TORONTO — Michael Ignatieff launched a stinging attack on Prime Minister Stephen Harper during the Liberal leader’s dinner in Toronto Monday night, launching salvos over a number of issues including abortion and the economy.
He told about 1,000 Liberals gathered at the “large family dinner” at a downtown hotel that the Conservatives have accused the Grits of trying to start a “culture war” but suggested it’s the Tories who’ve really done that.
Ignatieff said it’s the Conservatives who have ended a 25-year consensus on a woman’s right to choose — referring to the prime minister’s refusal to fund safer abortions in developing countries under his maternal health initiative.
He also said it was Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth who told women’s groups to shut up or get their funding cut — and who’ve ended funding to Toronto’s Pride celebration.
He said past Liberal policies — not Conservative initiatives — are the reason Canada is better off than some other countries economically.
He also accused Harper of taking credit for Canada’s solid banking system, when the thanks should go to former Liberal prime minister Jean Chretien.
The country can’t afford $6 billion in additional tax cuts for profitable corporations every year, when it’s in a “$54 billion deficit position,” he said.
“We need to get this deficit under control and we need to invest in Canadians and their future.”
A Liberal government would “push the pause button” on further corporate tax cuts until the country can afford them, he added.
The Liberals would also reduce the deficit to one per cent of GDP within two years of taking office, then declining every year until the books are balanced, he vowed.
The Liberal leader also said the party must be ready for an election.
Canadians, he said, will have a clear choice between the Conservatives and “a Liberal alternative that freezes corporate taxes, fights the deficit, makes targeted investments in learning, care and leadership in the world.”
Bob Rae, Ken Dryden, Martha Hall-Findlay, Gerard Kennedy, Art Eggleton, Bill Graham, Carolyn Bennett, Pierre Pettigrew and Toronto mayoral hopeful George Smitherman were among the high-profile Liberals attending the dinner.