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Iggy’s fresh start

PETER C. NEWMAN: The Liberals begin building a template for the next election


 

Photograph by Graham Hughes/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Ramrod straight, white-bearded and enunciating each word as if he were reciting the Psalms, Robert Fowler, a 38-year veteran of nearly every senior posting that counts in the federal civil service and Canada’s diplomatic corps, last week delivered his sour benediction at the Montreal Liberal thinkers’ conference. His double-barrelled rant left the audience—consisting in part of mandarins toilet-trained in deference—troubled and bewildered. That was obvious from their body language; none came up to congratulate Fowler for his courage.

The heroic Canadian bureaucrat unexpectedly took advantage of his position as an equal opportunity inquisitor by blasting both Stephen Harper, his Conservative rescuer, and his Liberal host. He accused Michael Ignatieff’s party of being “in danger of losing its soul,” and Stephen Harper, who helped secure his release from terrorist capture in North Africa, of sponsoring a foreign policy designed strictly to gain domestic votes from ethnic communities.

Appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as his special envoy to bring peace and stability to Niger, where Tuareg rebels were fighting the government over mineral rights, the Canadian bureaucrat had been kidnapped in December 2008 and held for ransom—until he was set free four hair-raising months later. Fowler’s appearance at the Montreal Liberal conference reminded some delegates that there was one other witness to international violence and double-dealing in the hall, namely the not-so-freshly-minted-anymore Liberal leader, who had survived forays into similarly dangerous venues while researching his elegant essays on Third World tinpot potentates and their slutty attitudes on human rights.

For the delegates who made that connection, it was a moment worth noting; for the others, it was a footnote to what turned out to be a successful gathering where epiphanies were floated as a dress rehearsal for the Grits’ election manifesto. Speakers grappled “with the big issues facing our country,” rattling off several encyclopedias’ worth of factoids while parading their impartiality by ignoring the obvious reality that their hosts were Liberals, starved for marketable ideas.

There is an election in the wind, and Canadians don’t, ever, vote for what they already have.

The Liberal platform has been a long time coming, though any student of the Count from Petrograd’s prodigious literary outpourings could easily have traced the dominant principles scattered through his 14 non-fiction books and countless articles. They add flesh to the bones of his hectic fact-gathering tours as a free-floating advocate of civil liberties, while attempting to meet the needs of strangers and recording the deeds and misdeeds in dark places where human rights cannot be taken for granted.

It was a lousy accident of timing that the Grits’ intellectual free-for-all was held the same week as their ill-advised parliamentary motion promoting overseas women’s abortion rights was defeated in a vote by Ignatieff’s own caucus. The Liberal party whips suffered from the worst staff work since Benito Mussolini’s tank corps, whose members were always shooting at one another.

The parliamentary goof was particularly unfortunate because abortion is one of those orphan issues that has little electoral upside. (There ought to be an ironclad rule among Canadian politicians that, if asked about it, they can switch to some such diversionary tactic as: “Hey, let’s plant some water lilies in the oil sands tailing ponds.”)

Nobody was actually saying it, but there was an uncomfortable undertow among the Liberal power brokers at the Montreal gathering that they had to get this one right. The options for reviving their mandate are running out. These wayward political geniuses—who not so long ago had earned the title of Canada’s natural governing party—had better appropriate the useful advice offered by the 53 thinkers assembled at the impressive powwow. It provides the best chance to renew their rudely interrupted hold on office, lost four years ago to the redoubtable Mister Harper.

The Liberals chose a leader who can claim the political centre, not as a tactic but as a reflection of his personal values. And that’s hunky-dory as far as it goes. But now, Michael Ignatieff must grab the bull by the tail and look the situation straight in the face. His valedictory speech summing up the conference on the Sunday afternoon was his best ever: tough, well thought out and faultlessly delivered. It will become the template for the election campaign.

The Montreal weekend offered the Liberals a welcome chance to establish themselves as 21st-century players with a plan. The sub-conscious but defining shift that took place during the Montreal sessions was that instead of limiting themselves to debating policies, the speakers and delegates began to assay contemporary values and the networks that make them real. It was the intervention by Jeremy Kinsman, a former senior ambassador who now lectures at the liberal bastion of the University of California at Berkeley, that led the assembly in that direction.

