The best thing to happen to the Liberals

With no one to yell at, the party has done some useful policy work


The best thing to happen to the Liberals

Looking for a Liberal in Ottawa last fall was like a trip into the heart of darkness. You would eventually find a crew of them, hunched over the latest polling data in some dark corner of the Centre Block, where they’d give you the 1,000-yard stare and mutter quietly about the party lacking leadership and direction. The whole miserable session culminated in the legendary Night of the Long Faces, when a group of Liberals repaired to a bar at the Chateau Laurier for a bitch session that the Toronto Star breathlessly reported as a nascent coup being mounted by Bob Rae to topple Michael Ignatieff.

Everything is relative, more so in politics, but in the early months of 2010 it is suddenly a good time to be a Liberal. It’s easy to find Liberals on the Hill these days; with the government off “recalibrating” its agenda, they are striding around like they own the place. And why not? Ever since Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament over the Christmas holidays, the polling gap between the Conservatives and the Liberals has vanished, and for the past three weeks, Ekos tracking polls have had the two parties in a dead heat.

The received wisdom is that the Tory lead (which before Christmas one pollster called “entrenched”) vanished because of public anger over the prorogation, and many pundits have suggested that Harper’s inability to pass up an opportunity to show how clever he is has backfired once again. And there certainly appears to be something to that. Most people are genuinely annoyed that Parliament is not sitting, probably for the simple reason that most people don’t get to simply decide not to go to work for two months, least of all in the dead of winter.

But explaining why the Tories are unpopular doesn’t fully explain the new-found bounce in the Liberal step, so here’s an alternative suggestion: the extended post-Christmas break from the parliamentary grind has been good for the Liberals because it’s actually allowed them to do a better job as the opposition.

That seems counterintuitive, since one of the biggest complaints about Harper’s opportunistic suspension of Parliament was that it short-circuited all of the accountability mechanisms of responsible government. No more meddlesome Afghanistan committee with its annoying fixation on the Colvin allegations, no more of that daily parade of hyenas in heat known as question period.

But reasonable opposition is the unappreciated junior partner in the adversarial system of responsible government. It is all well and good to attack the government, but the opposition must do so in good faith, framing complaints in a manner that advances the public good and the national interest, while proposing a reasonable alternative course.

And the fact is, for all the complaints about Harper’s small-minded obsession with tactical shin-kicking, one of the biggest problems with last fall’s parliamentary session was that the opposition was itself not terribly responsible. The Liberals in particular spent most of the time scrambling from one issue to the next like a puppy dog with ADD. From the torch relay route to stimulus advertising to stimulus spending to H1N1 to the Colvin allegations, each week brought allegations of fresh scandal or outrage, each more indicative of Tory incompetence and perfidy.

Some of those issues were certainly worth getting excited about. But when everything is a scandal, then nothing is, and it didn’t take long for the public to conclude that the Liberals had no idea what they were doing. What the prorogation has done is remove the party from the bullying, reactive and optics-centred playground of question period. Under the banner “The Liberals are Working,” the party dutifully showed up in Ottawa on the previously scheduled date for the return of Parliament, and since then it’s been a blizzard of panels, conferences, and media scrums. With no one to yell at, the Liberals have been forced to take the initiative, and they have used the opportunity to quietly but methodically advance their own agenda.

Over the past few weeks they have had useful sessions and policy announcements on pensions, governance, parliamentary officers, job creation, child care, Senate reform, health care, and Afghanistan, to name a few. None of it is bang-down-the-door-and-stop-the-presses stuff, but that’s good. It’s just solid, steady government work, and much-needed cred-building as the party builds momentum toward its big thinkers conference in Montreal at the end of March.

The broader lesson is that the cut and thrust of the Commons may be overrated as a mechanism of accountability. According to the House of Commons compendium, question period’s main aim is “to seek information from the government and to call it to account for its actions,” which is like saying the primary purpose of ice fishing is to catch fish. As the saying goes, there’s a reason why they don’t call it “answer period.” Question period may not be obsolete, but there’s no reason those 45 minutes per day have to dominate everything that happens when the House is sitting. After all, over in the mother of Parliaments in the U.K., the PM only submits for his ritualized hazing for a half-hour once a week.

Weird, isn’t it? In one of those great reversals of fortune that only politics can serve up, it’s now the Conservatives that look scared and directionless. Meanwhile, it might turn out that prorogation is the best thing to have happened to the Liberals, letting the party mount an effective opposition, and establish itself as a legitimate government in waiting.


