Ignatieff to Harper: Meet key demands or face defeat

Liberal chief says he's seeking 'co-operation, not confrontation' on EI, stimulus funds

Last Updated: Monday, June 15, 2009 | 1:23 PM ET


\Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff held a media conference on Monday to respond to the Conservatives' economic progress report. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)


Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff listed a series of conditions on Monday that he said Prime Minister Stephen Harper must meet to avoid the Liberals toppling the minority Conservative government and triggering a summer election.

Ignatieff told a press conference that he doesn't want an election, but feels he must hold the government accountable after the Tories released their economic progress report last week.

Ignatieff insisted his party is ready to vote against the government on Friday, saying the prospect of a summer election remains the "choice of the prime minister."

"I am not seeking an election," he said. “I’m seeking co-operation, not confrontation, but the prime minister has to be very clear about my intentions."

According to Ignatieff, the government must meet the following four conditions:

Ignatieff said the government's answers and performance so far on these issues "just aren't good enough."

The earliest opposition parties could defeat the Tories in the House of Commons is Friday, as MPs vote on the latest round of spending estimates in support of the government's economic recovery plan.

Since the estimates are attached to budgetary measures, the vote will be a confidence vote, capable of leading to the government's defeat. The Liberals also have an opposition day Friday, where they could present a non-confidence vote, but Ignatieff made no mention of such a move.

The NDP and Bloc Québécois have already said that they will reject the economic report.

In anticipation of criticism from the Tories, Ignatieff insisted the Liberals will act independently of the other two opposition parties.

"The idea that we are in coalition is simply false," he said. "There is no coalition."

'Pragmatic' approach to EI

Ignatieff added he was willing to extend the current session in Parliament and promised a "pragmatic" approach to resolving the EI issue.

"I am prepared to make compromises that will help the unemployed to get more help in tough times," he said.

Speaking to reporters following Ignatieff's appearance, Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe criticized the Liberal chief for his "vague" and "inadequate" demands on the Harper government.

"I don't know what he wants," Duceppe said.

"Three of the so-called conditions are just reports, and the other one is saying that he wants to know the plan on EI. Knowing the plan and taking concrete action are very different."

Ignatieff has called for an immediate, temporary change to the EI system that would make people eligible for EI benefits if they've worked 360 hours in the previous 52 weeks — regardless of where they live.

The NDP and Bloc Québécois have called for the EI eligibility threshold to be expanded permanently, not just for as long as the current recession lasts.

Duceppe and NDP Leader Jack Layton have also called for the elimination of the two-week benefit waiting period and for self-employed workers to have access to benefits.

The Conservatives put forward their own EI system changes, including a $500-million program for retraining laid-off, long-tenured workers and an extension of EI benefits if applicants participate in longer-term training of up to two years.

The Tories have lambasted Ignatieff's EI proposal, saying it would require a massive increase in payroll taxes and allow Canadians to claim a year's worth of benefits after working just 45 days.

Ignatieff denied his plan would lead to a payroll tax boost. He said his EI proposals would make the system fairer and provide the "best immediate stimulus” to the Canadian economy.

With files from Rosemary Barton and The Canadian Press




The polarization of the comments and the language is disturbing.
I'd like to see more of the posts that accurately describe the issues
and provide some realistic solutions to the substantive problems
facing Canada.

IGY, and Harper could have done just a little research to learn about those real substantive problems facing Canadians and I'll mention them.

1. Canada has a declining birth rate that promises to be a massive economic problem but its a future problem, a bit like running up the National Debt in thousands of billions.

The solution is to remove all the incentives towards marriage destruction and remove the disincentives towards having children.

The only solution is for:
A) A Legal Presumption of Equal Parenting after separation.

B) Charter rights for children to know who their father is, and for ALL children and fathers to have DNA confirmation of parentage on their birth certificate. Presently 25% of all children have a father named who is NOT the biological father.

C) Equitable child support guidlines that assume both parents have similar costs and factor in the difference in incomes.

D) Scrap Anti-Male legislation and Gestapo like organizations like the Ontario Family Responsibility Office. The cost in collection exceeds the money collected.

E) Abolish "debtor's prisons", parents in jail cannot earn incomes or pay support.

F) introduce a real Authority for policing or regulating the Judiciary. Presently the Canadian Judicial Council is nothing more than a Sanitizer for complaints.

G. Allow child support to be varied monthly according to monthly income tax statements.

H. Legislate that both men and women have equal rights to spousal support. Presently only women receive spousal support.