Whenever Canadian Liberals debate their destinies, the word “Kingston” is their mantra. In 1958, when Tory renegade John Diefenbaker decisively defeated them, harvesting 208 seats—the most remarkable sweep by any Canadian politician—and Liberal leader Lester Pearson emerged with only 48 members, he convened the Study Conference on National Problems at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., for the fall of 1960. I was there and witnessed the magical rebirth of a comatose political rump. But the gabfest’s main endowment was the new-wave Liberals it provided to take over the command posts of the Pearson administration, which came to power three years later. (Of the conference’s 196 non-partisan delegates, 48 later claimed senior government appointments.)

What I found most memorable was the mood of self-confidence that gradually pervaded that epic gathering. They were all there, the big-L and small-l liberals, progressives of every vintage, creed and persuasion. Bob Fowler would have felt right at home; nothing about the Liberal party was beyond criticism.

The defining quote of the Kingston conference was the closing remark by professor Frank Underhill, who made a stinging confession about voting Liberal. “At times,” the classical scholar confessed, “I have had to hold my nose while marking the ballot.”


 

Iggy’s fresh start

  1. This is what is the mistake and why the Liberals are going no where, they still are stuck in the past, c'mon is 2010, Canada, believe it or not has evolved! It is great to hear that the Liberal party is reaching its soul to become a good choice for Canadians but not by going to try to capture the past, and Ignatieff has to go, he is just not a leader, it doesn't matter how beautiful his speech is, there is no meaning to them because there is no action, there are just some people who doesn't have the vision to lead and he is one of them.

    • Some people just don't get it, but they do know how to spout Tory talking points. "Liberals are going 'no where' (it's "nowhere), and "they are stuck in the past"; and "he is not a leader" . . . . reading this is like listening to a robot. Everywhere you go in the media – there are those robots, all of them saying the same thing – it's like the Borg.

      • I think the problem here is not that people keep repeating these points — Tory talking points or not — it is that these points are true. If you wish to defend Iggy and the Liberal platform, you need to argue with the claims made — rather than complaining that someone is making them.

        • Yes, the problem IS that people keep repeating the same points. They're vague, they're broadbrush, they're inflammatory. There is no point refuting them, because it's just garbage that's spewed out on a daily basis, there's nothing you can do about the "points", the problem is deeper than that – it lies with the people who are dense enough to keep repeating them.

    • Very true. Iggy does no connect for a reason, pour on the issues, peel back the layers and you still have IGGY!

      • Margaret, but maybe is some true in to that, please tell me, how is that Ignatieff will be a good leader for this country, what makes him be the best alternative?
        I don't see it, as a matter of fact he has been a big let down, and he has had a ton of chances to prove he is the right choice.
        He is a a very smart man, with a gift for words and a very unique legacy, but he just not authentic with this, that's why he can't connect with Canadians, and I might sound like a robot but I sure hope the Liberal party gets it and truly gives us the alternative that we need.

      • How about if you explain "peel back the layers"?? What are the layers? How about if you discuss the fact that the Cons numbers are going nowhere? That would be a conversation.

        • You still haven't answered the question, why should I vote for the Liberal party?

          My suggestion to you is that you really get well educated on politics and how this works and don't get cought on Ignatieff's credentials, this is not a show off contest, who has the best credentials, royal blood, this is the person that would lead this country, I am not saying Harper is the best choice either but right now he is the only one!

          And I might not be so wrong check the polls Ignatieff numbers are not that good, so credentials don't impress most Canadians either. That's not why you vote.

      • How is it that Harper can't get any higher? Why does he keep incompetent, crooked people in the PMO? Oh right – because it's safer for him to have them under control than to turf them and have them write a book about him – wait for the one from Jaffer and Guergis. LOL!!

  2. Simply partisan BS. Because the Liberals have no one else to turn to, they are valiantly trying to re-brand Ignatieff. Good luck, he's Canada's answer to Sarah Palin. He delivers punch lines without even knowing it.

    • Do you work for Helena Guergis?

      • and who do you work for?

