About the Liberal Party of Canada
The Liberal Party of Canada built an inclusive and prosperous Canada through a national vision that puts people first.
The hallmarks of our nation – the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, universal health care, our national flag, peacekeeping, bilingualism and multiculturalism, national unity, fiscal responsibility – are Liberal achievements.
Canada’s legacy was forged under Liberal leadership.
Reformers like Louis-Joseph Papineau and William Lyon Mackenzie fought for the early democratic reforms at the heart of our system of responsible government. Wilfrid Laurier built the nation from West to East. Canada came of age under Mackenzie King’s industrial and wartime advances. Lester Pearson achieved healthcare for all and prestige for Canada on the world stage. Pierre Trudeau made Canada into a just society. Jean Chrétien strengthened Canada’s national unity. Paul Martin left Canada with the strongest economy in the world.
In recent years the Liberal Party of Canada helped to define the issues that will shape Canada’s future: returning this country to economic and fiscal health, achieving environmental sustainability, giving our youngest citizens a head start in life through national early-learning child care, and creating a bright future for our First Nations peoples through the historic Kelowna accord.
The next chapter in the Liberal Party of Canada’s history will unfold under the leadership of Michael Ignatieff. Inspired by the high standards set by our party’s past, Liberals are united and ready to achieve the next big national projects that will tie Canadians together.
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Michael Ignatieff is the Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, the Leader of the Official Opposition, and the Member of Parliament for Etobicoke-Lakeshore.
Since first being elected to Parliament in 2006, he’s travelled to every corner of the country, listening to Canadians’ stories and talking to them about their hopes and dreams for their children and grandchildren. It’s the same approach Michael has taken during his long career as a scholar, writer, and journalist, and as one of Canada’s leading voices on the world stage.
Before entering politics in 2005, Michael served as Director of the Carr Centre for Human Rights at Harvard University and taught at leading universities around the globe. He has been a proud contributor to international public policy for nearly four decades, as an author, broadcaster, and advisor.
Deep Liberal roots
In 1965, as a Young Liberal, Michael knocked on doors for Lester B. Pearson. In the election of 1968, he travelled across the country with Pierre Trudeau, as his national youth organizer. In March 2005, Michael delivered the keynote address at the Biennial Liberal Convention in Ottawa and later that year became the Liberal candidate for Etobicoke-Lakeshore. He was elected as a Member of Parliament in January 2006. In December 2006 he was appointed as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, serving in this capacity for nearly two years. He became the Leader of the Liberal Party on December 10, 2008.
Michael’s commitment to Liberal values has defined him throughout his career, from his undergraduate years at the University of Toronto to his graduate work at Oxford and Harvard to his first teaching job at the University of British Columbia and the long career that followed. Michael has been a leading advocate for human rights, democracy, and international law, and has been recognized around the world for his leadership and scholarship.
A public career supporting human rights and communities in conflict
As a writer and a journalist, Michael reported on the religious and ethnic wars in Afghanistan, Rwanda, and the Balkans. He believes that Canada, with its diversity of peoples, languages, and cultures, is stronger because of the differences that define us as a country. He has seen, in some of the darkest places on earth, that Canada is a model for the world. Michael is committed to restoring Canadian leadership—the Canadian example that has been a beacon of hope for so many, for so long.
Michael has been a leading advocate for this international leadership throughout his career, as a teacher at universities around the world: the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia, Cambridge University in Britain, l’École des Hautes Études in Paris, and Harvard University, where for five years he was Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights. He’s contributed to the World Economic Forum and served on international commissions that have contemplated the future of NATO, humanitarian law, citizenship and minority rights.
In 2001, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy appointed Michael as one of Canada’s representatives on the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, a groundbreaking effort to help shape future United Nations actions in response to humanitarian crises.
A thoughtful and engaging communicator
Michael’s first job was as a staff writer at The Globe and Mail in Toronto. He’s hosted popular programs on the CBC, TVO, the BBC, and Britain’s Channel 4, and still writes for various public affairs magazines and reviews.
