Michael Ignatieff goes to town - Macleans.ca

Michael Ignatieff goes to town

by

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities annual general meeting this weekend will hear from all three leaders of the national parties—a relatively rare convergence of Messrs Harper, Ignatieff and Layton outside the House.

Below is the prepared text for Mr. Ignatieff’s remarks.

Thank you.

I want to thank all of you for the work that you do. You are the first responders of Confederation.

I’m here today with Gerard Kennedy, our Liberal infrastructure critic. We’re building a Canada Communities Network, to link up our efforts to the municipal leaders on the front lines.

Quand il s’agit de travailler au nom de la population canadienne, il faut que la confiance et le respect règnent entre tous les paliers de gouvernement : fédéral, provincial, territorial, municipal et autochtone.

Il faut être des partenaires de plein droit.

My party has a basic disagreement with the current government over the relationship between municipalities and the federal government.

Any federal leader that tells you to take your problems elsewhere-any federal leader that says, we deal directly with the provinces, not with you-any prime minister that fails to treat you with equal respect is failing our federation.

We see you as equal partners.

Il y a cinq ans, nous avons présenté le Nouveau pacte pour les villes et les municipalités.

This weekend, we’re celebrating the fifth anniversary of the New Deal for Cities and Communities.

The GST rebate. The gas tax transfer. Certain, predictable funding, with input from municipalities-and the most important contribution to municipal public finance in a generation.

Thank you, John Godfrey. Thank you, Paul Martin.

Compare this to the Conservatives.

Il y a un contraste marqué entre l’approche libérale et celle des conservateurs.

Quand ils ont finalement compris que nous nous dirigions vers une récession, ils ont présenté un budget qui promettait des milliards de dollars pour l’infrastructure.

Un an plus tard, vous payez pour les promesses qu’ils n’ont pas tenues.

When they finally got around to getting some stimulus into the economy, the Conservatives ignored the advice you gave them-advice we repeated on the floor of the House of Commons:

If you want to create jobs and build communities-use the gas tax.

Use the gas tax, and you make the March 2011 deadline irrelevant.

But the Conservatives didn’t listen to you. They didn’t listen to us, either-but that’s less surprising.

Instead of using the gas tax, they politicized the stimulus and delayed the funding.

They made bureaucrats in Ottawa accountable, instead of local elected officials.

They wasted months-and millions of dollars-on TV advertising and self-promotion, while an entire construction season drifted by.

At the end of last year, almost 1.5 billion dollars in promised infrastructure funding lapsed, unspent.

You can’t build a country out of press releases-but these guys seem determined to try.

And we all know what they’re going to do in Budget 2011, if they get that far-savage cuts to municipal infrastructure are on the way.

Here’s why: Stephen Harper’s number one economic policy is to borrow another 6 billion dollars-every year-to reduce taxes for corporations that are already profitable.

This is when our corporate tax rate is already one of the lowest in the G7, and 25 percent lower than our biggest competitor, the United States.

The Conservatives believe that the only thing they need to do to create jobs is cut corporate taxes.

We’d make a different choice: Freeze corporate taxes where they are, get our fiscal house in order, and invest in the Canadian future.

Grâce à Jean Chrétien et Paul Martin, le taux combiné d’imposition des sociétés au Canada est déjà 25 % plus bas que notre principal concurrent. Vous avez bien compris : les impôts payés par les sociétés au Canada sont 25 % plus faibles qu’aux États-Unis.

Le Canada est déjà très concurrentiel.

Ces baisses d’impôt, nous allons les repousser, jusqu’à ce que nous ayons les moyens de les accorder.

Par cette simple mesure, nous pouvons dégager des milliards de dollars.

Il y a un choix à faire :

On bien on offre des milliards de baisses d’impôts additionnelles aux entreprises…

Ou bien on investit cette somme pour réduire le déficit et investir dans notre avenir.

We need more than corporate tax cuts to build a stronger economy and a stronger society.

We need public infrastructure. Transit. Affordable housing.

We need a national vision for public transit. In the last five years, a significant amount of the gas tax has gone towards world-class public transit. We can be proud of that achievement.

You deserve a federal partner that works with you on the next generation of transit infrastructure. A new Liberal government will be that federal partner.

We need the same kind of partnership on affordable housing.

We need to find ways to create incentives for building affordable rental units. I hear this right across the country. I hear it from seniors in Burnaby who can’t afford a place to live. Different orders of government have different levers here-we need to work together.

We should also find innovative ways to finance public infrastructure over the longer term. Some provinces-BC, for example-have led the way on P3s.

In other words, there are ways to fund infrastructure that don’t require Conservative MPs handing out giant cheques.

