Wednesday, September 2

Wind-up after summer break, thoughts, observations and renewed hope in the air

With summer almost over, children winding-up in school again and likely most people feeling refreshed after a summer break I thought I too should share some thoughts, observations the latest news from Liberal perspectives. First, I trust you and yours had a nice break and feel refreshed though given the continued effects of recession and government inaction and games such may be difficult. However, let me assure you Liberals have been working hard in every respect. Admitedly it has been difficult dealing with a government bent of getting its way despite being a minority and representing a minority of Canadians.

Despite verbalizing intent to work with the other parties it appears to continue bent on retaining power at all costs as they continued their games as the economy and increasing numbers of Canadians continued to suffer the effects of economic down-turn.

It is obvious that Mr. Harper and the Conservative Government lack any vision or the wherewithall to assist the economy and people in need. Michael Ignatieff and the Liberal Opposition kept their promise to work with the government that has made no effort to reciprocate, continues playing politics in every way possible, especially noted in the much touted "supposed" economic stimulus.

Apparently, in reality almost two thirds of announced funding has still not found its way as designated as well as observed to be largely directed to benefit ridings likely more Conservative-friendly in the event of an election.

You likely noticed from the newsreports etc Mr. Harper creating photo-ops at every opportunity as though in election mode though denying any such intent. I couuld keep going but the latest 'Talking Points' from the Party presents key points for consideration very succinctly. You may be also interested in Michael Ignatieff's latest address to the Party as follows:

Talking Points:

• The Harper Conservatives are resorting to fear-mongering in a desperate attempt to forestall an election.

• The Harper Conservatives have zero credibility to be preaching about elections causing economic instability or “screwing up” the economy’s recovery.
• Remember, the Conservatives provoked the last two elections, and caused a political crisis by putting forth an economic statement on the eve of a recession that offered no stabilizing economic stimulus.
• The real source of economic instability in this country is a Conservative government with no plan to guide Canada through the restructuring in the global economy.
• This is just like John Baird’s patently false claim that stimulus projects will be stalled by an election – when it’s their own cumbersome politicized process that delayed new construction jobs.
• No infrastructure projects will be jeopardized by an election. We have approved $250 billion in spending in Parliament, which means the government can continue to approve projects, even during an election.
• Next Stephen Harper is going to scare Canadians into thinking that an election would mean no home renovation tax credit. This is nonsense.
• Remember there would be no home renovation tax credit if we didn't force the Conservatives to rewrite the budget in the first place.
• Liberals support this tax credit. If an election comes, we will honour it.
• Canadians should now see this fear-mongering for what it is – a Conservative party afraid of Michael Ignatieff’s resurgent Liberals.

Michael Ignatieff, MP
Leader of the Opposition

Remarks to the National Liberal Caucus

Sudbury, Ontario September 1, 2009

Thank you. Welcome to Sudbury!

Last night we had 600 people out. You feel the energy here and you know we’re going to make Sudbury Liberal again.

Everywhere I’ve been this summer, I’ve seen the same enthusiasm—all while apparently remaining completely invisible. Hundreds of people didn’t notice me out in Victoria back in June. Or in West Vancouver. Or in Cape Breton.

I was perfectly invisible in front of nearly a thousand people at the Calgary Stampede. Ralph (Goodale) is still wondering how I pulled that off. Same story at National Aboriginal Day at Crawford Lake.

I was never in Quebec City for Saint-Jean-Baptiste, or in Miramichi and Caraquet for le Grand Tintamarre. Let’s not even talk about Edmonton, la Beauce or la Gasp├ęsie.

The media like to say that I was invisible, but I’ll tell you one thing—I wasn’t. Everywhere I went, across eight provinces and the Northwest Territories, Liberals are energized and set to work hard to put Stephen Harper out of a job.

We should be proud of the work we’ve done this year. We’ve grown our Party—with new members, new ideas, and the best fundraising in recent memory.

We’re more united than we’ve been in a generation. We’re ready to fight in every riding in the country.

And we’re ready to bring smart, compassionate government back to Canada. I know it can be frustrating at times.

We’re working against opponents who make politics personal—who distort and deny the truth and put partisan gain ahead of the national interest. We’re working against a government that’s ready to sacrifice national unity to stay in power.