He’s written 17 books, most recently True Patriot Love, which was published in April 2009. True Patriot Love explores the history of Canada through four generations of his mother’s family, the Grants, beginning with his great-grandfather, the Reverend George Munro Grant, who travelled from coast to coast with Sir Sanford Fleming in 1872 to survey a route for the transcontinental railway.
Michael is the recipient of eleven honourary degrees, a Gemini Award from the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, the Governor-General Award for non-fiction, and was recognized as the Parliamentarian of the Year in 2007.
Check against delivery.
Monsieur le Président,
Avant de commencer, j’aimerais parler de vous.
Vous arrivez à la fin de votre mandat comme Président de la Chambre, et j’aimerais témoigner de l’affection et le respect que nous avons tous pour vous.
Vos règlements et vos jugements ont marqué l’histoire de notre pays.
You have taught us all – sometimes with modest rebuke, sometimes with stern force of argument – to understand, to respect, and to cherish the rules of Canadian democracy, and for that alone, all Canadians will be grateful to you.
This is a historic day in the life of the democracy you have served so well.
I have to inform the House that the Official Opposition has lost confidence in the government.
Le gouvernement ne jouit plus de la confiance de l’Opposition officielle.
Our motion asks the House to agree with the finding in the 27th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented on March 21st.
This was a historic finding, Mr. Speaker. It was the first time that a parliamentary committee has found the government in contempt.
Today, with this motion, we ask the House to do the same – to find the government in contempt, and to withdraw the confidence of the House.
Avec cette motion, nous demandons aux députés de condamner le gouvernement pour outrage au Parlement, et par conséquent de lui retirer la confiance de la Chambre.
C’est un moment important, Monsieur le Président, dans l’histoire de notre démocratie. Mais c’est aussi une opportunité d’affirmer notre attachement à la démocratie parlementaire et à ses principes fondamentaux.
De quels principes parlons-nous? Que le gouvernement doit offrir aux députes toute l’information qu’ils jugent nécessaire afin de tenir l’exécutif redevable devant le peuple canadien.
The principle at stake in this debate goes to the heart of parliamentary democracy: the obligation of a government to provide members of this House with the information they need in order to hold the government accountable to the people of Canada.
We are the people’s representatives. When the government spends money, the people have a right to know what it is to be spent on. This Parliament does not write blank cheques.
For four months, the opposition asked the government to tell the Canadian people the true cost of their budget plans.
For four months, we demanded to know how much Canadian taxpayers were being asked to pay for fighter jets, for prisons, and for corporate tax breaks.
For four months, this House – and the Canadian people – were stonewalled by this government.
Pendant quatre mois, nous avons demandé des comptes de ce gouvernement.
Pendant quatre mois, nous avons demandé le vrai coût des avions de chasse, des prisons, et des baisses d’impôts pour les grandes entreprises.
Pendant quatre mois, nous n’avons reçu aucune réponse, mis à part le mépris et l’arrogance de ce gouvernement.
Et toujours, aucune réponse.
Nous étions choqués, mais n’étions pas surpris.
Après tout c’est le même gouvernement qui a fermé le Parlement à deux reprises, le même gouvernement qui était forcé par un de vos règlements de livrer des documents dans le dossier des détenus afghans. Nous attendons toujours ces documents.
In the case of the Afghan documents, the government’s excuse for withholding the truth was national security.
In the case of the budget documents, they did not even bother to come up with an excuse.
You held that the rules of our democracy require the government to answer the questions that Parliament wants answered. You sent the matter back to a committee for action and they came back with a finding of contempt.
So this is why we are here now. The House must decide whether the government has broken a basic rule of our democracy and therefore whether it can remain in office.
For our part, there is no doubt. You have spoken, Mr. Speaker. The committee has spoken. And now the House must speak with a clear voice: a government that breaks the rules and conceals facts from the Canadian people does not deserve to remain in office.
Un gouvernement qui ne respecte pas la démocratie ne mérite pas de rester en place. Ça suffit!
Si le résultat de ce vote est une élection, le peuple canadien aura l’occasion de remplacer ce gouvernement arrogant avec un gouvernement qui respecte la démocratie.
To those who say an election is “unnecessary,” I reply: we did not seek an election, but if we need one to replace a government that doesn’t respect democracy with one that does, I can’t think of no more necessary an election!
