Former PM Joe Clark says May's exclusion from debates "unjustified and undemocratic"

The Green Party of Canada distributed this statement this afternoon from former prime minister Joe Clark:

The basic purpose of national televised debates in a federal election campaign is to help voters make informed choices among significant political parties offering alternative policies. Clearly the Greens represent alternative policies — and there can be no doubt about the significance of a party whose substantial support base in the country is reflected regularly in actual voting and in public opinion sampling.  That reality has been reinforced, since the consortium's unilateral decision to exclude Ms. May from the 2011 Leaders' debate, by the expressed readiness of other national party leaders to have her included.  In a situation where the Canadian people, and the Canadian parties, consider the Green Party to be significant enough to participate in the debate, this unilateral exclusion is unjustified and undemocratic.

Moreover, the decision to exclude flies in the face of the worldwide demand of democratic citizens for more open-ness and more alternatives.  As education and technology are forcing political systems to open up, this consortium proposes to use its power to limit the choices Canadians can consider.  There are good arguments to change the format of these debates; there is no justification for an arbitrary decision to shut out a significant and legitimate political party, like the Green Party.


The Rt. Hon. Joe Clark

Months after fighting and losing to Julian Fantino in byelection, Liberal turns and endorses him in general election

Well, you don't see this everyday: Last fall, Tony Genco was the Liberal candidate battling tooth-and-nail against former OPP commissioner and Conservative candidate Julian Fantino in a byelection in the federal riding of Vaughan. Fantino won — but it was certainly not a landslide. In fact, given Fantino's star power, the number of big hitters (including PM Harper and Don Cherry) who campaigned with him, and the financial resources of the Conservative Party, one might have thought that Fantino would have scored much bigger.

But that's all water under the bridge now. The Liberals turned away from Genco for this general election and to a new candidate, Mario Ferri. And now it appears that Genco has turned away from the Liberals. Here's an “open letter” Genco submitted to the Vaughan Citizen:

I feel I have a responsibility and moral duty to the people of the City of Vaughan, particularly those who voted for me in the November 2010 by election to share my thoughts and perspectives on the current campaign. After much thoughtful reflection and deliberation, I am pleased to announce that I will be supporting Julian Fantino as our Member of Parliament for Vaughan and the Conservative Party of Canada in this important general election.  I have arrived at this decision after careful consideration and deliberation, recognizing that given my history and background, this will come as a surprise to many. No doubt that there will be many cynics who will view this in a variety of inaccurate ways. For this reason, I want to provide my own direct comments to ensure the facts are clear and my enthusiasm for my decision is understood.

Julian Fantino is a great Canadian. Even in the recent by-election when I ran against him, this was something I and many Liberals, including Michael Ignatieff himself had acknowledged when he approached him to run for the Liberal Party before me. He is a committed and proven public servant who has always excelled to the highest offices within his organizations and has been highly regarded and respected. His heart is always in the right place and his devotion to the community is unquestionable.

Julian Fantino has delivered for the people of Vaughan. He was recognized by Prime Minister Stephen Harper with an appointment to the Cabinet, almost immediately upon being elected.  As Minister of State (Seniors) he not only has national responsibilities but he has an important portfolio that many Vaughan residents are in need of improved Government services within. Already we have seen significant accessibility to information on senior programs and initiatives thanks to his hard work. As well, a grant to a large senior’s organization in Vaughan has recently been provided because of his dedication. The improvements proposed by the Conservative Government in its recent budget with regards to seniors needs and concerns were Julian at his best- delivering results for the people of Vaughan and Canada.

In a very short time, Julian has been able to provide funding on a long lasting legacy project for Vaughan through a significant grant for the Vaughan Health Campus of Care. Frankly, I was extremely skeptical about his capacity to deliver any results in any period of time. However, I was even more astounded that Julian was able to make the case to the federal government so quickly to provide $10 million of funding for an important Vaughan complex that will ultimately be home to a hospital facility, a life-sciences cluster and many other much needed health services.  I attended the announcement, and said then that this truly is good news for Vaughan’s people.

Julian has earned the right to continue to represent our community in Vaughan. I am honoured to have him serving us.  Simply put Julian Fantino delivers… period! Julian decided to sacrifice his time, energy and talents and devoting it to further public service for the people of Canada and our community in Vaughan- something that he didn’t have to do but something he clearly wanted to do.

Those of you, who supported me when I ran against the Conservative Party and Julian Fantino in the recent by election, may be shocked by my current perspective. But ultimately, I truly believe that this is what is right given the realities of what Julian has done for us since his election.