But we have a secret weapon: Stephen Harper’s own record. The worst unemployment record in two decades;

The worst deficit in our history; And last quarter, the worst performing economy in the G7.

Stephen Harper didn’t see a recession coming last fall. Now he’s missing something bigger: what we’re going through is more than a recession—it’s a fundamental restructuring of the global economy.

Stephen Harper doesn’t get that. He doesn’t get that Canada’s in a race—that we’ve got to position our country to compete in the twenty-first century. We’ve got to make Canada a world leader again, and we’ve got to do it now.

He doesn’t get what foresters in Northern Ontario and BC and Quebec understand—that we can’t just wait for the housing market to pick up in the United States; we’ve got to build brand new markets and deliver brand new products that the world wants to buy.

He doesn’t get what autoworkers in Windsor and Oshawa know —that we’re not just going to have to win back customers; we’re going to have to re-invent the car, with brand new technologies and brand new environmental standards.

He doesn’t get what the people of Sudbury know—that when our workers and our industries are under threat—when the choice is between defending Canadian jobs and Canadian technology—we need a strong government that will defend our interests. Stephen Harper doesn’t get it. We do.

For more than a century, we’ve built our prosperity on our natural resources. But if we’re to prosper in the next century, we have to turn our resources into products and technologies the whole world wants to buy. We can’t get there unless we have the vision and ambition to build a competitive, compassionate future for Canada.

We can’t get there unless we open up new markets for Canadian exports in countries like China and India. We can’t get there with Stephen Harper.

Stephen Harper has been prime minister for four years, and he’s never visited China. We’ll be there next week. After that, we’ll plan a trip to India.

That’s where we need to be as a country—if we want to secure markets for the next generation of our exports—if we want to compete with the best in the world—if we want to get out of the trade deficit the Conservatives have created, the first in thirty years.

We can do better. Next summer, Canada is hosting the G8 Summit in Huntsville.

It’s an opportunity to demonstrate Canadian leadership, to shape the world’s agenda—the way Paul Martin did, and Jean Chr├ętien before him. Stephen Harper hasn’t even come up with a guest list.

A Liberal government would invite new members to that meeting. We’d use Canada’s G8 Summit to begin the process of evolving the G8 to a G20, as the world’s steering committee.

We cannot make progress on global challenges without China and India at the table. The G8 has served its purpose well, but its time has passed.

Instead of resisting change, Canada must be a catalyst for change. We must lead the world to embrace a more effective, more representative forum—where we can demonstrate global leadership that’s been Canada’s hallmark since Lester B. Pearson.

We must be ready to devote our own resources toward strengthening the G20—by funding and hosting a permanent Secretariat in Canada.

In Huntsville, Canada could set an agenda that furthers our interests and the world—starting with new frameworks for financial regulation, to prevent the sort of global collapse we saw this past year.

Canada can lead in a changing world, but only if we dare to act. Stephen Harper wants to keep us on the sidelines. We can do better.

Stephen Harper hasn’t just failed to stand up for Canada—he’s also failed to stand up for Canadians.

Suaad Mohamud. Omar Khadr. Makhtal. Bahari. Mohamed. Abdelrazik.

Being a Canadian must mean the Canadian government will stand up for you—no matter where, no matter when. This is at the heart of what every Liberal believes: a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.

A Liberal government would stand by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We would stand by our citizens.

And we would bring forward legislation to protect Canadians abroad—to make it illegal for the government to pick and choose which citizens it protects—to make sure these abuses never happen again.

Stephen Harper leads a government that doesn’t care. A government that doesn’t believe in government. A government that refuses to govern—even in a crisis.

A Liberal government would stand by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We would stand by our citizens.

And we would bring forward legislation to protect Canadians abroad—to make it illegal for the government to pick and choose which citizens it protects—to make sure these abuses never happen again.

Stephen Harper leads a government that doesn’t care. A government that doesn’t believe in government. A government that refuses to govern—even in a crisis. Let’s remember how we got here.

A year ago this month, Stephen Harper told Canadians there wouldn’t be a recession in this country. He said a slumping stock market meant “good buying opportunities,” but no cause for alarm.

Last November, he presented a partisan economic statement that triggered a political crisis. And Stephen Harper escaped defeat only by shutting down Parliament.

In January, we put Stephen Harper on probation – and we’ve kept him on life support ever since. We forced his government to accept the toughest accountability standards in the G8—with full budget reports to Parliament each quarter.

