Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ignatieff to pull the plug?

Ignatieff seems to have trouble making up his mind. Not too long ago he was trying to dampen election speculation. Perhaps he feels completely double-crossed in his agreement with the Conservatives to set up a bipartisan panel to deal with EI reform. It would seem that the Conservatives were not ready to give much if anything to the Liberals. Harper is up to his old chicken game--in the interests of all Canadians of course who don't want an election! It remains to be seen if Ignatieff sticks to his new story but it would seem as if he is serious as new ads are being trotted out and a great new policy leap forward: We Can Do Better. That is real grist for any intellect's mill. Harvard will be proud.It will be interesting to see if Layton and the BQ are willing to join forces with Ignatieff to defeat Harper. Probably they will but one never knows for sure.
‘We can do better,' Liberals declare
Jane Taber Senior Political Writer. (Globe and Mail)
Michael Ignatieff framed his ballot question today, saying Canadians will be asked to vote for who is best placed to lead the country into the “economy of tomorrow.”The Liberal Leader said he was not being irresponsible in pledging to defeat the Harper minority government, arguing that he is doing so because, “in my heart of hearts I believe that we can offer Canadians a more compassionate and competent government.”Mr. Ignatieff announced Tuesday his party will no longer prop up the Conservatives, making a fall general election highly probable.After a morning caucus meeting, Liberals flew out of their Sudbury hotel Wednesday, ending a three-day retreat in this Northern Ontario city. They headed off to prepare for the return of Parliament on Sept. 14 and a likely confidence vote at the end of the month or in early October.But there were signs the election campaign has already begun – new Liberal television ads were unveiled to caucus, featuring the slogan, “We can do better.”Mr. Ignatieff also postponed his trip to China, which he had bragged about only a day earlier. “Stephen Harper has been prime minister for four years, and he's never visited China. We'll be there next week,” he said Tuesday.Today, he opted to stay in the country to see how the “political situation develops.”“Mr. Harper has some cards to play; Mr. Duceppe has some cards to play; Mr. Layton has some cards to play and it seems needs to be responsible for me to be here while those issues are clarified,” he told reporters in his closing press conference.He stressed, however that he is done negotiating with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “We did that in June,” he said, referring to a deal that kept Mr. Harper's minority government in office in return for an opposition day in late September or early October and a bipartisan working group on employment insurance reform.That panel met three times over the summer with little success. According to a Liberal source, it has since been disbanded and there are no more meetings.During the closing press conference, Mr. Ignatieff began to outline a narrative for an election campaign that his critics decry as unnecessary. He appears to be focusing on the economy, an issue that his party pollster, Michael Marzolini, identified as the issue Canadians are most concerned about.“What I have been saying is, this isn't just a recession. We can't go back to the economy we used to know,” he told reporters. “Some of the jobs we've lost are not coming back and Canadians know that and they know that they need a federal government that says, ‘Okay, where do we have to go to create the jobs of tomorrow?'“One of the key things that I am saying in Sudbury is, I don't want a Canada in which all the hope and opportunity has gone to Montreal and Toronto and Halifax and Vancouver. I want hope and opportunity here, in Sudbury.”In concluding remarks to caucus, meanwhile, the Liberal Leader spoke extemporaneously, telling members that there is a sense of freedom now as they can vote freely against the Harper Tories.MPs and Senators also saw the new Liberal television ads, which will be released this weekend. The English versions are meant to introduce Mr. Ignatieff to Canadians, countering attacks from the Conservatives that he is a virtual newcomer to the country, having come back from decades abroad because he was lusting for power.With a forest-like outdoor backdrop, Mr. Ignatieff explains to Canadians why he should be prime minister and attacks the deficiencies of the Harper government.The French version, which was shot in a studio, hits harder at the Conservatives, according to insiders. The Liberals are polling ahead of the Tories in Quebec and believe they can make gains in the province.The ads were described by one Liberal as “inspirational.” Another said they were “positve” and “upbeat.”Party president Alf Apps, meanwhile, said online donations “quadrupled” over the daily average in response to Mr. Ignatieff's speech in which he told Stephen Harper “your time is up.”While Mr. Apps won't say exactly how much was raised, he sent out an e-mail message early this morning under the subject line: “A Good Sign.”A huge fundraising dinner, featuring former Liberal prime minister Jean Chr├ętien, is planned for Vaughan, Ont., on Oct. 1. It could provide the centrepiece kick-off event for the election campaign, if the government is defeated then.Mr. Apps has said that they hope to raise $1.6-million at the dinner that Mr. Ignatieff will also attend. It is for the “non-Bay Street GTA” Liberals and others.As well, the party is planning another fundraising dinner with Paul Martin in British Columbia, some time later in the fall.Mr. Apps also briefed MPs and Senators on the state of the party's finances, which have improved dramatically since Mr. Ignatieff took over as leader last December.He said the party plans to run a fully-costed campaign, spending the maximum limit of $24-million. This compares to the $19-million limit for last year's election, in which the Liberals under the leadership of St├ęphane Dion, who was considered weak and not a fundraising draw, were only able to manage to run a $14-million campaign.

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