        • I think he works for Sterling Cooper but under a different name.

    • " . . . namely the not-so-freshly-minted-anymore Liberal leader, who had survived forays into similarly dangerous venues while researching his elegant essays on Third World tinpot potentates and their slutty attitudes on human rights. "

      I seriously doubt that Harper ever had the guts to do anything like that.

      • They are two different people, different background and to be fair most Canadians do not care about that.
        They are both very smart man in a different way.

      • Margaret for P Newman to even begin to compare Mr Ignatieff forays into dangerous venues with what happened to Robert Fowler and his situation that he faced takes away from the credibility of this essay. If Michael had faced any dangerous situations during his research for his books we would have heard all about by now from his handlers.
        They have told us time and time again how wonderful M Ignatieff is and the illustrious life he has lived prior to blessing all of we mere Canadians with his presence. This essay is just on more in the long line of such stories.

      • Harper has travelled far and wide for all those photo ops. Doesn't that count?

        • Lol, it does!

  3. It would help greatly if people read the articles before commenting.

    • Absolutely. Certain of the Con commenters, for example, just respond with silly PM approved rhetoric or spew their hate, but not adding to the conversation (i.e. gold old Fred).

      • As opposed to silly Liberal rhetoric I presume? Why is it that conservatives spew talking points and you are the epitome of non-partisan thoughtfullness? Once again the media is gushing about the Liberal struggle to find itself in the wilderness, much wringing of hands and reminiscing about the good old days of a "balanced" approach to diplomacy. Heaven forbid the country should take a principled stand on anything, lest we offend someone. Fowler, Ignatieff, Newman all live in a world of moral relativism. That Fowler, a victim of a terrorist kidnapping, doesn't understand that there is no nuance and balance when dealing with thugs is sad, but not surprising given his premises.

    • Wouldn't it, though?

      • Even his own MPs want him out, they see no future with him!

        • Who? Ignatieff's? Where are you getting THAT from?

          • When whipped votes fail, you have a problem. Thus far, Ignatieff has had two problems.

          • I also believe that, I might be wrong but I do not think his MPs are happy the way things are going, they know that the party as it is right now has no future!

  4. P Newman writes…"But now, Michael Ignatieff must grab the bull by the tail and look the situation straight in the face" I would pay money to see him do this!

    This article drips with partisan BS from the bull Ignatieff shoud grab. The question is why should Mr Ignatieff get a redo? He has had a year to prove his worth and has failed miserably except to the Liberals who would vote Liberal even if they had a monkey for a leader.

    • I was going to say: how can he grab the bull by the tail and look it in the face? Does this particular bull have a face on the back or a tail on the front? Shouldn't he be grabbing it by the horns?

    • if Iggy is grabbing the bull by the tail, it's not its face he's going to stare at! Maybe that's the problem

  5. What a load of crap. The fact is the Liberal party is devoid of ideas and are searching for a platform. All of the speakers were respected in their own spheres but the fact is they did not say anything that most thinking Canadians know or have heard of. The key is Iffy is lost in the world of academia and really has no idea how to put the meat on the bones. All Liberals can think of is the next great social program in the mode of medicare. The fact is Canadians know that big expensive social policies very seldom achieve the results intended no matter how well meaning. A national daycare program will not be national in scope. Yes it may create a few more childcare spaces but will it help the single mom working odd hours? Will it be unionized workers who will be paid wages and benefits not available in the private sector and cost Canadians a fortune? Will it be national in scope so it is available to urual as well as urban dwellers? Somehow I doubt it.
    So Newman can praise the Liberal party but they have a leader who is not really a leader and who over his career has not demonstrated he has leadership abilities. He certainly has demonstrated he can't make up his mind from one day to the next.

    • Uh huh. And Jaffer-Guergis are a "power" couple. lol!!

  6. hollinm continued

    The Libs are lost in the political wilderness and Canadians have already judged Iffy for what he is; not PM material. No one believes the Libs any longer other than their ardent supporters. Unfortunately for them there is only about 25% of the population who believe they will do what they say they will do. Therein lies the crux of the Liberal predicament.

    • What a load of crap.

