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article imageCanadian Liberal leader criticizes Tories over debate no-shows

By Andrew Moran     Apr 21, 2011 in Politics
Toronto - Canadian Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff criticized the Conservative Party by the numerous reports of Tory no-shows at local candidates debates. At the same time, Ignatieff has said he won't attend his Etobicoke-Lakeshore riding debates.
The local all-candidates debates are in full swing, but there have been cases of federal Conservative candidates not attending. Last Friday, Conservative candidate Kevin Moore did not participate in the Toronto Centre debates due to scheduling conflicts.
This has led to Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff to go on the offensive and criticize Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives for these reports, according to the Globe and Mail. Ignatieff asserts that this is another example of the Tories not “respecting democracy.”
The Opposition leader believes these “excuses strain credulity” and that it is important to show up to these all-candidates debates in local ridings because it’s “basic democratic politics, you show up.”
“Empty chairs – and there are a lot of empty Conservative chairs at debates – say exactly what these people think about democracy,” said Ignatieff, who represents Etobicoke-Lakeshore in the House of Commons. “It’s a flagrant lack of respect for citizens. A lot of people come to these debates to make up their mind. And when they see an empty Conservative chair they’re going to make up their mind: These people don’t respect us.”
Ignatieff made the comments during a press conference in Winnipeg. He noted that he himself will not be attending his riding’s all-candidates debates because of national campaign responsibilities.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s communications director, Dimitri Soudas, also said the Conservative Party leader will not be taking part in local debates because of his duties on the national campaign trail. “The voters of Calgary Southwest have told the prime minister to campaign nationally."
The New Democratic Party used Ignatieff’s remarks as ammunition, and said in a news release that the Liberal leader missed 70 percent of votes in the House of Commons last year and another 72 percent for confidence votes.
On the same day as Ignatieff criticized the Conservatives, he also pledged to invest $225 million over the next two years in a Canadian freshwater strategy, reports the Winnipeg Free Press.
More about Canada Election 2011, Michael Ignatieff, Conservatives, local debates, Stephen Harper
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