Harper said Hargrove's comments were "shocking," and suggested Martin distance himself from them.
"I don't think any federalist leader should be urging people to vote for the Bloc," Harper said, while in Toronto.
Martin said he doesn't agree with the characterization of Harper has a separatist. "I have large differences with Stephen Harper but I have never doubted his patriotism," Martin said at a news conference in London.
Hargrove also took a swipe at NDP Leader Jack Layton, saying he has spent too much of his campaign time going after the Liberals rather than the Conservatives, "as if undermining Liberals was going to strengthen the NDP."
Layton, in Halifax, said Hargrove is out of touch with the vast majority of Canadians.
How do you even start to spin away Hargrove's statement? Paul Martin tried to turn the vote in Quebec into an unofficial separation referendum, between the Grits and the Bloc. How does he even begin to reconcile Hargrove's non sequitur with his loud declaration to Gilles Duceppe in the leaders' debate that he would not let him take away his country? Who has questioned Stephen Harper's patriotism more than Paul Martin with repeated insinuations that he's an American quisling at heart?
How do you claim to be the only true voice of national unity and then call Alberta an alien, un-Canadian element in our society?
Mr. Harper doesn't have a sense of Canada and its communities,'' the union leader said.
"His sense is about Alberta. The wealth of Alberta everybody recognizes is much greater than it is anywhere in Canada. Those principles that he is brought up with and believes in coming out of there don't sit well with the rest of Canada.''
"National unity", in the Liberal lexicon, has too often meant "appeasing Quebec." Now it apparently means "driving out Alberta," since Quebec has passed beyond appeasement by the Liberals.
Jack Layton must be relieved to see Hargrove tanking the Grits' campaign and not his. Buzz arranged the brief marriage back in the spring to keep the NDP on side during the non-confidence vote; for Layton, it's become a match made in hell.
Just keep Buzz out there campaigning. The more he speaks, the worse for the Liberals.