After a disappointing June report, we set out four simple benchmarks Stephen Harper would have to meet. We said we were prepared to work with Stephen Harper to fix Employment Insurance—to make it fair for all Canadians, no matter where they live, for as long as the crisis lasts.

Not one single proposal came from the other side—only spin and deceit.

Second, we demanded straight answers about job creation and infrastructure stimulus.

Rather than answer, Stephen Harper spent the summer trying to hide his failure to create jobs—re-announcing projects that should have been underway months ago.

In fact, only two hundred of the twelve hundred infrastructure projects that the Conservatives announced in Ontario have actually received the funding they were promised.

Only Stephen Harper could count that as being 80% underway. Third, we demanded a credible plan to get Canada out of deficit.

Stephen Harper’s response has been: “Don’t worry, give it a few years, and the books will balance themselves.” You can put that next to his promise not to run deficits in the first place.

Or his promise not to tax income trusts. Or his promise not to appoint Senators.

For a decade, under liberal governments, Canada led the world in debt reduction. We had the best fiscal performance in the G8. But the conservatives put us back in the red, even before the recession.

And now they can’t even tell us how deep a hole they’ve put us in, let alone their plan for getting us out of it. That’s not good enough.

We’ve had four years of this—four years of a government that mismanages our public finances, and a prime minister who divides the country to score political points.

You can’t count on a government that can’t count—and a prime minister who’s only good at division. Finally, we demanded a plan to deal with the health care crisis. Twice on Stephen Harper’s watch there’s been a breakdown in the supply of medical isotopes.

Instead of acting, what did Stephen Harper do? He fired the whistle-blower on isotopes. Then he cancelled the MAPLE reactors that would have guaranteed Canadian leadership in isotope supply.

Two years later, he finally revealed his plan: To get out of nuclear medicine and let the provinces pick up the difference. That’s not good enough for the tens of thousands of Canadian families waiting for cardiac and cancer care for their loved ones.

And that’s not good enough for the millions around the world, who have relied on Canadian leadership for half a century. It’s simply unacceptable to have the world ask: “Where’s Canada?”

We can do better and we will do better. A Liberal government will restore Canadian leadership. We’ll stand up for Canadian research and Canadian families. We’ll stand up for Canadian know-how and ensure the world never asks again “Where’s Canada?”.

Right now, while Americans are fighting for a public health care system, Stephen Harper has refused to utter a word in defence of our own. Liberals proudly support public health care in this country—and, unlike the Conservatives, we’re not afraid to defend it.

In June, we set out four tests for Stephen Harper. Mr. Harper, you have failed all four.

You’ve failed to protect the most vulnerable. You’ve failed to create jobs. Failed to defend our health care. Failed to restore our public finances. After four years of drift, four years of denial, four years of division and discord—

Mr Harper, your time is up.

The Liberal Party cannot support this government any further. We will hold it to account. We will oppose it in Parliament. And if elections are called, we will be ready to offer a better future for our country. Canadians deserve better.

Over the past days and weeks, I’ve heard from our caucus, and we’ve all heard from Canadians: Our job as Liberals is to give them a choice. A choice between two parties. Two sets of values. Two visions for Canada.

We can choose a small Canada—a diminished, mean, and petty country. A Canada that lets down its citizens at home and fails them abroad. A Canada that’s absent on the world stage. That’s Stephen Harper’s Canada.

Or we can choose a big Canada. A Canada that is generous and open. A Canada that inspires. That leads the world by example. That makes us all proud. 2017 will be our 150th birthday.

We can be the smartest, healthiest, greenest, most open-minded country there is—but only if we choose to be. We can build a Knowledge Society, from pre-school to post-secondary, with quality early learning and childcare for every Canadian child.

We can ensure that every Aboriginal Canadian gets a world-class, not a second-class education—with the opportunities to match. We can create tomorrow’s job by investing more, not less, in research and innovation.

We can invest in our environment—and invent the clean energy technologies that will have the world beat a path to our door. That’s our Canada. A liberal Canada. The Canada we can believe in. The Canada that awaits us—but only if we dare. Only if we act. Only if we choose now.

Only with the smart, compassionate leadership this Liberal team can provide. Our country is waiting—Let’s get started.

Kindly submitted - Michael Cormican

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