En mars, notre parti a tenu une conférence à Montréal. Près de 25 000 Canadiens ont participé, notamment sur l’Internet et dans le cadre de plus de 70 activités parallèles un peu partout au pays.

We left the Montréal conference with three clear priorities: learning, care, and Canadian leadership in the world.

These are the three priorities that we’ll take to Canadians in the next election. And municipal issues are at the centre of all three.

Take our first priority, learning.

Nous devons travailler ensemble, dans le respect des juridictions, afin de faire du Canada un symbole de savoir et d’innovation. Ce doit être notre marque de commerce. Nous en ferons notre priorité numéro un.

In Montréal, we had Lloyd Axworthy, from the University of Winnipeg, talking about Aboriginal education-especially in the context of an exploding urban Aboriginal population.

This is a local issue as much as it is a federal issue, and we have got to work together to get it right.

Early learning and childcare. Support for Aboriginal students. Language training for new immigrants. Skills training for young people.

None of this will be possible without networks of responsibilities-and strong partnerships between governments, the private sector, and civil society.

Les soins constituent notre deuxième priorité.

Nous voulons rendre la tâche plus facile aux familles qui s’occupent d’un proche à la maison. Nous voulons protéger notre système de soins de santé et nos régimes de retraite.

Our second priority is care-helping families take care of their loved ones, as more and more Canadians are squeezed between caring for ageing parents and caring for young children.

Cities and communities are on the front lines. Right across Canada, you’ve got programs up and running. Seniors’ care, youth programming, early learning centres, recreational infrastructure.

We’ve got to get you at the table, define common national objectives, figure out who does what, and move forward as one country.

Vous devez être partie prenante de la solution. Nous comptons tout près de 150 années d’expérience, qui nous indiquent qu’Ottawa ne peut tout faire tout seul.

Notre troisième priorité sera de rétablir le leadership canadien sur la scène internationale.

Our third priority is Canadian leadership in the world.

We want to make Canada the most open, most international society on earth. That starts in your backyard-and I don’t just mean closing downtown for the G20.

Our cities and communities have a global profile. You are as international as our country as a whole. And when we talk about Canada’s voice in the world, you’re part of it.

Au sommet de l’ONU sur les changements climatiques, qui s’est tenu à Copenhague l’an dernier, nos dirigeants municipaux ont été de bien meilleurs représentants du Canada que le gouvernement fédéral.

Le problème tient au fait qu’en l’absence d’un leadership fédéral, nos villes, nos provinces et nos ONG se sont toutes contredites, tandis qu’Ottawa a délibérément gardé le silence.

Nous ne sommes pas obligés de parler d’une seule voix, mais nous devons tous dire la même chose.

Mayors and municipal leaders like Gregor Robertson are out there leading the way on sustainability and clean infrastructure. So are provincial governments.

But we’ve had nothing from Ottawa for four long years

Canada has everything we need to become the greenest country on the planet. Our people are engaged. We care about our protecting the air our kids breathe, and the water they drink.

We have one of the world’s great stores of natural resources, and we have the brainpower to use them more sustainably.

Canada can lead on the environment. We can lead on clean energy and green infrastructure-but first we need federal leadership.

We can renew Canadian leadership in the world-but first we need federal leadership.

We can give our cities the global profile you have earned-but first we need a federal government that backs you all the way.

That’s the government I want to lead.

Above all, you deserve a government that listens, that keeps its promises, and brings our country closer together.

One of the great national unity issues in our country-something I’ve talked about since I came into politics-is the divide between rural and urban Canada.

Every Canadian deserves an equal chance at the promise of Canadian life, no matter where in the country they live.

That’s why, at last year’s FCM conference, in Whistler, I pledged to “examine every policy proposal, every commitment the Liberal Party makes, through the lens of rural Canada.”

And that’s why, in the last few months, we’ve made good on that pledge, with new policies to narrow the urban-rural divide:

100 percent high-speed internet coverage. Tax breaks for volunteer fire fighters. More doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners in rural, remote, and Northern communities. And a National Food Policy, to put more Canadian food on Canadian plates.

Behind all this is a passion for unity-a primal urge to bring us closer together-as one great people, sharing one great country, whose best days lie ahead.

We can be immensely proud of what we’ve achieved together.

Just this week, four Canadian cities ranked in the top 25 most liveable in the world. That’s a testament to the Canadian people, and to the talent of our municipal leaders.

We’re a proud but impatient country. Canada is unfinished business.

But we are here today because we believe in this country. We believe in our potential. We believe that we can choose the Canada we want, the country worthy of our hopes, our potential, and our children’s dreams.

That’s the Canada we’ll build together.

Thanks for listening.