and the Liberal campaign is all smoke and mirrors."
  — Harper, speaking to about 150 supporters in Montreal on Dec. 8.

"This is a boxing match that has three rounds to it. You spend the first round showing to the crowd that you've got your right hook and your left hook. And you're trying to assess your opponent. But it's going to be the jabs that count, not the knockout punch."
  — Ipsos Reid vice-president John Wright, telling CanWest Global on Dec. 7 that punches have not yet landed in the eight-week campaign.

"Mr. Martin is one president behind."
  — Harper commenting on Martin's Dec. 9 joint news conference with former U.S. president Bill Clinton at the UN climate change conference in Montreal.

"They�re like pyromaniacs with the matches and gasoline in their hands. They light the fire and then they say, 'Oh, let us put it out.'"
  — New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord, criticizing the federal Liberals for calling this a "referendum election" and raising fears about what Stephen Harper would do on the Quebec separatism file.

"I want to put one thing to rest: I am not dating Jennifer Aniston. I told her, 'It's too soon and you're not ready.'"
  — Conservative Deputy Leader Peter MacKay, who used to date Belinda Stronach and has been recently linked romantically to Sophie Desmarais, daughter of Quebec billionaire Paul Desmarais.

"A plea bargain with itself. Those must have been tough negotiations."
  — Conservative Leader Stephen Harper on the Liberal party deciding how much money it would repay to Canadian taxpayers over the sponsorship scandal.

"What family doesn't look forward to a gathering together on Christmas, sipping on hot chocolate, and sharing the joy of seeing Stephen Harper appear as Scrooge on TV?"
  — Liberal Leader Paul Martin on the timing of the election campaign.

"Paul Martin with his corporate tax cuts is like a dog with a bone. No matter how many times the New Democrats bury it, Mr. Martin keeps digging it up."
  — NDP Leader Jack Layton on Liberal tax policies.

"I suppose that goes with his army and his spies."
  — Martin on Bloc Qu�b�cois Leader Gilles Duceppe's proposal to set up a Quebec hockey team to compete in international tournaments.

"This is just like a caucus meeting, by the way."
  — Harper making a child-care funding announcement at a sometimes-raucous day-care centre in Ottawa.

Belinda Stronach (CP Photo/Aaron Harris)
"It's not where you sit but where you stand."
  — Belinda Stronach, addressing criticism over her switch in parties from Conservative to Liberal by saying her principles stayed the same.

"Lots of fire and brimstone, but in reality stumped by cuddly, two-foot-high Ewoks."
  — NDP communications director Jamey Heath, telling a CP reporter doing a tongue-in-cheek arts story that he would cast Harper as a storm trooper in the Star Wars franchise.

"You can choose any colour you like, so long as it's black. You can choose any child care you like so long as it's 9-to-5 institutional care."
  — Harper slamming the Liberals' preference for a government-supported child-care network, comparing it to Henry Ford's alleged comment to early buyers of his Model T automobile.

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