      • Iggy is viande morte just like Dion. He's not Canadian enough to be PM of Canada. He's just an effette political dilittante on a cynical ego trip at the expense of the Liberal party and all Canadians. He should just abdicate the Liberal leadership and leave Canada with the woman he loves. If they stick with Iggy, Liberals will run for cover in any next election once Iggy's sordid political past in the UK and USA are laid out for Canadians to judge, not to mention his tainted Canadian record … no thanks to the Liberal-biased MSM.

    • Mervin, where are the ideas from the reform party you so love. Harper has used prorogation to regurgitate stuff that dies on the order paper.

      Iggy has a base of ideas he now needs to try out and pick the ones Canadians want and that are left of Harpercrite.

      I see no leadership from the Tories who do anything to simply stay in power including avoiding any issues that could cause an election. Harper is terrified to face the electorate and you you know it only too well. Your buffonery on Harper's behalf is simply typical Tory nonsense

      • Love your avatar, it's a classic!

      • If Harper is terrified to face the electorate, why hasn't Iggy pulled the plug but continues to shore up the minority gov't? If Iggy doesn't join the NDP and BQ to vote no confidence in the gov't next week, that will push the next election to September. Is that what Iggy and the Liberals are waiting for … can Iggy survive as Liberal leader that long?

        The G8-20 summit conference in June 25-28 is the limiting factor, because you can't have a general election going on during that event. An April-May election would allow a new Ignatieff-Layton coalition gov't to prepare for the Summit. If Iggy dithers again, he may well have lost his last chance to lead Liberals in an election.

        • Iggy won't pull the plug until his platform is fully ready to be announced during a campaign. There is no screaming demand for an election by the populace so why should Iggy force one when Harper is alreafy acting like a liberal government except for the massive debt fraud he has inflicted on us all.
          If Harper wants to go he will once again break his own law and call one.

  7. "The Montreal weekend offered the Liberals a welcome chance to establish themselves as 21st-century players with a plan. "

    Ignatieff has had many chances. I think it will take a lot in the next couple months for Iggy to prove once and for all that he can pull his party up. He's got Afghanistan detainee and pull-out issues, and other foreign policy concerns; an array of domestic policy issues are also apparent opportunities for the Liberals to demonstrate leadership. It's hard not to be cynical about this party's track record and potential under his leadership.

  8. Over and over and over. Count iffy has tried to reinvent himself and the Liberals. All to no avail.

    The oldest cliche is appropriate, those who can do and those who can't teach. The best the Liberals can do is send Iffy back to Harvard

    • Ed, when will Harper reinvent himself as a true conservative instead of trying to be a Liberal in sheeps clothing. The problem with trying to emulate the Libs is that he doesn't know how to do it properly in reality as his nasty streak keeps coming forward.

    • Consider the alternative, someone the likes of Bob Rae? Or Justin Turdeau? They have not alternative

  9. This was Iggy's 4th or 5th "new start", and the Liberal Party's 9th or 10th new start since the sponsorship scandal and the emergence of a credible alternative in Harper's united Conservatives, something that was missing for most of Chretien's free ride. The Liberals have, in reality, been bankrupt of any visionary ideas, direction, or grand scheme for over 40 years. There was, and is, no logical reason to elect them at the present time. Meanwhile, Stephen Harper has tapped into "middle Canada" very nicely, and does impart some sense that he has a direction, a plan, a believable team and a growing body of accomplishments to show for it. As a result of this contrast, Iggy comes across as either disinterested or phony, his party is disingenuous, his team is either washed-up or inept, and there is no direction. Why would anyone vote for such a situation!

    • sglam, please tell us how the harpercrites have moved Canada forward in their four year sof prorogations and regurgitation of old stuff.

    • "Meanwhile, Stephen Harper has tapped into "middle Canada" very nicely, and does impart some sense that he has a direction, a plan, a believable team and a growing body of accomplishments to show for it."
      ===
      Really? Holding steady at just over 30% in polls and less than half agree that the country is heading in the right direction? If Harper was doing such a bang-up job, with (allegedly) the economy on the rebound, he should be heading into majority numbers. Considering Ignatieff's continuing unstellar personal popularity, these are actually quite daming numbers and as we saw during the prorogation weeks, not all that stable.

