Michael’s Gambit


So Michael Ignatieff woke up to a nasty Sunday morning surprise — our their Kady has the most fun with the story, of course. I also agree with Susan Delacourt — while there is a question of journalistic ethics here, but the Liberals should not make that the focus of their response. I’m also not super interested in the question of who is behind this, since he (or, less likely, she) is merely the agent of a substantial constituency within the party.

The weakness of the support for Michael Ignatieff is a consequence of a number of factors, not all of which are directly related to Ignatieff’s own weaknesses. The Liberals are paying the price — AGAIN — of not having had a proper leadership campaign. It’s like they say about civil wars: they have to be fought until once side is either decimated or capitulates out of exhaustion. Negotiated settlements just leave the antagonistic power structures intact.

Ignatieff didn’t win the leadership, he was installed. So maybe the time has come for him to force the issue: Tell the party to  back him or sack him. You have to think that either outcome would be preferable to the status quo.

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Michael’s Gambit

  1. Thank you so much for linking to the articles that you referenced!!!

    This article by Persichilli is a prime example of the sorry state of journalism that we face.
    Everyone is just so hungry for sensationalism, and media ethics just get tossed out the window.
    No wonder modern day readers can't distinguish the difference between untrained citizen bloggers and paid journalists.

    The question is – If there was any such whisper-whisper about Harper, would he report it so quickly, or would he check his facts? Once again – a prime example of how partisanship lowers the bar.

  2. I see we're in for another week of "Michael Ignatieff – Not A Leader" (the smash hit sequel to 'Stephen Dion – Not a Leader' and 'Paul Martin – Mr. Dithers' instead of focusing on issues that are actually important like the Copenhagen negotiations.

    • Having a formula worked for the Harry Potter franchise……Problem for the Liberals they keep delivering the material. The conservatives went through this for years, the first step is to stop trying to cut corners. If they had done that years before, like under Dion, then they would be a lot closer to being organized, funded and coherent.

      Donolo was a good first step but he needs to be backed by a leader and not trying to create one.

  3. I think what Ignatieff should do is exactly the opposite.

    He should go for a walk, read a few books, and then start talking about an Actual New Idea.

    You know, something that Canadians care about, as opposed to something bored Hill pundits or Tiny Tory staffers care about.

    • I'm not a huge fan of Ignatieff, but if he comes up with an Actual New Idea, he damages himself politically.

      If the Actual New Idea is good, the Conservatives – who have no Actual New Ideas of their own – will steal it and take credit for it. If the idea is very good, the Conservatives will also implement it as a confidence vote, forcing the Liberals to either prop up the Conservative government or vote against their own Idea.

      If the Actual New Idea is bad, or has the potential to have any negative impact at all on Canadians – such as raising taxes – the Conservatives will unleash their war room on it.

      It's sad and unfortunate, since voters need to have a reason to vote for the Liberals if they want to return to power, but their best tactic is to say nothing at all until the next election is called.

      • Yes having good ideas implemented, and bad ideas rejected would be a disaster for the LPC.

        Canadians certainly don't want any ideas debated, unless partisan advantage can be gained.

        Returning the Liberals to power should be every Canadians top concern.

  4. Angelo Pershichilli is one of Canada's premier political columnists.

    As Delacourt said, he wouldn't have went with story if he didn't have a source who planted it with him. I notice the Liberal commenters above are back to "attack the media" mode. Big surprise. Not.

    • Angelo Persichilli has to come at the top of anyone's list of political columnists, if you're ranking them alphabetically by first name.

    • " I notice the Liberal commenters above are back to "attack the media" mode."

      A ConBot defending the "MSM"?

      What's next, dogs and cats sleeping together?!!!

  5. Yeah, Potter, the exact thing the Liberals need right now is a leadership contest. We should replace Donolo pronto and put you in charge. Clearly you have the Liberals best interests at heart.

  6. After Andrew Cohen, Andrew Coyne, Andrew Potter, and Al Strachan.

      • So this is the sort of crap that Jarrid finds credible…who was the source do you think J? The barista?

        • Well, Colby Cosh finds Jarrid to be credible enough to respond to his
          comments. Says a lot.

          • Colby's still new, such that he appears to be replying to lots of commenters. It's kind of endearing, don't you think? Jarrid must lap it up. Let's watch and see if it lasts.

  7. "while there is a question of journalistic ethics here"

    Potter What questions are raised?

    Journos and opinion writers are supposed to break news, if they can. I think it was Travers and Martin on Question Period yesterday discussing how Libs have been discreetly talking about Iggy and his leadership issues for the past week or two but we hear not a word about it in media. And then, instead of reporting on the story once it is broken, we get hand-wringing about if it's ethical to print news.

    Stories get planted by people with an agenda every day but some only worry about ethics when the story hurts Libs.