The best thing to happen to the Liberals

  1. Or maybe the 10 point lead that the Conservatives had was because of the BS that the Liberals were throwing at the government. ie. The poor Taliban. And if the LPC starts up the garbage again the 10 point lead may just re appear.

    • Or maybe it was because Canadians have woken up and seen the dictator bully cult leader who he really is and what he isn't along with his ridiculous caucus and members of his Pm's with no brains past grade schools. Maybe its because the Media has finally woken up to the lying SOBs and their shoddy leadership. It is time to quit blaming the opposition parties for their own blunders and putting their sticky hands in Canadians pocket to campaign non stop since they were elected. Broken promises at every turn, huge deficit that has put our country in a huge deficit while spending all the surplus to achieve more votes from their same voter bases which is clearly Albertans.

  2. The Liberal Party of Canada is as good as dead. Liberal socialist ideology is dying in Europe because governments can no longer support welfare statism. The Liberal party of Canada is corrupt, ideologically vacuous, thin on leadership and lacking in government experience. I for one will celebrate the day it passes out of existence. They have done more damage to this country than any number of criminals and other inept politicians. The Harper cons are not much better, but better than these Liberal scum bags. Where are the 100's of millions in adscam money!

    • Hmmmm….. neck and neck in the polls equals as good as dead? By that reasoning, the CPC is too.

    • {Don't tell McGuinty, Obama, Campbell, Charest or Graham]

      {Heck, don't tell Harper… there isn't a conservative or principled bone left in his body.}

    • FYI Angela Merkel and Sarkozy have nothing in common with the neocon philosophy of Harper and his gang. In the Canadian political spectrum both would be firmly esconced in the LPC. Both would vehemently deny being so reactionary as to qualify for membership in the CPC (in france ignoramuses like Anders join their natural home: the fascist FN)

      • I find your comment about Sarkozy hilarious considering his demagoguery over burqas. He's hardly a liberal.

      • Ah yes, if you disagree with a Liberal you must be a fascist. Don't you people ever get tired of that. Fascism is a off-shoot of Liberal ideology by the way, not a product of conservative ideology. Anyone with a modicum of Political theory and philosophy would know this. Read Taylor's Secular Age and get an education.

        • I do have an education in political theory and philosophy thank you very much. I took a number of courses in these subjects and what you're saying is utterly false. Fascism belongs on the extreme right of the political spectrum. Classical or reform liberalism have nothing to do with fascism. Socialism has some links to fascism, it is true, (lots of members of the Nazis were actually believers is some elements of socialism), but then so does socialism and conservatism.

          And as for Taylor, welllll… I've read Taylor. Taylor I have trouble with. I'd rather not be counted with a guy who blamed the whole Rushdie affair on Rushdie. He writes well, but he's one of those guys who seems to be convinced everything was better in the past.

          • The evidence suggest you are wrong on Fascism coming from the right. Socially fascism reflects the same attitude as socialism. The Nazification of Germany left the social system of the Kaiser in place. It was built on Liberal Protestantism. It was Liberal Protestantism that made Nazi Germany possible and its heaviest defenders were the socialist in the Universities who came from that perspective. The German Church went all in for Hitler. The right wing Christians rebelled and were imprisoned. For a while the Liberal Catholics supported Hitler, then receded, finally came out against them when it was safe. But you bet your sweet bippy that national socialism found its intellectual support among social academics. That's why it was called National Socialism. Nice try! You obviously do not know political history that well.

          • Guess who founded the Welfare state in Germany? Bismarck, that great hero of liberalism. Guess where the birthplace of National socialism is? Bavaria. Conservative Bavaria. Catholic Bavaria. Northern Germany, (which was mostly Prussian) was mostly protestant. The reason the social system was left in place was because the nazis needed the prussian military, which the German nobility had a hold over. And actually, the biggest supporters of Hitler and the nazi party were reactionary conservatives and business interests. Try reading Alan Bullock's biography of Hitler if you don't believe me. The left (the honest left anyway) admits responibility for the horrors of Communism. The right should admit responsibility for the horrors of fascism.

            And by the way, my introductory textbook on political theory was written by Tom Flanagan.

  3. Spence Canada

    I'll readily believe socialism is dead – when people stop saying it is. After all, no-one bothers to say feudalism is dead. The very fact that people like you denounce socialism indicates they fear it.

