'Many thanks for your help on this'

Michael Ignatieff writes to members of the British Columbia legislature.

I am writing to you as fellow Parliamentarians… to ask you a favour.

Prime Minister Harper will be addressing your legislature tomorrow.  We think that having the Prime Minister of Canada address the BC Legislature is a commendable way to mark the Winter Olympics coming to British Columbia.  So I want to congratulate you on this important event.

Here in Ottawa, we haven’t been quite so lucky.  Not only can we not get Mr. Harper inside our legislature these days, but he’s actually gone to the extreme of shutting down Parliament altogether.

While he has put forward a series of excuses to justify his actions, we in the opposition actually think Mr.  Harper shut down Parliament to avoid some uncomfortable questions about his government’s performance.

And that’s where the favour comes in.  Since we in the House of Commons can’t ask Mr. Harper any questions, and since you’ll have him in the BC Legislature, maybe you could try and get some answers from him.   Here are some of the questions we’d like you to ask Mr. Harper on our behalf and on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have spoken out and rallied against prorogation:

1.    Millions of hard working Canadians can’t “prorogue” themselves a break from their jobs or their obligations.   They want and expect the issues they care about to be discussed in a democratic way in the Parliament of Canada.  So, will Mr. Harper apologize to Canadians for shutting down Parliament?

2.    Mr. Harper’s government has gained a reputation for bullying and strong-arming independent watchdogs that serve the public interest, like the Nuclear Safety Commission, the RCMP Complaints Commission and Military Police Complaints Commission.  All of these abuses of power are dangerous in a democracy.  When will he show the respect for these watchdogs by strengthening them instead of attacking and undermining them?

3.    This past month, my party has put forward cost-effective proposals to create new, well-paying jobs for Canadians of all ages and backgrounds.

These proposals would:

– provide hard-hit Canadian manufacturers with a cash advance for new equipment;

– give incentives to businesses to hire young Canadians who have been burdened by mounting job losses; and

– encourage Canadian investors, through either tax credits or incentives, to give to Canadian entrepreneurs and start-ups

Will Mr. Harper include these concrete proposals in his March budget and immediately stimulate job creation and help Canadian workers and businesses alike?

4.    On the environment, Mr. Harper has refused to show leadership, insisting instead of hiding behind the excuse that he is waiting for the American government to act so he can follow.  Canadians don’t want their government to follow orders from Washington on this or any issue.  Will Mr. Harper give us a made-in-Canada environmental policy – not one that’s made in Washington?

I know this is a long shot.   Mr. Harper absolutely refuses to answer questions that make him uncomfortable, especially when they come from the media or from his fellow elected officials.  But given the unprecedented situation, I’m sure you will agree that it is worth the try.

Many thanks for your help on this.


Michael Ignatieff
Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada