By Joy Blenman
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff was looking for Nova Scotia’s support with his “Liberal Family Pack “ at a campaign rally in Halifax on Sunday.
Ignatieff’s family pack is an $8-billion platform that outlines the Liberals’ five objectives to help Canadian families.
“Sensible, affordable policy… the Family Pack is the value pack,” announced Ignatieff, waving his red clad Family Plan book to a crowd at the Westin Hotel.
The Family Pack includes an education savings program, called the Canadian Learning Passport, that will provide students with $1,000 a year for four years in order to cover the costs of college and university.
“Halifax is one of the great capitals of education in North America … I don’t want any Canadian denied the chance or the opportunity to go to college, and that’s what the Canadian passport will do for every Canadian,” says Ignatieff.
Neil MacIsaac, President of the Nova Scotia Young Liberals, says education is the most relevant issue for young voters.
“ The youth are very concerned about education. Most of the 18 -24 year old demographic are in the post-secondary education system and the cost is prohibitive for many people to attend post–secondary education. So education is a huge issue, its where the policy discussions go very much in our meetings because its what we eat, sleep and breath every day,” says MacIsaac.
In addition to the Canadian Learning Passport, the Family Pack consists of:
– Early Childhood Learning: A plan to create affordable and quality child care for Canadians.
– Family Care: A tax and benefit program to help individuals with the cost and time required to take care of ill family members.
– Stronger Public Pensions: A proposal that would expand the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and provide a voluntary supplement to the CPP called the Secure Retirement Option.
– A Green Renovation Tax Credit that would pay for environmentally friendly home improvement projects, such as installing energy efficient doors.
While Ignatieff spoke of the importance of investing in young people, young Canadians were noticeably absent from the rally. According to Elections Canada, 37.4 percent of people aged 18-24 showed up to vote in the 2008 election.
MacIsaac says youth voter apathy is an issue that needs to be addressed by both voters and politicians.
“If young people don’t vote its kind of a catch twenty-two because the politicians are less likely to pay attention to the demographic that doesn’t come out and vote because politicians have to look out for themselves. It’s also the reverse, youth don’t see politicians speaking out on issues that concern them, therefore, they are not going out, says MacIsaac. “The politicians and parties need to speak to youth about the issues they are concerned about.”
According to Ignatieff, the Family Pack aims to ease the everyday fears faced by Canadians regarding matters such health and retirement.
“We are the party in Canadian politics to take the fear out of Canadian lives. We are here to take away the fear but not responsibility,” says Ignatieff.
Ignatieff says Nova Scotia is home to the “best traditions of Canadian freedom,” citing politician Joseph Howe and the rich African-Canadian history here. Ignatieff says the Joseph Howe statue is his favorite statue because Howe symbolizes the fight for freedom and responsibility.
Throughout the rally the Liberals emphasized the importance of restoring democracy.
“We are here because we want to build a better Canada: a place where hard work gets you good results and we are here to build a truly democratic Canada,” says Member of Parliament for Dartmouth, Mike Savage.