QUESTION – HOW CAN THE CONSERVITIVE PARTY JUSTIFY A SIX BILLION DOLLAR TAX CUT TO CORPORATIONS WHEN CANADIAN FAMILIES ARE STRUGGLING TO MAKE ENDS MEET? IS THIS POLICY NOT SIMPLY PUTTING MORE MONEY IN THE POCKETS OF WEALTHY CORPORATIONS WHO HAVE FAILED TO SHARE THEIR WEALTH IN THE PAST?
Harper: Well first of all, there are no corporate tax reductions in our current budget, we cut taxes several years ago across the board, not just for businesses big and small but also for consumers, the cut to the GST, for individuals and for families, the question in this election is whether taxes should be raised back up. Our position is clear, the Canadian economy has been performing well coming out of this recession, stronger and faster than others, it’s creating jobs, if you raise taxes all you will do is impose costs on consumers and employees, cost this economy jobs and hurt ordinary families so, this party doesn’t favour raising taxes.
Duceppe: I would first like to congratulate Mr. Harper for answering a question from a citizen for the first time in this campaign. Having said that, discussing economy means we have to know all the facts, all the figures, and there’s something we still don’t know, what happened during the G8 and G20 summits. It seems that the 50 billion dollars that was spent incorrectly during those summits, you have the report in hand and I’m pretty sure that Mr. Layton, Mr. Ignatieff and I all agree that you release that report, I want you to release that report, will you release that report?
Harper: Well first of all, let me just say, I don’t have the report, this is an auditor general’s report and the auditor general did say that the document that was released yesterday should not be relied on, what I can tell Canadians is this and it’s very clear. All of the projects in that fund, they were all advanced by municipalities, approved by our government, every single dollar is account for and all of those projects have been publically disclosed and will serve those communities for years to come. And that’s what we’ve done across this country with the economic action plan, 26,000 such projects, across this country, created jobs and building good legacies for our communities.
Duceppe: Well I’ll tell you something, during the 2008 election you were saying there’s no recession coming, even with the economic statement made by Mr. Flaherty on November 14th, it was not an economic statement it was an ideological statement and no plan at all, and if had followed you that time, you would have cut a lot of expenses during a recession, we forced you to come with a plan, not enough, not enough. But do you realize that with that plan and considering the help you gave, let’s say for Ontario, giving 10 billion dollars for the auto sector, during the same time you only gave 170 million to the forestry sector in Quebec. (Harper trying to interrupt). That was a real double standard, helping people in Ontario, I’ve got nothing against that, but why not helping people in the forestry sector?
Harper: Well first of all Mr. Duceppe, the reality is quite different, of course in November in 2008, we met at the G20 and we all agreed we would have stimulus plans we rolled out across the world, Canada’s was among the largest and most quickly rolled out and most successfully executed of all those plans which is why we have superior job creation in this country, in terms of our support for the automobile and forestry sectors, I make no apologies for supporting either, we provided billions of dollars of support also to the forestry sector in terms of helping businesses modernize with new technology, in terms of opening markets, in terms of financial services, literally billions of dollars for that industry all across the country and the industry is beginning to turn the corner, but we do have more work to do and we’ll continue to (Duceppe interrupting) focus on those problems.
Duceppe: Are you telling me tonight, in that statement made by Mr. Flaherty November 14th 2008 that was a stimulus plan? Are you really telling me that?
Harper: The statement of Mr. Flaherty in November was the fiscal and economic update it was not the budget, we said the budget would be coming shortly (Duceppe interrupting).
Duceppe: You just said there was a stimulus plan, was it the stimulus plan?
Harper: We said that, we said that all G20 countries had agreed to put together a stimulus plan (Duceppe interrupting) that’s what we did and our actually came out far faster and was rolled out far more quickly than those in the other countries.
Duceppe: You were forced to do that because there was no stimulus plan at all in that statement which has nothing concerning economy, was all ideology (Harper interrupting).
Harper: We were the ones that brought forward the stimulus plans, unfortunately you and the other parties decided to oppose those measures, over the past couple of years, but they have been good for Canadian communities and for the Canadian economy and we’re very proud of the job that we did.
Duceppe: Certainly not good for the people working in the forestry sector. I can tell you that. Go to (various indistinguishable names of French communities), they’ll tell you, just talk to those people instead of refusing answering question and you’ll see that (Harper interrupting) people are facing a very tough time.
Harper: I was recently in Windsor in Quebec where we made a major investment, part of investments across the country. In the pulp and paper industry in that part of Quebec and that was very well received. Unfortunately once again these were programs the Bloc Quebecois decided to vote against in the House of Commons. So look, I fully recognize there are major challenges in the forestry sector, but we will continue to work with the industry to advance that industry’s interests and continue to make the investments that will that a strong and competitive sector (Duceppe interrupting) into the future because it’s a sector Canadian’s depend on all across this country.
Duceppe: And this year you are coming with another thing, denounced unanimously by the National Assembly in Quebec and supported by Mr. Ignatieff and Layton, giving Newfoundland Labrador 4.5 billion dollars to build their electricity lines while Hydro Quebec built, we built our power lines alone, we didn’t receive a single penny from Ottawa (Harper interrupting) but now a days your coming with plans of such support, the real coalition is between you three that’s the Canadian coalition.
Harper: We have said we are prepared to support the Lower Churchill project, this is a project that has the capacity of dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions and (Duceppe interrupting) climate change, in Atlantic Canada, a major shift to clean energy in that part of the country, we have been very clear, we will treat all provinces equitably with similar projects, we’ve already done some projects in Quebec and Saskatchewan, in the Yukon and we will continue to support projects that are good for reducing (Host interrupting) climate change.
Gentlemen that brings the end to the one on one of the debate, we now broaden it to the four of you. Mr. Ignatieff, do you want to start it off?
Ignatieff: Let’s get back to the question. It was a question about why you could possibly make sense of $6 billon of corporate tax breaks in the middle of the largest deficit in Canadian history. You have the highest spending government in the history of the country. And some of it has been absolutely sheer waste and that’s what the auditor general’s report is all about. It wasn’t stimulus, this was just scattering money around to build gazebos and fake lakes and Canadians don’t have confidence in your management in the economy, because you waste public money. That’s the issue and that’s why the auditor general’s report is saying not merely you wasted money, but you didn’t tell Parliament about it. This money was supposed to spent on the border, you spent it 300 KM away that kind of deception undermines confidence in your leadership.
Harper: Once again Mr. Ignatieff, you’re citing a report that the auditor general office’s should not be relied upon. We’ve been very clear these projects have been publicly disclosed. They were all supported by the local community just as the 26, 000 projects we’ve done across the country —-
Ignatieff: They were supported by the local community but they weren’t all realized by public officials
Harper: But let’s be the issue of taxes, taxes were reduced in this country four years ago. The question is not reducing them now, there were no corporate tax cuts in the next phase of Canada’s economic action plan. What is proposed by Mr. Ignatieff and the other parties is to raise taxes on, on, on hundred of thousands of Canadian businesses. They will not pay those taxes, they will pass that onto consumers, they will pass that onto employees on further jobs. Jack Mints, an expert in this area, says that one of the foremost experts in Canada, says that kind of policy will cost the Canadian economy 200, 000 jobs in $40 billion in business investments. We have a very different record.
We need to hear from Jack Layton.
Layton: Robert asked us a pretty straight forward question. He asked you a question. Why would you be reducing corporate taxes to the biggest, most profitable companies right now when so many people are suffering. Now you try to claim that there aren’t any corporate taxes cuts going on right now. It’s simply not true and you actually know that it’s not true. You did get it through with the support of Mr. Ignatieff, who now by the way pretends to oppose the things he voted for, you did get it through a couple of years back. But those cuts are still coming and they are very, very costly. And I’m asking myself, because I remembering a Stephen Harper once upon time, who was came here to change Ottawa, who was going to stick up for the little guy. But you’ve become, what you used to oppose, you’ve changed in some way, I mean you used to care about the environment and now we’re back of the pack internationally. You said you’d clean up Ottawa from scandals and now we’ve got the most closed, secretive government we’ve pretty well ever had, with scandals and people stuffed in the senate and charged with fraud. Our healthcare system, you said you’d care about that, we’ve got people with no family doctors, what’s happened to you? What changed?
Let’s give Mr. Harper a chance to respond.
Harper: Look Mr. Layton as I’ve said, there are no corporate tax cuts right now (Layton interrupts). We want to keep rates where they are so that we continue to create jobs and grow the Canadian economy. We do this for ordinary Canadian families. That is our focus. That’s why in our most recent budget, the next phase of the economic action plan, we’re maintaining transfers for healthcare. It’s why we wanted to eliminate the cap on medical expenses for ordinary people in the tax system, it’s why we want to have incentives for doctors and nurses to go to underserved areas. (Layton interrupts) These are the things that are in the economic action plan, the old Jack Layton would have supported those things instead of forcing an election that nobody wanted and I hope that when we go back to Parliament the old Jack Layton will come back and focus on the very issues — (Jack Layton interrupts)
Gentlemen, Mr. Duceppe and then Mr. Ignatieff
Duceppe: Mr. Flaherty said that he will have to cut billions of dollars to certain program to come to zero deficit. And he said to the Maclean’s magazine on April 8th that he had a list and he said it very clearly. So, when we’re talking economy the population has to know what’s on that list? Exactly what’s on that, because Mr. Flaherty says (Harper interrupts)
Harper: First of all let’s be clear, our plan to reduce the deficit does not depend on some programs of cuts. We’ve laid it out in the budget, it’s very clear, the International Monetary Fund says it’s a credible and realistic plan to reach balance. What we’ve said is that we believe we can continue to find efficiencies in government to reach that faster. We’re looking in trying to find 5% in efficiency savings in the next three years. I think that’s a responsibility we have in government, I think anybody who suggests (Steve Pakin interrupts)
Mr. Ignatieff please, Mr. Ignatieff’s turn.
Ignatieff: Mr. Harper, we’re having an election, because you couldn’t tell the truth the Parliament of Canada about the money you’re going to spend on jets, jails, and corporate tax giveaways. That’s what this viewer can’t understand, we’re in the middle of the biggest deficit in Canadian history and you didn’t tell the truth to the Canadian Parliament, you’re the first Prime Minister found in contempt of the Canadian parliament and right now trying to persuade Canadians you aren’t cutting corporate tax. You cut it from 15 – it will go from 16.5 – and nobody can understand why that makes sense when we’re in the middle of a toughest deficit we’ve seen, because of your waste and mismanagement.
