MP Irwin Cotler says next election most important in Canadian history

Doug Gallant
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Liberal MP Irwin Cotler

Former federal justice minister Irwin Cotler says the next federal election will be the most important election in Canada’s history because so much is riding on its outcome.

Speaking to a fundraising luncheon for Charlottetown MP Sean Casey on Tuesday, Cotler said how Canadians vote will determine whether they have responsible government in Ottawa or a Harper government that mocks parliament and mocks the Canadian people.

Canadians can have a government that respects this country’s Charter of Rights or mocks it, he said — they can vote to elect a Liberal government that will respect the independence of the Canadian judiciary or a government that disparages it.

Cotler spoke at length on the damage he says the Harper government has done since coming to power.

He noted, for example, that there were eight federal budget surpluses in a row before the Tories took power.

When Harper became prime minister, there was a $13-billion federal surplus.

Harper ran that into the ground, replacing a huge surplus with a huge budget deficit, he said.

Noting that Harper has only been to two first ministers’ meetings since becoming prime minister, he suggested Harper is more apt to pick a fight with the provinces than to co-operate with them on issues that should be of concern to all.

Cotler said a review of the current government shows an ongoing pattern of disrespect for parliament.

That attitude can be seen in everything from the introduction of large omnibus bills in which multiple pieces of legislation are bound together to limiting the amount of time allocated for discussion in the House of Commons.

He also took the government to task for trying to undermine the Canadian constitution.

He observed government continues to introduce constitutionally suspect legislation, legislation that is frequently found to be unconstitutional by the courts.

“One piece of legislation after another that should never have been introduced,” Cotler said.

He was strongly critical of Ottawa’s lack of respect for the independence of the judiciary and its efforts to systematically challenge the courts, diminishing both the independence and the integrity of the courts.

Organizations: House of Commons

Geographic location: Ottawa, Canada

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Recent comments

  • Garth Staples
    August 14, 2014 - 08:24

    Dear Scott the liberal sympathizer: I am a conservative . See my previous letter to the editor (signed) where I set out the history of conservatism via British thinkers and doers. This carried forward to Thatcher and in Canada, MacDonald, Borden and Bennett. I have several primers I could send!

  • voter
    August 13, 2014 - 17:20

    the last trudeau is still costing us money and grief through bad human rights legislation --*I am sure Canadians are smart enough to not vote liberal !!! but some never learn - they even vote for ROBERT FORD so why not PIERRE TWO

  • so sad
    August 13, 2014 - 15:42

    next election most important in canadian history. Will be for liberals because they will no longer exist.

  • Garth Staples
    August 13, 2014 - 14:35

    I see Scott is delirious again. FORMER Liberal Minister Cotler( there is a reason he is a former) forgot the huge tax reductions for Canadians under the Harper Govt. and pension sharing. The boy liberal leader was still in short pants when this took place and Cotler can't remember.

    • Bob MaqcIntosh
      August 13, 2014 - 16:02

      Gee Garth, why don't you tell us who killed the $13 billion surplus the Tories inherited. But of course the worse Harper deficit is in his democratic principles. He has muzzled parliament, lied about costs like the F35 fighter jets, has been cited with contempt of parliament twice, has meddled in election results, has silenced scientists because as a right wing ideologue (like yourself) he does not believe in science, has made Canada a world laughing stock with his foreign policies (like Israel right or wrong no matter how many Palestinians they kill), climate change, what climate change,? he asks, appointed the worst three senators in all of Canadian history and then when they went wrong he was instrumental in the coverup. That is just a start. By the way, have you heard yet if he wants you for the senate? I know you are angling for it...that is the reason for this anti-Cotler post.

    • Jack
      August 13, 2014 - 17:03

      The Libs and supporters like to mention a $13 billion surplus that was on the books when the Conservatives took over. What the always neglect to mention is that this "surplus" was achieved by Paul Martin stealing $50 Billion from the EI funds, $30 billion from the CF/RCMP/PS pension funds, and cutting transfer payments in half. I guess I could create a surplus too if I too robbed a bank or 2 and legally got away with it. I'd never again trust a Liberal with a penny of my own money...especially with the Trust-fund Boy Blunder "leading".

    • scott
      August 13, 2014 - 17:41

      Cue the Guardian's main tory hack, Garth " Harper can do no wrong" staples. Tell me Garth, Ive asked you before, but you ignored the question... Are you a reformer like your hero Harper?

    • scott
      August 13, 2014 - 17:42

      Cue the Guardian's main tory hack, Garth " Harper can do no wrong" staples. Tell me Garth, Ive asked you before, but you ignored the question... Are you a reformer like your hero Harper?

