Tory focus threatening to bankrupt Canada, Ignatieff says

TORONTO — Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is accusing his Conservative rivals of putting “jets and jails” and corporate tax cuts ahead of ordinary Canadians.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff poses for a photo with the owner of a dumpling shop and candidate Christine Innes as he campaigns in Toronto's Chinatown Monday

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff poses for a photo with the owner of a dumpling shop and candidate Christine Innes as he campaigns in Toronto's Chinatown Monday

TORONTO — Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is accusing his Conservative rivals of putting “jets and jails” and corporate tax cuts ahead of ordinary Canadians.

Promising the full Liberal platform within a week, Ignatieff said Monday

Stephen Harper is refusing to come clean about the spiralling cost of a Tory plan to buy as many as 65 new F-35 fighter jets, Ignatieff said Monday as he promised to unveil the full Liberal campaign platform within the next week.

Ignatieff also accused the prime minister of being out of step with Canadian priorities by spending on expanded prisons and costly corporate tax cuts, running the country into a record deficit.

“They spent all kinds of money to put us into a deficit before the recession,” Ignatieff told a news conference in Toronto.

“We found ourselves confronting a record deficit. We feel that the economic management by Mr. Harper is bad. We have to choose a different way for Canada, economically speaking.”

Ignatieff cited last summer’s costly G8-G20 meetings in Toronto and Huntsville, Ont., as a symbol of Tory “contempt,” calling them an embarrassment to Canadians.

He added the Liberal plan would cost less than the Conservative budget — but he offered little in the way of specifics.

Senior Liberals travelling with Ignatieff say they plan to make a “costed” announcement each day leading up to the day the platform comes out. It’s a page from the 2006 Conservative playbook, in which the Tories came out of the gate with a campaign pledge each morning.

Liberal aides won’t say much about the announcements, other than that they are family-focused.

For the third straight day, Ignatieff also denied Harper’s claim the Liberals would form a coalition government with the New Democrats.

“No coalition,” he said. “You vote Liberal, you get a Liberal government.”

Prior to meeting with Chinese-Canadian business leaders, Ignatieff also attacked Harper’s immigration record. He referenced a letter in which Immigration Minister Jason Kenney sought donations for a “Conservative Ethnic Paid Media Strategy.”

He also took exception to a question about trying to shore up Liberal votes in multicultural communities.

“The word ’ethnic vote’ — spare us this,” Ignatieff said. “I don’t think it treats people with respect. These are Canadians.

“I’m going out there and saying, ’a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian, come on into the big red tent.”’

What is clear is that the Liberals want the Toronto-area vote.

The former Liberal bastion around the downtown core has been slowly turning blue. Last fall, right-wing city councillor Rob Ford tapped into a desire among Toronto voters for reined-in government spending to become mayor of one of Canada’s most liberal cities.

Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives are trying to tap that same vein of voter anger ahead of this fall’s provincial vote. Many polls put the provincial Tories ahead of Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government.

Whether vote-rich Toronto is becoming more conservative or simply reacting to high-spending governments is something the federal Liberals are trying to determine.

The Liberal party, meanwhile, launched a series of TV ads on the weekend that “speak directly to Canadians from vibrant communities that will define our country’s economic and cultural future.”

The series depicts “ordinary” Canadians speaking in a variety of languages, including Urdu, Hindi, Cantonese and Mandarin. The two ads launched Saturday are in Punjabi and Portuguese.

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