With Stephen Harper hot on the campaign trail, Paul Martin’s only defence so far has been that there is a “marked difference” between himself and Mr. Harper. That, my friend, is exactly what the Conservative Party has been saying for the past 2 years.

Mr. Harper, who has been criticized for being ‘policy lite’ has discarded that media born image by unveiling three major policy announcements in the past two weeks. Some say that the reason for holding their policy so tightly to their chest is to prevent the Liberals from adopting the key points of it as their own as they did in the last election campaign.

At a preschool in Nepean, Ontario today, Mr. Harper announced that if elected, he would introduce a subsidy for each child under 6 years old. The price? $1,200 a child. While I support such a move, I do not understand why there is a cutoff of 6 years old. I know that early childhood learning is important, but so is the learning that comes after the age of 6. The Conservative plan is far better than the earlier Liberal scheme to form a national day care bureaucracy. It is not, nor should it ever be, the state’s role to raise our children. While many parents lament the thought of not having a national day care system, perhaps they should look more closely at Mr. Harper’s vision.

With another announcement today which would propose income splitting among couples, the economic forecast for single working families has not looked this promising in my entire lifetime. As a father who worked two jobs and didn’t have a day off for month’s at a time in several instances while trying to feed my own children, I can tell you that families who choose to have one parent stay home to raise their own children will be cheering loudly for these two announcements. It is about time that the tables were made level. Past tax policy has dictated that it would be almost impossible for a Canadian family to choose to have a stay at home parent.

Mr. Martin is horrified at these proposals. He says that the choice between himself and Mr. Harper is growing starker. I for one am thankful, because the last thing this country needs is two Mr. Martins. The Liberal plan for our children is for the state to raise them, care for them, feed them, and educate them. We keep hearing that our children need quality learning. Study after study continues to point to the fact that children who are raised by their mothers and fathers fare better, are more socially balanced, and succeed more. Canadians, I think, embrace the values of family, and so does this announcement.

On Monday, Mr. Martin stated that Mr. Harper doesn’t believe in subsidized child care and early development. Both of these statements twist the truth and come close to being outright lies. Mr. Harper believes, as do most Canadians, that families are better suited to raise their own children. This doesn’t mean he is against subsidized day care. Linking that to early development is also misleading. Again, keeping parents at home with their own children is the best thing for early development. Perhaps Mr. Martin doesn’t have all of his facts straight.

For their part, the NDP have been silent, and today made a stunning announcement. “No new tax hikes.” If you work like I do, read it this way, “No tax relief, ever!”

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