Skip to main content

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff responds to a question during a news conference Sunday, April 24, 2011 in Toronto.Paul Chiasson/ The Canadian Press

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff defended plans to draft former prime minister Jean Chrétien as a high-profile vote-getter in the party's federal election campaign.

Mr. Ignatieff was asked point blank on the hit Radio-Canada talk show Tout le monde en parle -- which aired Sunday night - if he would not prefer to distance himself from Mr. Chrétien because the infamous sponsorship scandal in Quebec happened on the former Liberal prime minister's watch.

"I am proud of what Mr. Chrétien did for the country," Mr. Ignatieff replied.

"Mr. Chrétien put our public finances on the right track," said Mr. Ignatieff on the wildly popular talk show, watched by an average weekly audience of 1.5-million Quebeckers on the Radio-Canada network.

Mr. Chrétien's role will follow that of former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin, who has been helping out by making appearances on the campaign trail.

Mr. Ignatieff was asked by host Guy A. Lepage if he would not prefer to present a fresh image of the Liberal party and not risk - with Mr. Chrétien and Mr. Martin on board - reminding voters of the sponsorship scandal, involving fraudulent activities by Quebec advertising agencies that won contracts from the Liberal government to promote federalism in the lead-up to the 1995 referendum on Quebec sovereignty.

"We are in the process of building a new party with our platform," he replied flatly.

Mr. Ignatieff is the third of the four major party leaders to appear on the show.

Only Stephen Harper has refused to appear on Tout le monde en parle.

NDP leader Jack Layton's recent appearance is credited with giving him a boost in the polls in Quebec.

Mr. Ignatieff brushed aside suggestions on the show that his party is being outpaced by the NDP in Quebec with just one week to go before the election.