Up until very recently, I seriously considered running in this general election, but I have to say my heart wasn’t in it. I spoke to many residents who had encouraged me to run given the momentum that I had built thanks to the support of many Liberals in this riding. I now encourage, every Liberal in Vaughan to seriously reconsider their support for the Liberal Party and support the Conservative Party of Canada and Julian Fantino.

The Liberal Party that I joined over 20 years ago in university has disappeared. The ideas that I tried to represent of balance, diversity and nation building no longer exist in this version of the Liberal Party.  It’s clear that the Liberal Party policies do not resonate with the majority of Canadians. The recent electoral results speak for themselves. The Liberal Party is adrift continuing to be nostalgic about its historic contributions and past glory’s, without having built from those successes of the past to renew its ideas to reflect the needs of the new modern Canada. I have only come to this realization recently. I therefore did not submit my papers to run for the party this time, because I simply felt betrayed by a party that took for granted its people. I am delighted with all that Julian has delivered for our community and that he has already made a real difference for all of us.

This election is unnecessary particularly in Vaughan where we have been in perpetual campaign mode over the past year. We are suffering from chronic election fatigue here.   No Government is perfect but people like me are starting to realize this – the stability and focus of the Federal Government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper will help ensure that the values of a modern Canada -those of responsibility, duty, balance, diversity and prosperity for all- will continue to evolve in a positive and optimistic fashion.

I hope that all citizens of Vaughan and all Canadians consider these issues as they reflect on their needs for the future and vote for the Conservative Party in this election. There is no other party in Canada that can form a majority government and we need one now more than ever, as people are vulnerable to a continuingly fragile economic recovery.  I hope all citizens of Vaughan particularly those who have voted Liberal in the past send a strong message to Ottawa that we want a strong united government, which has Vaughan represented by Julian Fantino.  I know that Julian Fantino given his track record will continue to represent us extremely well in the Conservative Government for many many many years to come!

A response to: Bad Governments are elected by good citizens who don't vote

This morning in our papers, I encourage everyone to do their duty, get involved in this election campaign, and vote.

Here's a thoughtful response from a reader named Dan Payment:

Good Morning Mr. Akin,

It has always been my contention that one has a duty to vote. It is a right that has been earned again and again through the sacrifices of our servicemen during the many conflicts this country has participated in since it's founding. I make a point of voting in every election, because I believe I should. But I also believe that there should be someone to vote for. For too many years now, our politicians have lost sight of their responsibilities! Their duties are to be stewards of our rights and freedoms, lobbyists for the betterment of our lives, and above all, they should be honest. Unfortunately, none of those duties are being fulfilled, and haven't been for entirely too long. They've saddled us with untold debt (children being born this very day arrive in this life with a debt greater than $16K dollars. That is unconscionable!) We're told the proper form of address is “the Honourable” or the “Right Honourable”, yet they demonstrate over and over again that they have no concept of the meaning of honour. They make irresponsible promises of all sorts of new “benefits” and “entitlements” each election, very carefully neglecting to mention that these promises are going to have to be payed for, and that the money to pay for them comes out of our pockets. They lie quite conveniently to get themselves elected, then once on their thrones, they renege and concoct all kinds of spurious reasons why they can't follow through with these promises (“Oh, we didn't know we were inheriting such a debt from our predecessors” is a good one, obviously Mr. Harper didn't take the time to do his homework, or he just plain lied!)

They award themselves all kinds of perquisites and benefits at the expense of taxpayers, saying that they work so much harder and in poorer conditions than the rest of us. I don't recall ever seeing any of them spend any time in the same isolated postings I “enjoyed” while I was in the Forces, nor hearing about any of them serving in war zones or hazardous postings. I know that I never got any time off without having to submit a leave request to account for every day of my leave allotment, and one started with two weeks vacation and earned extra by years of service. They seem to take whatever time off suits them, and many don't even show up for critical votes. A member of the Forces must work for at least 20 years before he qualifies for a reduced pension, while these “hard workers” qualify for full pension and medical benefits with only one term in office. Sounds really rough to me. And don't even think about dismissal. While in the Forces, I saw many cases of people get what we “affectionately” called “thirty, thirty and thirty” for relatively minor infractions. What the triple 30 means is 30 days stoppage of any leave (basically confinement to quarters if you were single) 30 days stoppage of pay, and 30 days of at least four hours a day extra work and drill. Dismissal from the Forces meant a return of pension contributions and you'll never have another government job. Dismissal from any Parliamentary position appears to mean that you get a golden handshake, full pension and benefits, and you get to go work as some sort of senior advisor or something similar. They're wasteful, greedy and childish, just watch how much each of the newly elected will spend to refurnish their offices, because they don't want anything to do with the trappings of their predecessors.

