Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is promising that if he becomes prime minister he will never use his powers to silence dissent and shutter Parliament as he accuses Stephen Harper of doing.Appealing to democratic principles rather than abusing them, what a concept. It's not hard to draw an effective contrast with the Prime Minister at the moment.
"I will not do the same. I just will not. I think Canadians have taught us all a lesson," Ignatieff told about 500 students at Dalhousie University on Monday. "If I become prime minister I have to respect the institutions that constrain my power – that's how the system works."
Ignatieff is not absolutely ruling out the prime ministerial power to prorogue Parliament, but he says the public outcry from Canadians shows Harper has not set a good precedent for future use of the authority.
"You've got to keep that balance in which the prime minister serves Parliament, rather than Parliament serving the prime minister," Ignatieff said as he kicked off a week-long tour of Canadian campuses, at the same time his party was unleashing a wave of attack ads to protest the parliamentary shutdown.
There's more coming on that contrast too. Ralph Goodale yesterday was referencing three forums to be held while Harper et al. are on prorogation vacation, including one on the "integrity of the democratic process." The use of the power to prorogue will be on the table (see Star report) during that particular forum. Hopefully, a concrete proposal will emerge that will prevent the present day abuse by Mr. Harper from recurring. The idea of such a forum is an appropriate response to the moment and its mood, some reform that measures up to the moment would be a very good idea.