Toronto – Michael Ignatieff, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, spoke in downtown Toronto Sunday. Ignatieff, standing alongside Liberal colleagues, commented on the latest polls, the recent campaign vandalism and his “campaign of style.”
On Sunday morning, the Liberal Party released a 30-minute presentation called “Michael Ignatieff’s Town Hall for Canada.” The broadcast featured interviews with the Liberal leader, his plans to strengthen Canadian families, efforts to defend the national healthcare system and footage of him on the campaign trail.
Following the release, Michael Ignatieff spoke with reporters in downtown Toronto where he touched upon a variety of issues, including the recent campaign sign vandalism that has plagued Liberal and NDP incumbents and candidates in the Toronto area.
“Who’s going to be the next government in Canada?” said Ignatieff. “And everywhere I’ve gone I’ve emphasized the team’s experience we bring to the country and one of the reasons it’s a great pleasure to have Bob (Rae) and Christine (Innes) here. It’s not only a question of choice of government, but what kind of Canada you want.”
Ignatieff said that voters will have two choices inside the polling booth on May 2: One where banks and large corporations are put first or where families are put first and an economy invests in a child’s future.
“Making sure every Canadian gets access to college and university. Every Canadian family gets access to child care. Every Canadian family can look after their loved ones in the home. Every Canadian family can bring down their energy bills and do the right thing by the environment. Every Canadian family can always count on healthcare. Every Canadian family can count on the Canadian Pension Plan when they retire.”
The Liberal leader added that this is “a vision of equality.”
He also explained that Canadian voters should have a government that knows how to “balance the books” – a shot at the Conservative government’s $45 billion national deficit – and encouraged voters to elect a party that has experience running Ottawa – a jab aimed at Jack Layton’s New Democrats.
Campaign sign vandalism
Over the Easter weekend, there have been numerous reports of campaign sign vandalism in Toronto. All political parties and their supporters have been victims of this vandalism.
There were first reports of lawn sign vandalism in St. Paul’s and Trinity-Spadina. Voters who support Liberal incumbent Member of Parliament Carolyn Bennett had their lawn signs spray-painted.
One lawn sign supporting NDP incumbent MP Olivia Chow had Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s name spray-painted on it.
The vandalism later spread to Davenport and Toronto Centre where some vehicles were keyed. Liberal incumbent MP Bob Rae noted on Twitter that his tires were slashed, which was “not nice.”
Speaking on the campaign trail in British Columbia, Prime Minister Stephen Harper condemned the acts. “We absolutely condemn any such incidents by anybody inside and outside of political parties.” He added the Conservatives also experience acts of vandalism.
Ignatieff and Rae commented on the situation Sunday and attempted to make light of the situation. “We’ve got our problems with Mr. Harper, but we don’t think he’s slashing our tires. I want to make that clear,” said Ignatieff in a manner of jest.“
There are people out there who take partisanship to threatening extremes,” said Ignatieff. “The part of this that’s serious is that every Canadian should be free to vote and free to express their political preferences and it’s a bad day when in Toronto people who are working for another party or put a lawn sign up get their cars vandalized.”
The Liberal Party’s video comes as a new poll shows Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives holding a 13-point lead over the Grits. However, the opinion polls do show that a majority of Canadians support the New Democratic Party, the Liberals, the Bloc Quebecois and the Green Party.
When asked about these polls, Ignatieff responded: “I feel as we get down to May 2nd, this is what it’s going to come down to: Who do you trust to govern the country?” said Ignatieff. “There’s no question people want to change this government. Any way you look at these polls they’re saying we want to get rid of Mr. Harper.”
He added: “Now the question becomes: Who can form a government to replace Mr. Harper and that’s the issue.”
One reporter asked about Ignatieff’s campaign and its failure to gain any significant momentum with one week to go until the election. Ignatieff responded that “this isn’t style,” but rather that it’s a campaign of “trying to do politics differently,” which is something that he has done for 2 ½ years.
“And as for connecting, in lots of ways I think the campaign has just begun. I really do think that. I think we’ve got a week in which we choose a government and we have to choose a team and we have to choose people who have been there.”
Working with other parties
As in any election, the gloves come off and the attacks on opponents persist. The Liberal Party recently ran political advertisements that question Layton’s judgment.
Despite these ads, when asked if he would work with Layton, Ignatieff said he would have no issues working with Layton and the NDP, which is something that he has said all along he would do.
“What I’ve said from the beginning to the end, has not changed and will not change,” said Ignatieff. “I’ve said I’m willing to work with all political parties. All – repeat – all parties in the House. What Canadians want after May 2 is for their Parliament to work. We can’t predict what the shape of that Parliament will be.”
He reiterated his “willingness to work with any political party” in order to accomplish legislation and the good of the country in the House of Commons.
With one week to go, the Prime Minister will spend his time in Ontario Monday, while Ignatieff will start his day in northern Ontario and head west to British Columbia. Layton is heading east to Quebec and New Brunswick. Green Party leader Elizabeth May is continuing door-to-door canvassing in British Columbia.