The quotable campaign

A look back at the defining words of the 2008 election campaign.

On the election

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper announces the election call on Sept. 7. ((Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press))
"We believe it is going to be a tough election. We believe it will be a tight election. And, yes, we believe in all likelihood it will be a minority."

— Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, Sept. 7, 2008

"He [Stephen Harper] will spend millions more to distort reality and attack my character. Well, that's a complete fabrication. That's not me."

— Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion on the Conservative party’s attempt to frame him as a weak leader, Sept. 7

"We want Quebec to be the winner."

— Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe, Sept. 7

"I will be a prime minister who puts you and your family first."

— NDP Leader Jack Layton, Sept. 7

"[The election] makes all the difference in the world."

— Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, Sept. 7

On the debate

Green party Leader Elizabeth May participates in the French-language debate on Oct. 1. ((Tom Hanson/Canadian Press))
"She [Elizabeth May] is his [Stéphane Dion] candidate in Central Nova, and I think it would be fundamentally unfair to have two candidates who are essentially running on the same platform in the debate."

— Stephen Harper, Sept. 8

"Frankly, the notion that I would go into debates as someone to cheer on one other party leader is absurd."

— Elizabeth May, Sept. 8

"I will say that I would like her [Elizabeth May] to be there."

— Stéphane Dion, Sept. 8

"We believe that as someone who's endorsed Stéphane Dion to be the prime minister of Canada, she has endorsed Liberal candidates throughout the country. We said that if the Liberals were going to have two representatives, we would not accept the invitation."

— NDP spokesman Brad Lavigne, Sept. 8

"I'm so grateful to Canadians for protesting loudly enough that we've seen this change."

— Elizabeth May on the decision to allow her into the leaders' debates, Sept. 9

On 'ABC'

Danny Williams launches his 'ABC,' or 'Anybody but Conservative' campaign against the federal Conservatives at a speech to the St. John's Board of Trade on Sept. 10. ((CBC))
"A majority government for Stephen Harper would be one of the most negative political events in Canadian history."

— Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams, Sept. 10

"No one can tell a Newfoundlander and Labradorian how to vote."

— Stephen Harper, Sept. 13

"People are completely disgusted with how the premier has gotten on and more so his cabinet ministers and caucus — they're like a little bunch of elves running around following directions."

— Retiring Newfoundland and Labrador Conservative MP Loyola Hearn, Oct. 6

On controversial remarks

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz faced calls for his resignation after comments he made about the outbreak of listeriosis came to light. ((Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press))
"My comments were tasteless and completely inappropriate. I apologize unreservedly."

— Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz on comments he made during a conference call on the listeriosis outbreak, Sept. 17

"She has acknowledged that the attack was a terrorist attack, and she hasn't made any attacks against any particular group or element of our society."

— Jack Layton on NDP candidate Bev Collins, who suggested in a 2007 radio interview that the U.S. used the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to justify the war on terror, Sept. 29

"I'm not a willing victim."

— Former Liberal candidate Lesley Hughes, who was removed as a Liberal candidate after controversial comments about Israeli companies having advance knowledge of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center came to light, Oct. 2

Debate jibs and jabs

The five major party leaders, from left, Jack Layton, Stéphane Dion, Stephen Harper, Elizabeth May and Gilles Duceppe, pose for a group photo before the English-language debate on Oct. 2. ((Tom Hanson/Canadian Press))
"What leaders have to do is to have a plan and not panic. Last night, Stéphane, you panicked and announced an economic plan in the middle of a debate, and I know why you did that."

— Stephen Harper, Oct. 2

"What we have proposed yesterday has nothing to do with doing nothing. It is to act right now."

— Stéphane Dion, Oct. 2

"I know I won't be prime minister and three of you won't be prime minister, neither. Some of you know it, but you won't say it."

— Gilles Duceppe, Oct. 2

"Where's the [Conservative] platform, under the sweater?"

— Jack Layton, Oct. 2

"It's our democracy. It matters more."

— Elizabeth May on the fact that the English-language debate was held at the same time as the U.S. vice-presidential debate, Oct. 2

On the economy

Stephen Harper prepares for an interview in Toronto with the CBC's Peter Mansbridge, Oct. 7. During the interview, Harper suggested the financial crisis in the U.S. was causing "great buying opportunities." ((Tom Hanson/Canadian Press))
"I think there are probably some great buying opportunities out there."

— Stephen Harper, Oct. 7

"I don't understand the question."

— Stéphane Dion during an interview on CTV on Oct. 9. Dion had been asked what he would have done differently from Harper were he prime minister. The Conservatives  pointed to the incident  to question whether Dion is capable of managing the Canadian economy. Dion later said he didn't understand the question and his hearing problem may have played a role

"Mr. Harper, the economy is not fine, and you either don't get it, don't understand it or you're too cold-hearted to understand what people are facing day in and day out."

— Jack Layton, Oct. 3

"I dare him [Stephen Harper] to say to the person who lost their jobs in Trois-Rivières or Windsor [Ont.] that everything's all right."

— Gilles Duceppe, Oct. 3