Party leaders jockey for position as election looms

September 2 and 3, 2009 – Federal party leaders position themselves after Michael Ignatieff and the Liberals began pushing for a fall election.

Prime Minister Harper says he will not make any “backroom deals” but is willing to listen to specific proposals coming from the other parties.

The Liberals have abandoned the blue-ribbon EI consultation panel they negotiated in June, and Ignatieff says he won’t negotiate with Harper any longer.

Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe says the Bloc is ready for an election, and they will vote in the interests of Quebec on an issue-by-issue basis.

NDP leader Jack Layton denies any existing deals with the Liberal Party or Bloc.  Layton he says he will not make any “backroom deals”, and that Stephen Harper must “reach out” and take action on NDP issues or he will not support the Conservatives in the House of Commons.

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Tories and Grits cooperate on EI reform

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and Prime Minister Stephen Harper agree to cooperate on the governments plans to to reform Employment Insurance.

The deal marks the first occasion Michael Ignatieff has agreed to work with the government on the development of public policy, having previously refused Harper’s consultation offers.  Ignatieff makes no guarantee the EI panel will produce results.

We have agreed to strike a working group which will seek to present … specific legislative proposals to bring the self-employed into the Employment Insurance system.

… We don’t have an agreement … and I give you no guarantees that we can get there.

– Michael Ignatieff

The Ignatieff Ultimatum

Michael Ignatieff says the Liberal Party will vote to defeat the government in an upcoming confidence vote unless the Prime Minister addresses four key issues.

Ignatieff says an election can be avoided if Stephen Harper agrees to consult with Liberals on planned changes to Employment Insurance, marking a dramatic departure from Ignatieff’s previous refusals to offer specific public policy suggestions to the Harper government.

ul·ti·ma·tum (uhl-tuh-mey-tuhm) : a final proposition, condition, or demand ; especially one whose rejection will end negotiations and cause a resort to force or other direct action

– Meriam Webster dictionary

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Coalition dies as Liberals support Conservative budget

The Liberal Party will support the 2009/10 Federal Budget against the wishes of their coalition partners in the Bloc and NDP.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff says he is putting the government “on probation” with a budget amendment requiring the government to report back to Parliament in March, June and December.

Ignatieff refused to consult with the government on the creation of the budget, and the Liberals did not include any specific policy proposals in their budget amendment.

I did not consult him in advance, I see no obligation to … I told the Prime Minister very clearly: I’m the leader of the oppostion, he’s the Prime Minister. Its his budget, not mine.
– Michael Ignatieff

NDP leader Jack Layton and Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe say the move effectively kills the Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition.

Stephen Harper is going to remain in office because Michael Ignatieff has decided to to keep him there.

– Jack Layton

The coalition is dead, its finished, its over.

– Gilles Duceppe

New Liberal leader Ignatieff prepared to lead coalition government

The Liberal Party executive have appointed Micheal Ignatieff as the interim leader of the Liberal Party until he is acclaimed at a formal leadership convention in May 2009.

Ignatieff took direct aim at Stephen Harper in his first press conference as Liberal leader, saying he is prepared to defeat the Conservatives and lead a coalition government.

I am prepared to vote non-confidence in this government.  And I am prepared to enter into a coalition government with our partners.

– Micheal Ignatieff

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Harper prorogues Parliament, makes appeal to federalists

Prime Minister Harper has asked the Governor General to prorogue Parliament until January 26 when the government will present an early budget.

The move delays the government’s likely defeat until it faces a confidence vote on their new Throne Speech.

Harper invited input on the budget from the NDP and Liberals, saying only Canada’s three federalist parties can be trusted to act in Canada’s interests.

The Bloc has every legitimate right to be here, but their game is not about working on the economy to serve the greater interests of the country.

The do have a fundamentally different agenda, and that’s not the agenda of the other three of us … I think that’s a more fundamental difference than whether you are a little more for the market, or a little more interventionist.

– Stephen Harper

The coalition leaders Gilles Duceppe, Jack Layton and Stéphane Dion said they will not support the government, saying its Harper who cannot be trusted.

McKay Political Cartoons: Cracks in coalition starting to show

Harper vows to stop coalition, Dion falters

Prime Minister Harper vowed to use all legal means at his disposal in order to stop the Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition from taking power.

Canada’s government cannot enter into a power sharing coalition with a separatist party.  At a time of global economic instability, Canada’s government must stand unequivocally for keeping the country together.  At a time like this, a coalition with separatists cannot help Canada.

And the Oppostiion does not have the democratic right to impose a coalition they promised voters would never happen.  The Opposition is attempting to impose this deal without your say, without your consent, and without your vote.

– Stephen Harper

There was controversy when the video response from coalition leader Stéphane Dion arrived late and out of focus.

We share the frustration Canadians have about the political crisis that has been allowed to take prominence over the more important economic challenges we face.  Elsewhere in the world, leaders are working to cope with the recession, to bring forward the kinds of investments that will help their people and their economies.  Politicians are working together elsewhere in the world, rivals are working together.  Why not in Canada?

Mr. Harper’s solution is to extend that crisis by avoiding a simple vote, by suspending Parliament and continuing the confussion. We offer a better way. We say settle it now, and lets get to work on the people’s business.

– Stéphane Dion