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article image5 Questions with Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff Special

By Richard Mccallum     Apr 22, 2011 in Politics
Ottawa - In an interview with Michael Ignatieff, the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada speaks to Digital Journal about equal opportunity, his party's Canadian Learning Strategy and the country's role in Afghanistan.
Michael Ignatieff is in this election to win it.
He weighs in on the Canadian economy, the war in Afghanistan , and military involvement with Libya in these 5 questions which I e-mailed to electronic media liaison Matt Gravel who works for him at the Liberal Party's Ignatieff campaign HQ in Ottawa on Monday.
Ignatieff who is well known to Canadians is the recipient of 11 honorary degrees, and the author of 17 books.
He has received the Governor-General's Award for non- fiction , a Gemini Award and is internationally acclaimed as a diplomat, historian ,and author. He has been the leader of the Liberal Party and Leader Of the Official Opposition since 2009.
Richard Mccallum:Will you and the Liberal Party win this election and if you do how would you be a different Prime Minister than Stephen Harper?
Michael Ignatieff:Our country has so much going for it:great people,free institutions,amazing natural resources.
But what has really made Canada successful has been equal opportunity. We believe every family ought to be able to prosper;every child should get a good start in life; every new immigrant deserves a chance to get ahead.
Equal opportunity is what makes Canada great.
Liberal governments have built up foundations of equality-establishing universal medicare, a good pension system and a charter of Rights and Freedoms guaranteeing equality of rights and responsibilities for all Canadians. Now, we're looking to the future.
Our platform in this election has one overriding objective: to make equal opportunity a reality for every Canadian, whether you live in a big city, a small town, a remote community, a fishing village or a farm.
We call this plan the Liberal Family Pack. We will invest in quality, affordable health care for every young family that needs it. We will help every family with the costs of college or university, so your kids can be ready for the jobs of tomorrow.We will help families take time off from work to look after sick loved ones at home.We'll strengthen universally accessible health care for all, and build on the Canada Pension Plan so everyone can retire in security and dignity. We'll also have a new tax credit to help with the up front costs of renovations to make your home more energy -efficient.
Finally since opportunities for Canadians are now global, we will promote Canadian success overseas and stand up for the proud ideal that a citizen of Canada is truly a citizen of the world.
We can afford to do this while reducing the Conservative deficit responsibly,without raising your taxes, by making better choices.We will cancel unnecessary and unaffordable tax cuts for the largest corporations, reverse wasteful spending habits and focus on what really matters- giving every Canadian the tools to succeed in the years ahead.
Advancing equal opportunity is the work of a healthy democracy. But in the last five years, our democratic institutions have been weakened by an autocratic and secretive regime that evades the rules and shuts down debate.We will begin the hard work of restoring the credibility of Parliament and reconnecting government to the people it serves.
courtesy of the Liberal Party of Canada
That's our election pledge to you: a government that respects our democracy and strengthens equal opportunity for every man, woman and child in this incredible country.When each of us succeed, we all succeed together.
Richard Mccallum:How would a Liberal government under your leadership continue to sustain Canada's economic growth during this recession?
Michael Ignatieff:Liberals believe that when families are strong, our economy is strong, which is why our platform puts people first- ahead of corporate tax cuts, fighter jets and mega-prisons.
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff on the campaign trail
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff on the campaign trail 2011
courtesy of the Liberal Party of Canada
Canada currently suffers from jobs without workers and workers without jobs- and our platform will fix that.
To build a strong Canadian economy, Liberals will help individuals reach their full potential, ease the financial pressure on Canadian families and foster job creation, innovation and a competitive economy.
The most important thing a federal government can do to help the economy is to create the best trained and best educated workforce in the world. That's why our Canadian Learning Strategy is our number one job strategy. It will include the following major initiatives:
Early Childhood Learning and Care Fund: an annual commitment rising to $1billion per year with the long term goal of creating a high-quality, affordable early childhood learning and care space for every Canadian family that wants one.
The Learning Passport: a significant financial boost for higher education delivered directly to families. It will provide $1000 a year for over four years for every high school student in Canada to use for college, university or CEGEP. For students in low income families, the amount will be $1500 a year or an extra $6000 in total.
Aboriginal Learning: including new funding for post-secondary education, K-12 education, First Nations University, and a Canada Metis Scholarship.
Expanded Language Training for New Canadians: a significantly increased federal investment to improve and expand language skills training programs,ram ping up to an increase of $100 million annually within four years.
Veterans Learning Benefit: full support for the costs of up to four years of college,university or technical education for Canadian Forces veterans after completion of service.
The International Dimension of Canadian Learning: attracting the best and brightest foreign students while supporting opportunities for Canadians to study and volunteer abroad.
But our platform also contains many other specific incentives to aid in job creation:
Our new Innovation and Productivity Tax Credit will create incentives to generate more start-up venture capitol for entrepreneurs; which will drive the creation of high quality jobs.
Our new Innovation Gateway will provide a sharper, simpler and more efficient emphasis on entrepreneurial, innovative companies in order to spur further job creation.
We will ensure all Canadians have access to high speed broadband Internet within the first three years of our mandate in order to foster more economic growth.
Our Youth Hiring Incentive gives 100% EI rebates to small and medium -sized businesses for every new Canadian aged 18 to 25 that they hire, benefiting some 170,000 young Canadians.
Our $1-billion initiative to quadruple Canada's production of renewable energy will spur investment and create 15,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Our Green Renovation Tax Credit is an investment in Canadian entrepreneurs since it will spur growth in the energy efficiency market.
