Inside Politics

Crave (campaign) brevity? Ask Ujjal

There's something to be said for short, direct answers. Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff doesn't give too many of them.

To be fair, most politicians don't have the ability to give a straight answer when they know it's something the public doesn't want to hear.

However one politician who has the ability to just spit it out is Liberal candidate Ujjal Dosanjh. He did it again last night at a town hall meeting with Ignatieff at his alma mater, Langara College.

The theme was immigration and one of the people who raised concerns about Canadian immigration policies was Harbir Dhaliwal. He asked about the possibility of expanding reciprocal pension agreements between Canada and other countries, so new immigrants to Canada would be able to qualify for old age security benefits.

Ignatieff was the first to tackle the question, "My sense of this here is that old age pensions in Canada, the Canada Pension Plan is really an entitlement of citizenship that you acquire after you make a long period of contribution. It's something that happens to you after you've been in Canada, you're a citizen, you've contributed, you've made your contributions for a good long time. That's how it works and that's how it should works and it strikes me as fair to Canadians and that's how we would proceed on the pension question."

Dosanjh picked it up from there, "It's not going to happen." A long silence followed. "That's Ruby Dhalla's bill (C-428) that you're talking about. That's not going to happen." And then after several more awkward seconds of silence Dosanjh said, "I'm sorry. I'm usually direct."

The room then erupted in laughter.

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