Tories expected to hail progress

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to present a rosy picture of his Conservative government’s handling of the recession Thursday in a slick made-for-TV presentation designed to forestall a quick summer election.

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to present a rosy picture of his Conservative government’s handling of the recession Thursday in a slick made-for-TV presentation designed to forestall a quick summer election.

The planned event in the southwestern Ontario industrial city of Cambridge will feature the prime minister releasing the government’s report on the effectiveness of government policies at the Armenian Community Centre.

The presentation will be moderated by Senator Mike Duffy, a former television journalist, and feature Harper, flanked by Human Resources Minister Diane Finley and Gary Goodyear, the local MP and Minister of State for Science. It will include a staged interview segment between Harper and Duffy.

Although it is the second of quarterly performance reports demanded by the opposition Liberals as a condition for supporting the Jan. 27 budget, it will be the first of any substance and will be key to whether the minority government survives the summer.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has threatened to try and pull the plug on the government if the report does not show real progress in the rolling out of $22.7 billion in stimulus earmarked for this year.

“We’ll wait and see and make our judgement after we read it,” said Liberal finance critic John McCallum, adding he did not expect much of substance.

But, the fact Harper is releasing the document suggests it will present a glowing portrait of government action.

The setting is also important because it is in a part of the country, southwestern Ontario’s industrial, blue-collar belt. that has been battered by layoffs in the automotive, machinery and fabrication businesses.

“It’s a good report, yes,” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said in a brief remark upon leaving question period on Wednesday.

“It shows a lot of accomplishment.”

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