Federal Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says it’s better to create a green energy future together than replay old feuds between prov-inces.
After meeting voters at Tim Hortons in Kelligrews Monday morning, Ignatieff met reporters at the gas station and convenience store next door and took questions for about half an hour.
Many of the questions, including the first, had to do with clean energy, possible support for the Muskrat Fall’s hydroelectric project and how to appease other provinces that have voiced concerns over a Conservative promise to provide Newfoundland and Labrador with financial support towards that project.
Ignatieff stopped short of pledging to help fund the project, but suggested that is only because he needs to see the fine print.
“I haven’t seen the details. I haven’t seen the proposal,” he said. “A responsible leader, a man who would like to be prime minister if I get the honour, wants to look at the file in detail.”
But Ignatieff said he’s confident “the numbers will add up.”
When challenged by reporters on how he would defend federal support for the first phase of the Lower Churchill, while still pacifying critics in the country’s two largest provinces who say such support is unfair, Ignatieff suggested the timing is right for a historic national energy plan.
“Muskrat Falls is going to happen,” said Ignatieff.
“It means Quebec has a historic choice of whether it has a green energy competitor next door or whether it decides (to) figure out a way to do some things together.”
The Liberal leader said he realized it wouldn’t be easy to find common ground between this province and Quebec, considering the long, acrimonious history between the two.
But Ignatieff said if the provinces co-operate they could bring green power not only to Atlantic Canada and New England, but into Ontario.
“You can’t leave Ontario out of this. It’s a huge market for Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec,” he said.
He said a national green energy strategy would also aim to improve interprovincial energy sharing.
“The provinces have the resources, they have the jurisdiction. But the federal government has the responsibility to make sure we don’t have competing energy markets, but we have co-operative energy markets,” said Ignatieff.
Reporters also asked Ignatieff if he feels voters are warming up to him.
“It’s not about me. It’s about what we are saying to the Canadian people,” he replied. “This election platform that were putting out is practical hope for Canadian families.”
Ignatieff suggested it would be the Liberal message, not the messenger that will get through to Canadians.
The Liberal platform includes policies on early learning and child care, better pensions after retirement, home care and tax incentives for people to make their houses more energy efficient.
The campaign stop was in the riding of Avalon, where Liberal incumbent Scott Andrews is squaring off against former MP and senator Fabian Manning for the Conservatives in what’s predicted to be a tight race.
The Telegram asked Andrews if he thought Ignatieff was doing a good job of selling himself to Canadians.
“I think he is,” he said. “That was one of the things ... he needed to do.”
Andrews said some people who attended the Liberal rally Monday night in St. John’s told him it was the first time they heard Ignatieff speak and were surprised to find out he wasn’t such a bad guy after all.
“For the last 2 1/2 years, we’ve let the Conservative party define him with these negative (television) ads,” said Andrews
But he said since the spotlight’s been on Ignatieff during the campaign, he’s been doing a good job of showing people who he really is.