The fall ElecSpec season kicks off in earnest. (Maybe.)

Ignatieff speaks: “Mr. Harper, your time is up. We cannot support this government any longer.”

The fall ElecSpec season kicks off in earnest. (Maybe.) According to the morning media check-ins from the Liberal caucus retreat in Sudbury, the networks (read: CTV News, CBC Newsworld and CPAC; I mean, let’s not go crazy here) should be ready to cut into regular programming to go live with Michael Ignatieff’s speech to caucus just after 1pm this afternoon — yes, even if that means breaking away from the mysterious announcement that the prime minister is scheduled to make in Calgary at the very same time. Oh, news directors. What will you do? More importantly, what will ITQ do? Why, liveblog whatever shows up on her television screen, of course. It’s not nearly as good as being there, but it’ll just have to do — so check back around 1pm for all the action, whatever the virtual venue turns out to be.

So, what do y’all think he’s going to say? And what will the PM announce? Commenters, start your prognosticators!

1:01 PM

Well, CTV News may be devoting its airtime to the fires currently threatening Los Angeles, but CBC Newsworld did, in fact, cut to Calgary at the appointed hour — 1pm — where we are greeted by the sight of Peter Kent, who introduces the prime minister with a forgettable little speechlette on the importance of “hemispheric engagement”.

After thanksings and acknowledgement all round, the PM moves onto recognizing the “growing importance” of the Latino community — yes, I’m sure that’s relevant to this announcement, which is starting to sound suspiciously non-climactic — and describes all the many leaders and countries of the Americas that he has met during his tenure, and the “unprecedented growth” in Canadian partnerships in the region, particularly the Canadian Forces and RCMP work in Haiti, helping Cuba with its tax system in anticipation of “the day when they will join the world market,” as well as all sorts of free trade agreements.

1:09 PM

I wonder what’s happening in Sudbury? I think Ignatieff is supposed to start talking any minute now; will either of the networks cut away? ITQ certainly will if she has an option.

1:09 PM

Wait, that’s it? According to the prime minister, the InterAmerican Development Bank will hold its 2012 annual conference “right here” in Calgary. Which I’m sure is very, very exciting for Calgarians — and, indeed, for Canadians — but frankly, I think we were expecting a little more ooomph.

And — yeah, apparently ITQ is not alone; CBC just bailed on the PM’s event, and is now reporting — well, via Canadian Press — that Ignatieff is going to announce that his party is no longer going to support the government. Which doesn’t mean they’ll bring the Conservatives down right away — or at all — but when a confidence vote comes up, all bets are off.

1:14 PM

And here we go — Ignatieff is taking the stage in Sudbury, amid lots of extremely determined cheering from caucus. “Bienvenue a Sudbury”, he says, wearily.

Yes, wearily, even though he’s talking about the “return of the energy”  – the Liberal Party’s energy — to Sudbury, he looks exhausted, just like yesterday, which is unsettlingly incongruent, since his revved up rhetoric makes it clear that he’s in a feisty mood — he just doesn’t look or sound like it.

1:18 PM

“We have a secret weapon,” Ignatieff tells the room — “Stephen Harper’s record,” which is, he’ll have you know, very, very bad. He doesn’t “get” that this is more than a recession — it’s a fundamental transformation of the global economy, and he doesn’t understand that Canada has to catch up — “and we’ve got to do it now.”

Applause, possibly even a ‘whoo’, although the static from the audio feed makes it hard to tell.

1:21 PM

“Stephen Harper has been prime minister for four years, and he’s never even been to China,” Ignatieff points out – and that’s why he’s going there. And then, to India! Well, as long as a little thing called AN ELECTION doesn’t get in the way, that is. Which, if the CP story is accurate, it almost certainly will. Mid-October writ drop, anyone?

1:22 PM

Pause for a smile to emphasize what seems to be the new Liberal mantra: “We can do better.” Not quite a canary-fed cat smile — more like a wolfhound with a peacock feather hanging out of the corner of its mouth. Oh, and he wants to ensure that the collapse we saw last year “will never occur again.”