Another duty of a politician is to represent the wishes of his electoral district. When did that happen last? The lobbyists and gladhanders that haunt Parliament Hill get more attention and reaction than the voters who elected the politicians, and we have so many politicians who “vote their conscience” instead of voting as their constituents demand. When I first heard of this years ago, I knew then that our political system had failed and that this country was doomed. Anyone, voted into any position by a majority, be he dog catcher or sheriff or Prime Minister, has an obligation to represent the feelings and interests of the people who elected them. “Vote your conscience” is a deliberate and unequivocal insult! What it says is “I don't care what the rest of you say, my way is better and I will do as I please!”

The other problem with our political system is that, despite Mr. Harper's assertion that we can “vote him out in four years if we don't like what he's doing”, that still means we have to endure four more years of bad management. We have no means, short of another election, of getting rid of politicians who lie, cheat or abuse their privileges. At least in the United States, Americans have the right to “recall” any politician, right up to the office of the President. We need an immediate means of holding our representatives to account for their actions. When you discipline a child or pet, you do it immediately if you want the message to stick. Otherwise, they forget what they did wrong, and maybe you did as well, and waiting makes them wonder what they're being punished for. It's the same with politicians, we need to be able to say “you screwed up, one more time and you're outta here!” Otherwise, four years down the road, we've forgotten the incident or they've dismissed it as trivial, and they get re-elected to do the same thing to us again.

One more thing that I don't understand is this contention that most people have “my grandfather was a Liberal, my father is a Liberal, and I'm a Liberal” (or Conservatives or whatever.) Where is the sense in that? If you don't study the issues and then vote for those that make the most sense, then you're just wasting your vote. If you are so locked into voting for the same party all the time, you miss the opportunity to better the system. You're stuck with the same-old, same old.

As I see it today, the biggest problem with Canadian politics is that we really don't have any choice. It doesn't matter whether one is Liberal, Conservative, Bloc or Green, they're all tarred with the same brush. They'll lie, cheat and promise “cakes and ale” to get elected, then renege the moment they're in office. We really need a response box on the ballet for “None of the above”. As far as election promises are concerned, we can't afford any of what they're promising, and they know it. I'm 63 years old and in relatively good health, with a bit of luck I might make it another 20 to 30 years. I can't say that I'm enthusiastic about the future though. The way these liars, wastrels and profligates are spending our money on promises and dreams, instead of figuring our how to fix the mess we're in, I truly believe that Canada is going to become a third world country before I die. That saddens me immensely, we have so much going for us but we're being led down the garden path by fools and liars.

I intend to vote in the next election, I don't know for whom, there isn't one of them that I believe in or trust, but as I mentioned earlier, I'll be voting by the issues. The one who comes closest to promising what I believe to be realistic is the one who I'll vote for.

Here comes the coalition again: NDP candidate quits in London, calls it "a strategic decision" to stop Harper

Our friends at the London Free Press are reporting this morning that the NDP candidate in Elgin-Middlesex-London resigned today. NDPer Ryan Dolby said he made “a strategic decision” to quit because “I am worried if Stephen Harper gets a majority.” This, I'm pretty sure, guarantees that the whole “coalition” meme is going to pop back up on the campaign trail for the leaders.

Indeed, Free Press reporter Randy Richmond has already tweeted that the Conservative incumbent in Elgin-Middlesex-London, Joe Preston, has already call this evidence of a coalition.

The NDP still has plenty of time to find a candidate. The deadline from Elections Canada to file the papers to become an Official Candidate for the May 2 vote is not until April 11.

Still, based on the results of the 2008 election, if every Liberal voted Liberal again, and every NDP voter from '08 voted Liberal, Preston would still win by more than 2,500 voters if all his voters showed up.

Meanwhile, the NDP National Campaign says Dolby's decision is unfortunate and that they'll have a nomination meeting in that riding within 48 hours. They are running candidates in all 308 ridings.

Harper then and now on the choices for an unhappy Official Opposition

In 2004, Opposition Leader Stephen Harper was not happy with the current state of Parliamentary Affairs and he wrote a letter to then Governor General Adrienne Clarkson in which he said, in part:

“We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority.”