Harper: Mr. Ignatieff, let’s be clear. The contempt motion that you guys pushed was a motion you three voted against us. You have more votes than we do. I don’t agree with it, I don’t think it’s based on any realistic facts, but you were determined to have an election whether the public wanted an election or not. What we viewed Canadians should be focused on is the economy. We’re keeping taxes down to create jobs and that is working. Canada’s job creation is far superior to virtually any other country. Advanced country coming out of this recession. We’re making investments in training, to make sure in our educational institutions to make sure Canadians can participate in that economy of the future. And we’re opening trademarks, these are very fundamental things to keep this country strong and make sure we can deliver affordable (Pakin interrupts)
Paikin: Mr. Ignatieff then Mr. Layton
Ignatieff: You can’t, this is about the economy. You’ve got to the truth about the economy. Canadians don’t understand why you’re prepared to spend $30 billion fighter jets, $13 billion on prisons, and $6 billion in corporate tax breaks when we’re in the middle of a serious deficit. The numbers don’t add up, you won’t be able to pay for healthcare, you’re not telling the truth to the Canadian people. This is about the economy and this is about telling the truth about the choices that you want to force down to the Canadian people, we need to make better choices.
Harper: Let’s tell the truth about jets. The current jets we have flying over Libya today, the CF18s will reach the end of their life by the end of this decade. What we’ve decided to do, by the way what other parties have said in the past they support, is replacing the jets at the end of their life. We will not be spending a time on these jets for at least five years and then we’ll be buying them for a period of over 20 years. Mr. Ignatieff wants you to believe, and the other parties wants you to believe, that somehow by cancelling a jet purchase five or ten years down the road, they can finance election promises today. You cannot do that the only way they can (Opponents interrupt).
Layton: What we know Mr. Harper is that the billions of dollars that you want to spend on these jets down the road will have to come from healthcare and education and childcare and things that people need here in Canada today. That’s where the money will have to come from. And this is about some choices – Harper interrupts – we’ll you may reject it, but the fact here is that the Conservatives is the problem here.
Paikin: Gentlemen we cannot hear when you’re all speaking at once, please 20 seconds.
Layton: The Conservative is the problem with the economy right here. It’s these right wing proposals of deregulation and approaches to reckless policies that got us into the mess we’re in. And why people can’t make ends meet today and their retirement security are so much in the air, and there are so many people still out of work 200, 000 good pay jobs lost that you have not recovered and your policies don’t address them.
Harper: First of all I reject the kind of choices and Mr. Layton and the other leaders are trying to present Canadians, saying that we have to make a choice between the men and women in uniform or healthcare. Saying we have to make a choice between east and west, or we have to make a choice between employees and employers. We have balanced policies to move us all forward together. That’s why Canada is emerging from a global recession, a recession nobody thinks began in this country. Why we’re emerging faster and stronger than others, because we have a balanced approach that makes investments in people when we can afford it by keeping their taxes low.
Paikin: Let’s see if we can get a couple more comments on this segment.
Duceppe: But the question asked is “how much cost a plane” you said $75 million, Kevin Page says $128 million, two American experts says $133 million and the other one $150 million. So, can you come with facts, figures to make the population know what we’re going to spend on that and for how much and for what. Why don’t we have costs on them?
Harper: We’ll we’ve been very clear what the budgeted numbers are for these. But the important point is to remember, these are five to ten years down the road. Why is the opposition making an issue of this now? Because they need money today to make promises the country can not afford. And you can’t pay for promises today by cancelling aircraft purchase five year or ten years from now.
Ignatieff: That’s just false Mr. Harper, if we peg the corporate tax rate at 18 percent, we can invest in Canadian learning, we can give every single person that wants to attend college or university a learning passport. That’s a billion dollar investment in post-secondary education, you spent that in 72 hours at a G8, G20 photo-op, that’s the kind of choice this viewer cannot understand. It’s poor economic management.
Harper: Mr. Ignatieff you do not, or you are not able to invest in healthcare and service in education that matter to people by raising taxes, you do that by growing the economy. That’s the way you create (Ignatieff interrupting) tax revenue. That’s what Canada’s doing and the tax rates we have today have been set not just by this government but by Liberal and NDP governments across the country, have made sure that we have competitive tax rates, we come in and raise those rates now we’ll be sending a very negative signal to investors as I say, the foremost expert in this matter in this country says this will cost 200,000 jobs at a time when we’re creating jobs. It will cost 40 billion dollars of investment at a time when investment is coming into this country (Host warns one minute left, Mr. Layton interjecting).
Layton: Rather than a big corporate tax cut to banks and the oil companies who sock it away in reserves and give it away in million dollar bonuses, what we should do is follow the NDP plan. Our plan says, let’s give 4500 dollars to any company who creates a new job right now. Let’s reduce the small business tax rate from 11 to 9 percent, we should be helping the small businesses, that’s what you used to be all about by the way (Harper interrupting) and that way we would create jobs all across this country right now.
Harper: Let me look at the facts, we have cut rates for businesses big and small, that is why the Canadian Federation of Independent business, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce do not support the tax hikes (Layton interjecting “I beg your pardon?) proposed by any of these parties.
Layton: They supported our small business tax cuts, you better go read your press releases Mr. Harper
Host ends first segment.
QUESTION- I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR CANADA ON THE WORLD STAGE? DO YOU BELIEVE THAT OUR COUNTRY SHOULD HAVE A MORE PROMINENT AND ACTIVE ROLE INTERNATIONALLY? IF SO, WHAT WILL YOU IF ELECTED PRIME MINISTER DO TO REGAIN CANADA’S POSITIVE INFLUENCE ON THE INTERNATIONAL ARENA?
Ignatieff: Thank you, Canada lost it’s seat on the Security Council of the United Nations, first time it ever happened. Canada made a fiasco of the G8, G20 summits, so you’re right we have lost prestige on the international stage. I think of all the things we have to do on the international stage, Canada needs to stand for great values abroad the same values it stands for at home in particular democracy, defending and promoting democracy around the world, but you can’t do that abroad unless you believe in it and promote it at home and Mr. Harper has betrayed our democracy at home and I don’t think he can stand up for democracy and freedom abroad.
Layton: Well she raises a very important question, it’s on the mind of a lot of Canadians, I mean they just recently watched the Conservative dominated senate block a bill to get affordable drug medication to Africa from Canada. Can you believe that? It past the House of Commons. No wonder the rest of the world is looking at Canada and saying, what the heck is going? We’ve got two parties here running in this election, the Liberals and the Conservatives that have flatlined our foreign aid budget. That’s wrong, if we are doing so well economically as they like to claim than at least we should be doing something about the poorest parts of the world. We should be bringing our troops back from Afghanistan, in fact Canadians were expecting that to happen this summer but instead in a deal cooked up by Mr. Ignatieff and Mr. Harper we are now going to be there another three years and we’ve lost our reputation on the environment.
Ignatieff: Brave men and women fought and died in Afghanistan. You Mr. Layton have said we ought to stay engaged in Afghanistan, but you can’t have it both ways. We’re going to bring the combat troops home this summer, we fully support that decision. No more combat for Canadian soldiers but the one thing Afghans want, desperately need, is security. So I think it’s right for Canada to stay in a training mission, out of harms way, helping Afghans defend themselves. You can’t have it both ways Mr. Layton, you say you want to get engaged in Afghanistan, stay there for humanitarian reasons, but the one thing they need is security and I want to make sure that Afghans can stand on their own feet, defend their own country, women get to school, do some aid and development but you can’t do anyone of that unless you help them defend themselves.
Layton: Well Mr. Ignatieff, these are exactly the arguments Mr. Harper makes and I’m hearing them from you now. I don’t agree. I don’t believe this is the way forward in Afghanistan, Canada’s voice for peace and aid and development is being lost in all of this focus on the military aspect and of course we support our troops, we all do, in fact I wish the Conservatives we give more support to our veterans. But I have another issue to raise with you Mr. Ignatieff (Ignatieff interrupts).
Ignatieff: Just before you do, in Afghanistan, what are you saying Mr. Layton, you’re saying these brave men and women gave their lives and we walk away from Afghanistan and try to pretend to the Canadian people that it didn’t happen? We are where we are sir. And I think it’s responsible, responsible leadership to say let’s help the Afghans defend themselves for three more years. That creates the possibility for us to do any humanitarian good in that country and then of course we need to focus on other parts of the world but you can’t walk away Mr. Layton and pretend it didn’t happen, it did happen and it happened to this country (Layton interrupting).
Layton: This is the same argument we’ve been hearing for years about the mission in Afghanistan and why we called for the troops to be brought back and for a new approach to be used and we still think a new approach is needed there. (Ignatieff interrupts “what do you say to our allies?). Here is the other issue I want to raise with you. I’ve been listening to you make proposals in this campaign, and I have to just ask myself how can people trust what you are saying today, when your actions are so contrary to what you are offering Canadians.
Layton: I mean, there you were supporting Mr. Harper on this massive program of corporate tax cuts and now suddenly your against them, the same ones you voted for. In the middle of the recession, you helped him ram through the HST on the backs of the people of BC and Ontario, the worst possible thing you could have done to people trying to get things done and meet bills and then you support him 100 times without getting anything in return, I mean you’re Mr. Harper’s best friend and then here you are offering yourself as an alternative. It really causes people to wonder, can we trust him.
Ignatieff: I’m thinking of the lady that asked the question is wondering why you changed the subject. Jack, we’re talking about Canada’s place in the world. We’ve got to lead the United Nations, we’ve lost our influence there, we took four years to establish a relationship with China because Mr. Harper muffed his opportunities there, (Layton interjecting).
Layton: Why then did you freeze the foreign aid budget, if I might ask you that.
Ignatieff: We are going to sustain our international engagement, Mr. Harper walked away from Africa, I want Canada back in Africa, helping to deal with the HIV/AIDS crisis for example. I want, I want. You know last Friday, this is the Canada that I love, I’m getting on my bus and a young woman, I said what are you doing for Easter? And she said I’m going to Kenya to teach school. This is the internationalism a good Liberal government wants to harness and engage and in fact if they do 150 hours of service overseas, we’ll knock 1500 dollars off their student debt, that’s the kind of vision of Canada in the world that I support. And that’s what we should be (Host interrupting) talking about.
Layton: Well unfortunately of course your party was a part of causing our vision, our reputation to be in such trouble. Because of our massive increase in greenhouse gas emissions under the administration of your party for 13 years and of course we’ve had five more years now from Mr. Harper where the rest of the world looks at Canada and says in terms of the climate change crisis, one of the most important international issues, Canada is a pariah, we’re nowhere. We’re not seen as contributors, we’re not seen as moving the agenda ahead at all. Why? Because of these two administrations, that have been in place for far too long. (Host interjecting) The reason why Ottawa’s broken.
Paikin: We open up the discussion now to all four of you, Mr. Harper do you want your first kick here?
