Address to the Liberal Caucus by Michael Ignatieff


Liberal Leader Michael IgnatieffOTTAWA – Merci, merci. Comme vous savez tous, Kevin a gagné Winnipeg North et Nancy, c’est sûr, elle va gagner Gaspésie. C’est sûr.

It is an enormous privilege to be the leader of the people in this room and the leader of the big red tent. When I look out at you I see something that is so impressive. I see a team, united in conviction, united in faith, united in belief, united in love of country. I look out at the team and I… and I think of all the people who compose the team. Stanley Cup Champions.

Provincial premiers. Not just one, but a couple of them.

Premier of a territory. Where are you Joe? There you are. Premier of a territory.

Provincial cabinet ministers, federal cabinet ministers, men and women who’ve had the burden of office, the responsibilities of office, and have never let Canadians down. I look across the room I see men and women who’ve made successes of business, who’ve been leaders in their communities, people who you rely on, people whose competence, whose compassion, whose judgment gives you faith not just in them, not just in the Liberal Party, but confidence and faith in the country. That’s the team I am so proud to lead.

We come… This team comes from every part of the country, from small towns, from remote communities in the north. We represent every faith, every religion. Some of us are aboriginal, some of us are from other communities. Some of us are from downtown, some of us from remote parts. Some are from the west, some are from the east, some are from the north, some from the south. United by common values, common faith, love of our country. And when you ask the question, which we were asking this morning, the question of are we ready for an election, this isn’t a question about organization or platform or planes or detail. All of that stuff sounds pretty good to me, actually. There’s another question, a deeper question. Are we ready to serve the people who put us here? Are we ready to fight for the Canada we love? Are we ready to fight for the Canadian family? What’s the answer to that?

Yes! Yes! Yes! Oui!

Merci. Merci.

Vous savez, ils ont lancé des attaques contre nous, des attaques publicitaires. Je m’en fou franchement. Mais il y avait une publicité qui m’a beaucoup fait rire.

I don’t know whether you saw that in the chamber of horrors ads they released last week there was a very funny one. It was supposed to be the positive ad in which there is this kind of lonely guy, alone, working late at night. Did you see that? Lonely guy, working alone, kind of a Home Alone guy. Hasn’t got any friends, you know. Doesn’t get out much, you know. I felt kind of sorry for him really.

C’est un homme qui travail seul, il n’a pas d’équipe, pas d’amis. J’avais un peu de pitié pour lui. Et c’est le contraste que j’aimerais tirer entre nous, une équipe unifiée, une équipe avec des vedettes, une équipe avec des gens qui ont fait la confiance des Canadiens depuis des générations. Et ce contraste avec un leader seul, seul avec lui-même au bureau tard la nuit. Voyez, regardez autour de vous. Quel contraste, quel contraste entre un leadership avec une équipe dont il est fier et un leader tout seul.

The other thing about those ads… that ad, that little image, is he’s not listening to anybody. Total silence. Il n-écoute pas. Un autre contraste. Because whatever you can say about this Party, God have we listened this year. Have we ever listened.

From the beginning. Remember those prorogation rallies?

He shut down parliament; we opened it up. Remember who was in this room? They came through the doors to listen to the Liberal Party. We had sessions with Canadians who were fed up with the fact that he tried to shut democracy down. We tried to open it up. That’s the contrast. No party has done more to renew its basic message, but above all its basic contact, with the Canadian people than we have done, whether it was the Montréal conference in March with the best and brightest around the room and 30,000 Canadians watching online. Whether it was that Liberal Express. On the wharf, in the backyard, down at the Tim Horton’s, roll, roll, roll through the day, through the night, and above all listening to Canadians, listening to what they were saying. Open mic town halls, 20 of them this autumn. Skill testing question for all of you. How many open mic town halls has Stephen Harper held in five years? I’ll tell you what the answer is. Zippo. Zero. None. Nada. Nothing. How many have we done? 20. It’s the difference between leaders.

It’s the difference between leadership that listens, and leadership that wants to impose an ideology that Canadians just basically don’t feel comfortable about. This is not about Mister Harper’s character. We attack problems; we don’t attack people. That’s another key difference.

But it’s fundamentally about whether you put your ear to the rail of Canadian life, listen to those families. And you’ve done it with me. This wasn’t me; this was you and me together, up and down the road, in the Greek Hall in Edmonton on a Thursday night when it was snowing, you know? That’s what it was like. It was restoring the faith of Canadians in their own democracy. That’s what we were doing. That’s what I proud of.

And when we listened to Canadians what were they saying to us? They were saying very simple things. We’re not better off than we were five years ago. Our jobs are less secure. We worry about whether our kids are going to have jobs. We worry about whether our pensions are going to be secure. We worry about what’s going to happen when mom and dad get sick and I take time off of work to look after them. That’s what we heard. Simple stuff, basic stuff. And we responded. We said those are our priorities. That’s what we care about.

