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Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff takes part in a Globe and Mail editorial board discussion at the Globe and Mail's head office in Toronto, Sunday, April 24, 2011. (Darren Calabrese)
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff takes part in a Globe and Mail editorial board discussion at the Globe and Mail's head office in Toronto, Sunday, April 24, 2011. (Darren Calabrese)

At the Editorial Board

Michael Ignatieff, on the record Add to ...

Michael Ignatieff, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, visited The Globe and Mail editorial board on Sunday, April 24. The complete transcript is below. For selected extracts, click here.

I go into the final week with a sense of ... serene optimism. Serenity in the sense that what I've seen on the ground has been an energized, full rooms - people understanding how important the election is to them. I think the issue that we started with had to do with democracy; a sense of deep skepticism about this Prime Minister's respect for our institutions.

I mean, we had this election because this Prime Minister was found in contempt of Parliament, and that is never done. Were you to endorse this man again for Prime Ministership. you are endorsing a man found for the first time in contempt of our basic institutions.

And when I go across the country, I'm very struck about how angry Canadians are about that issue. So one of the fundamental issues is simply restoring a common faith and trust in our institutions. You don't have Prime Ministers who prorogue Parliament twice, who withhold crucial data from Parliament.

So that democracy issue, which has been floating around there, seems to be a very important one.

But the other thing that has made me optimistic is the sense that after a lot of work, two and a half years on the road, we have a platform that actually speaks to Canadians in a very direct way. They really do want child care spaces for their kids, and believe that we have an efficient delivery mechanism to actually get it done. They're worried about the cost of post-secondary education for their kids. The Learning Passport, of all the things I've ever talked about in politics, has been the most successful, the most enthusiastically received. It's not just a question of being popular - we're the party that's saying, "If you want to do something to create a strong economy, the most important thing a government can do is invest in learning and training."

Early learning, through college and post-secondary, making it accessible to all, to lifting that cap on aboriginal education, so every aboriginal kid can gets a shot, to improved language instruction for immigrants. That's crucial, there's an immigrant success gap, the Conservatives have cut that. To making sure that when our veterans come home, they get their college and university education paid for.

So when you put that together, it's a massive statement about what a government should be doing to create the conditions for economic success in the future. In our view, what we've been saying from the beginning in the platform is: What has made this country go has been equality of opportunity.

So these are not just social programs, these are programs that are crucial to the economic future of the country. When you go to China, they didn't have more than 5 universities in 1970; now they've got 140 or something. This is the world we're in, and why we think investment in learning is actually a better way to deal with the economic challenges of our country than corporate taxes. We think an 18 per cent corporate tax rate is already competitive. So that choice is making sense to Canadians - they understand what we're trying to say to them, it's not fantasy, it's not complicated.

We also notice, just the incredible burden of caring for loved ones in the home. It didn't come from top-down, it came from public meeting after meeting. People saying, "we're both working two shifts, mom and dad have gotten sick, they've got to be looked after in the home." Or, "I've got a chronically sick child, what do we do, how can we get the system to be flexible?" So the home care stuff has been very important, and not just as a single program, but because everybody's sense is that this is where the future of health care is going; it's going into the home. So we as a country need to be thinking about how we help those deliver care in the home.

Energy costs. You know, I go to a meeting in Brampton, and all they want to do is talk about rising gas prices. I can't do anything about global gas prices, but I can do something to reduce your energy costs in the home, with the environmental renovation tax credit.

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