Harper: Let’s me tell you some of the things that Canada is doing in the world obviously the training mission in Afghanistan is going to be very important to build on the sacrifice that our brave men and women in uniform have made. We have the largest per capita mission to Haiti, an important country that needs our help. Canada right now, myself, and President Kikwete of Tanzania are cheering the World Health Organization’s panel on child and maternal health, where we’re getting billions of dollars invested towards helping the health of the most needy people on this planet. We have Canadians leading this mission, United Nations mission in Libya, we have climate change you know the Copenhagen Accord, Canada was a lone voice for a long time saying – all emitters had to be included in the climate change pact. Now we have one moving in that direction, so I think on issue after issue, Canada’s engaged, Canada’s contributed. And this should not be a matter of partisan debate, all parties should support a strong role for Canada in the world.
Paikin: Mr. Duceppe
Duceppe: I would say that govern foreign policy is a copy of the Bush Administration foreign policy. And Quebec cannot recognize itself with that kind of foreign policy. In the past we had the list of every person foreign policy, and I think it carries better to the principles of the Quebec society and the values of the Quebec society. On one, I look at kind of foreign policy you’re developing and it has links with the people your organization, your financing as top, financing like kills and rights and democracy. Because they’re not corresponding to your straight narrow ideology. Can you realize that kind of foreign policy is a shame to the Canadian history?
Harper: But what we’re doing on foreign policy on things like child and maternal health are making sure foreign aid dollars are go to actual services to poor people in the world. Not just to talk, not just to conferences, that’s why we’re making changes to foreign aid to make it more effective. You know when you talk about our values and Quebecker’s values, Mr. Duceppe let me just say this. Right now in Libya, we have an international force protecting a civilian population from atrocity that is commanded by a Canadian. General Charles Bouchard, I met with his father in Saguenay – they are as good Quebeckers as you are Mr. Duceppe.
Duceppe: But Quebeckers remember you wanted to go to Iraq and Mr. Ignatieff (Ignatieff interrupts)
Ignatieff: The fact remains Mr. Harper is that you’re the first Prime Minister in the history of Canada to lose the seat that we were eligible to occupy on the security council of the United Nations. You spent on the G20 summit, we had an opportunity to lead you spent a billion dollars in 72 hours and there isn’t a person in Canada who can remember a substantive outcome from that summit. And talking about Kairos, talking about aid agencies who work in Africa, you muzzled down, you shut them down. Anything you can’t control you want to shut them down. That’s no way to build international prestige overseas. These church organizations had work in government for 30 years with support from the Canadian government and for ideological reasons you shut them down. When rights and democracy, an independent organization trying to represent human rights around the world gave you a little trouble you basically destroyed the organization. So you can’t lead in this country if you show so little respect for democracy, you got to let different voices flourish in foreign affairs (Pakin interrupts).
Harper: Mr. Ignatieff I just recently was at an international meeting of Canadian International NGOs dealing with foreign aid. That’s what the government of Canada does. But let me talk a minute about the G8-G20, because it has come up time and time again. We’re in a global economy, a recession came to this country through no fault of our own, because of forces in the global economy. The G8 and G20 have been vital to a global response to the crisis, to ensure first we didn’t have a great depression, and now that we’re coming out through a recovery. We set important goals in that summit including deficit and debt reduction targets for the world that Canada will achieve well ahead of time. You know in this day and age, when you’re in a global economy you have to be part of global conferences and you have to be leading those conferences and frankly the world things Canada is the country leading global recovery.
Layton: But the world is also asking what happened to Canada? Why is it now the government there is cited with contempt? Why is it now being known as government as being so secretive and won’t allow information out for its citizens? Why can’t we even have open debates about foreign policy issues instead of having groups and organizations like Kairos rights and democracy, we could go through the list being shut down? Yours is the most closed administration when it comes to discussing these issues that we’ve seen in some time. But let me ask you simply this when you support my suggestions that we meet and arrange with the auditor general for that report on the funds for the G8-G20 to be released now that it’s already been leaked in various versions, let’s have her final report released will you go along with that?
Harper: Well I’d be absolutely happy to see the real report —
Ignatieff: We’ll then bring it out! Release it what are you afraid of?
Harper: This is the auditor general’s report we encourage the auditor general to release that report. We obviously don’t like see documents floating around the auditor general herself says cannot be relied on. (Layton interrupts)
Mr. Layton you said how the world is looking at the situation right now, what the world is looking at right and is saying, “Canada’s got the strongest recovery of any country on Earth and suddenly its plunged into a fourth election in seven years and Canadians don’t know why, Canadians don’t know why we’re doing this”. But I tell you what we do have to do, we have to get Parliament back to work focused on the economy, passing the good measures for the people we’re in, our budget, the people we can afford without raising your taxes. That’s what the country is (Ignatieff interrupts).
Ignatieff: Canadians knows exactly why we’re having an election Mr. Harper, we’re having an election because you didn’t tell Parliament the truth. About your budget cost, about any of the numbers. They became unbelievable. The Parliament of Canada could not have the confidence in anything you said including on international aid. Minister Oda inserted a “not” into a document, falsified a document, misled the House of Commons, and eventually the confidence of the whole Parliament was lost. That’s why we’re having an election, because you didn’t tell Canadians the truth, because you abused democracy, that’s why we’re having an election.
Harper: That is simply not correct. You know the numbers in our budgets have been verified by private sector experts, they have not been challenged these numbers are accurate. We’re having an election, because the other three political parties saw an opportunity to go after the government. That’s fine, I don’t think Canadians agree. I think Canadians think we should not be focused on Parliamentary squabbling, on censure motions and these sorts of things. We should be focused on the economy, that’s what we’re doing we’ve got good things in the budget to help pensioners, to help families, to help unemployed workers, to help our manufacturing sector. These are the things that Parliament should be dealing with and past.
Duceppe: Mr. Harper you said quite a few times when you were the leader of the official coalition that Prime Minister, especially Prime Minister of a minority government should always respect the decisions by the House of Commons by the elected members by the House of Commons. Otherwise that Prime Minister would no moral at all. It was immoral not to respect the decision of the House of Commons. You said that and you were right at that time, how come not now? Since you’re the Prime Minister of a Minority government, every single time you don’t agree with a decision made by the House of Commons. You don’t remember what you were preaching at the time. I’d like to have an explanation on that.
Harper: Well Mr. Duceppe, we have run the longest minority government in Canadian history. We’ve got a lot of things done. We don’t always agree, that’s just the reality of Parliament. This government attempts to listen to all of the other parties, our recent budgets had elements, the other parties had asked for. But can we say we’re going to all agree? No we can’t. But when you’re the government you ultimately have to take responsibility, be accountable to the Canadian people. That’s what we’re running on, our strong economic record and that’s why we’re asking for another mandate.
Duceppe: But you didn’t walk the talk on what you were saying. Not at all.
Layton: We’ve had so many instances where the House of Commons have put forward important ideas that you’ve simply turned around and rejected. And sometimes, I’m thinking particularly of our climate change bill for example, went through the House of Commons twice and yet you used the senate, which you packed with your friends and defeated candidates and fundraisers, some of whom are up on fraud charges now, and you used that senate to defeat the bill that called for accountability of no matter which party would be in power in Canada so that we can have a climate change plan that can move us forward. It’s such a disrespect for democracy, Mr. Harper that it really isn’t acceptable.
Harper: Let me explain our position on that bill, we’ve been strongly opposed to that bill throughout, the reason is that bill has no actual measures to achieve results, it just sets targets. You can’t achieve something just by setting a target. You can’t just pass a bill declaring the unemployment rate to be 2 percent. You actually have to have the measures to achieve that, when it comes to climate change, we’re working internationally on the Copenhagen Accord which is now a framework to include all emitters that’s what we saw it, we’re working with the Obama Administration on a continental approach for integrated industries that’s something the opposition asked for and we’re continuing through this budget to invest billions of dollars in green energy and energy efficiency. (other leaders interrupting) that’s what Canadians wanted us to do (more interruptions).
Layton: You got to know where you’re going if you’re ever going to get there and that’s what that bill was all about and you don’t want us taking strong action on climate change, I think most Canadians know that. You prefer to subsidize your friends in the big oil companies.
Ignatieff: The original question was about your vision of Canada in the world. You have failed to win a seat on the Security Council, you achieved nothing at the G8 / G20, you shut down every individual organization that’s trying to good in Africa or Asia if it disagrees with your ideology. If were going to have a foreign policy, it’s got to be based in democratic values, respect for Canadians when they go overseas, respect for what they’re trying to do, not try to muzzle people, shut people down. Let some flowers bloom here, let democracy breath, let it live, if your going to promote it abroad as we should, you’ve got to respect it at home. You are a man that will shut down anything you can’t control, that’s the core of your vision of government and it’s inimical, it’s hostile to values of democracy on which this country is based.
Harper: Mr. Ignatieff this is simply not true, Canada’s one of the most forceful promoters of freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law at home and abroad, when it comes to our foreign aid, our private aid is largely delivered by private organizations and international partners, that’s largely how we do it. (Ignatieff interrupts) we work with other people, the idea that were shutting them down or muzzling is simply not based on any fact, Canada as I said is the most (Ignatieff interrupting). Important initiative we have right now on child and maternal health we’ve attracted billions of dollars to deal with the health problems of the most vulnerable people on the planet. And all other countries, international organizations working with us. That’s the kind of thing Canada is really doing in the world, well all we have in parliament is this kind of mudslinging, accusations, bickering back and forth. We’re out there actually making a difference in the world, that’s what Canadians expect of us.
Duceppe: I look at the foreign affairs department budget in 2008-2009, six billion dollars, 2009-2010, 14 billion dollars. What’s the explanation?
Harper: I’m not sure what figure’s you’re quoting, Mr. Duceppe (Duceppe interjecting). I can tell you this, I can tell you this, that Canada was the first country to fufill it’s commitment to double it’s aid to Africa, to double it’s foreign aid and we’ve made sure during this recession that we have no reduced foreign aid, but we are making the decisions, (Duceppe interrupting) the tough decisions to make that foreign aid more effective.
Duceppe: The explanation is the 6.6 billion dollar cheque to GM in Detroit, that’s the explanation sir.
QUESTION – IT’S VERY LIKELY THAT WHOEVER WINS THE NEXT ELECTION WILL HAVE ANOTHER MINORITY GOVERNMENT HOW DO YOU PLAN ON WORKING WITH THE OTHER PARTIES, TO TURN A MINORITY PARLIAMENT INTO A FUNCTIONING INSTITUTION THAT CANADIANS CAN BE PROUD OF?
Harper: Well first of all, I think I’ve been fairly clear in saying that I hope Canadians do elect a majority government, I this cycle of election after election, minority after minority, is beginning to put some of the country’s interests in serious jeopardy. But of course we will continue to do what we have done, we’ve been elected twice as a minority government, we’ve tried to work with the other parties, I think if you look at our platform and our programs they reflect ideas that come from way outside out party. But obviously in the end, the government must take responsibility for it’s decisions and must be accountable to Canadians and that’s what we will continue to do.
Ignatieff: Sam we’re having an election this time because Mr. Harper didn’t tell Parliament the truth about, about any of his economic promises. 30 billion dollars on jets, 13 billion dollars on prisons, 6 billion dollars on unaffordable tax cuts. Parliament, the speaker of the House of Commons, held the government in contempt, this is a prime minister that shut down parliament twice. We need to rebuild our democracy, after Mr. Harper. Mr. Harper cannot be trusted with the institutions of our country, it’s as simply as that. This is a man that will simply shut down anything he can’t control, he shut down parliament twice, if your asking me how we rebuild democracy, it means working with other parties, listening to other people’s ideas, letting democracy flourish, making sure we listen to Canadians and treat them with respect. Instead of replacing this system of continuous constant control.
Paikin: You two are allowed to have at it now
Harper: Ya, I appreciate the opportunity. First of all everybody should realize the so-called contempt motion Mr. Ignatieff speaks of is not the ruling of a court or ruling of the speaker it was simply the case of the other three parties out voting us. We don’t agree with that, we don’t agree that that is what Parliament should be focused on. Parliament had before it, a budget, a budget that contained the next phase of Canada’s economic action plan, that outlined important benefits for Canadian seniors, for workers, for entrepreneurs, for industry, that budget was well received. Across the political spectrum, not just by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, even the Canadian labour congress. That’s what parliament should be working on, it is unfortunate we are at that stage but that’s where were at today. And if we have a minority government my fear is, we’ll go through a fifth election and a sixth election, I think at some point Canadians have to make a decision, we believe we’re on the right track we’re asking Canadians for a clear majority so we can get on with the nations business and focus on the economy.
Ignatieff: But Mr. Harper you haven’t earned a majority, majorities are things you earn, when you earn the trust of the Canadian people and you haven’t earned the trust of the Canadian people because you don’t trust the Canadian people. Why just two weeks ago at a meeting in London, you threw somebody out of your meetings because you didn’t like what was on their Facebook page, there was a veteran who wanted to get into one of your meetings and you tossed them out because you thought “oh my god, he might ask me a difficult question.” I mean this isn’t strong leadership Mr. Harper, this is weak leadership, what are you afraid of? Why are you afraid of the Canadian people? We need a leader here who respects Canadian people, who renews Canadian democracy, answers tough questions when he’s put to it by the Canadian people, what are you afraid of? (Harper interjecting) Why are you displaying this kind of persistent process of controlling what you can’t shut down?
Harper: As Prime Minister, I think Canadians are aware that I have gone across this country, not just during campaigns, to meet regular Canadians from all walks of life, that’s one of the reasons as a minority government we’ve been able to stay in office because we’ve stayed connected with Canadians, with their real challenges and their real needs. You know I, I don’t think this kind of political bickering, personal attacks back and forth is frankly going to anything for Canadians, what we need to do is lay out, where were going to take the economy, that’s what this government’s done, were on the right track, let’s move forward. In terms of trust, I trust the Canadian people, they’ve elected us twice, if they don’t elect us I will accept that judgment, but we trust the Canadian people’s judgment, we ask them to take a look at all the platforms of all the parties and ask themselves are these things really affordable and do we want to stay on a low tax economic track or go onto a high tax one.
Ignatieff: You trust the Canadian people so little, that when you didn’t like something on someone young person’s Facebook, you tossed them out of your meeting. When a veteran wants to ask you a tough question, you make sure he doesn’t get into the hole. What kind of respect is that? You got to walk the walk here Mr. Harper and you haven’t. You’ve shut down Parliament twice, you’ve been found in contempt of Parliament by the speaker of the House of Commons twice. You keep talking about Parliament as if it’s this little debating society that’s a pesky interference in your rule of the country and it’s not it’s the Parliament of the people of Canada. And they found you in contempt and you’re the first Prime Minister in the history of Canada for that to happen so you explain that to the Canadian people, will you?
Harper: Mr. Ignatieff, that’s why we’re having an election. The Canadian people will decide whether that action by your three party was valid or whether what we should be doing was focusing on the economy. The fact of the matter is this as I say, this government has held more consultations with Canadians all across the country than any other government in history. That’s how we stay connected to Canadians, we listen to Canadians. We also listen to Parliament, Parliament is also where we got our mandate because we won the most seats in a national election and obviously it’s up to Canadians to decide whether to renew that mandate or not.
Ignatieff: You don’t listen to Parliament, you didn’t tell Parliament the truth. For six months we’ve asked where are the numbers to justify your budget choices, it doesn’t get more basic than that. That’s what they put us in Parliament to do, to hold you to account. You stiffed Parliament Mr. Harper and that’s why your government lost confidence, that’s why we’re having an election. And it’s time that you show some respect for the basic institution of the country.
Harper: Well Mr. Ignatieff, the contrary is a fact. We gave all that information to parliament and we gave it all and what parliament demanded was more documents, because they said the information wasn’t correct. So we gave more documents, which verified the information we have. I understand Parliament’s at a stage where the opposition is not willing to take “yes” for an answer and that’s why we’re in an election campaign. What matters to people now is not the bickering that goes on in parliament, it’s our ability to focus on what matters to them and what matters to them is the economy we’ve got important affordable measures we want to deliver and make sure we stay on top of it. (Paikin interrupts)
Ignatieff: You keep using this word bickering, this isn’t bickering Mr. Harper this is democracy. This is a debate, it’s not some pesky little irrelevance that gets in the way of your power. This is how democracy works, I ask questions I hold you accountable it isn’t bickering. This is what democracy is about, it’s about time you respected it.
Layton: Well many people are seeing an example of what’s broken in Ottawa here, pretty clean for all to see. But the question from Sam I think was a very valid question. He said “Can parties work together on our behalf?” I’ll bet every Canadian thinks we ought to be working together on their behalf and I believe that’s what we should be doing. Mr. Harper thinks that working together is somehow a bad thing, he tries to vilify it and calls us name for even suggesting the idea. And I think that’s just completely unacceptable.
Harper: That’s obviously not correct, one of the reasons the government has stayed in office for five years as a minority, is we have found partners on various measures on various measures we have brought forward. For the first time, this time, all three partners have decided they want to defeat the government that’s their prerogative and that’s why we’re before the Canadian people. But I think the government’s record of running a stable minority in this country is pretty clear. And also leading the country through a very difficult economic time in a way that’s creating jobs for Canadians, and what we’re asking Canadians is to give us a mandate to keep doing that.
Duceppe: If you stayed in five years the explanation is that for a long period of time the Liberals didn’t want an election. This is the reason why. But the question is good, how can we work together. I’m telling you that the Bloc Quebecois is never judging the proposal based on who made it. When it’s good, a good proposal from the NDP, the member of the Tory, if it’s good it’s good, if it’s not it’s not. And I do remember that Mr. Harper in 2004, was working that night. We met in a hotel room in Montreal remember Jack, the Delta, and we changed all the rules of Parliament, we wrote a letter to Adrienne Clarkson. You wrote it, we signed it. Saying that if Paul Martin was to lose confidence in the house, we say then Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, don’t launch an election come to us we have other options. Obviously the other options were what? Jack Layton would around 20 members as Prime Minister? Certainly not. Gilles Duceppe as Prime Minister of Canada, certainly not I’m sure of that. The only option was you, you’ve finished shaking and you wanted to be Prime Minister. Exactly what you’ve asked, exactly what you wrote, exactly what we’ve signed. And you went to see and meet with Adrienne Clarkson to discuss that. And now you say, impossible to do so. Well you say something (Harper interrupts)
Harper: Can I correct the facts? We signed a letter around some cooperation, we did do in opposition. But we were all very clear we were not going to form a coalition, all three of us said so. In 2004, it’s on the record I was very clear, I was not going to defeat the government and try to replace the government that had won the election. (Opponents interrupt)
The reason Mr. Duceppe and Mr. Layton are changing their stories now is because in 2008 they tried to put in power the Liberal party which had lost the election, that’s not how democracy is supposed to work in this country. Mr. Duceppe I can understand why, I can understand why you would like a scenario where you can be the one who picks the government of Canada. But frankly your party – Duceppe interrupts – I will not accept that kind of mandate from you this party will not accept that kind of mandate from you, so you can go seek it from Mr. Ignatieff and Mr. Layton, but I will never put the government of Canada beholding to a party into the break up of the country.
Layton: I was in those meetings and you were ready to become the Prime Minister of Mr. Duceppe and myself, I walked out because I wasn’t ready to make you Prime Minister -interruption.
Duceppe: I mean I’m the only one who said we did that and I still say that we did so, I don’t change my mind Jack and you signed the letter as well as well as Mr. Harper – interruption –
Harper: You said there was no possibility of a coalition between our three parties and you were clear on that publicly.
Duceppe: I’m not talking about coalition, I’m talking about the fact that the one who had finish shaken could become the Prime Minister exactly what you signed that was the option. That was the option – Interruption –
Harper: I never signed such option – Interruption –
Ignatieff: These three leaders seem to have a problem with the coalition. I don’t, I’ve made it clear the alternative to a Harper government is a Liberal government composed of Liberal Members of Parliament, bringing in a budget based on the Liberal platform that we will be running for. They’ve got a problem with the coalition, the coalition is out for me.
Layton: Well Mr. Ignatieff, there you go saying that the only alternative to Canadians is your party. That’s the kind of arrogant, self and grand divestment that we’re so used to from the Liberals. And really it’s the least attractive aspect of your party, the fact is Canadians and here in Canada, Canadians decide who’s going to be Prime Minister. Not you and not your party.
Ignatieff: Jack, Jack, I respect the voters too much to presume anything else. And I’m happy to work with you, I’m happy to work with Mr. Harper, and I’m happy to work with Mr. Duceppe. I’m just saying let’s not do it as a coalition, let’s try and make Parliament work, I’ve got respect for your position, I’ve got respect for your leadership. I’m just saying we’re not going into a coalition.
Layton: Why did you support – let me just follow up on this. Why are you then and have been Mr. Harper’s best friend all these last two and a half years? Supporting his agenda, ratifying what he wants to do, time and time and time again. This what I don’t understand, in fact Mr. Harper if it hasn’t been for him supporting you all this time, I’d have to be lending you my crutch, so that your government could have stayed in power. But this is the true story of Mr. Ignatieff and his party.
Harper: Well let me just be very clear about our position, of course parties will work together from time to time. But our position is very clear, the party that wins the most seats forms the government, that’s how our democracy is supposed to work. If we form a Conservative minority, I would be honoured once again to govern Canadians. If we do not win the election, the Conservative party will not govern this country. Mr. Ignatieff will not make that commitment he will say and he will go and he’s willing to accept a mandate from the other parties to govern. The party that wins the election has to govern otherwise we will have a party dedicated to the break up of the country deciding who can or cannot form the government.