    • Well, there is the question about whether the story is true or not. Everyone denying something doesn't necessarily mean it didn't happen, but pretty much everyone is denying pretty much every aspect of this column, so if it came from an anonymous source, did Pershichilli bother with even a rudimentary check of what the source told him? If the anonymous source is one of the people now vociferously denying the story, will Pershichilli burn the source for denying what they previously said (and if so, will he at least ATTEMPT to determine first whether the source was lying before, or is lying now).

      I'd say the main issue of journalistic ethics raised is "is this an example of a columnist simply making up a story out of absolutely nothing?".

      • "there is the question about whether the story is true or not"

        I don't believe there is. No one denies this meeting last week, they are just quibbling about details.

        Pershichilli is an opinion writer – he got his facts correct but some people are squawking now they got caught. Pols are too entitled, it is amazing to me that there is question of 'ethics' about reporting a meeting that took place in public and others saw or overheard.

        Krieber message on Facebook and now this. Sounds like Lib progressive wing is not happy and it would be nice if msm did not think its job is to protect leader rather than print news.

        • Well, quibbling about details such as it not being a meeting, Rae not actually calling anyone to come together for a meeting, and no one saying most of the things the columnist says they said.

          So fine, no one denies that these four people had drinks together. The only thing they're denying is that it was a planned meeting, that said "meeting" together was Bob Rae's idea, and pretty much everything Angelo Persichilli says they said to each other over drinks (Pearson for example says that he said that Ignatieff DID still have the trust of the Party, and that Ralph Goodall was never even discussed at all).

          Glen Pearson, who strikes me as one of the most honest people in all of Ottawa says:

          "It's hard for some of us to try to move politics to a higher level in Ottawa, but with journalism like this it's almost impossible. At least check it out with us to make sure you have your story straight. I've been as honest as I can be in Ottawa and, Mr. Perichilli, you've got this one wrong. And Michael, I'm sorry this happened at all. We're all fully there behind you and saddened by the pain this must cause".

          I do take my bit back about Persichilli's anonymous source though. He didn't even bother to attribute the "leak" to an anonymous source. He just reports on the "meeting", as though he was there as minute taker, including supposedly directly quoting people at the table, including those now calling his column "ridiculous" and his summary of their conversation "fiction".

          • He may have been disguised as a waiter.

  8. "…since he (or, less likely, she) is merely the agent …."

    while the leaker is of limited interest, it is very funny if it is the he at the table. Huge gap between a self image as a crusader of integrity and being just the same as all others….

  9. "I'm also not super interested in the question of who is behind this, since he (or, less likely, she) is merely the agent of a substantial constituency within the party."

    Do mind if people who care about journalistic standards are interested in this? Why should anyone assume any of this is true?

  10. I cannot believe the Star allowed this to print. He does not attribute anyone other than the MPs in question – this implies that he HEARD THEM SAY IT DIRECTLY. What's more likely is that he had an anonymous source – even Taber quotes her anonymous sources directly.

    A real journalist would've at least called all the MPs he was quoting and ask for comment.

  11. If Jarrid truly believes that Angelo Pershichilli is one of Canada's premier political columnists it certainly suggests that Jarrid doesn't read very much.

    I find Angelo to be at best superficial and simplistic. His columns are quite often painful to read. He is a lightweight in the field of political columnists.

    I know that jarrid at the best of time can be said to be disingenuous, but suggesting that Angelo is in any way 'premier' is ridiculous even for jarrid to say.

    If Angelo is a premier political columnist, then by jarrid's measure, the guy that draws the W.T. Duck comic in The Star must be a comic genious.

    • I'll do you one better.

      If Angelo Pershichilli is one of "Canada's premier political columnists", then I think an argument can be made that JARRID is one of "Canada's premier political columnists".

    • So where shall we place Ms. Taber on this hierarchy of premier political commentary?

      • Somewhere below jarrid?

  12. The fact that this story had the kind of legs it did – though it may have been false – demonstrates how plausible a palace coup is. The Liberals are suffering for having foregone a leadership race. Yes, a year ago it seemed an election was imminent, and the party was broke. Today both of those are untrue – an election is unlikely and the party has greatly improved its finances.

    A leadership race would either give Ignatieff the legitimacy he needs to squelch discontent, or replace him with somebody who can. I realize that the leaders who called leadership races and then entered them (Joe Clark and Stockwell Day) lost in the leadership race, but in each case, their party improved its performance in the polls in the subsequent election.

    Incidentally, I think the Aussies and until recently the British have a better system for maintaining unity. There leaders are selected by a caucus vote. It is a low cost approach that lets potential usurpers put their money where their mouth is, so to speak. Intraparty coups are an important part of succession in the Westminster system – Bob Hawke, Jean Chretien and Margaret Thatcher were all sitting PM's ousted by their own party. Stockwell Day, Iain Duncan Smith and Alexander Downer are among the opposition leaders similarly ousted.

    Since palace (or Stornaway) coups will happen anyway, parties would be wise to implement rules that minimize their deleterious impact on a party's functioning. Indeed, coups can work for a party – in all 3 opposition cases the opposition party gained in popular votes, and in 2/3 government cases, the government won re-election. The exception? The Liberal Party of Canada.

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