1:25 PM

Okay, the little growl when he says “We can do better” is FREAKING ME OUT. But the shoutout to Suaad Mohamud and the other Canadians who, he suggests, were abandoned abroad gets a standing ovation.  “A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian” – and a Liberal government will stand by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and its citizens, and bring forward legislation to protect Canadians abroad, and make it illegal for the government to pick and choose which Canadians it helps. Hey, they totally stole that idea from Paul Dewar!

1:28 PM

Ahh, the new third rail of Liberal electoral politics: EI reform, and that unfortunate blue-ribbon business. According to Ignatieff, they – the Liberals – were expecting all sorts of constructive, nonpartisan proposals — but got nothing.

1:31 PM

The Liberals demanded a plan to deal with the breakdown in the health care system? Oh, isotopes. Yeah, I remember that point — it was one of the four priorities that he took to Langevin. Nice to see he does, too.

Actually, to give credit where credit is due, Ignatieff isn’t shying away from some of the more contentious bullet points in the timeline he’s running down — from The Madness of last December to The Ridiculousness of last June.

Guys, I don’t want to alarm anyone, but it sounds like we’re heading to the polls. No, seriously. Seriously. What did Michael Marzolini tell them this morning, I wonder?

1:35 PM

“Mr. Harper, your time is up. We cannot support this government any longer.”

Well, that’s pretty clear. Oh, but not as clear as this:

“We will oppose his government in Parliament.”

1:37 PM

Hey, Canadians: You deserve better — and apparently, it’s the job of the Official Opposition to give you a choice between two different parties, with different policies. I know, I’m kind of shocked too. This is all so sudden. Oh, and is anyone else really, really curious to hear the NDP response to this? Because I’m not seeing much in the way of behind-the-back-fingers-crossing or silent asterisks — and they’ve got opposition days too, which means that they could put this new resolve to the test, and bring a non-confidence motion the first chance they get.

1:40 PM

And that’s it – Ignatieff has wandered off stage, to wild applause, and is now being hugged by in a wildly yellow-clad Ralph Goodale.

Okay, I’m going to sign off for now, although I’ll pick up where it leaves off when and if he takes questions from reporters, so check back later.

1:42 PM

Wait, turns out that I’m not signing off at all, because Newsworld has cut back to Calgary, and the prime minister, who is reacting to the ‘election threat’. Actually, he seems to be more ignoring the threat, which he dismisses as ‘political games’ — the government plans to ‘address the economy’ this fall, and that’s that.

Okay, that’s really all for now — but check back later for the post-caucus media availability.

Full text of Michael Ignatieff’s speech here.

2:13 PM

Both networks covering caucus outs — or ins, maybe — with a full phalanx of Team Liberal, led by a scarlet-besweatered Bob Rae, as well as Denis Coderre, Dominic Leblanc, Marlene Jennings, Ujjal Dosanjh and possibly a few other MPs that didn’t manage to squeeze into the frame.

Noteworthy was Rae’s statement that, contrary to what some of us were thinking when we heard the speech, the Liberals will, indeed, be bringing a motion of non-confidence as soon as they have the chance — which Coderre was only too happy to repeat in French, and elaborate on at length.

You get the sense that this was the group keenest to go to the polls — they look so relieved, somehow.

2:18 PM

According to Goodale, Ignatieff’s speech highlighted the difference between the “small, cold Canada” of Stephen Harper and the large, warm Canada of the Liberal Party.

Ujjal is especially pleased with the line about how a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian — as a “brown guy” with kids, he wants to be sure that his government will stand up for him, and his family.

2:21 PM

Apparently, this was a “unanimous decision” — all caucus, MPs and senators alike, support it.

Alright, that’s it for caucus outs — I’ll be back later to cover the Ignatieff presser, presuming one happens. Otherwise, feel free to keep chattering in the comments.

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