Ignatieff: Mr. Harper that’s completely false, if you get more seats than any party then you get to meet the House of Commons.
Harper: Try! Try!
Ignatieff: Yeah of course, we’ll you’ve got to win the conference of the House of Commons and I’ll work with other parties but a coalition is out. Accept the rules, those are the rules.
Harper: It’s not a matter of trying Mr. Ignatieff, if you don’t win the most seats you don’t get to form the government. That’s how our society works – Ignatieff interrupts
Ignatieff: that’s what I said!
Harper: You said in your statement that the party wins the most seats gets to try first then you think you’d get together vote against it and replace the government. That’s not how our system is supposed to work in this country. The people expect the party that wins the most seats forms the government. Otherwise you’ll have a situation, where small parties, including a party the Bloc Quebecois devoted to the break up of the country will decide which party goes into power and I don’t think it’s good for this country.
Duceppe: Yes, but when you say the party that finish with the most seats form the government, you forgot one something, that party have to have the confidence of the house. With a speech from the throne, with a budget. If not, I mean otherwise there’s no democracy at all. And I ask you again, you wrote a letter saying don’t launch an election, there’s other option than election if Paul Martin were to lose confidence, what were those options I, (Harper interrupting) obvious another Prime Minister sir, there’s no other option than that.
Harper: I was very clear, the Conservative party was not going to try to form a government when it had lost the election that simply doesn’t make any sense, we seek to get a mandate from the Canadian people, we didn’t get it in 2004, (Duceppe interrupting). We got in 2006 and we got it in 2008. and I hope we get it again, and I hope, and I’m being quite frank, I hope it is a majority, because otherwise, you look at the debate we’re having here today you can see we will be into a fifth election in no time at all, and I’m worried that the country at some point we are going to lose our focus on the economy, start raising taxes, start doing things that are not good for the long run interest of the country (Host interrupting). Just because of the short term policies of the minority parliament.
Layton: What Mr. Harper’s saying here, is he’s ready to accept that we’re he to get a majority and I’m doing everything I can to stop it because I’d like to lead this country, despite what Mr. Ignatieff says. But he could possibly do it with significantly less than 50 percent of Canadians supporting him. That’s undemocratic. We need to change our electoral system, there’s something wrong with a system, with a party, we’ll pick the Bloc Quebecois for example, has 1.3 million votes and gets 50 seats in the house. And we’ve got the Green Party that gets 900,000 votes, not that far behind the block, they get zero seats. It’s time we had proportional representation in this country, so that we have a proper representation of everyone’s point of view when it comes to that House of Commons, and by the way, while were at it, let’s stop the undemocratic Senate from doing what it does and it should be abolished in our opinion, wasteful, expensive and a repository for political friends, lets get rid of it and lets test the Canadian people on that one (various interruptions)
Ignatieff: The key issue is whether you can trust a politician with democratic authority, you’re a Prime Minister that shut down Parliament twice, you were twice ruled against by the speaker of the House of Commons, you lost the confidence of the House of Commons because you were found in contempt. Because you didn’t tell the House of Commons the truth. You’re walking around now trying to claim the right to a majority, you haven’t earned a right to a majority because you don’t respect our democratic institutions. We have to find a leader strong enough to live and accept and welcome democratic freedom in this country instead of trying to shut it down.
Harper: Well Mr. Ignatieff, you know, I know what your attacks are on this government. I simply don’t accept the truth of those attacks. This government has governed through difficult times, through five years of minority government, we couldn’t have done that unless we respected parliament and respected the democratic process. We have a strong record on that and what we are asking in an election we didn’t want, in an elections Canadians didn’t want, were asking Canadians to make the decision, do you want this kind of bickering, do you want another election in two years, or do you want us (Ignatieff interrupting) to focus on the economy.
Ignatieff: There he goes again, this is a debate, this is a democracy.
Harper: We have before parliament, measures to help our most vulnerable senior citizens, measures to give credits, tax credits to families for arts programs, to help to extend work sharing we has helped to save the jobs of 300,000 workers, measures to help our manufacturing sector, (host and Layton interrupting).
Layton: I have to pick up on something Mr. Ignatieff said, he said before you have to walk the walk and be a strong leader, and respect parliament, I’ve got to ask you then, why do you have the worst attendance record of any member of the house of Parliament? If you want to be Prime Minister, you’ve got to learn how to be a member of the House of Commons first. You know most Canadians, if they don’t show up for work, they don’t get a promotion.
Ignatieff: Mr. Layton, I don’t surrender to anybody in respect for the institution of parliament and my obligation to the people that put me there. So don’t give me lessons on respect for democracy (Layton interjecting) don’t give me lessons
Layton: Where were you, where were you when I was standing up to Mr. Harper and voting against his policies, and you weren’t in the chamber? You missed 70 percent of the votes, I think you need to understand a little more about how our democracy works that’s my only point.
Ignatieff: The key question here is to get a government that respects democracy, that respects parliament that respects citizens, you haven’t earned a majority, you haven’t even earned a minority, the question is, who’s going to replace you Mr. Harper, it’s going to be, in my view, seeking the support for Liberal government, enacting Liberal policies (host and other interrupting).
QUESTION – AS A LEADER, HOW DO YOU ENVISION THE SOCIAL MAKE-UP OF OUR COUNTRY OVER THE NEXT THIRTY YEARS? WHERE DO YOU STAND ON REASONABLE ACCOMODATION? DO YOU THINK THAT IMMIGRANTS TO OUR COUNTRY SHOULD ADOPT THE SOCIAL PRACTICES OF CANADIANS ALREADY LIVING HERE? OR NOT?
Duceppe: I think that is a very good question, we have quite a debate in Quebec on that issue, and a commission named Taylor Bouchard, and the conclusion of that commission is that the multiculturalism system in Canada doesn’t fit with Quebec. Because we think that we have to integrate the immigrants, respecting them because they’re modifying our society and that’s a plus. My grandfather was a home child, my mother was a (indistinguishable words), when I go to Canada a lot of the time I say I’m a bloke who turned black. I don’t have anything against immigration, but the multiculturalism doesn’t fit with Quebec were only 2 percent of Francophones within North America, largest Hispaniphone and Anglophone, we have to integrate the immigrants, and build a society where a Quebecor is a Quebecor is a Quebecor is a Quebecor without any exception.
Layton: Well I thank you for the question and I believe we are going to have a continued waves of immigration, here in Canada we don’t reproduce our own population, sufficiently and rapidly enough to grow our economy so were going to be attracting people and besides, who wouldn’t want to live in this beautiful country of ours. I’m luck enough to be from a family who came here from Hong Kong, and I got to marry Olivia as a result of that. Thank goodness we had the kind of policies that encouraged families to come here to Canada. One of the most disturbing aspects about what the Harper government is doing is that they’re encouraging more and more people to come here as temporary foreign workers, they come here alone, they’re not allowed to bring their family, and they work, for up to three years for some company and then they send the money back home and they go back home. And that’s not how we built this country. I say family reunification is the key thing, and we know have families, who have been applying to come here, to bring their mother over to Canada waiting 10 sometimes 12, 13 years. And they are unable to come here, there are cases where grandparents pass away before they can come and hold their grandchild, that is wrong. We need to put resources into encouraging those folks to come here and be part of their family and that would be a strong majority for a New Democrat government.
Duceppe: One thing I should say Mr. Layton, that I just can’t accept the will of that government to create to category of refugees, we can’t accept that, people come in here, are coming because of political difficulties or economic difficulties in their countries, sometimes it’s a question of to stay alive or to die. I saw those scandalous ads made by the Tories, a ship coming and Canada, it made me remember those boat people, they came in that kinds of ships, and those people they came, were fleeing from Vietnam and Cambodia, and now they’re good Quebec citizens, this is a plus to the Quebec society now, but when I see those kind of ads, it then define those people like criminals, there’s no other words for that. I just can’t accept that and I think we have to approach that and if he have a majority then we’ll have this kind of policy, two categories of refugees.
Layton: I believe that if Mr. Harper, hopefully he won’t have power in this next election. Because I’ve seen these policies develop over the last number of years and what we’re seeing is more and more of this focus on the immigrant is some kind of economic focus, so that we can squeeze as much out as we can. We don’t get them the professional certification. They end up coming here, they are brought here on with the inducement, perhaps with their professional credentials, training as doctors and professionals of all kinds perhaps that they’d be able to find that kind of work here and they come here and the door is slammed in their face. And New Democrats have been pushing hard for new measures to be taken and one of the most important measures is to create an opportunity for one of those well trained workers to work in a mentorship context with some Canadian worker who’s and professional who’s already working that area. So that they can get that Canadian experience and that’s got to be one of the top priorities and by the way that would also ensure that we would have a lot more doctors and medical professionals very quickly available to the 5 million Canadians who don’t have medical care right now from a medical doctor.
Duceppe: Mr. Layton, since you recognize that Quebec is a nation then I ask you will you then give Quebec full power over immigration. And also the right to add its own policy concerning integration of the immigrants. Since the Bouchard Taylor Commission multiculturalism doesn’t fit with Quebec into it and Quebec’s future. Would you agree that Quebec should have full power over immigration since we’re a nation.
Layton: Of course Quebec right now has very extensive control over its own immigration and that’s important, because if we talk about Quebec as it is, born and raised in Quebec. Here is the wonderful part of the control where French language is the language of work and it’s the language of culture – Duceppe interrupt-
Duceppe: So you would agree to have Bill 101 apply to all workers in Quebec, Bill 101 workers to all workers in Quebec. So, Bill 101.
Continuously mentions Bill 101.
Duceppe: I’m talking very precisely about Bill 101 should it apply to all economic sectors, because it doesn’t apply to telecommunications, transportation, and the banks.
Layton: Mr. Duceppe, you know that we have put legislation before the House of Commons to do exactly what you’ve asked. (Duceppe interrupts)
Ignatieff: I want to get back to Jay’s very important question. My dad came to Canada as an immigrant Russia and they arrived in Quebec and the key I think to successful integration is mastering the language. It’s absolutely key that newcomers of our country…. Speaking French…. That’s the key language integration, well one of the problems we’ve got here is that this government, the Harper government has cut settlement funding, cut language instruction. The key to taking newcomers and making them good citizens and sharing our values is giving them the mastery of the language. In Quebec it’s going to be French language in other parts of the country it’s going to be the other official language. And this government has cut settlement funding, so we’ve broken up the process by which we take newcomers and turn them into proud citizens. And the key to the future of a multicultural society to get to Jay’s point is equality of rights, equality of opportunity under the charter of rights and freedoms. If we stick to those principles you know we’ll continue to be a model and example to the world.