  4. If prorogation has led to more Canadians being interested in what is going on in Parliament and becoming involved than it will end up being a positive rather than a negative for all Canadians, no matter what their party colours. If such interest can be sustained, our politicians may realize that what they do is important to us and we will be watching all of them more closely in the future. Perhaps that is only wishful thinking on my part, nevertheless one can hope that future elections will have a greater voter participation.

  5. Kudos to Maclean's for breaking away from the 'Ignatieff is ineffective' narrative that has dominated his media image for so long. Michael Ignatieff is an intellectual, it's true, but that is a good thing in a PM. He is a man of substance as evidenced by his body of writing and by the nature of his many high profile, sophisticated jobs . Harper's hockey book, his one claim to intellectualism, just makes him look provincial as did his lack of world travel prior to becoming PM. I think Canadians are fed up with Stephen Harper and are ready to start listening to what the Libs have to say. As for me, an election can't come too soon.

    • You have some very sound statements here. Why would Canadians choose hamburger instead of sirloin? It continues to puzzle me.

      • We canadians keep choosing Harper because there is no other choice, Iggy may be an intelectual but he is not a leader AT ALL and if Libs truly want a change they need to get another leader !

  6. "Over the past few weeks they have had useful sessions and policy announcements on … child care …"

    I agree. I've never seen Iggy so sincere, determined and committed as he is in this clip, from a scrum on Feb 1st:

    Reporter: "You have also made it clear you would deal with the deficit if you form government. You've criticized this government for the SIZE of this defecit. How do you reconcile the two, given that early learning and child care would be a HUGELY EXPENSIVE program, on top of all the other things you've been saying ?"

    Iggy: "Look, WHAT BETTER INVESTEMENT, in the PRODUCTIVITY, SOCIAL JUSTICE, and EQUALITY of our country, could you POSSIBLY make than giving young kids an equal start, right ? … But one [promise] I will NOT drop, under ANY circumstances, is an investment in our kids. I am absolutely conviced, this is the GAME CHANGER …"

    Pure Gold.

  7. I think the more pertinent point is that the Liberals have been out of the spotlight for a while, which allows people to forget what asses they were last year.

    Give them a few months back in the spotlight and I'm sure they'll regain the public's distrust.

    • I disagree with you and it probably is because King Harpie is a phony with no real economic savvy considering he has never practised his real trade. I think that he probably took that by correspondence by the looks of his in-experiences he has clearly shown the past 2 years. Well Mr Harpie, we do not endorse a wanna be Pm who cannot even appear before the press and answer all questions rather than the ones he has chosen for photo ops and had to practise for before hand and the man who hates the media so much that he appears only when he thinks it will gather him more votes. An opportunist and nothing more. I feel sorry for the lot of you supporters who have been thought nothing but hate for those who do not agree with you. I also fell sorry for the Media who are to out to lunch to do a little investigating before they fall in his cleverly planned interviews. That says a lot about his government and his supporters. Actually it says nothing good about the lot of them. If you people can always beleive his accusations and lies without questioning him is unbeleivable to say the least.

    • That'd make sense if it wasn't well known that it's the Harpers that generally gain when Parliament is out of session, and fall when it's in.

  8. Well, I think that the Liberal's owe the media for this jump in the polls. How many times have previous PM's prorogued parliament? Let see, JC halted government for months so that Paul Martin could get ready for his take over. If, the media hadn't made such a big deal out of this, most Canadians wouldn't even of new the word prorogue. Give Iggy a chance back in the House of Commons and every Canadian will see what a buffoon he really is. Just watch the land slide in the polls then.
    The government is quite capable of running efficently with out the clown show in the House of Commons.

  9. Oh that wonderful Liberal party they are actually talking about something after 18 mos of flailing around trying to invent faux scandals. However, did you think to analyize if the recommendations have any substance or just the usual Liberal propaganda. Will the national daycare program actually be national in scope and how much will it cost. How will the Liberal party create jobs for young people ie. paying employers. How has this worked in the past? On the environment. Virtually 13 years of majority Liberal government and GHGs went up. How does the Liberal party see a cap and trade system working without the U.S. having one. How would that help our economy. How many jobs would be created or lost. Quit looking at fluff and start doingyour job by questioning what is being said rather than being a Liberal cheerleader. If the Liberals want to put forward recommendations that's fine but simply reporting it without a critical examination of what they are saying is irresponsible.