      Both parties and both leaders are stalled having failed to seize the attention and belief of Canadians. The Liberals probably have the best chance of doing so simply by being basically the newer party. By comparison, the Conservative positions are fairly rigid and limited. As well (except in the eyes of die-hards) they will not be able to wear the "fiscal responsibility" crown through another election and will have run out of tax cuts to make.

  10. Despite all the anti-intellectual conservatrive talking poinbt responses to this article, the fact is, it was a very interesting conference, in which Ignatieff displayed a leadership ability that no one can imagine Stephen Harper emulating, namely listening to people other than himself. There were a lot of great ideas and options discussed, and the Liberals will be able to campaign on something other than Harper's tarsands economics, fundamentalist Christian hypocrisy, slash and burn hate your enemies partisanship, and Stepho's anti-democratic "command and control" PMO manageriate government of one. Yes the Liberals can fail miserably, but as as someone who has lived under the poverty line most of his life, I can live with the Liberals, because they only abuse the poor some of the time, while the Conservatives seem to take special delight in making life as miserable as possible for the poor.

    • "I can live with the Liberals, because they only abuse the poor some of the time"

      Even if that were true, it would be a bad idea to vote for Ig. The fact is the Libs very much abused the poor all through their time in power (so much that there is little Harper can do to them that hasn't already been done) and Ig's not gonna do anything different.

    • how about you just get a job, then, and pipe down? lived under the poverty line your whole life, eh? pathetic.

    • Actually I can imagine Harper doing such a thing because he has already done it by bringing the right together into a new party, and in creating a government that is focused on things that a federal government is constitutionally responsible for. Yes it is a smaller vision of a federal government which is opposite than the 'visions' of Liberals, but as others have mentioned many Canadians are fed up with grand, national visionary programs that just cost more and more money with fewer and fewer results.

      And the command and control thing is getting tiresome (as is the continuing accusation that somehow his Christian beliefs are just plain evil) – all organizations that succeed are command and control organizations – clearly you live in some other world where there are endless discussions about directions (maybe like a university), but little if anything actually gets done.

    • It was a great conference; it was a change – it was a chance for average people to have input and be at least answered. I don't mean people at the conference, I mean online. I thought that was brilliant. Harper is a cold-eyed, frigid-faced control freak. Ignatieff connects with people as much as his time and obligations will allow. Harper couldn't do it to save his own life.

  11. What is Mr Newman banging on about? One supposes he was making pro-liberal noises, but this did not become terribly clear in his turgid prose.

    I thought the celebrated Montreal conference was a depressing bore, probably epitomised by the distasteful rant of Mr Fowler who broke every rule in the book, and unwritten, about the behaviour of current and ex diplomats. Why try to elevate this man to folk hero status?

    • I find it rather interesting..Robert Fowler, life long Liberal, commenting on his party "Selling it's Soul" as it does anything to "shill for votes"……Liberals mollycoddled the supporters of Tamil Tigers (not to mention the Terrorists & Pedophiles the Liberals brought into this Country) and Dan Donovan, life long Liberal, commenting on Mr. Bob Rae and Mr. Ujjal Dosanijh (& Paul Dewar) prostituting themselves for media ratings re the detainee issue that no one cares about. You still think the Liberals will be running this country……….I doubt it.

  12. It always amuses me to hear conservatives give liberals advice on how to become more electable. To hear them tell it, all the Liberals have to do is send Ignatieff packing and voila – Liberals will be back in power – and all the conservative commenters on this site will live happily ever after. Whatever a conservative says is wrong with the Liberal party is probably actually what is right about the party. Based on his intelligence, his worldliness and his academic and journalistic accomplishments alone, Ignatieff is many many times more qualified to lead a country than the cowpoke Stephen Harper. But it's more than voting for a party leader isn't it. Again to hear the conservatives put, no one should vote liberal because the liberal leader is not good enough. So what's a liberal minded person to do? Oh I know – vote conservative of course. Or NDP. Or Green I suppose. Anything but Liberal right? Here's a little advice for my conservative friends. Take it seriously as the success of your party depends on it. Replace your leader ASAP. Steven Harper can never achieve a majority government based on his – well – extreme conservatism. So all you conservatives out there wondering what to do next election because your leader just can't cut it – you can always vote Liberal.