It is not just democracy that this House must affirm this afternoon; it should also affirm Canadians’ hunger for change.
It is time to change Canada’s direction. Time to get us on the right path.
After five years of Conservative government, it is time to say enough is enough. Enough of the politics of fear. Enough of the politics of division. Enough of the politics of personal destruction.
Assez, c’est assez.
Regardez les priorités de ce gouvernement.
Il propose de dépenser mille fois plus sur les avions de chasse que sur l’aide aux étudiants au cegep et à l’université. Nous disons non.
Il offre moins aux aînés pour toute l’année que ce qu’ils ont dépensé en une seule journée au sommet du G-20. Nous disons non à ce gaspillage.
Le gouvernement propose de dépenser mille fois de plus sur les prisons que sur la prévention du crime. Nous disons non, et encore non.
Les priorités de ce gouvernement ne reflètent plus les priorités des familles canadiennes. Ça suffit! Assez, c’est assez.
The priorities of this government, laid bare in its budget, reveal a government out of touch and out of control.
No credible plan to tackle the deficit. No numbers we can believe in. No vision of how to sustain our health care system. Not a word about affordable housing, or childcare, or the pressing needs of Canadian families in poverty.
Instead: jets, jails, and giveaways to oil companies, insurance companies, and banks, who are doing just fine, thank you.
So we need a change. We need to focus scarce resources where they really matter: early learning and childcare; college and university education for all, especially Aboriginal and immigrant Canadians; energy efficiency and green jobs; family care for our loved ones in the home; and security and dignity in retirement.
All of this, plus a clear plan to clean up our country’s finances and get us back to balance, without adding to the tax burden on Canadian families.
These are the priorities of our people. These are the needs we must serve.
These are the priorities at home. We have so much ground to catch up abroad.
We have a government that lost our place in the world, lost our place at the Security Council of the United Nations.
We need a government that restores our honor on the international stage, a government that understands the deep and committed internationalism in the hearts of our citizens.
Enfin, nous avons besoin d’un gouvernement des citoyens, redevable devant les citoyens, au service des citoyens et de la démocratie.
Des membres de ce gouvernement sont accusés de fraude électorale; un proche du Premier Ministre est accusé de trafic d’influence. Ça suffit. On est “pucapab.”
I return to where I started, to democracy and the abuse of power.
We have a government whose most senior members stand accused of electoral fraud.
We have a Prime Minister who appointed as his top advisor someone who served prison time for stealing money from his clients, someone who now faces accusations of influence peddling.
Canadians have had enough. This House has had enough.
Abuse of power. Abus de pouvoir.
Mauvais choix économiques. Bad choices for our families and our economy.
The largest deficit in Canadian history. The highest-spending government in Canadian history. The most wasteful government in Canadian history. And, finally, the first government in Canadian history to face a vote of contempt in the Canadian Parliament. A government out of touch and out of control.
It is time for a change.
Monsieur le Président, je fais appel à tous les députés d’appuyer notre motion. I call on all members of this House to support our motion.
ACCOUNTABILITY & Democratic Renewal
Liberals believe that through transparency and accountability, governments can become stronger through the enhanced relationship that openness fosters with citizens. After over four years of witnessing the most secretive government in Canadian history, a government that has twice shut Parliament down altogether, Canadians have understandably become increasingly disenchanted with our political system.
Liberals have already begun to repair this damage. Unlike the present government, we will fully comply with the Access to Information Act and Conflict of Interest Act. We will also take advantage of the latest technological tools to increase accountability. Michael Ignatieff has already held several online town halls, in addition to numerous in-person, unscripted town halls across the country, where our Leader answers every question that is asked.
What’s more, to create a new level of accountability for government spending and to spur innovation and economic growth, a Liberal government will open government to the public through four specific measures. Learn more about our Open Government Initiative here.
We have also chosen to make public policy in public through the interactive Canada at 150 conference and subsequent regional policy days. Combining this with a cross-country Liberal Express tour, it is the Liberal Party that continues to demonstrate to Canadians an open and honest alternative to the Conservative government’s culture of deceit.
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