    • How about applying that critical eye to Harper policies? Oh wait.. you can't.. they're all dead on the floor.

  10. The 10 point lead was a false lead, based upon Ignatieff's threat to force an election which allowed CPC to roll-out the coalition boogey-man. As soon as Ignatieff dropped the "your time is up" bravado the polls returned to their normal equilibrium.

    It is good that the LPC is doing its homework and is resolved to working the issues instead of daily shrieking in faux-outrage. But LPC is working on peripheral issues. The test will be the Budget. All the complaining about the deficit will come back to haunt the Liberals when Liberal oxes (program spending) are gored by Stockwell Day et al.

    The Riviere-du-Loup byelection is the most interesting political story of late. Contrary to punditry opinion that Harper is politically dead in Quebec, something else is obviously happening in that province. Gilles Duceppe has been curiously quiet. Lucien Bouchard's recent comments are interesting, not least their timing. I wish our political commentators would provide more insight about that, instead of blathering about non-issues like prorogation.

    • The Riviere-du-Loup byelection benefitted from the fact that the winner was the mayor. Nothing more. He was the candidate with the most name recognition and the most pork to offer.

      • Yes you keep telling yourself that and someday someone other than you might believe it.

        • Got another reason?

  11. Potter is absolutely correct: …"And the fact is, for all the complaints about Harper's small-minded obsession with tactical shin-kicking, one of the biggest problems with last fall's parliamentary session was that the opposition was itself not terribly responsible."

    Incidentally, if anyone thinks that the Liberals "new" daycare will actually happen, they haven't been paying attention for the last 15 years. This is one of those things that Liberals promise to pretend to favour but never implement.

    • I'm surprised that the Liberals are even making promises about daycare these days, after more than a decade of broken promises on this file when they were in power.

      • It is a policy that can have resonance as long as they are honest about it.

        They have to admit that national daycare will increase the education budget by 40%, and have a plan for implementing it over the course of a decade, including where they are going to find the money to pay for it.

        It won't gain any voters simply by promising it again, but the Liberals could gain voters if they have a clear plan going into the election for implementing it, and have clear deadlines for the implementation of the plan.

        I don't care how conservative you are, if you are young you probably have a two-income family and daycare costs which are killing you (and unable to afford a reasonable standard of living without the second income). I liked the child-tax credit and family allowance we got from the Tories because we are a family in a rural area, and it was better for me than the Liberal plan of creating X number of spaces in urban areas. Now that that benefit is here though, it would be nice to consider the next step.

        • While I have some sympathy for young parents struggling to find affordable daycare I would respectfully suggest that since daycare falls within provincial jurisdiction that it is each province who should establish the program with its citizens paying the costs of the daycare. The needs in Ontario are not necessarily the same as in Sask. As well the costs will be supported by the individual citizens in each province. Then we can find out if the majority of the citizens really want a costly daycare program which will really do nothing but warehouse kids in daycare "ghettos".

          Do you honestly believe the Liberal daycare plan would be truly national. It will be unionized workers working 9-5 with limited access. The single mother who needs daycare will not be able to afford it and if she can the hours will not suit her. It will not be free nor will the costs be the same as in Quebec. Do you think daycare will be available in the rural areas of a province the same as urban? Those are some issues that you should consider. Are Canadians prepared to spend $10 billion annually for a truly national daycare program.

          • I do agree that provincial governments are the better arm of government to achieve daycare programs, and that a national daycare program would be extremely expensive. Expensive enough that you will need to cut a lot of things out of the budget, because there simply isn't enough taxes you could raise to cover it.

            The point I was making though is that state-sponsored daycare is still heavily desired, and the good-will the Liberals have on this file is gone through their inaction. To get any voters on this issue, they would need to show the public how such a program would work.

            Other steps, instead of a national daycare, that might garner a party a few votes would include income splitting between married couples for tax purposes, or increasing the amount of the family allowance we currently get.

          • I hear you. However, a truly national daycare plan is a non starter. What I don't want is smoke and mirrors trying to convince us it is national in scope but it no such thing. Martin tried that. The provinces grabbed the money and didn't create one new daycare space.

            Unfortunately I do not agree with a state sponsored daycare plan. Create incentives in the private sector to make it worthwhile to operate daycares. If there is sufficient need it will happen.

            I would agree that splitting married couples' income would be a vote getter. We treat single taxpayers better than married taxpayers under the tax system.

            You may see improvement in the family allowance but I don't believe there will be any state sponsored daycare system under a Harper government.

