Nova Scotia

Harper doesn't respect Atlantic Canada: Ignatieff

Stephen Harper does not fundamentally respect Atlantic Canada, Michael Ignatieff told a Halifax rally Sunday.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff steps down from his campaign plane with his wife Zsuzsanna Zsohar after arriving in Halifax on Sunday. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper "does not fundamentally respect Atlantic Canada," Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff told an enthusiastic rally in Halifax on Sunday.

Ignatieff made the comments during his first stop in Atlantic Canada, hours after unveiling his party’s $8-billion family-geared platform in Ottawa.

An estimated 800 people attended the Halifax rally, where loud applause and cheers from the crowd greeted Ignatieff.

The Liberal leader took several shots at Harper during his speech, including a suggestion Harper has left Atlantic Canada behind.

"You can’t trust a man who does not respect you. You can’t trust a man who says he’s going to promise the Atlantic Accord, and then turns his back on the Atlantic Accord," Ignatieff said.

"You cannot trust him because he does not fundamentally respect Atlantic Canada. That’s the issue."

Ignatieff was referring to Harper's decision in 2007 not to extend the Atlantic Accord after its expiration, despite promising during his 2005 election campaign to allow Atlantic Canada to keep 100 per cent of its oil and gas revenues.

Ignatieff also used the opportunity to respond to a new series of Tory attack ads, in which the Liberals are accused of supporting a $75 iPod tax.

"It is false. It is not in the platform," he said. "No iPod tax. Let me just say something here. I want to make a deal with Mr. Harper: If you stop telling lies about us, we will stop telling the truth about you."

Ignatieff also hammered home his party’s key election issues: child care, post-secondary education, care for seniors and universal health care.

Harper made his first visit to Atlantic Canada for the election campaign last Thursday and Friday, stopping in Halifax, St. John's, Covehead, P.E.I., and Dieppe, N.B.