Bring it on, Mr. Harper.  Anywhere.  Anytime.

Today, Stephen Harper challenged Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff (Liberal, Etobicoke-Lakeshore) to a duel.  A one-on-one debate between Canada’s two premier leaders.

Such a spectacle would give Canadians a clear choice for Prime Minister.  The mean-spirited, anti-democratic Conservatives, or a kinder, Liberal, social republic dedicated to family.

I feel that’s what Canada has been and always will be.

The day my Canada becomes a Conservative, fundamentalist police state, whose budgets are dominated by jets and jails – is the day we become the fifty-first state.

Yesterday, the Liberal Party announced a new program that would provide financial support for post-secondary students, with an emphasis on giving more money to lower-income students.

To me, this is what Canada is all about – providing opportunities for everyone and looking out for those most in need.

As Michael Ignatieff said:  “Colleges and Universities are the engine rooms of our economy.  You get the grades, you get to go.”

It’s my hope that no matter who is elected, the government continues to support and enhance the Post-Secondary Student Support Program administered by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.  It’s important that more First Nations students attend college and university.  Sadly, this important program has reportedly been on the chopping block with the Conservatives.  Imagine, converting this grant program into a loan program for Canada’s poorest people.  Such action would just create further obstacles in attaining education and economic success for First Nations people.

More investment is needed in First Nations education overall.  Success rates and graduate rates need to be drastically improved.  More investment is needed to fund First Nation elementary and secondary school students to provincial levels.  There is very little funding for First Nation school libraries and special education programs.  School nutrition and physical education programs are also needed to ensure student success.

If colleges and universities are the engine rooms of Canada’s economies – elementary and high schools are the engine rooms of First Nations economies.