Ignatieff rules out coalition as campaign kicks off

The Canadian Press ~ OBJ
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Election date set for May 2

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff votes in favour of a Liberal contempt of Parliament motion in the House of Commons. — File Photo by The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — Michael Ignatieff is ruling out a coalition with the New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois — but Prime Minister Stephen Harper warns the Liberals are not to be trusted on the issue.

The Liberal leader says he’s open to working issue-by-issue with other parties if his party wins the May 2 election.

However, Ignatieff also says he’s “categorically” ruling out a coalition or even a formal arrangement with the Bloc.

“Whoever leads the party that wins the most seats on election day should be called on to form the government,” Ignatieff said in a statement.

“If that is the Liberal party, then I will be required to rapidly seek the confidence of the newly elected Parliament.

“If our government cannot win the support of the House, then Mr. Harper will be called on to form a government and face the same challenge. That is our Constitution. It is the law of the land.”

The statement from Ignatieff emerged from party headquarters about 30 minutes before the election date was even announced.

Later, Harper warned of an opposition coalition, dismissing Ignatieff’s statement and accusing the Liberals of harbouring a hidden agenda.

“Nobody’s going to be fooled,” Harper said in response to questions.

Ignatieff shot back later, in remarks outside the Peace Tower and surrounded by a handful of Liberals now in campaign mode.

“The Harper winter will soon be over,” he said, highlighting the fact the House of Commons found the Harper government “guilty” of contempt of Parliament in a historic vote Friday.

The Liberal leader repeated he will not form a coalition, pointing to the achievements of Lester Pearson’s minority Liberal government in the 1960s, which worked with other parties issue-by-issue rather than forming any coalition.

Ignatieff also moved to smother another Tory claim, saying that a Liberal government would improve social programs “without raising the taxes of Canadian families.” He did not rule out corporate tax hikes.

The coalition question has threatened to dog Ignatieff during the campaign as the Conservatives frequently raise the spectre of a cabal with the NDP and Bloc Quebecois.

The Tories have accused the Liberals of being in bed with the “socialists and separatists.”

Until Saturday morning’s statement, Ignatieff had been coy about a coalition. He dodged questions after the government fell Friday afternoon, repeating the line that Canadians have a choice between a “blue door” and a “red door” — a reference to the party colours of the Conservatives and Liberals.

Organizations: Bloc Quebecois, Conservatives, House of Commons Tory NDP Bloc Quebecois.The Tories

Geographic location: OTTAWA

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  • Concerned Newfoundlander
    April 29, 2011 - 12:59

    WOW! Iggy says no coalition! Not a smart comment by Iggy since a letter addressed to the Governor-General has already been submitted and signed by all Liberal MP's in this province! Unbelieveable Iggy. Liberals cannot be trusted!!!!!!!

  • KD
    March 27, 2011 - 11:47

    It`s time to put this country into majority government I work hard for the money these idiots are wasting with elections iggy maybe rich and will recieve a hugh pension from the taxpayers and couldn`t give a damm that I have to try my best to save enough money to retire someday hopefully what a joke. Come on canadian citizens let`s bury the dead horse called liberal

  • Concerned
    March 27, 2011 - 10:16

    GOD help us if Harper ever gets a majority. He is ignorant to us here in Newfoundland now, if he gets a majority we might as well not exist. Harper is Reform, I do not care what he calls his party now he is reform through and through. Not sure who I am voting for this time all I know it will not be for Harper and the reform party ... oops the Conservative Party.

  • Lacey
    March 27, 2011 - 09:15

    Way to go Ignatieff! Smart move. Now, build some backbone and win the most seats!

  • Frank Blackwood
    March 27, 2011 - 07:11

    Graham, I agree with you. This is an unnecessary election which contempt of Parliament was used as an escapegoat away from the budget, which Canadians were fairly happy with considering the state of the economy at home and globally. I have been talking to Canadians from coast to coast who tell me there will be a Liberal Convention in the fall? They can see MP for Pappineau, Quebec, Justin Trudeau stepping up to the plate. The year 2112 will be the beginning of a new era in politics much like the Pierre Elliott Trudeau fuddle duddle,flower power generation with the youth coming onboard. It will be the Justin Beiber and Justin Trudeau Era soon! Good Luck with your vote this time around.

  • Ex-Fabian Manning Supporter
    March 26, 2011 - 19:54

    Hey Graham, you obviously have pretty low standards for a prime minister if you think Harper "deserves" a majority government. The leader of a national government that, for the first time ever in our history, has been found in contempt of Parliament. A leader who has strong armed the GG twice to porogue parliament to avoid being defeated. A leader whose party offered money to a dying MP to avoid being defeated. A leader whose ministers and their political operatives have frequently been accused of political skullduggery. A leader whose closest associates are under investigation for illegal lobbying and possible fraud. My guess Graham is that you're not from this province. Maybe you are one of those paid party hacks who are told to post comments in newspapers all across the country to help con voters into thinking they actually have an honourable prime minister. If you were from this province you would know that this sleazy character with the support of his side kick Fabian Manning has time and again taken the bread right our of our mouths. Sure he deserves a majority government and I deserve a beach house in the Bahamas.

  • Graham
    March 26, 2011 - 13:23

    Who cares what he rules out he will NEVER form a Government anyway. Hopefully the Prime Minister will now get the majority he deserves and we can get on with business for the next four or five years.by then Iggy will be long gone.