After much anticipation, Michael Ignatieff was officially named leader of the Liberal Party and the next Prime Minister of Canada (OK I threw that one in)
I listened to his speech and when it came to throwing down the gauntlet, he looked into the camera at Stephen Harper, who he knew was watching, and let him know that he had failed.
The Conservatives' battles with the Canadian people had divided this country, and he would no longer allow that to happen.
'Mr. Harper, you have failed us'
New Grit boss drops gauntlet
By Juliet O'Neill,
May 3, 2009
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Saturday of failing in his main job of uniting the country.
Freshly confirmed as Liberal leader at a national party convention, Ignatieff immediately cast himself and the Grits as a unifying force, and accused Harper of playing regions and groups against one another.
"Mr. Harper, you have failed us,"Ignatieff told 2,000 (It was actually 3000) cheering supporters at the Liberal national convention in Vancouver. "If you can't unite Canadians, if you can't appeal to the best in all of us, we can."
Harper's spokesman immediately dismissed his assertion, claiming national unity has climbed to its highest level in a generation (what planning was he living on?) since the Conservatives took office, and noting Ignatieff was living in Britain during the 1980 and 1995 referendums on Quebec independence.
Ignatieff, who was acclaimed interim Liberal leader in December, received 97 per cent of 2,023 votes cast to confirm his uncontested leadership at the three-day convention.
Recalling the turmoil last winter when Harper convinced the Governor General to suspend Parliament rather than face defeat, Ignatieff addressed Harper directly.
"For three years you have played province against province, group against group, region against region, individual against individual," he said. "When your power was threatened last November, you unleashed a national unity crisis and you saved yourself only by sending Parliament home.
"You have failed to understand that a prime minister has one job and one job only, which is to unite the people in this country. Mr. Harper, you have failed us. If you can't unite Canadians, if you can't appeal to the best in us, we can. We Liberals can build a federalism based on cooperation, not on confrontation."
Ignatieff also pledged the Liberals could lead Canada from the recession back to prosperity, and characterized a Liberal proposal to eliminate regional differences in employment-insurance eligibility rules as a measure "to unite our people."
"If we offer our fellow citizens a message of hope, I believe Canadians will ask us to form the next government of Canada,"he declared. "When they do, all our efforts will be focused on one task: to unite our people again."
His speech capped a three-day convention at which Liberals displayed internal unity and focused on rebuilding the party that has been rising in the polls, but needs to build membership and funds.
"We are here to rededicate ourselves to the central task of our party: to offer our people the uniting vision that will inspire us all to better days," Ignatieff declared. "Our country is our cause."
When it was over, they unveiled a new party logo of a red maple leaf to "symbolize a re-energized Liberal party emerging from a process of renewal engaging all Liberal members."
Convention delegates cheered loudest during a slide-show introduction, when Ignatieff was shown with U. S. President Barack Obama.
Toronto MP Bob Rae, who halted his own leadership campaign so that Ignatieff would have no competition, said his former rival has his full support.
"I've learned that what shoulda, coulda, woulda been is not a helpful emotional track to be on," Rae said in an interview. "And I'm OK, I'm happy with the way things have worked out."
He said the convention displayed "a strong sense that whatever arguments the party may have had in the past, divisions and personality clashes and so on are all behind us."
Party director Rocco Rossi said there would be no finger-pointing about leadership allegiances as there usually are in the Liberal party.
"For the first time in my life as a Liberal, we come into a convention united and we go out united," he said.
Stephen Harper's Government has become an embarrassment and Jason Kenney is still trying to destroy not only our reputation on the world stage, but the reputation of Canadian citizens.