            We are going to see the size of government reduced significantly over the next 5 years and that is a fact of life. If there are to be no tax increases then the size of government must be significantly reduced.

      • Paul Martin did have ana greement with the provinces on Daycare that the Harper governmetn dismantled.

    • Iggy is riding the wave on Harpers mistake, not on his own merit, all the things that he have been saying just create headlines but when it comes to actually voting he is going down and he knows it!

  12. And yet, he has taken a slight dip in the latest polls.He is also behind layton in various other points in said poll.

  13. Potter and most Toronto-centric media have created the "Prorogation Outrage". This is not something the Liberals created, but something the media created and blew all out of proportion. When you boil it all down, it's a lot about nothing. So give yourselves a pat on the back Parliamentary Press Gallery for giving the Liberal Party of Canada an unprecedented amount of "free" propaganda. Everyone knows they'd never have the money to do it themselves, because you see, Canadians don't trust them, and don't support them monetarily. The media in Canada is pretty pathetic.

    • The prorogation outrage belongs to the people, not the media or the liberals. Yes, the media informed us of it, but it did't take long for Canadians across the country to realize what Harper was pulling off again and for what reasons. Add this to the many other abuses of our democratic system by Harper and his 'power', and you have a public that is rightfully outraged!

    • Let's not forget here – the outrage was fueled, initially, by some well-placed Liberal attack ads. That's what started it and the media just picked it up as a story and then Facebook moved it along, to help Liberals organize. It looks like those Liberal attack ads went a long way – I know, I know, the liberals were against attack ads just a few weeks earlier. Those quirky Liberals! You never know what they're going to do next!!! :)

  14. "there's no reason those 45 minutes per day have to dominate everything that happens when the House is sitting."

    That would be the media's responsibility, no? It is way easier to just watch QP and focus on the silly he-said she-said charade instead of doing some reporting. It is amazing that the journos actually print some of the stuff that peple say unchallenged, even when they know it is just pure spin.

    • Absolutely true…..I suspect most journalists simply watch QP from their office and then manufacture their stories.

      If you look at the prorogue issue you know the lame street media has lost their way. Everyday Canadians are subjected to fluff. Now we see fluff pieces like this one on the Liberals. The man shows ups and makes some vague statements and suddenly the Libs are on the way back. No analysis, no reservation given their previous positions on different subjects and of course they are quick to report anything coming from the mouth of the Count who is simply a carpetbagger looking to enhance his resume and who has consistently shown himself to be an empty suit.

      • very vague.He always seems like he cant get the words out.It's fun to watch him

        • The problem is that he isn't authentic, and that's why he can't connect with canadians, is not that he has been away for thirty something years, is that this isn't his call at all…

          • The issue really is he was away from the country for 34 years and had no interest in Canada over that time other than to malign our flag and Quebec Separatism. Iffy has no idea about the make up of the country other than what he has been told.. Thats why he cannot connect with ordinary Canadians.

            The fact that he is an intellectual, has written books and belongs to the elites is further icing on the cake.
            However, he only came back because the back room boys of the Liberal party said they could make him PM and he thought that would enhance is international reputation.

            There was no evidence he had the leadership capabilities to manage a country, he had any political instincts, that he actually has a philosophy and a vision of what he wants to do when he was PM. The United States is going through that very thing right now. They now know they elected someone with no experience and he is making a mess of their country. The same thing could be said about Iffy.

          • I agree with you, he just cant make the connection, and he never will.

  15. My reply to all of you replying to my post above. After all the "terrible things" Harper and his cons have done, including "Proroguing" this is the best you can do with your so-called "intellectual" Iggy. You would think by now he would be in like Flyn. Well, here is the bad news.

    The fact that the Liberals still cannot maintain a poll lead speaks well about what we Canadian, in the main, think of your dear leader. Don't focus on the numbers, focus on the FACT of the failure of the Libs to capitalize on anything in the past year despite the dismal behavior of the cons. Liberalism is dead, face it!

    BTW Iggy is no scholar. He is a populist with scholarly credentials. I work as a scholar among scholars, I have substantial publications including major books in my field, and we regard him as the froth, not the beer, gravy, not the meat and potatoes. Every university needs an Iggy to draw the undergrads but the Grad students stay far away. He is no scholar!

    • Wow, Spence you are so full of yourself! I doubt very much that you will ever have even half of the qualifications and experience that Mr. Ignatieff has. CTV …can't stand any of them…on t.v. or online.