But today, outside the residence of the current Governor General David Johnston, Harper said an unhappy official opposition leader has only one option:

“First of all you don’t try and form a government if you lost the election. That is not legitimate. If Canadians elect the other party, even by a minority you respect that judgement. It is illegitimate to attempt to overturn that and if you want to overturn it, you go back to the people and get a mandate to do so. “

What Harper actually did in 2004 is very different than what Dion actually did in 2008.

But Harper in 2004 had “lost the election” and yet was seeking some kind of “options” other than an election to supplant Martin as prime minister. In 2011, Harper seems to say there is only one thing an Opposition leader can do if he doesn't like the government — “you go back to the people and get a mandate.” But in 2004, he was cautioning Clarkson that before “a request for dissolution”, she should consider “all your options.”


The first batch of polls have much in common, despite oddly different numbers

A batch of new polls popped up just as the government was falling Friday and the country's 41st general election was about to get underway. The polls are unanimous on this issue: Harper and the Conservatives are out in front; the Liberals are second, followed by the NDP and then the Greens. In Quebec, the Bloc Quebecois is the heavy favourite.

And yet, each pollster — Ipsos Reid, Ekos, Angus Reid, and Leger — all have substantially different actually numbers. Let's take a look:

Poll Comparisons

Why so different? I'm no professional pollster (and they are probably best positioned to answer that) but I would say that, though they purport to measure the same thing — i.e. voter intention — they each used substantially different methodologies to do that. EKOS, for example, was out in the field from March 17 to March 24 while Ipsos was just March 23 and 24. One thing, then, to consider is: All of Ipsos survey respondents would have had information about the federal budget March 22 while only some of Ekos respondents had that information. Would that have influenced voter intention? The other two polls were also out in the field over slightly different time periods.

Each pollster contacts survey participants differently. Some use an online panel, some use old-fashioned phone calls; some use a mix.

The precision of these numbers will, I think, be more important closer to polling day on May 2.

But for now, one way that it seems useful to me to “interrogate” these numbers is rather than compare pollster-to-pollster, what might we learn if we compared each firm's previous poll to each firm's current poll? In between polls, a lot might have happened that one might think would influence the numbers. The Bruce Carson scandal, contempt of Parliament hearings,  the federal budget are just three.

Now I don't have (or can't find) a comparable Leger poll but let's take a look at the other three firms, all of which were in the field at the beginning of March for polls released around March 10 or so.


Well, look at that. All three pollsters found that despite a budget and some heat over ethics issues, Tory support remained unchanged. One pollster found Liberal support unchanged; one found a bump; one found a slight drop. The Liberal changes are all within the margin of error so probably safe to say Liberal support is largely unchanged. Same with the NDP and Greens.

In other words, NOTHING happened through the middle of March that seemed to get a voter angered/excited enough to change their mind about who to vote for!

Let's see if these election campaigns will change that.


NDP: Campaign opening statement

Delivered by Jack Layton in Ottawa:

My friends, five years ago, Stephen Harper was elected on a promise that he’d do things differently.  He promised to work with others to fix what was wrong in Ottawa.

He said he’d make your life more affordable.  He made it more expensive.

He said he’d make your healthcare a priority.  He’s ignored it for five years.

He promised he’d finally clean up Liberal-style scandals.  Instead, just created new scandals of his own.

After five years, Stephen Harper has failed to fix what’s wrong in Ottawa.  In fact, he’s made it worse.

You’re working harder than ever.  Your household debt is at an all-time high.  Your retirement is less secure.  And nothing’s being done for you.

What does all this mean?

Ottawa is broken.  And it’s time for us to fix it.

It’s time to fix it for Janet, who I spoke with in Edmonton.  She’s caring for her mother with Alzheimer’s at home, and is drawing money from her hard-earned retirement fund just to get by.

It’s time to fix it for Tanya in Saskatoon who is no longer able to keep up with the cost of housing, daycare and groceries.  She’s working harder than ever but still relies on a food bank to feed her family.

It’s time to fix it for the hard-working employees of Electrolux, a company that took Mr. Harper’s corporate tax giveaway – and then announced they were shipping 1300 jobs from Canada to Memphis.

My friends, we’ve got to do better.

In this election, you can elect a Prime Minister you can count on.

A Prime Minister who will help your family get ahead.  Someone who will put aside political games and work with others to get things done.

I’m running to be that Prime Minister.

Because I want to bring some Canadian leadership to Ottawa.

The leadership I saw in my Dad.  He was a Progressive Conservative cabinet minister, and he taught me the value of bringing people together, of seeing the good in everyone.  Of building a better country for our children and grandchildren.