  • John W.A. Curtis
    August 13, 2014 - 14:16

    All of the political parties support the party leader's right to sign a candidate's card. None of the political parties follow the British system where the party leader has to have the support of M.P.s. No party leader will ban the practice of demanding the right to sign a candidate's card which is why Canada's democratic system sucks.

  • John W.A. Curtis
    August 13, 2014 - 14:15

    All of the political parties support the party leader's right to sign a candidate's card. None of the political parties follow the British system where the party leader has to have the support of M.P.s. No party leader will ban the practice of demanding the right to sign a candidate's card which is why Canada's democratic system sucks.

  • Fiscal Hawk
    August 13, 2014 - 13:41

    I agree with the headline and vehemently disagree with all of his conclusions. Harper has put Canada's fiscal house in order, reelect him and he will keep it in order!

  • Cotler Yesterday's man, for a desperate party
    August 13, 2014 - 10:37

    I agree with Independent thinker...we were a mess when the Liberals were booted out..Shawinigate...under Chretien cost us 20 million from fraud and the country never forgot, Harper is no saint and calls a spade a spade..the east has been coddled by social programs under the Liberals keeping us in will take a while to fix that.....WE all know what HARPER is like??? and what is he...without the political bias?? A politicly motivated parlimentarion like the rest..He PROROGUED for political reasons because the opposition was playing politics ..did it hurt us NO....did he geta majority YES.....did he make changes YES...PEI and Cape Breton did not like it because they elected Liberal members members... why because of old style patronage politics.....times have changed ...the longer the Liberals are away from the treasury feed bag the more desperate they fear monger.......Worst PM yet? a Dictator?(do you think Chretien was a saint the way he treated John TURNER who was a smart politician and a gentleman..who I voted for)..just because you tell the truth does not make one a reformer or a tory hack.. The senate scandal that will be old hat in a years time..expecially because both the Tories and the Liberals have baggage there..and the NDP have their own scandal just from being in opposition..thank god they Will Never see power....amagine the mess they could set upon us making up for all that lost patronage.This election is not a done deal...the Harperites ,reformers,TORIES whatever you call them have some tricks to pull out of their bag an election budget next spring....

    • islander
      August 13, 2014 - 15:01

      you sound like neila auld

  • bob from cardigan
    August 13, 2014 - 08:45

    most important for the lib lackeys to get to steal from canadians instead of the cons? get reel.. they are all the same.

  • Idependent thinker
    August 13, 2014 - 08:39

    Total BS ,more Liberal fear mongering..the 13 billion was spent on getting the country thru the financial crisis, and fighting a war in Afghanistan that the previous Liberal Govt committed us to with an terriblly underfunded and equiped military,money had to spent to bring them up to current standards,our dollar is still strong ,interest rates are low,the country 's population is growing(except the Maritimes because of our migration... and clamping down on EI abuse) Irwin COTLER was a good justice minister but he is yesterday's man ,the country has changed dramaticly and demograghicly. Harper challenged the courts because the courts are running the country ..not ..parliament..thanks to parts of the Liberal CHARTER brought in in 1983.Which let criminals walk the streets after serving 1/3 of their sentences to commit more crimes.The court is still independent from Govt contrary to liberal propaganda.The Harperites cut the civil service which was a Liberal dumping ground and was over staffed in todays IT world. They reformed the pension system..which had to be done whoever was in power.They made difficult decisions that had to be made.Their next goal is to cut the tax burden, inflicted by previous Liberal Govts.....There is more to Canada than the judiciiary and the courts which is Mr COTLER's fortay.....The country as a whole has prospered.The Liberal party has disintergrated to a shell of it's former self....with an unproven, foot in the mouth,flash in the pan leader, with no experience at real life from a privileged background.The country has CHANGED because the world has Changed not because of HARPER and his bunch.We are a leading nation in the world and it is time we acted like it, not go around peacekeeping and offering aid..while extremists massacre and commit genocide and ethnic cleansing....I never voted for HARPER last time ..but he could be our only choice.....not yesterday's politicos wanting back at the treasury feedbag.

    • scott
      August 13, 2014 - 09:32

      Independent thinker sounds a lot like a conservative/reformer ( whichever they are) shill. We all know what Harper is like, when the going gets tough, Prorogue. If this country reelects Harper as Pm, We get what deserve, which is a twofaced dictator who only cares about the Canada that exists west of the Saskatchewan border, and East of the BC border.

    • Stratford
      August 13, 2014 - 09:44

      Well said Independent thinker - the immense waste by all of government needs to be quashed - reduce the sizes of all federal, provincial and municipal levels of government and drastically reduce the amount of expenses allowed for senators and the like as that amount of waste is appalling - clean it up and you will be re-elected again & again!!!!!