      • Iggy doesn't have the experience nor the qualificatons that you are talking about, and that's why he is not taking seriously by most canandians…

      • You have no idea lady. Just making a point about your savior. I know lots of scholars better than me. Iggy is NOT one of them. Since you know nothing of who I am you'll just be left guessing, but trust me, you have no idea, or ideas for that matter. I am not much on the scale of things but I am better than Iggy, but that is not saying much for my self really. It does not take that much to be better than the Count!

        • Calm down Spence. Check your blood pressure…I just saw a report that claims a huge number of Canadians are suffering from hypertension and don't even know it. I just really don't think it's fair to make Mr. Ignatieff sound like a high school dropout.

          • Not that excited really. Have you listened to your savior talk for any length of time? I expected much more from a guy making the claims about himself he has and I have been decidedly unimpressed. I have grad students who are multiple times more articulate and academically capable than this guy. The problem is that he has written a number of works that are popular but not really scholarly. Just because you can write books at a popular level does not establish you as a scholar of note. You are merely able to give people that impression. Iggy's academic credentials are inflated once you get past his Doctorate.

          • Am I right in assuming that you are going to decide to stay anonymous so that we have no way of checking the veracity of your claim to be an academic?

          • That right, but that is for security reasons. I don't trust the net and could care less if you believe me. I know who I am, and I know who Iggy is and I don't know who you are. I will only tell you my PhD is U of Toronto and I am an established scholar in my field with an international reputation. (Two books, multiple academic articles and reviews, associate professor). That may not convince you but I could care less. This is about your pal Iggy not me. I used to be a Liberal and voted for them multiple times in my life but unlike die hard Liberals I judge people on their merits not their party affiliation and I think Iggy was a categorical mistake on many levels. I think their (Libs) stall in recent polls is proof of that. What do you think? If Iggy is such a wonder why has he not improved the fortunes of his party? Especially in light of Harper's dismal performance of late. It's because Iggy is all style and no substance. Go read a few serious academic reviews of his work. Find out for your self. The man rides on his pedigree not his degree. Besides, my points are valid and none of you have substantially addressed them yet. I know you would love to be able to go on the attack because that is the Liberal default when losing and argument, but just answer my question. Why cant the Liberals do better given the circumstances and given the popular view that they are Canada's natural governing party? It's because the Liberal party has been tried and found wanting in Canada. Got a better answer?

          • It is a known fact that there are many petty jealousies that impact the academic circles. Personally, I vote for a party based on their ideology, not based on the one individual who may lead that party at the time. Mr. Harper's core beliefs are based on the Reform Party platform, even though he has temporarily adjusted them to gain popularity with the original Conservatives who themselves are not thrilled with much of what Harper has done. It has been the Liberals of this country who have shaped Canada into a country that the international community can applaud (at least most of the time). Now with Mr. Harper leading we are losing that respect, because deep down he doesn't give a "hoot" about true democracy. I will not give up my core beliefs for they have served me well for 60 years. You are entitled to your position, but I fear you have succumbed to the American style attack ads that the Conservatives have used to twist truths and you use the same style of attack in your comments.

          • I agree with your assessment of Harper but not with your comment on my self-delusion, I just don't think Iggy is the answer. I consider myself a modern rationalist and tend to analyze on that basis. Though I am not reform I was a member of the old PCP of Canada. Harper has been a big disappointment to me. I voted for him last time because I saw him move the the center. Never again though, unless Jim Prentice takes over. I might reconsider with him. Next election will be a dismal choice for sure if Harper and Iggy are the options. Where have all the leaders gone.

          • TO; 1949 from 1959: I should add that, on the basis of policy and competence I have voted Liberal several times in the past but I think they must come together. Since the Sponsorship issue I have written them of as hopelessly corrupt. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. A person tied to party ideology will eventually go the way of the party in terms of cultural influence. The Liberals have been very much a mixed blessing to this country. Rose colored glasses make you incapable of objectivity in this matter and of seeing the enormous damage they have done. Unless and until the Libs completely remake themselves from the grass roots up they will never get my vote. Iggy's undemocratic installment as leader of the LPC was for me the final nail in the Liberal coffin. If you cannot see the irrationality of that act then I pity you. Reason, its a very helpful feature of human existence.

