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Statement by Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff: The rules of our democracy

Posted on March 26, 2011

This election is not just an exercise in democracy, it’s about democracy.  So as we begin the campaign, let’s be clear about the rules.

Whoever leads the party that wins the most seats on election day should be called on to form the government.

If that is the Liberal Party, then I will be required to rapidly seek the confidence of the newly-elected Parliament.   If our government cannot win the support of the House, then Mr. Harper will be called on to form a government and face the same challenge.  That is our Constitution.  It is the law of the land.

If, as Leader of the Liberal Party, I am given the privilege of forming the government, these are the rules that will guide me:

  • We will face Parliament with exactly the same team, platform and agenda that we bring to Canadians during this election.  What Canadians see in this campaign is what Canadians will get if we are asked to form government.
  • We will work with ALL parties to make Parliament work, and deliver sound policies – even the Conservative Party in opposition.
  • We will not enter a coalition with other federalist parties.   In our system, coalitions are a legitimate constitutional option.  However, I believe that issue-by-issue collaboration with other parties is the best way for minority Parliaments to function.
  • We categorically rule out a coalition or formal arrangement with the Bloc Quebecois.
  • If I am facing a minority Parliament, I will work like Liberal Prime Ministers Lester Pearson, Pierre Trudeau and Paul Martin did:  to provide progressive government to our country, by building support issue-by-issue, and by tapping into the goodwill, generosity and common sense of Canadians across the political spectrum.  These are the governments that gave Canada the Canadian Flag, Medicare, the Canada Pension Plan, the Kelowna Accord and a National Daycare Plan.  With the right kind of leadership another minority Parliament could strive for such heights.

That is my position.  Now I have a few questions for Mr. Harper:

  • Does he agree with how I have described the workings of our democratic system?
  • Why does he insist on fabricating lies about an impending coalition, something he knows is false?
  • Will he tell Canadians the truth about his secret hotel room meetings in 2004 with the Bloc Quebecois which resulted in a signed letter of agreement to the Governor General, proposing a Conservative-NDP-Bloc coalition?
  • Will he finally acknowledge the unprecedented finding of contempt against his government yesterday in the House of Commons?
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