    • And what is what is right about the party, why should I vote for the Liberals, what makes them the best choice? I am open minded and I will vote for whoever knows how to lead this country but I would like to hear from you what's so good about the Liberals, what can they offer me to be in a better place?

    • Man_O_War…go f— yourself.

  13. "none came up to congratulate Fowler for his courage"

    Pray tell what courage it takes for a retired (i.e. with a huge DM pension) Liberal fart- catcher to malign the hands that fed him for those 38 years?

    • Define fart- catcher.

      • who cares? listening to fowler would be like listening to an East Anglia climate "scientist". they are so smart!!!!

  14. Article by Peter Newman that says it all a Liberal sycophant at best who betrays off the record remarks at every opportunity

  15. Unfortunately, "Joe Six Pack" just doesn't care what a Liberal think-tank comes up with and the remainder of Canadians are barely engaged in the political process in any fashion. With only 59% of eligible voters picking up a pencil in a polling booth last time around, nearly half of us simply don't care any more.

    Canada needs a new political leader (actually, two new political leaders) that is dynamic, insightful and engaging to average Canadians so that, like the Americans in November 2008, we feel connected to the political process and know that as individuals, we can make a difference.

    That is not happening now and is unlikely to happen under the leadership of Steve and Mike.

    http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/

    • boo hoo. just vote. what on earth do we need a "dynamic" leader for, anyway? we are stinking rich, well-managed, and safe. if by "dynamic", however, you mean "cut my taxes", then I'm with you, buddy!

  16. Unfortunately, "Joe Six Pack" just doesn't care what a Liberal think-tank comes up with and the remainder of Canadians are barely engaged in the political process in any fashion. With only 59% of eligible voters picking up a pencil in a polling booth last time around, nearly half of us simply don't care any more.

    Canada needs a new political leader (actually, two new political leaders) that is dynamic, insightful and engaging to average Canadians so that, like the Americans in November 2008, we feel connected to the political process and know that as individuals, we can make a difference.

    That is not happening now and is unlikely to happen under the leadership of Steve and Mike.

    http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/

  17. The Liberal Party is a worn out old wheel and Iffy is trying to re-invent it.
    That wheel is getting the sniff and spray treatment by most Canadians.

  18. "But now, Michael Ignatieff must grab the bull by the tail and look the situation straight in the face. "

    I think that line, as unintentional a mixed metaphor as it undoubtedly was, is the best description of how Ignatieff has been acting lately ever since he began pursuing the LPC leadership. He certainly isn't dealing with problems head-on, nor is he in control of the situation. It would appear that Ignatieff (and Newman) could learn a lot from any farmboy about how to deal with problems (let alone how to avoid bullsh*t).

    The most recent example was the own-goal he scored on foreign aid for abortions. A week before the vote, amateur commenters on these boards were pointing out what a blunder this was, yet Ignatieff and his team couldn't see it (and to be fair, neither could any of the lefty commenters on these boards). Surrounded by his own echo chamber he had let himself believe that most Canadians agree with his party on abortion. He even forgot (if he ever knew) that his own party is split on the issue, MPs included. It doesn't get more out-of-touch than this.

    "They were all there, the big-L and small-l liberals, progressives of every vintage, creed and persuasion. "
    And therein lies the problem. Just the term "progressives" illustrates the elitism. Non-"progressives" then, as now, were not welcome. Anyone who disagrees with the party line on social matters is ipso facto "regressive" by contrast….even those who are elected Liberal MPs, not to mention millions of Canadians.

    Once the party of intellect and tradition, the Liberals have become the party of grasping ambition and snotty arrogance. It is one of the greatest tragedies in Canadian political history.

    • intellect? you mean like a massive national debt? wage/price controls? the human rights commissions?

      tradition? that i can see. reward your private school pals with Senate seats, positions at crown corporations and on the bench, and pass brown envelopes under tables. that does sound "Liberal", doesn't it?

      entitled to their entitlements.

      curious that you consider their demise a tragedy.