          • I would not expect someone to simply abandon a party entirely when it holds the core of their beliefs, simply because of the small group that brought it shame. Instead, I would continue to be a part of the party and work towards redeeming it by correcting the flaws. This should apply to any party members, no matter what their colour – stay true to yourself.

          • I wasn't arguing with you about the quality of Ignatieff's academic work. I've never been impressed with his theorizing in particular. I remember during his first run at leadership when I mentioned to a friend of mine that professors and grad students generally think his work is subpar, and my friend was incredulous. People who are not connected with academia are less likely to know the difference between celebrity intellectuals, as Ignatieff was, and celebrated academics.

            I'm just skeptical of anonymous commentators who claim to be established scholars in their field with international reputations, since there isn't any evidence to support the claim. There was another guy named "Egg Head" who was poting on this site making similar claims, and I was skeptical about him too, so don't take it personally.

          • I understand your sentiment and accept your reserve I just find the world to be a dangerous place and prefer to remain anonymous. This is not that important to me that I would show my cards. I just do not like the way the press coddles this man and builds him up. He really is not that great, just from the upper crust of society. Your point is well taken. On the scale of things I am an average scholar, but then so is Iggy, at best.

          • Do you know how condescending the comment sounded? Must be a true Liberal believer. The individual is making a point and has a right to that point of view. If you don't agree fine but he is entitled to his opinion without being accused of being ill.

          • Lighten up. The blood pressure comment was merely intended as humour.

    • Funny. You think a scholar would know better than to use an unsubstantiated appeal to authority as an argument.

      Just saying.

      • See my response above. I don't need your approval to know what a scholar is. Besides you are still avoiding my question. Answer the question please.

        • Why isn't Iggy more popular? Hell, that's spelled out in the article above. Perhaps you should go back to the source material you're commenting on. I hear that's popular among scholars.. at least.. real ones.

          • Read the headline, that is what the press wants you to think. The article is actually ambivalent. Again, dot care what you think aka my scholarship abilities. You don't sound like you know a lot about it. I am not trying to run for office on the basis of my credentials, Iggy is on the basis of his. I am an average Canadian commenting on his scholarly abilities, or lack thereof, on the basis of observation of information available to all. Go look up the reviews of his work.

          • Except you specifically refer to your scholarship as a justification for your opinions. That's not an argument. That's an appeal to authority, which brings us around to my original comment. Now, if you'd have cared to cite reviews of his scholarly work, that might have some relevance.

            One review of his work that I'm cognizant of, is the Governor General's award. That strikes me as a pretty good review.

          • Ignatieff is a talented and engaging writer, he just isn't much of a theorist. Potter has actually brought this up a few times:


            Or this quote from Potter's article in the Ottawa Citizen:

            The truth is that Michael Ignatieff's status within the more hardcore precincts of the academy is not that high. He's considered an elegant writer and a competent popularizer, but he's also seen as a bit of a dilettante who lacks rigour and who tends to agree with the last book he read on a topic. But that's fine: it is no small thing to be an internationally respected public intellectual, even if the emphasis is on the "public."

  16. So … enter Peter Donolo and we've had the return of attack ads … yes, I know, the Liberals were against them a few weeks earlier, but now they're for them and though the party is full of proroguing specialists such as Bob Rae and Paul Martin, all of a sudden they're against proroguing. Oh, and Peter has them pulling up the abortion bogey man and legalizing pot and all kinds of other nonsense – it's the old Liberal formula and it stinks.

    • They are only against it because canadians objected it, If canadians would of being ok with it, they wouldn't said a word, remember he rides the wave…..

      • I think you have it ass backwards. You will recall Iffy was in France and Layton was in Phoenix and there was the usual statements decrying prorogation. However, virtually from day one the torqued headlines and the outrageous columns accusing the PM of the country with all manner of things appeared. Canadians who probably can't even pronounce the word or knew what it was all about fell for the media story hook, line and sinker.
        Of course the opposition parties jumped all over it when they saw what the media was saying. Couldn't let something as delicious as this without trying to capitalize on it.
        My expectation is that the Libs in particular who said so many outrageous things have no choice but to defeat the government on the budget. After all they are the official opposition and they must defeat a PM who is undemocratic, abusing his authority and the rest of the spin lines. That's the responsible thing to do right?
        It won't happen and Canadians will see it was the latest faux scandal perpetrated by the media and the opposition parties.

        • If he doesn't defeat it, he is toast, he has to ride the wave all the way now….