Harper: Well I should just respond briefly to Mr. Ignatieff’s assertion of course, this government has tripled a settlement funding with a higher emphasis because it is so important. But let me answer the question which was on multiculturalism, because it is important. We favour multiculturalism what Canadians need to understand and what we understand of multiculturalism is that people who make the hard decision to leave countries where they have established for centuries or millennium come here first and foremost want to belong to this country. That’s why they come, that’s why they’re here. They also at the same time will change our country and we show through multiculturalism our willingness to accommodate the differences so they’re more comfortable. That’s why we’re so successful integrating people as a country, I think we’re probably one of the most successful countries in the world in that regard. Now one issue that was raised was foreign credentials. In our budget is an important measure to give loans to new Canadians so that they can get their foreign credentials when they simply can’t afford to take a course. That’s something Parliament should have been doing instead of having this unnecessary election.
Layton: Well first of all there was a completely inadequate program, but maybe this debate will produce a much better one coming out of it. But why did you cut the immigrant settlement services? These are services that help immigrants who arrived here to make their way and in some cases many, many decades of record of service, very effective service here in Canada. But your government came in and essentially created a situation where immigrants arrive and they don’t get the support to do what you’ve rather piously said ought to happen.
Harper: Well Mr. Layton that’s simply not true, settlement funding support has tripled under this government. And we’ve also maintained, we’re the first government to maintain a vigorous and strong open door immigration policy during a recession, because we’re focused on the long term interest of Canada and the Canadian economy. These assertions are certainly not true – Layton interrupts – but look the reason for that we have people coming who have jobs waiting for them they almost invariably settle here. The NDP government in Manitoba want us to bring people specifically to fill jobs, that’s why we’re making some of this reorientation to the program to make sure immigrants have worked it helps them adjust, it helps them become productive, it benefits everybody.
Ignatieff: My dad came here with his mom and brothers. They came here as a family class immigrants and sometimes I worry if you’ve been in power then I don’t think you would have got in. I mean we’ve got to get the balance back, family class immigration is crucial because families look after each other and stick to each other and help each other to succeed. If you put too much emphasis on temporary foreign workers, we’ll get the balance right, immigration would be more difficult, and then we back up family reunification visas and we get Canadian citizens saying “we can’t get our mom and dad over” and that’s what you’ve been doing, you’ve been reducing family reunification and that’s basically creating deep unfairness and deep resentment on all the new Canadians I meet.
Harper: Mr. Ignatieff I know that you and the NDP have been saying that, but that’s simply not true. (Ignatieff interrupts) We’ve been increasing categories across the board in terms of family class there will be as many family class admitted this year than the previous. That’s the government’s plan that’s how we keep a strong system of immigration, I know that you think you can score some points making these kinds of arguments when they’re simply not true. And we will continue to make sure we have a strong policy that accepts immigrants for a wide variety of reasons, but particularly to ensures that they are able to contribute all they contribute to be as successful as they can be.
Duceppe: I think it is very clear since it was — Quebec is a nation and we’re only 2% I repeat in North America that people come into Quebec as to integrate themselves with in French. Hich is the public common language. So I just don’t understand why you Mr. Harper and Mr. Igantieff that Bill 101 the French language, be the language of work for the economic sectors relying on the federal code, the labour code which are banks, telecommunications, transportation all those three sectors 300 000 people a lot of women among them. I just don’t understand why, it doesn’t, we don’t need a constitution amendment to do so.
Harper: Mr. Duceppe I can answer the question. We have as we’ve said as a government many times, we respect the division of powers on our federal constitution. It gives the federal government some powers over the labourian and it gives the Quebec government other powers over the labourian. We have important constitutional responsibilities to the two major and the two national languages to this country and in our area of jurisdiction we respect that. We don’t interfere with Quebec’s jurisdiction over Bill 101 but let me just also question what you keep saying that somehow multiculturalism is incompatible with being a Quebecker, you know there’s lots of people in this country who speak English who don’t come from an English, from an English who are British background. One can retain their culture and their cultural identity and still integrate into the main stream language of the community which is French in Quebec and English in most of the rest of the country. That’s what we do and that’s why we support these policies.
Duceppe: but what we’re saying on that is we’re having a commission working on that it’s not because we don’t want those people enrich our culture, obviously we won’t object. But we don’t want to create ghettos and when you think when you’re coming to Quebec you want to integrate to the Quebec society. And the model of the multiculturalism is bankruptcy in Great Britain as an example and it is contested in many places. It doesn’t mean you don’t want the immigrants to come and to bring their own values and the (Harper interrupts)
Harper: It is not creating ghettos, it is the most successful integration policy in the world it helps, it helps Canadians retain their culture while being part of the broader community. That’s what we’re so proud of, I know that the Bloc Quebecois wants to break up the country and you don’t think new Canadians are going to support that objective that’s fine (Duceppe interrupts)
Layton: Well I have to come back to the issue that’s on the minds of most of families that we are talking about here, which is how they can bring their family members to join them here and how can we regard it as acceptable that a family has to wait for ten years for their mother or father to come and join them, that is just so wrong. I think of Olivia’s mother who lives with us, has for 20 years, thank goodness she wasn’t applying to come here now, because she might never have got to see my granddaughter that is simply wrong and it’s tearing families apart. Why don’t we make a commitment all of the parties together to say that’s going to get fixed, and were going to make sure that every family member that wants to be here as part of a loving family and building this country through this country through that kind of love and community building that were going to make that a top priority, the New Democrats will do that.
Harper: First of all, Mr. Layton when we took office there was a backlog of hundreds of thousands of files in every single category of integration, were working to bring those down, were admitting record numbers of people, that’s what were going to continue to do, the fact of the matter is, there will always be far more people willing to come to Canada that we can admit in any year and were going to keep making sure we admit as many as we can because our economy and society need it and were all better off for it and that applies to family class as much as any other class.
Ignatieff: I want to get to something that Jade asked, which is about multiculturalism and how see the future of our country as a multicultural society. I think the key thing is we need to take the politics out of multiculturalism. Minister Kenney, your minister of immigration has been segmenting the country into ethnic and very ethnic, it causes enormous resentment among Canadians. Newcomers that come to our country the thing they want to be most treated as is a Canadian. A Canadian is a Canadian. Were going to have a great future as a multicultural country if we work on that basis, equality of rights, equality of responsibilities, competence in the two official languages that is the ground that will be the base for a stable multicultural society. But if we start micro-targeting communities, putting one community against another like Minister Kenney’s been doing that’s going to break up a multicultural society.
I’ve made it my objective, since we formed the new party of Canada to make sure our party is present in all communities of this country, that’s what minister Kenney and so many other members of our party have been doing. It has been successful, more and more new Canadians have been voting for our party, obviously I encourage them to do that, I think there are some small C Conservatives I’d like to see become big C Conservatives but respect their choices and we respect the right of every party Liberal, New Democrat, every party to go out and try to get Canadians no matter what their ethnic background.
QUESTION – MY CONCERN IS SAFETY FOR PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY, TO BE ABLE TO WALK DOWN THE STREETS AT NIGHT AND BEING SAFE IN THEIR HOMES AND I’D LIKE TO KNOW WHAT THE GOVERNMENT PLANS ON DOING DEALING WITH THESE CRIMINALS AND THE LIGHT SENTENCES BEING HANDED DOWN TO THEM BY THE COURTS.
Ignatieff: Well Len you’re a lucky man if you live in Gibson’s BC, first of all here’s what we shouldn’t do, we shouldn’t adopt failed criminal justice policies from the USA, megaprisons, mandatory minimums, have failed in the US. This is Canada, we have to have a criminal justice policy that’s right for Canada. If were going to be tough on crime we got to be tough on guns, the Harper government wants to gut the gun registry, this will reduce public safety. We need to invest in crime prevention in the lower-mainland, gang violence is a huge problem, that be what our friend from BC is worried about. We have to give the police the tools to get tough on these drug related gangs and lock them up where we need to but the key thing here is we need to learn from the failures of American criminal justice policies, get tough on guns, invest in crime prevention and provide better victim services, that is getting smart on crime and that is our approach.
Duceppe: I think that the government made a lot of being tough on crime, but Mr. Harper is very soft on crime in his own office, the crime rate is declining, the American model imported to Canada would be an important error we can’t accept that, their philosophy is more guns and big prisons, and I think that is a dangerous social cocktail. We have on the other hand to be responsible, with the anti-gang law, the early release with one sixth of the sentence and you refused that twice and we proposed those things and that was responsible but trying to eliminate the gun registry would be an error that would affect all the Canadian and Quebec societies policymen are saying so all the people in Quebec are saying so.
Ignatieff: when I talk about making criminal justice policies in Canada, one of the places we can learn from is Quebec’s policy on young offenders which you call (French name), that’s the kind of emphasis on young offenders rehabilitation for young offenders that we need, we’ve got to get balance in our justice policies, when people commit crimes of violence, violence against other individuals, they’ve got to do time, there have got to be consequences for actions that threaten public safety. But we’ve got to give police resource, to maintain the gun registry, work on rehabilitation for young offenders, it’s not an unimportant fact that so many people in our prisons haven’t finished high school. Invest in education, make sure people get on the right path before they go on the wrong. This is the kind of balanced policy we haven’t seen from the Harper government.
Duceppe: When you’re talking about the young offenders, I remember the first party to modify that law was the Liberal party, we support it and the NDP was also supporting that, I think that was an error denounced by the National Assembly in Quebec. The system in Quebec is good, the rate is good of rehabilitation, but one thing I am very worried about is that Mr. Harper said that he won’t come back on abortion or capital punishment. We all know that taxing the youths, they don’t come with a proposal made by the government but one of their members is coming from the private member bill and then supported by most of the Tories if not all of them, so it one of the dangers if that party is in majority that it will use the same tactics, we don’t want to talk about that but one of the member will come and they will try to make the abortion illegal and it could be same with capital punishment to reinstate that.
Again, I think what Mr. Duceppe is referring to is also, the politics of fear here, crime is always a serious problem, when you’ve been hit, or had your purse stolen or victim of personal assault, it matters to you and you want consequences, but you have to understand that crime in our country is not increasing, the politics of fear is designed to exploit and create fear, Mr. Harper specializes in the politics of fear in the crime agenda. And we need a balance policy that’s based on evidence not ideology. This is the man that tried to take a part the long form census because he doesn’t like facts that disagree with his ideology we need a criminal justice policy that’s based on the facts as we see them. Tough on crime where we need tougher sentences, rehabilitation, crime prevention, much more investment in crime prevention, and more victim services, a balance approach to this problem.
