As I made my way to the Ignatieff rally, I couldn't help but notice where the event was taking place. Roughly 6-7 blocks away from the convention centre and on the same street, Ignatieff had placed his venue in the Liuna station, which is a beautiful building surrounded by a low-income residential area and CN rail lines.
I enjoyed the fact that protesters were not only allowed to stand outside, but also invited to come in as many did. The place was packed with a very diverse crowd and no one was subject to any screening or ID requests. It was basically a come in and have a seat kind of environment.
Overall, I used the night and day analogy to explain my experiences from both rallies because in reality, the two were quite different regardless of being set up for the same purpose. Ignatieff came in and greeted everyone who came with a smile and a hello. He immediately welcomed everyone to state their opinion and made sure they understood that after his quick speech, he would take all questions from anyone regardless of their political background. This was nice to see as the environment became very open and laid back in a way. People opened their ears to hear what was about to be said.
This is where I really thought Ignatieff made the right moves for a politician looking to not only get votes, but also improve his image. He began to indirectly and directly address a lot of the material that the Conservative attacks ads have been directing toward him. However, instead of bashing Harper by saying that he is simply wrong, he began stating facts and providing an argument as to why Harper was wrong. It was a nice change to see amid all of the party bashing that has been going on throughout this election.
Ignatieff then went forward and began listing the Liberal agenda that would be planned if and when he becomes Prime Minister. Among the options stated, Ignatieff put focus on the fact that his changes would not occur 5 years down the road like Harper is promising, but would rather happen today and address the problems of today. When confronted with the question of how this would be achieved, Ignatieff simply stated that possible contracts like the F-35's and super jails would be redirected and corporate taxes would remain at "a competitive 18% for all of the big banks, insurance companies and oil companies." Ignatieff further went on to say that " I cannot implement these changes on the back of already hard pressed Canadian families." This awarded him a standing ovation from the crowd and pretty much laid the foundation for the rest of his speech.
Listed below is a video of Michael Ignatieff defining what a democracy is and beginning his opening remarks with regards to the rally and what he hopes to achieve.
I really have to stress how good of a political move this introduction was because it not only made Ignatieff stand out among all the bashing, but also let people see that he is a rational guy who is intelligent. He tried to make himself "one of the guys" in the sense that what was going on in his discussion was the right way to do politics. If anything he says will actually be played out when and if he comes to power? No one can guarantee this and he even mentioned later on that a person should have a limited trust in their politicians, since there is always a possibility that everything mentioned will never come to fruition.
Question time quickly came around and I have to once again stress that this is where I believe Ignatieff really shined. I really hope you view the video below as it will show 3 of the 5 questions asked. The other two were unable to be taped as I ran out of memory on my camera, but I will discuss them now in as much detail as possible.
Question 4: A very intelligent young guy stood up and asked one of the simplest questions around, but a question which shook the entire room. Stephen Harper has been convicted of contempt against the Canadian government by the speaker of the house already and another time after as well. What this basically means is that Stephen Harper is the first Prime Minister to ever be seen as guilty of committing acts against not only our political system, but Canadian democracy in general. The individual then went on to ask...why is it possible that someone who has been convicted of a serious offense like this can run again for re-election? Ignatieff stood shaken after this question and simply stated: "It is possible for this to occur because of elections, because Harper has the power to run again and it now comes down to the people and their votes to determine if he will be able to regain his post after what he has done or fail." This I found put a beautiful spin on the notion of the important of the vote. Ignatieff later stated that: "voting is a sign of equality between Canadians and that this is our Canada, so even if we do not vote Liberal just go out and VOTE."
Question 5: A mother stood up and asked Harper what his stand on the gun registration would be with regards to the simplification of the process and the more stringent regulation of fire arms in the hands of mentally ill individuals who choose to either commit suicide via a gun or kill others as a result of their illness. Ignatieff responded with a heartfelt explanation stating the cliche line that no one can imagine what she was going through and that the program will be put forward to work toward preventing such an incident from happening again. He later explained that mental illness is a serious issue we have swept under the carpet for to long and that his government will work to make it more widely spoken of so solutions rather then excuses could come forward.
This last question really made me kind of see the typical politician come out of Ignatieff, he spoke greatly of having hope and was very realistic about many problems throughout his entire rally, but of course there were things said that one can only hope will have any attention give to them once this election is over. The reality is that Harper, Ignatieff and the rest are simply trying to get our attention and our vote, the political system relies on this in order to divide the power between every party and although a lot of hope can come from potential candidates, one must always be ready to question the validity of responses and the ability of such individuals to come through with their commitments. I had a great time at the Ignatieff rally and agreed with a lot of what he said, but I ask you again to view both videos and tell me what you think of the words used and the tone taken advantage of during the rally.
What do you think about Ignatieff and has my blog changed your mind about some of his policies? Do you think he will direct Canada properly if he becomes our Prime Minister?
I hope I was able to properly give everyone who missed out that night a general explanation of what went on. It is our responsibility as citizens to continue questioning those with power to ensure that accountability and transparency continue within our country. To much power can easily corrupt and lead our beautiful country into disarray if the proper checks and balances fail to be implemented. The people make up the government and it is impossible for government and society to exist without us, which is why it is an important duty of ours to continue making sure our needs are addressed and our thoughts processed on the progress and direction our country heads in.