The intrepid Liberal Leader, Michael Ignatieff, appeared on CBC television yesterday and detailed how he would become prime minister, should PM Stephen Harper gain only a minority government in the May 2 election and be defeated in the House of Commons.
Finally, some degree of frankness from the first among equals of the left-wing coalition.
The Grits, of course, have every right to form a government if they can gain the confidence of parliament. And especially now that their leader, for the first time, is telling Canadians during the election that his platform includes forming the government with New Democrat and/or Bloc Québécois support. So they are on sound constitutional ground, at least, as far as Mr. Ignatieff’s televised comments go. It should also be noted that Mr. Ignatieff continues to emphatically rule out any form of formal coalition with any other party, and said as much to CBC news anchor, Peter Mansbridge.
The big question though—the elephant in the room, so to speak—is, can voters trust what Mr. Ignatieff said?
In the 1974 election, for instance, former Liberal prime minister, Pierre Trudeau, opposed wage and price controls and reneged immediately after he had won the election.
During the 1993 election campaign, Jean Chrétien promised that he would “kill” and “abolish” the GST. Well we know how that turned out. In the same election, the Grits’ platform contained a plank that called for renegotiation of NAFTA. Fortunately for Canadians, the Liberals reneged on that promise also.
How about the Liberals signing Kyoto and never really implementing it? They claimed to be for health care, but slashed funding to the bone in the 1990s.
Since returning to Canada and entering federal politics, Mr. Ignatieff has repeatedly supported a low-tax regime for Canadian corporations. He’s quoted as saying, as recently as May 16, 2010, “We will cut corporate taxes again.”
In the 2008 election campaign, Ignatieff, Bob Rae, etc., claimed they saw the financial crisis and global recession coming—even warned PM Stephen Harper about the gathering storm. Still the Liberals ran with an election platform plank, saying in a June 19, 2008 Liberal press release:
“We will accelerate and deepen the currently planned corporate tax cuts, reducing the general corporate tax rate by an additional one per cent within four years. That means the federal corporate tax rate in Canada will be only 14 per cent by the 2012.”
It has been well reported that Mr. Ignatieff told The Glasgow Herald in 2004, “I am an American Democrat. I will vote for Kerry in November.” How truthful was that?
So I repeat, can voters trust what Mr. Ignatieff said on CBC about no formal coalition?
Consider the following scenario.
Conservatives win a minority of seats and form the government following the May 2 election. The Conservatives present their budget, which is voted down by the opposition—they have promised to do this. Michael Ignatieff is invited to form a government.
Now here’s the catch.
The Bloc and the NDP, quite rightly, don’t trust the Liberals any more than they do the Tories. Also, Jack Layton thirsts for a taste of some participation in government. He desperately wishes to wet his beak. So, since they have advocated a coalition all along, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe both balk at giving Michael Ignatieff a free ride and insist on a written agreement, and—at least for the NDP—seats at the cabinet table.
Mr. Ignatieff, solemnly looking into the television camera, claims his hand was forced and not wanting another $300-million election, yada yada yada, weasel words, weasel words, weasel words, [you all have heard them before] tells us he has been forced to accede to the NDP-Bloc demands.
Voilà! Liberal-NDP coalition with guaranteed—and paid for—support from the Bloc for two to four years. The full Monty, folks, complete with Bob Rae, Jack Layton, Thomas Mulcair, Pat Martin, et al, in Michael Ignatieff’s cabinet and Elizabeth May in the Senate.
Oh my God!