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Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff flips a bagel into the air during a campaign stop in a Montreal with former cabinet minister Martin Cauchon on March 27, 2011. (CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/REUTERS)
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff flips a bagel into the air during a campaign stop in a Montreal with former cabinet minister Martin Cauchon on March 27, 2011. (CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/REUTERS)

Liberal Campaign

Ignatieff's pitch: 'Quebec has the power to change things' Add to ...

Michael Ignatieff appealed directly to Quebeckers Sunday, telling them they have the power to change the government - and that a vote for the Bloc is a vote to keep Stephen Harper's Conservatives in power.

"I understand that for many Quebeckers who do not share the priorities of Stephen Harper, the Bloc can be a way to express disagreement," the Liberal Leader said in Montreal, according to the text of the speech given to reporters.

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"This is not the time to send that message to the Harper government. This is not the time to stop or limit it. It's time to replace it."

Mr. Ignatieff also told Quebeckers they don't have to choose between two identities. "Stay free. Stay Canadian and Quebecois at the same time."

He suggested that an engaged Quebec makes a stronger Canada - and he unveiled a new Liberal slogan: "Quebec has the power to change things."

Mr. Ignatieff chose to head to Montreal for the second day of the federal election campaign that ends May 2.

He began his day in the riding of Outremont - a one-time Liberal bastion that fell to the New Democrats in a 2007 by-election. Martin Cauchon, the former Chrétien cabinet minister, is trying to win it back from deputy NDP leader Thomas Mulcair. He will have a tough fight.

Mr. Ignatieff visits Quebec as a new Crop poll shows his party is running behind the NDP and the Conservatives. The unpopularity of Jean Charest's provincial government is certainly not helping Liberal fortunes in the key battleground.

The Liberal Leader is travelling with two Quebec policy advisers - Patrice Ryan, the son of former Quebec premier Claude Ryan, and Robert Asselin, who a former aide to Stéphane Dion who is now with the University of Ottawa.

In his speech, Mr. Ignatieff reached out to Quebeckers, arguing it's time for them to "take your place in the leadership of the country."

"You can be proud Quebeckers and Canadians at the same time, in the order that you want," he said. "Quebec pride, proud Canadian, no contradiction."

As he has before, Mr. Ignatieff attacked the Conservative Leader, saying that Mr. Harper and his party are "out-of-touch and out-of-control."

He reminded his audience of the Tory ethical troubles of late, including twice being found in "breach of privilege" by the Commons Speaker and that a former senior Harper aide, Bruce Carson, is facing accusations of influence peddling.

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