My Dad and my Mom committed to leaving this country better off for their kids.

That’s a value I share.  It’s a value that so many Canadians share.

I’m joined today by my daughter Sarah and my granddaughter Beatrice.

And it’s my commitment to all our children and grandchildren that drives me each and every day.

That work starts in this election – one practical step at a time.

Here’s how:

First, I’ll give your family a break – not just the well-connected, like Mr. Harper has done.

Throughout this recession, you’ve worked hard to keep your family from falling behind.  You’re paying more for everyday essentials like home heating, gas and groceries.

And on top of it all, Stephen Harper made tougher for you and your family – raising sales taxes during some pretty tough times.

In this election, I will put forward concrete proposals to take the strain off your family budget and make everyday essentials less expensive.  And I’ll help those who have been completely left behind by Mr. Harper – seniors and children living in poverty.

Second, I’ll reward the job creators in our economy – not those shipping jobs overseas, as Mr. Harper has done.

New Democrats will give small businesses a boost, and target investments to those creating jobs right here at home.  I’ll stop the subsidies to the big polluters and invest that money to foster the new energy economy.

Third, I’ll focus on families that are simultaneously caring for their aging parents and working to build a future for their children – the ever-increasing sandwich generation.

New Democrats will take affordable steps to strengthen the pensions and retirement savings that Canadians rely on.  We’ll put forward a do-able plan to ensure families have access to child-care and education.  And we’ll give working families the flexibility to care for a sick or aging relative.

Finally, I will put forward practical solutions that will improve your front line health services.

I never thought I’d see the day where a Canadian hospital would have to use their coffee shop as an emergency room.  Well it’s happened.

Under Stephen Harper, we’ve seen hospital hallway medicine graduate to Tim Horton’s healthcare.

We need Canadian leadership on health care – right now.

The Prime Minister you elect on May 2 will negotiate the next health care accord with the provinces and territories.  With something as important as your family’s health at stake, I’ll be asking you – who do you trust to lead those discussions?  Who do you trust to improve your health care services?

When it comes to strengthening health care, I won’t stop until the job’s done.

My friends, I’m ready to serve as your Prime Minister.   And my team is ready too.

New Democrats have grown as the needs and priorities of Canadians have grown.  Today’s New Democrats are focused on middle-class families and ready to work for you – in parliament and in cabinet.

And so I’m asking Canadians to join with me to defeat Stephen Harper – regardless of who you’ve voted for in the past.

If you’ve voted Liberal before but have some doubt about the latest leader, Michael Ignatieff – you’re not alone.

Mr. Ignatieff’s words don’t match his actions.  And he’s betting you don’t notice.  He’s betting you don’t care.  Mr. Ignatieff, saying one thing after doing another is not Canadian leadership.

If you’ve voted Bloc in the past, I invite you to help me replace this Conservative government.

The last two elections have shown a vote for the Bloc can’t stop Stephen Harper from becoming Prime Minister.  It can’t stop him from implementing an agenda that most Quebecers are against.

This time, we have to do something different.  This time, it’s not enough to keep Stephen Harper from his majority.  This time we have to replace him.

I know that Canadians want someone in Ottawa who’ll work with others and get things done.

I’m proud of what New Democrats have been able to accomplish by working together.  These accomplishments are the cornerstone of the leadership I’m offering in this election.

I’m asking for a mandate to lead the next government.  And if that’s a minority Parliament, as Prime Minister you can count on me to reach out to all Members of Parliament who believe in building a better Canada.

Together we will provide an alternative to a Harper-led government.  Whether it’s on a case-by-case basis, as been done over the past 5 years or more stable arrangements, I will work with the mandate you give me.

This is a key difference between Stephen Harper and me.

Stephen Harper sees co-operation as a weakness.

I view it as a very Canadian strength.

And while Stephen Harper helped insiders and the well-connected through this recession.

I say now it’s your turn.

And so I’ll stop the divisive political games, and bring your Members of Parliament together to deliver results for you.

My friends, in this election we’re going to fix what’s broken in Ottawa.  And we’re going to do it the way that only New Democrats can – by defeating Conservatives right across Canada.

And I can tell you that I’m ready to take this fight direct to the Conservative heartland.  Starting tonight in Edmonton – where we’ve shown that only New Democrats are strong enough to defeat the Conservatives.

In British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba – where only New Democrats defeat Conservatives.

And throughout Ontario and Atlantic Canada – there is a new alternative to Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.

In Quebec we will invite those who have voted Bloc to stop Stephen Harper to vote for me to replace him.

Together, my friends, we can get down to work to build the Canada we want.

A Canada where we help each other through tough times, where families come first, where nobody is left behind.

We’re all in this together.

It’s time to roll up our sleeves to make it happen – because that’s Canadian leadership.

Thank you.

Green Party: Campaign opening statement

Delivered today by Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party:

The people of Saanich-Gulf Islands are poised to make history, sending a fresh new voice into Canadian Parliament and changing Canadian politics forever by electing a Green MP for the first time. The voters here and across Canada will send a strong message with their votes. A message of hope for better. A demand for responsible debate and an end to the negative attack politics.


During this campaign you will see and hear Green Party candidates from coast to coast to coast talking about our vision for a smart economy, for strong communities and for true democracy. Once I am elected, I will be relentless in raising issues that are rarely if ever heard in Canadian Parliament for a different sort of politics in this country – for an unprecedented expansion of sustainable businesses, technologies and jobs for the future, for greater civility, cooperation and accountability in our democracy, and for strong communities that put people and ecosystems first.

Liberals: Opening campaign statement

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff opening campaign statement:

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?


Conservatives: Opening campaign statement

Delivered by Prime Minister Stephen Harper outside Rideau Hall this morning:

Good morning.

In light of yesterday’s disappointing events I met with His Excellency the Governor General, and he has agreed that Parliament should be dissolved.

Before I say anything else, I would like to begin by thanking Canadians for the confidence and trust they have given me and my colleagues over the past five years.

It has been a privilege and honour to serve as Prime Minister of the best country in the world as together we faced the most difficult days of the global economic recession.

At the same time, because of the great challenges that still confront us I understand that our job is not done.

Today the world economy remains fragile.  The risk of a new international debt crisis is still with us.  Armed conflict, political turmoil and humanitarian disasters in the Middle East and elsewhere have serious potential consequences for the global recovery.

Against this backdrop of growing economic risk, and against our advice, the opposition parties have chosen to force an election the country doesn’t want; an election the economy doesn’t need.

They have deliberately chosen to halt the implementation of the Next Phase of our Economic Action Plan, a plan that has thus far allowed Canada to emerge from the global recession in a much better position than most other countries.

To my fellow Canadians I say this: the opposition parties have made their choice.  Now we Canadians get to make ours.

On May the 2nd, we will choose between stable national government and a reckless Coalition; between a low-tax plan for jobs and growth, and a high-tax agenda that will stall our recovery, kill jobs and set families back.

Canadians need to understand clearly, without any ambiguity: unless Canadians elect a stable, national majority, Mr. Ignatieff will form a Coalition with the NDP and Bloc Québécois.  They tried it before.  It is clear they will try it again.  And, next time, if given the chance, they will do it in a way that no one will be able to stop.

We need to ensure that our government is stable, national and wholly committed to the unity of our country.

Imagine a coalition of arch-centralists and Quebec sovereignists trying to work together.

The only thing they’ll be able to agree on is to spend more money and to raise taxes to pay for it.  We’ve all got too much at stake.  Now is not the time for political instability.

Now is not the time for economic uncertainty.  And now is most certainly not the time for higher taxes.

For Conservatives, economic recovery is our focus; economic recovery is our plan; and we will continue to use each and every day of a renewed mandate to complete our economic recovery, to provide growth, jobs and financial security for Canadian families.

The outcome of this election will therefore impact each and every Canadian with a job to find or a job to keep; a home to buy or a mortgage to pay; a retirement to fund or a business to build.

During this campaign, our focus will be on these Canadians: real people with real priorities who never wanted this election in the first place, who only want the economic recovery to be completed and political stability in Ottawa so they can have financial security at home.

We will be asking Canadians for a renewed mandate to:

Implement the Next Phase of Canada’s world-leading Economic Action Plan to protect and create jobs as outlined in the Budget.

To make life easier and more affordable for working families, the people who work hard and play by the rules.

To make our streets safer, putting the rights of victims ahead of criminals.

And to stand on guard for our country by cracking down on human smuggling and strengthening our Arctic sovereignty.

Canada is coming out of the global economic crisis with a clear economic advantage.

Today, the world looks to Canada.  And this is something we should all be proud of.  We can protect this advantage.  We can complete our economic recovery.  And we can keep taxes down.

And so I ask Canadians for their support.  I ask Canadians: who can deliver the stable national government that Canada needs to complete our economic recovery and keep taxes down?

Thank you.