Cabinet change was needed in finance: Ignatieff
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Friday, October 31, 2008 8:45AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 9:25PM EDT
Conservative cabinet ministers say they will make the economy a top priority -- but a senior Liberal MP says change was needed at the top levels and Prime Minister Stephen Harper failed to deliver.
Conservative MP Jim Prentice, who was promoted from industry to the environment portfolio in Thursday's shuffle, said Canada has a strong hand on the tiller with Jim Flaherty keeping his post as finance minister.
Prentice told CTV's Canada AM that the nation's economic fundamentals are strong and Flaherty is the right man for the job.
"Canada will emerge from this in a better position and we're well positioned to weather the economic storms from outside of Canada," he said.
Harper said Thursday his entire cabinet was designed to present a solid front against the brewing global economic storm.
But Liberal party deputy leader Michael Ignatieff said the government doesn't have a grasp of the gravity of the situation.
He said it's difficult to trust Flaherty.
"Before the election he kept saying 'No problem, everything's fine, we're not going into deficit.' When the storm hit during the election they said 'Everything's fine, no big problems.' Now they're aware, now they're fessing up that in fact we're going through the most serious economic crisis in 30 years -- and putting Mr. Flaherty in there is saying basically our economic policy is just fine," Ignatieff told Canada AM.
"We don't think it is fine. We think it would have been better to signal a shift in the policy by making some changes on the cabinet side."
However, Ignatieff put partisanship aside and said he applauded the increased number of women in cabinet -- from seven to 11 -- as a good thing for Canada.
He also agreed with the appointment of Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq to the health portfolio.
"I thought it was a small but important step for Canada that we have a woman of Inuit origin in a senior portfolio," Ignatieff said. "It doesn't mean we're not going to be as tough on her as anybody else, as an opposition should be, but I think there's some things you shouldn't be too partisan about and I strongly support that."
Ignatieff said the Liberal party isn't fundamentally against going into deficit, but is worried that allowing even a small amount of deficit to occur would open the door to ballooning federal debt.
"The problem with going into deficit is it's like being a little pregnant -- you can't be a little pregnant. The minute you get into deficit the problem is control, keeping the deficit from ballooning," Ignatieff said.
Though pressed to give an answer, Ignatieff wouldn't say whether he was planning to run for the Liberal leadership following Stephane Dion's decision to step down.
Ignatieff said the Liberal party seems "anxious for change" and he is discussing his options with people within the party, but that it is too early to declare his intentions.