Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Ignatieff assails Tory no-shows - but admits he'll miss his own local debate

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff gives the thumbs up as he and his wife Zsuzsanna Zsohar take the elevator after a campaign stop in Winnipeg on April 19, 2011.

JONATHAN HAYWARD/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Michael Ignatieff says empty Conservative seats at local candidates debates are another example of how his rivals don't respect democracy.

Pointing to new reports of Tory no-shows at local debates in the Greater Toronto Area, the Liberal Leader said stated Conservative reasons for missing debates - that they chose to be out campaigning instead - can't be believed.

"These excuses strain credulity," he said. "I think it's just absolutely basic to democratic politics, you show up."

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Ignatieff acknowledged that he will not be attending all-candidates debates in his own riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore because of his duties to campaign nationally.

Still, Mr. Ignatieff said he hopes the symbolism of empty chairs will work in his party's favour.

"Empty chairs - and there are a lot of empty Conservative chairs at debates - say exactly what these people think about democracy. 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," he said.

Mr. Ignatieff was speaking at a Tuesday morning news conference in Winnipeg, where he was highlighting his party's pledge to spend $250-million on a fresh water strategy, which will include flood prevention plans.

His tour then flies to the GTA, where he will take part in a multicultural media roundtable, sit down for an interview with the CBC's Peter Mansbridge and speak at an evening rally in Brampton.

Dimitri Soudas, Mr. Harper's communications director, said the Conservative Leader was not likely to attend any all-candidates debates in his riding.

"Party leaders typically campaign across the country," he said. "The voters of Calgary Southwest have told the prime minister to campaign nationally."

Story continues below advertisement

With a report from John Ibbitson

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

A member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery since 1999, Bill Curry worked for The Hill Times and the National Post prior to joining The Globe in Feb. 2005. Originally from North Bay, Ont., Bill reports on a wide range of topics on Parliament Hill, with a focus on finance. More

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.