THUNDER BAY – EDITORIAL – Coming out of the box, Michael Ignatieff, in the foyer of the House of Commons, was described by some as looking like a deer caught in the headlights over questions about forming a coalition government. “He was asked whether he would pursue a coalition government, even if the Conservatives win the most seats on election day. Mr. Ignatieff hemmed and hawed; he blathered and skited; he baldered and dashed. At the end of expressing how he’d been a Liberal since age 17 and how he was leading a team of proud Canadians to form an alternative government, he concluded: “I can’t be clearer than that.” (National Post)
This morning, the former Harvard Professor gave himself a makeup exam. Ignatieff issued a statement ruling out forming a Coalition Government.
“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” states Ignatieff.
“Whoever leads the party that wins the most seats on election day should be called on to form the government”.
The Liberal leader continues, “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,” concluded Ignatieff.
Now, all of that is fine, and it looks like some midnight oil was burnt drafting the new policy. However the job of leadership isn’t found in political makeup tests, or mulligans.
The strong words from Michael Ignatieff likely came after his political team realized that they were looking really bad yesterday.
It has seemed over the course of the week, that Michael Ignatieff has seen, in Canada a crisis in democracy. In Parliament yesterday, Ignatieff stated, “To those who say an election is “unnecessary,” I reply: we did not seek an election, but if we need one to replace a government that doesn’t respect democracy with one that does, I can’t think of no more necessary an election!
“It is not just democracy that this House must affirm this afternoon; it should also affirm Canadians’ hunger for change”.
Perhaps Ignatieff sees, in the world, where people in Egypt toppled a government, where the people in Libya are fighting in the street for change, that here in Canada there is some of that clamouring for change.
If that is the case, then all it likely demonstrates is that the Liberal leader has surrounded himself far too often with his own party supporters. Outside of shadow of Parliament Hill, except in small pockets of political energies, are you hearing loud demand for change?
More likely you are getting weary of that Canadian chant of “Cold enough for you?” as winter seems unwilling to release its grip on our region?
If you are paying attention, there is a lot of very solid good news out there, and despite some of the naysayers, things are improving.
Right now, Canadians will face weeks of political posturing, which comes on the heels of months of political posturing.
Much of the important work that parliament should be doing is now on hold.