Quand on est à l’écoute des Canadiens, on entend quelque chose de très spécial : un désir d’avoir un discours d’espoir dans l’avenir de notre pays. Monsieur Harper fait continuellement appel à la peur; peur des Russes l’été dernier, vous vous souvenez de ca? Peur des Russes, ils arrivent là. Faut avoir peur des Russes. C’est pour ça qu’il faut avoir des milliards sur les avions de chasse. Les Canadiens n’ont pas peur, ils ont confiance. Le parti libéral défendra toujours la souveraineté du Canada mais on n’a pas besoin de ces avions de chasse là.

Ils essaient de nous faire peur des immigrants et des réfugiés.

He tried to make Canadians afraid of refugees and immigrants. Let’s be very clear here. This is the party of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We will always defend it. We will always stand by it. We will always fight it.

C’était parfois amusant la tentative de nous faire peur. Ils essaient de nous faire peur de recensement. Incroyable, du jamais vu au Canada.

The guy tried to make Canadians afraid of something they had never been afraid of once in their lives, which was the census taker. You thought… You know Canadian… All across the country they turned to me and they said, you know, I’ve got things I do worry about, but the census taker? I mean, come on. And so… And then, you know… And then, you know, I said, you know, we’re the party that believes in evidence, in facts. The more evidence the better. Canadians said, yeah, that’s kind of a good idea really. Wouldn’t it be better to run the government on the basis of evidence and facts and statistics than ideology, dogmatism and fear? How about that?

Les Canadiens ont besoin, ont fortement besoin d’un message d’espoir. Ça veut dire un message qui est simple, qui est concret. Ils veulent pas des visions dans les nuages, ils veulent, ils cherchent quelque chose de très concret; que nous sommes avec eux, que nous partageons leurs vies, que nous partageons leurs espoirs, que nous sommes avec eux quand ils ont besoin de l’éducation poste-secondaire pour leurs enfants, qu’ils ont besoin d’une pension de retraite en sécurité et nous sommes là. Que quand ils sont malades à domicile, nous sommes là pour les aider. C’est le sein de l’espoir que nous devons porter.

When we talk about hope it has to be real, it has to be concrete, it has to be close to where the people we serve, where they actually are. They’ve got to be able to call on us for child care when they need it so that every Canadian child gets the best possible start in life.

We’ve got to be there for them when they’re saying how am I possibly going to afford post secondary education, especially in aboriginal communities, especially in immigrant communities, especially in those working-class families that have never had any member of their family go to college or university before.

We’ve got to be able to say — let me borrow this just for a minute — yes you can. We’ve got to be able to say you get the grades, you get to go.

And when mom and dad get sick and you’re working two shifts, and you’re working two jobs, and you’re trying to keep this family together and illness strikes, I’ve seen the fear on the eyes of Canadian families. You’ve seen the fear in the eyes of Canadian families. If the Liberal Party believes in anything it’s to take that fear away. Take that fear away.

Take time off from work; we’ll cover your back. Help with your mom and dad at home, we’ll help you meet the expenses. That’s what the family care plan is all about. And it’s not just a plan; it’s a statement of profound value, a sense we’re all in this together. Nobody goes to the wall. Nobody faces that fear alone. We stand together. That’s the Liberal value.

And when you work hard all your life and you’ve played by the rules and you’ve done everything you can, you want to be able to retire in security and dignity. You want to have those burdens slip off your shoulders. You want to have a good time. You want to have fun. You want to contribute to the community. But you can’t do that if you’re afraid, if you haven’t got that security underneath your feet. The thing about this party that I love, that I have fought for since I was 17 years old, and you have too, we put the ground under Canadian feet. We’ve always done so, and we always will.

The Conservatives only response to the anxiety of Canadians about pensions is to create some fancy private option. And we’ve said stand by the Canada Pension Plan for heaven sakes. Strengthen it. Strengthen it. Stand with public provision.

Their vision of pensions definitely does one thing; it makes bankers and insurance companies richer. But it does not make Canadians more secure. We have to be very clear on this. We are in favour of public pension protection and provision for every single Canadian.

And Canadians know something else. Canadians families know that they are citizens of Canada, proud citizens of Canada. They are also citizens of the world. They want to do the right thing. They want to do the right thing about the environment. People say the environment isn’t an issue in this election; it’s just on the back burner. Stephen Harper is trying to get Canadians to say you’ve got to choose between the environment and the economy. I’m telling you, and we’ve got to tell Canadians, if you want to have a modern 21st century economy it better be green. It better be green.

Canadians want us to protect… They want us to protect our oceans. They want us to protect our beautiful waterways. They want us to protect our rivers. They want to be able to reduce their energy costs in the home. That’s a key issue. Cost of living is rising everywhere, and surging energy costs are putting pressure on the family home. We have got to be the party that says if you want to renovate your house, if you want to make it more energy-efficient, we will be there, we will help you to do that.

