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What a year it has been

Posted by Michael Ignatieff on December 17, 2010

What a year it has been.

In 2010, Liberals proved that we are the progressive, compassionate, responsible alternative to Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.

The year began with prorogation, when Stephen Harper shut down Parliament. He thought he could get away with it. He was wrong.

Thousands of Canadians took to the streets, in protests across the country, telling the Conservatives to get back to work. Liberals did not need to be told. We showed up on time, on Parliament Hill, ready to do the jobs Canadians elected us to do.

Throughout January and February, Liberals held more than 20 policy sessions on the issues that matter to Canadian families – from jobs and economic growth to health care and democratic reform. We hosted town hall meetings on university and college campuses across Canada.

In March, more than 25,000 Canadians joined the conversation during Canada at 150: Rising to the Challenge, our historic conference in Montreal. We brought together some of Canada’s most innovative thinkers and leaders to answer a cruicial question: What kind of Canada do we want to be in 2017, the 150th birthday of our country? Every moment of the discussion was broadcast live on the web. What began as a conference became a community – we changed the way politics is done in this country, and it will never be the same again.

We kept things moving throughout the summer, when we travelled to every province and territory on the Liberal Express tour. For 57,000 kilometres and at 166 public events, we brought together Liberals from coast to coast to coast, and invited everyone to come on into the big red tent at the centre of Canadian life.

This fall, we were back on the road, holding Open mike town halls across the country. There were no scripts, no security barriers, and no holds barred – just straight questions and straight answers. And whether we were in Victoria, Thunder Bay, Montréal, or Halifax, the whole country was invited to get involved and ask questions online.

Throughout this year, we laid the groundwork for the most innovative Liberal election platform since the Red Book of 1993.

We announced the Liberal Family Care Plan, which will help hundreds of thousands of middle-class families care for their loved ones at home.

We launched our Rural Canada Matters plan, including Canada’s first-ever National Food Policy to support farmers and promote healthy living. We also proposed new policies to improve health care, recognize volunteer fire fighters, and achieve 100-percent high-speed internet access in every region of the country.

We also unveiled our Open Government Initiative, which will make government data, decision-making, and programs more accessible to Canadians online – and that includes a commitment to reinstate the long-form census.

Liberals have been listening to Canadians, and our priorities are the priorities of middle-class families. Meanwhile, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government wants to spend $21 billion on stealth fighter jets without a competitive bid, $13 billion on US-style mega-prisons, and $6 billion on tax breaks for the biggest corporations. Earlier this year, the government spent $1 billion on Stephen Harper’s 72-hour G8/G20 photo-op.

We will make different choices. We will make better choices. And we will give Canadians a clear choice in 2011.

This has been an important year for the Liberal Party. I am proud of what we have achieved together. On behalf of all of our colleagues on Parliament Hill, I wish you and yours the very best of the season.

- Michael