Harper: Let me respond to that and Len’s question, he is right in saying that Canadians do support and want a balanced system when it comes to criminal justice but balance has been tilted, rehabilitation is important but it’s also important that the punishment fit the crime. We’ve had important bills before parliament for years, that until recently the other parties said they supported obviously they don’t. We have mandatory penalties that involved gangs and organized drug crimes, for sexual predators, we want to repeal the case where criminals can get pardons automatically. We want to give store owners like David Chen the chance to defend themselves without getting charged. These are bills sitting before parliament, when a reelected Conservative government gets back, we’ll package these bills together and get them passed, this is what Canadians expect us to do, they expect us to take crime seriously and have punishments that fit the crime.
Layton: I’m glad that your supporting the legislation we proposed around David Chen and that sort of situation, small business owner in downtown Toronto. I think the problem here is that you haven’t fulfilled many of your commitments. You promised that there would be 2500 more policemen for community policing, that promise was simply not kept. Policing is very important if we are going reduce crime levels, we do need some prosecution in certain areas, car jacking, home invasion, recruiting people in gangs, but we’ve got to focus on prevention, you’ve got to prevent the crimes if you are going to reduce crimes like we want to. And that means strong support for programs for young people. If we give young people a positive choice when it comes to what they do after school so when some troublemaker comes along and tries to tempt them to a life of crime with the bling and everything that comes with it. Instead they’ve got something very positive to do. All over the country there’s people working very hard on these programs, not all of them can access these programs, we’ve got to support those vulnerable neighborhoods and that’s been a hash tag fail on that issue.
Ignatieff: When Mr. Harper says if he gets another government were going to have some giant crime bill, that gives me the shivers, we have to have balance in justice and were not going to get it from the Harper government. I met a young man in Winnipeg who was poised between falling into a gang or finishing high school that’s the critical moment in crime prevention, if he gets a learning passport, you may save him from falling in a gang, if your serious about crime, get the pivot right so he makes the right choice, you can lock people up forever, but I worked in prisons, I worked with lifers, but the one thing I know is that it makes almost everybody worse, that’s what we’ve learned, you keep slapping people in there forever, your going to end up with more crime problems not less, we need to have an adult strategy and that’s what we haven’t had from the Harper government.
Well were making investments in youth crime prevention, there was renewal of those very programs in the budget we just tabled and yet all the opposition parties wanted an election instead, I hope we are re-elected so we can pass those initiatives but non of that relieves us of that responsibility to make sure the punishment fits the crime. That is simply not the case in too many instances, we have put forward measures to deal with those, we will make sure they do get passed.
Duceppe: The problem with your attitude instead of debating and having experts coming to the communities explaining their point of views and taking the time to change things, some things have to be changed. But you’re trying to put everything in the same bill, just like the sixth of the sentence that could have been done a lot before. You were refusing just for political reasons not to give us the credit having proposing it. I think this is not the attitude how to work and face those new challenges of living and having it in a society and having the liberty and at the same justice. And the same time punishing those who should be punished and respecting are those who are the victims. And you mixed everything with a philosophy, it’s your way or no way, that’s the problem you’re not consulting people, you don’t want to debate those things.
Harper: That’s simply not true on the very measure you raised there was a Conservative bill before the house there was a Bloc bill before the house. We sat down we negotiated with something we could live with. Obviously I wanted something that would have been stronger, but nevertheless what we did was we ended the practice. We ended the practice. And Canadians have to understand this, we ended a practice where a huge number of offenders served 1/6th of their sentence and they were automatically released after 1/6th and yet the Liberals and NDP oppose that legislation. This is the kind of lack of balance in our system that we have to correct. (Pakin interrupts)
Layton: First I just have to say, I don’t know why we need so many more prisons when the crooks seem so happy in the senate. But there are some very, there are some very important issues we haven’t yet talked about here. First of all, violence against women this requires specific and direct attention by the Parliament of Canada. And we would urge that happen and of course one way that might happen is if we had a lot more women in parliament. And I’m pleased to say that we have now just nominated the largest percentage of women ever in the history of Canada in the New Democratic party and hopefully that will help. But the other is we’ve got to tackle some of the other underlying issues. If you talk to leadership of Aboriginal communities, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit they cry out just for decent housing. So that they don’t have three and four families crammed into a completely unsatisfactory house. And basically with no hope for the future. And where do they find themselves drifting into the temptations of crime and then ultimately ending up in jail and far too high of a percentage. And here’s Sean Atley of the national chief calling for a focus on education, a focus on housing getting clean water into these communities, dealing with the fundamental poverty and it’s not just in Aboriginal communities but it is certainly is terribly severe there. These are the fundamental underlying causes of what we’re talking about here that we have to tackle as a country, but when you’re giving corporate tax cuts by the billions so that they can give million dollar bonuses to the richest people in the country, you’re not going to get down that path.
Ignatieff: Mr. Layton mentioned the very shocking issue of violence against women and we all remember the polytechnic massacre. What that taught me and I think has taught all Canadians is the absolute crucial necessity in any crime strategy of gun control. You can’t be tough on crime and tough on violence against women unless you stand up for gun control. And it’s no secret that if Mr. Harper were to get back, god heaven help us, one of the first thing he’ll do is gut the gun registry. So you can’t have a consistent criminal justice policy unless you’re tough on guns and I have to say that Mr. Layton didn’t stand up to defend the gun registry when we had to. And it’s absolutely crucial for the safety of women and the safety of community and the reason I feel that strongly is when I ask the cops in my own riding how they use the gun registry, they say “we don’t send a cop into a building unless we’ve checked the gun registry” so it’s crucial to keep the cop safe as well as the community.
Layton: Well my position on this is well known and what he said is not true because I did stand up in the house. About what we’re trying to do on this issue has been very divisive and some politicians like to use it to divide Canadians. It’s actually to find some solutions to bring the different parts of the country together so that we have some strong gun control and that legitimate issues are properly addressed. That’s been our approach but then again that’s been my whole approach to working with others to try and get results. It’s our philosophy.
Harper: Let me talk about the gun registry because obviously we have a very different view. We support a strong system of gun control so do the gun owners of this country. We have licensing of gun owners, we have registration of hand guns, we have most weapons – high power weapons are prohibited in this country. But what farmers and hunters keep asking is why every time there’s a crime problem in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, there’s suddenly more rules slapped on and more registrations slapped onto them in rural Canada. That has not been an effective measure to control crime. Every single elected police officer in the House of Commons has voted against the long gun registry, we need to focus on crime and on gun control that works and cost effective.
Duceppe: I would say that most of the Bloc members are in rural sectors. And the question between rural sectors and the city. Calgary is not a rural sector and you are against that eh? So when I look at the results that say 80% of people elected in Quebec support the gun registry, 62% of people elected in the rest of Canada want to abolish the gun registry. The real division was between Canada and Quebec that day. And the national assembly in Quebec, federalists or sovereigntist, right or left, unanimously want to maintain that. Because we think we want to live in a society where we’re registering a lot of things. The cars are registered, the boats are registered, even if you’re hunting ducks you got to register the ducks, but if you go with a dog you the dogs are registered, the only thing that isn’t registered is the gun. So we don’t want to live… (Harper interrupts)
Harper: I’ve been all around Quebec there are lots of people who believe in strong gun control but don’t believe in the registration of every single rifle and shot gun. You know, Jean-Guy Dagenais the head of the police association who is a Conservative candidate doesn’t support that kind of a gun registry. We need effective gun control and we can’t every time we talk about crime suddenly talk about rules for farmers (Pakin interrupts)
Duceppe: I tell you he’s a typical Tory candidate saying something before being elected, saying that he’ll oppose when he’s running as a Tory just like you did in 2004 and now a lot.
Ignatieff: Chiefs of police across the country say effective, comprehensive gun control is essential to public safety and in keeping their officers safe and that’s good enough for me. And people, women particularly, get killed with long guns, short guns, they don’t care all they know is that they’re dead. And all I care about is making sure that they’re safe and that means to me an integrated gun registry.
Harper: But Mr. Ignatieff, gun registry doesn’t do any of that. That’s why all of the elected police officers, many police are, Julian Fantino the chief of the Ontario Provincial Police, a Conservative Member of Parliament doesn’t support a long gun registry you have to have policies that work on guns and go after criminals.
Paikin: IN THE LAST HEALTH ACCORD THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MADE THE PROVINCES ACCOUNTABLE IN REDUCTIONS OF WAIT TIME, WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO DO WITH A NEW ACCORD, NOT JUST FOR EFFICIENCIES BUT IMPROVEMENTS IN THE HEALTH OF OUR POPULATION
Layton: Well that is a terrific question, and it is a vitally important question in this election, who do you trust to negotiate the next health accord with the provinces, and I submit to you that is the best reason to vote NDP when public health care was created by Tommy Douglas years ago and brought to the national debate by the NDP working in a minority parliament in order to bring out healthcare system to light, one that Obama tried to implement, it needs some improvement so we’ve got to be ensure the on going funding and got to be clear on the increase that goes forward but we can’t wait until then, we have to hire doctors and nurses now, lets make sure we homecare for families, and more long term care beds and finally take action on prescription drugs, all of that is on our platform starting right now, that’s why I’m asking for your support so we can put the focus on the healthcare where it belongs.
Harper: Well Patti’s family just like mine and most Canadians depends on public healthcare. When the original health accord was first signed, there was no accountability measures, we negotiated that later. We intend to work further to get greater accountability. We want to get greater accountability, where we work together and find ways that those dollars can be effective and help as much as possible, a cooperative approach to get better results.
Layton: Well Mr. Harper your conversion on the question of funding of public healthcare was simply remarkable you never mentioned it in the budget, you were very vague but as soon as you realized Canadians cared about that you jumped on the bandwagon, I’ve got to tell I am concerned a Harper government would not put focus on public, not expanding it, the latest example was in your budget. That would simply take doctors from the urban to the rural, that’s not a solution, were proposing an action now, I encourage people to come to the conclusion that Harper and conservatives cannot be trusts for the future of the healthcare system and making sure it meets the challenges of tomorrow.
Harper: Let’s be clear about the facts, the six percent increase in the healthcare transfers to the provinces have been in every budget we’ve brought forward, it’s black and white in our platform, this is the first government to honour those commitments, in the budget we did have other measures, to end the cap on expenses, as was mentioned to encourage doctors to serve in underserved areas, parliament should be sitting and passing those kinds of measures.
Layton: The party that you lead now really was a merger of a party you used to head up, a more right wing party, and then the various organizations that have not been supportive of our healthcare system, that have wanted more privatization, this is a key issue, what we need is a government that will stand up for public healthcare, can you ensure Canadians you will do that because your record, can you explain what you used to say and what your saying now and why should we trust you?