And all of this, mes chers amis, ties into one simple idea, which is at the core of everything I’ve ever believed in politics and I think anything that you have ever believed in politics, which is the economic success of this country, the reason that we have been so extraordinarily successful as a country, is not just that we have natural resources. It’s not just that Ralph Goodale gave us a decent banking system. It’s not just that Paul Martin and Ralph Goodale did a terrific job with the public finances of the country before these guys ruined everything.

It’s not… The real secret of Canadian success has been that we are an equal society. An equal society.

Nous sommes une société d’égalité de chance. Nous sommes une société d’égalité d’opportunité. Ça c’est la clef de la réussite économique Canadienne. C’est grâce aux programmes libéraux que nous avons cette égalité de chance pour les familles Canadiennes, pour toutes les familles Canadiennes. C’est ça la clef de la réussite pour le Canada dans l’avenir.

And let’s be clear, this country is less equal than it was in my childhood. It’s less equal than it was when you went to school. The rich are getting richer. The middle-class Canadian family’s income is stagnating. The pressures on that family are increasing. The elastic is stretched real tight. Remember that number that Scott Brison showed us just 20 minutes ago. For every dollar earned, the average middle-class Canadian family owes a dollar-fifty. One interest rate shock and these families are under water, okay? So don’t believe this happy talk from Stephen Harper. Focus on these families. Listen to them and what they’re telling you is we need ground under our feet here. We don’t want big government. We don’t want an intrusive government. But we want ground under our feet, pensions we can count on, healthcare when we need it, early learning and child care, post secondary education, but ground under the Canadian family.

And so we’ve got to be very clear in the next election. We are not going to increase the tax burden on the Canadian family. It’s not going to happen.

Don’t believe what they tell you. Don’t believe what they say.

That elastic is stretched tight. I am not increasing the burden, the strain, the weight on the Canadian middle-class family. But what I am going to say is let’s look at those corporations, let’s look at those corporations. These corporations, the most profitable corporations in the country, they’re making plenty of dough right now. They’re doing fine. They’ve got competitive tax rates. We’re saying we’re going to reverse those corporate tax cuts and we’re going to invest in the Canadian family.

And let me tell you something else. If you want a big public argument about what is likely to create more jobs in the future for Canadians I will bet on education versus corporate tax cuts any day of the week.

Alors mes amis, je viens en fin à ma conclusion; juste pour vous dire que c’est pas simplement une vision d’égalité de chance pour toutes les familles Canadiennes, c’est une vision du Canada. Un Canada qui nous rassemble, un Canada qui nous ressemble, un Canada où il y a de l’espoir partout au Canada. Dans la Gaspésie et le nord aussi, dans le grand nord, dans la rive sud, à l’ouest, à l’est, nord et sud, rural, urbain. Pas une région exclue. Toutes les régions incluent dans une vision dynamique d’une économie innovatrice. C’est ça la vision du Canada que j’offre surtout au Québec, mais partout au Canada.

Folks, I don’t know when there’s going to be an election. Everybody asks me. I spend my life answering that question. I don’t know when it’s going to come. We are not seeking an election. We’re not seeking to provoke an election. But we will… And we make no apologies for the fact that in times past we have put partisanship aside to support government measures. But we are not the guarantor of the future of the Conservative government. We are here to oppose this government and we’re here to replace it.

And this election, when it comes, will be a choice between governments. It is not a choice of protest votes. It is not a negative choice. It’s a chance in which Canadians can affirm from the deepest sources of their allegiance what values they support, what vision they want to endorse, what future course for their country. You vote NDP, you vote the Bloc… Si vous votez Bloc, c’est un vote de protestation. Mais vous aurez, et c’est certain, quatre ans de plus de Stephen Harper. Ce serait une erreur pour le Québec, ce serait une erreur pour le Canada.

Let me bring you back to where I was at the beginning when we asked this question about whether we are ready. It’s not about being ready for an election. It’s about being ready to serve. It’s about being ready to fight for the country you love, the country you grew up in, the country you want to hand off to your children and grandchildren.

C’est pas un conteste entre monsieur Ignatieff et monsieur Harper. C’est un combat d’idées, de principes et de valeurs, un choix de société, un choix du Canada. Je fais appel à tous les gens qui m’écoutent aujourd’hui, de choisir le Canada de leurs rêves. D’apporter leur soutien à un Canada généreux, responsable, fier sur la scène internationale, vert, progressiste, c’est ça le Canada pour lequel j’ai lutté depuis l’âge de 17 ans, et pour lequel je lutterais jusqu’à la fin.

This is what it’s all about folks. This is not about you, it’s not about me, it’s not about him. It’s about the people who put us here, the people who have put their faith in us, that hard-pressed middle class family who wants someone to stand for them and fight for them and put ground under their feet. And we shall. Thank you.

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