Date: December 8, 2008
For Release: Immediate
Statement by the Honourable Stéphane Dion
After the election on October 14 I announced I would stay on as Leader of the Liberal Party until my party could select my successor. One of my goals was to ensure an effective opposition to Stephen Harper’s government.
I believe that decision was the right one and I am proud of having forced Stephen Harper to back away from his attempt to force upon Canadians his most ideological and harmful plans in these tough economic times.
The alliance between the Liberal Party and the NDP to replace the Harper government, with the support of the Bloc Québécois, is a solid basis to give Canada a government that reflects both the aspirations of the majority of Canadians and the support of the majority of Members of Parliament. Such a government would be more stable than a minority Conservative government incapable of cooperating with opposition parties.
As the Governor General has granted a prorogation, it is a logical time for us Liberals to assess how we can best prepare our party to carry this fight forward.
There is a sense in the party, and certainly in the caucus, that given these new circumstances the new leader needs to be in place before the House resumes. I agree. I recommend this course to my party and caucus. As always, I want to do what is best for my country and my party, especially when Canadians’ jobs and pensions are at risk.
So I have decided to step aside as Leader of the Liberal Party effective as soon as my successor is duly chosen.
I will offer my unconditional and enthusiastic support to my successor in the same way I have always supported the leaders of our great party. I will work under the next leader’s direction with all my energy in order to give Canada a better government.
I wish to close by making it absolutely clear that my earlier departure does not change the facts of the situation that the Prime Minister has created in the last two weeks.
The Prime Minister and his government refused to lay out a plan to stimulate the economy. The Prime Minister has lost the confidence of the House of Commons. The Prime Minister shut down Parliament to save his job while thousands of Canadians are losing theirs. The Prime Minister has poisoned the well of trust and respect that is necessary for a minority government to work in Parliament – especially in a time of crisis.
Mr. Harper took an economic crisis and added a parliamentary crisis that he then tried to transform into a national unity crisis: this is no way for a Prime Minister of Canada to act.
It is my hope that the decision I have announced today will enhance the capacity of Parliament to function effectively for the sake of Canadians in this economic crisis.
Stéphane Dion, PC, MP