Our Secure Retirement Option will make it easier for small businesses to give pensions to their employees, which gives them better opportunities to attract top talent.
Richard Mccallum:How can we go about winning back Canada's seat on the United Nations Security Council?
Michael Ignatieff: Canadians were justifiably shocked and embarrassed when the Harper government became the first Canadian government since the earliest days of the United nations to fail to win a bid to win a seat at he UN Security Council. The loss of the UN Security Council seat was one of the biggest foreign policy fiasco's in Canadian history. Yet the Conservatives still refuse to accept any responsibility.
From abandoning Africa, to blocking progress on climate change, to ignoring China and India to muzzling the domestic groups that are essential to Canada's aid and development work, it's no wonder the Harper government failed to win the Security Council seat.
A Liberal government will reverse this decline in our international reputation and influence.
A Liberal government will:
Return Canada to a global leadership role in the United Nations peace operations and advance the UN adopted doctrine of Responsibility to Protect.
Pursue Global Network Agreements- next generation agreements with China and India to collaborate in research and education, energy and sustainability, transportation, food security, health,immigration,culture and tourism.
Un-freeze Canada's foreign aid budget and put Africa back at the top of Canada's international aid priorities by investing in governance and private sector growth.
Empower women in the developing world with a focus on health, education and economic development.
Ensure a significant role for civil society in Canada's aid and development work and repair the damage to key Canadian NGOs by decimating funding cuts from the Conservatives.
Revitalize Canada's international capacity by rebalancing spending across the full "3D's" spectrum of development, diplomacy and defence.
Under a responsible Liberal Government, Canada will once again be welcomed as a global leader and will regain a seat at the UN Security Council.
Michael Ignatieff Liberal leader on the campaign trail
Michael Ignatieff Liberal leader on the campaign trail 2011
courtesy of the Liberal Party of Canada
Richard Mccallum: If you become Prime Minister, how will you deal with Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan and now Libya?
Michael Ignatieff: After years serving bravely and effectively in Afghanistan, Canada's military is an experienced, battle hardened force, respected internationally. That force will be indispensable to a renewed concept of Canada's role in the world. Canada's combat mission in Afghanistan is ending in 2011. However the Afghan people will still not be fully able to govern themselves and maintain their own security this year.
That is why a Liberal government will support the 2011-2014 training mission and continued development work. The purpose is to help the Afghan people build a better future for themselves. The post- combat presence for Canada must also include a substantive diplomatic role. A Liberal government will appoint a Special Envoy to the peace process for the region.
Post- Afghanistan Conflict and UN Peace Operation: Based on the hard-earned experience in Afghanistan, a Liberal government will develop a new leadership role for Canada in today's peace operations. It will include training, commanding and deploying personnel where it's clear that a mission is consistent with Canada's interests, values and capabilities.
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff on the campaign trail
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff on the campaign trail 2011
courtesy of the Liberal Party of Canada
Libya and revolts in the Arab World:Liberals strongly supported change and demands for freedom in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere. The events in the Arab world have shown the need for a more robust Canadian diplomatic presence and engagement abroad and that is what Liberals will provide. We support the international efforts now underway in Libya and Canada's participation in enforcing UN resolutions. In this effort, it is unfortunate that Canada wasn't at the table at the UN Security Council
Richard Mccallum:Can we reduce the poverty level in Canada to below 5% by 2025, and do you think it will be possible to eliminate poverty in Canada by the end of the first half of this century?
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff on the campaign trail
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff on the campaign trail 2011
courtesy of the Liberal Party of Canada
Michael Ignatieff: A Liberal government will work towards a Canada where no Canadian lives in poverty.
At present more than 3.5 million Canadians live in poverty, including more than one in ten children. Canada ranks at the bottom of the list of the major developed countries for poverty rates.
Leaders at all levels must come to grips with rising inequality. The persistence of poverty across the country remains an unmet challenge, robbing individuals of fair and equal opportunity, sapping productivity from the economy, and event undermining confidence in democracy.
Canada cannot afford not to fight poverty. It will require the engagement of all Canadians, including businesses, individuals, experts and civil society.
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff on the campaign trail
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff on the campaign trail 2011
courtesy of the Liberal Party of Canada
Most provincial governments have demonstrated leadership by launching poverty reduction strategies. Building on those efforts a Liberal will work with partners at all levels to develop a Poverty Reduction Plan for Canada. It will set goals, identify practical measures for achieving them and set out who can do what among all the partners. The outlook will be long-term.
Several major commitments in our platform will be the foundation of a Poverty Reduction Plan for CanadaThe Canadian Learning Strategy, particularly Early Childhood Learning and Care,the Learning Passport for post-secondary education access, and Aboriginal Learning;
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff on the campaign trail
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff on the campaign trail 2011
courtesy of the Liberal Party of Canada
Family Care; a renewed focus on volunteerism through the Canada Service Corps; the National Food Policy's nutrition measures; a new Affordable Housing Framework; and a significant commitment to increase the Guaranteed Income Supplement by $700 million per year.
These practical measures to support Canadian families, worth more than $6 billion over two years, will help reduce poverty and inequality, especially as part of a whole-of-Canada effort to strengthen our communities.
They will also contribute to a stronger economy over the long term.
More about Canada Election 2011, Michael Ignatieff, Liberal party canada, Leader, 5 questions
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