  17. I am so sick of hearing about this daycare nonsense, too – that's been going on since I can remember with the Liberals – they say anything and do little. They scare up Liberal Senators, as well, to say "what they stand for" to give people the impression that that is Liberal platform, meanwhile it's not – they'll just make sure that there's a Liberal senator for every cause: one for the seal hunt, one against the seal hunt and another one who thinks that tuition should be free. I hope that more voters can see through this ruse.

  18. God another flippin liberal cheerleader,Potter your bias is showing or do you even care.Is there no where in this country a guy can go to read a little without the colunmist being in the liberal parties pocket,boy i guess the adscam money has been spread far and wide.The Toronto media started this whole prorogy BS to help the liberals change the channel and then write fluff like this Potter guy as to how well the liberals are doing these days,to try and have the sheep actually buy into to this crap.I'm done Macleans can join the CBC,G&M and TO star all Canadians should boycott the lot of them until they can report the facts with out the glaring liberal bias.

    • This seems more like reporting to me. I'm not a Liberal supporter, but the article is well written, and if you could jump down from your high horse, you would be able to admit that, yes, the Liberals have managed to turn their party around in last few months. You don't have to proclaim your love for Ignatieff, and this does not mean they are going to win an election, but the simple truth is, they have come a long way as a party and Ignatieff as a leader, if only internally. If you have to go somewhere else to ignore this simple fact, I would argue you are choosing to filter your news, based on some alleged bias. Suck it up and admit to a fact or two.

      • How did he turned it around? There is no one thing that he has said that makes sense so far, if anything is going to come to bite him in the butt…

        • Maybe you should read the article (again?)

          • No, they haven't turned it around, they just got some media attention.

  19. Generally I agree with the article, but I think the LPC needs to be held to account – one would think that since they went out and recruited Iggy that they thought he already had some ideas. And that Iggy would have also thought he had some ideas before he entered into the leadership race. And then when they crowned without a leadership race that they and he already thought he had some ideas. So I question and it leaves doubts in my mind how much the LPC really has to offer Canadians. Not so impressed with their current proposals which are just grand schemes that will likely end up costing huge amounts and not clear on who is really demanding it – such as daycare. Daycare is a transitive problem that largely disappears once a child enters the k-12 system; the solutions are many and do not require a big, national program that emphasizes ONE daycare option and penalizes those parents who do not like the option of institutional care.

    • That's the thing, the man had no ideas, the Libs just thought lets go to back to the future, trying to get a Trudeau alike, someone who uses very nice words,and somewhat looks presentable for the rest of the world, and that`s the problem! He isn`t authentic and can`t connect with canadians or zwhat with Canada needs, he is not following his passion, they put all this ideas in his head, filled his ego, but he can`t focus because it isn`t within him , he is no a leader period, he couldn`t even lead his party, what makes anyone think that he can lead this country… Right now when he had a chance to make somekind of a mark he blew it!

      • You are making too much sense.

  20. hollinm continued

    He is in essence a carpetbagger who has been parachuted into the country and as it turns out the grassroots have little faith in him and therefore they had to orchestrate him into being appointed leader.

    Harper has a lot of faults but he is a true Canadian and has worked hard for this country all his adult life. The same cannot be said about Iffy.

  21. "Looking for a Liberal in Ottawa last fall was like a trip into the heart of darkness. You would eventually find a crew of them, hunched over the latest polling data in some dark corner of the Centre Block, where theyd give you the 1,000-yard stare and mutter quietly about the party lacking leadership and direction"

    "Over the past few weeks they have had useful sessions and policy announcements on pensions, governance, parliamentary officers, job creation, child care, Senate reform, health care, and Afghanistan, to name a few. None of it is bang-down-the-door-and-stop-the-presses stuff, but that's good."

    • The media is only making a big deal about this because a) they are Liberals and there is a natural affinity between the median and those on the Liberal left and b) with Parliament empty because of holidays and prorogation (but mainly holidays), the media has nothing to report unless they do some actual research (like announcing that Gordon Lightfoot is dead!).

      ALL political parties are ALWAYS in the policy development mode – if they are not, then they must really think that they have great policies that everyone will accept or that they don't need to. The fact that it has taken the LPC FOUR YEARS to get around to this leaves a BIG question mark on how they view their role in the political system (as in entitlement) or they can't come up with any policies. Neither option spells success – actually it does if the media keeps on supporting them and telling everyone what conservative values and policies are and conservatives continue to let the media define what a conservative is.

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