Harper: My record is clear Mr. Layton and by the way, government’s across this country have experimented with alternative service delivery, of all stripes, we are commited to making sure public health insurance is available, that no citizen shall be denied because they can’t pay, that’s a fundamental principal, that has underlined our term in office, that’s the system that I and my family have depended on that’s what we will work in the future it has challenges but we can make it work better.
Layton: why do we privatization all over then? Why haven’t you taken action to stop it?
Harper: Mr. Layton you have a different definition, privatization, alternative service delivery is not privatization, people have access to these services, what were going to do is focus on outcomes, were going to focus on making sure that the money spend, we get the kind of outcomes we have promised.
Layton: your approach is not giving any help to families right now.
Duceppe: We certainly have problems in healthcare, but federal parties need to stop interfering with Quebec and provincial responsibilities, we have to remember that the health department does not manage a single hospital, no experience at all, Ottawa knows best is a huge error, we have to give the money and let the provinces do their work, this is not our job, we have to make sure the provinces and Quebec have the money and respect they have the expertise the only place the Federal government has to manage is with aboriginals, bad services and the veterans, bad services as well, so no expertise at all and they want to tell people what do to and that shouldn’t be done at all.
Ignatieff: Any federal government, any Liberal government is going to respect provincial jurisdictions in healthcare, but the fact is a huge amount of the financing comes from the Federal government, 43 billion dollars, and what were saying I think the Federal government has a role in health care as long as it respect jurisdiction to make sure your access doesn’t depend on your wallet or your post code, we need to make sure roughly equal serivec is available, this comes down to a moment of choice, you can either spend it on corporate tax breaks, prisons, jets, big gifts to upper middle class Canadians or you can support health care and we’ve got to make choices and if I have to choose, I’m choosing healthcare, because that’s the chief priority of Canadians across the country. Then back to Patti’s question is how do we get accountability, so the money we’ve got serves the people better and that’s why a federal role in healthcare is important.
Harper: Let’s be clear about the choice, we want to keep our economy on track so we can continue to fund out healthcare system, the choice the opposition puts before you that you have choose the military and healthcare, between raising taxes and benefits, it’s a false choice, the Liberals raise taxes, cut healthcare, education, cut pensions, because they raise taxes and hurt economic growth and the economy, it’s a false choice, we need a low tax future, that’s what were doing and the path we have to stay on.
Layton: The problem with both parties is that they don’t propose to do anything now, you’ll see what I’m talking about, there’s no investments now, to get 5 millions Canadians that don’t have family medicine, we are not getting the investments, in homecare, long-term care and were not seeing the program to get our pharmaceutical prices down.
Ignatieff: That’s just completely false, we’re the only party in this election with a specific proposal on family care, so that you can take time off to look after a loved one at home, so that you can get some reimbursement of your expenses for providing healthcare in the home. That’s a key dynamic in the future that we’ve got to invest in and strengthen. The other thing we need to be saying to Canadians is we need more health, not necessarily more healthcare, health prevention, health education. We’re the only party with the national food policy to put more Canadian food on Canadian plates and get the salt, fat, and sugar down. That’s how you get better value for your healthcare dollar, that’s how we improve the health of Canadians, that’s ought to be the goal and that’s in our platform, that’s the kind of commitment we’re proud to make.
Layton: But if that’s the promise you’re making, but unfortunately your party has a rather long history of making promises in elections and breaking them after.
Ignatieff: But Jack, at least we get into government you’ve been in opposition forever.
Layton: Well there’s the sense of entitlement again, same old attitude.
Duceppe: But the problem is I think there is too much money in Ottawa, I think that Ottawa is collecting too much money for the jurisdiction of it’s own. I mean, health care is a provincial jurisdiction. And the expertise is there, not in Ottawa, you’re not managing hospital in Ottawa. That means we will start negotiating on who will do what who’s going to do what, it will be a fight between bureaucrats instead of giving money those who need the money to make sure the services will be given to those who need those services. So we need a new fiscality to make sure the money where it should go, not here and then imposing decisions with no expertise at all and in the provinces of Quebec.
Paikin: I’ve tried to stay out of this all night long, because you gentlemen have been doing a fine job on keeping it going, but I did get a lot of emails from people asking: “please ask them this”. You’re all promising to continue health funding at 6% a year in a world where our growth rates are about 2% and change and while you’re all promising to keep taxes reasonably low, and you’re all promising to erase deficits that are very very high. Can any of you really do this? 1, 2,3, let’s hear from you all.
Harper: Yes, absolutely you make this your highest priority. That’s what we’ve done, we said right from the beginning we’ve laid out the fiscal plan, it’s the International Monetary Fund and others says it’s credible and we’re very clear. We’re not going to cut the rate of increase in transfers for healthcare, education and pensions. That is job number one that’s why it’s going to take us three or four years to balance the budget, but we’re going to make sure we continue to maintain and continue fund those projects. Because that’s what ultimately what Canadians thinks it’s all about, keeping the economy strong so we can continue to deliver these kinds of services – (Pakin cuts him off)
Layton: It’s going to be about making choices, Mr. Harper is trying to tell us tonight that one can have absolutely everything. Huge tax cuts, and huge expenditures on jets, and continued increase in health spending. This isn’t old Stephen Harper speaking, this is the one who has now been affected by the Ottawa culture I have to say. But it does mean making some choices and some things we will not be able to do if we’re going to fund our healthcare. And we’ve set out some of those things that should not be done. And Mr. Harper’s budget includes a platform an $11 billion hole things he says he’s going to not spend money on and he won’t tell us what they are. Will they food inspectors? Will they be in the military? Who are these people going to be? What services are going to be lost? We say it’s important to make choices and Canadians are going to have a chance to do that on May 2nd.
Ignatieff: Straight question deserves a straight answer. You peg the corporate tax rate at 18%, you save $6 billion, you put those jets out to a competitive tender, you save more billions. You stop building those mega prisons you save more billions. That allows you to invest 6% to improve Canadian healthcare, this is choice time. Mr. Harper is offering you fantasy economics. He cannot explain he’s going to sustain Canadian healthcare we can.
Duceppe: I’ll give you two examples. It’s about choices, obviously it’s about choices. We should obviously stop giving the old companies fiscal advantages $3 billion. And we should also stop letting money $3 billion go into tax heaven. We have been signing a treaty with a Panama, a tax heaven, I mean $3 billion a year plus $2 billions from all those companies makes $6 billions that makes all of those things, just those two examples.
Harper: Well let me just say this, our philosophy is pretty clear, you fund services like healthcare by making sure you keep your economy growing and creating jobs. You don’t do that by raising taxes. The other parties are already proposing that they can fund all of these new promises $30 billion, $60 billion by increasing tax rates, increasing tax rates on job creators. You know experts say that’s going to cost us 200 000 jobs in $40 in investment, you grow your economy by creating – (Pakin interrupts)
Layton: Speak the truth Mr. Harper, we’re actually proposing instead of giving tax breaks like you do to the richest most powerful companies in the country, the ones that gauge Canadians half the time, banks what have you. We’re saying lower the taxes on small businesses and help those small business to create jobs with $4500 per new job created. That’s what we’re proposing nothing like – (Harper interrupts)
Harper: The truth Mr. Layton is we cut taxes for businesses big and small several years ago and the New Democratic Party voted against all of those tax reductions, the New Democratic Party will never cut taxes, it will always raise taxes.
Layton: Oh that’s is too much to hear you say that. That is simply not true.
Ignatieff: Mr. Harper your numbers just simply don’t add up, but our numbers do. If you peg corporate tax at 18% you can save $6 billion. 18% is a good competitive rate that will attract jobs and attract investment. That’s $6 billion that you can use to invest in education. A learning passport, the biggest boost that we can give to our economy is investing in the education of our children. And we can do this without raising the taxes on ordinary Canadian families.
Harper: Mr. Ignatieff, every credible economic analyst, every major business group in this country says that if you raises taxes you will hurt growth, hurt jobs, hurt revenue and that’s the truth and that’s the path we don’t want to go down.
Ignatieff: We need to role back, payroll taxes for small and medium size businesses to do the hiring. We’ve got unemployment rates among young Canadians at 16% something that you haven’t actually done anything since you’ve been in office. If we create an incentive to hire those people small and medium size enterprises that’s going to create 170, 000 jobs – Harper interrupts
Harper: We’re waiting for Parliament to pass, the Canadian Federation and Independent Business have called on Parliament to act and pass these measures to help hiring.
Duceppe: One thing we’ll oppose is taking $17 billion on five out of the employment insurance fund. This is what exactly the Flaherty budget is proposal and sadly the NDP and Liberals are also for measure and for the proposal you’ve made.
Layton: Well dear friends who have been following this debate, Mr. Ignatieff’s party was in power for 13 years, and there were lots of problems, and many failures and then Mr. Harper was in power for 5 years and again many failures, between the two of them have supervised whether it’s corruption or government, real difficulties with our healthcare system, our environmental record on the world stage is in tatters, and when it comes to the economy you are having a tougher time to make ends meet, and you have a choice, contrary to what some might try to suggest, you’ve got a great chance to exercise that choice by voting New Democrat to implement, new doctors and nurses, caps on credit card fees, new job creation programs and protecting your pensions, I urge you to support the New Democrats we’ll fight for you.
Duceppe: Dear friends, the other leader’s actions prove that they do not recognize Quebec as a nation, none of them have taken into account the Quebec consensus. I have the greatest respect for Canada but Canada basis it’s policies on it’s own interests, Quebecers have the right to make their own choices, to do so, Quebec must become a country, but as long as Quebec is part of Canada, the Bloc will be there for Quebec. A Conservative majority will act against our interests, Stephen Harper hides his intentions, we cannot trust him, the Bloc is the only party in Quebec to stop Stephen Harper, I invite everyone who does not want Conservative majority to vote Bloc Quebecois.
Ignatieff: On May the second, choose a government that respects democracy, that respects citizens rights, that focuses on your priorities, Mr. Harper doesn’t have your priorities in mind, his priorities are jets, jails and tax giveaways, our priorities are to help Canadian families get an education for their kids with our learning passport. Early childhood care for families that need it, home renos that can make their families more energy efficient, and restore Canada’s proud place in the world, the choice will be between a Harper government and Liberal government, I hope you vote Liberal but most of all I thank you for taking part in this debate tonight.
Harper: First of all I want to thank Canadians for their honour and their trust as having served as your Prime Minister over the past five years, including some tough times, but it has kept us focused on the economy, on creating jobs on delivering affordable benefits to people and making sure we keep your taxes low, as a consequence, Canada, which was already the greatest country in the world, is emerging from this recession, stronger and faster than just about anyone, that’s what we need parliament to focus on, that’s why were asking for a renewed mandate, a strong, stable, national, conservative majority government to focus on the economy we have a recovery to complete and a job to finish and we would be honour to do it.