      • I was speaking of the party of Laurier, not the party of Trudeau or Chretien. I take the long view.

  19. I love the term "progressive".

    "progress" towards what, exactly?

    • Towards the dictatorship of the proletariat.

  20. "I can live with the Liberals, because they only abuse the poor some of the time"

    Even if that were true, it would be a bad idea to vote for Ig. The fact is the Libs very much abused the poor all through their time in power (so much that there is little Harper can do to them that hasn't already been done) and Ig's not gonna do anything different.

  21. Do not get rid of Iggy, Listen to Fowler, have Rae rev up Powercorp, call in some favours from Martin and Cruton. Yes Sir!! Gotta love it. Next you'll be listening to Turdeau's kid, thinking maybe this way lies the keys to the bins of stuffed envelopes!!

    The sooner we get rid of the 1.95 a vote and then have an election, that I think will be a wall to wall sweep for Mr. Harper, the better.

    • Gee, that's brilliant. How original.

  22. The Liberals are doomed to fail again and again. Stuck in a rut with no viable choice for leadership.
    I used to vote Liberal when they actually stood for something. But not any longer. The Cons have now occupied the center, where like to be. The Libs have drifted to far left for my liking. And I suspect a lot of people think like me.

    • you're right, but i sure hope they don't spell like you. ;-)

    • Oh sure you voted Liberal. Right. There are so many Cons who go online claiming to be ex-Liberal, it's pathetic.

  23. Should be "grab the bull by the horns". You grab tigers by the tail – whole different expression.

    For a newcomer to politics – he hasn't done too badly in one year, year and a half. I have to hand it to him for guts. I don't agree with everything he says, but I far prefer it to Harper's duplicity and contempt for Canadians. At least Ignatieff is honest.

  24. Peter, I gave you credit for having greater insight than you are showing in this article. You are a clear example of the problem with so many reporters out there. They report only their own opinion ignoring the facts. When you support such chaos you are definitly a hard core liberal.

  25. To me, the most telling thing about Peter C.'s article is that nowhere in the article does he mention a single specific policy that the Liberals might actually adopt as part of an election platform. For an article written about a supposed "ideas" conference, the article is notably short of said ideas. That speaks volumes.

    Newman says the Liberals are "starved for marketable ideas". But I think that's slightly misleading, because that suggests that at the present time, Liberals are actually longing for new ideas and policies to present to the Canadian people. But when I talk with Liberals, that's not what I hear from most of them. Most of them seem to defiantly think that no new ideas or policies are required. We should all vote Liberal because voting Liberal is the Canadian thing to do, and because those Tories are so icky.

  26. Peter Newman writes: "They add flesh to the bones of his hectic fact-gathering tours as a free-floating advocate of civil liberties, while attempting to meet the needs of strangers and recording the deeds and misdeeds in dark places where human rights cannot be taken for granted."

    Ah, to bestow such theoretical praise onto nothing but theoretical outputs!

    But tell us, Mr.Newman, in practical terms what does Mr.Ignatieff stand for? Deeds and misdeeds in dark places you say? Remember in the good old days when the LPC elected its party leaders? Remember in the good old days when Canadians could take humans rights for granted?

    Explain to us why a man like Ignatieff writes so elegantly about civil rights on the one hand, and yet disregards these so-called civil rights when , on the other hand, it suits him to survive politically?

    Try to be relevant Mr.Newman and answer some of the real questions being asked.

  27. Except for a few select Canadians, Peter Newman's views are irrelevant these days. To consider his views to be generally speaking relevant would be an indicator of a Canadian stagnation taking hold.

    It's beyond me why Macleans magazine finds it worthwhile printing this sort of Peters Pudders. What inspiring insights does this yesterday's man have to offer, really?

  28. The Liberals have lost a significant chunk of the political Center to the CPC. Until the CPC blunder their way out of it, the Liberals are going to remain out of power. This is one of the reasons I have a sense of futility about hoping for conservative policy from the CPC.

  29. Let' see. Our manufacturing industries are being offshored, half the people I know are scared stiff of being laid off, boys are becoming academic underachievers, fathers can't support their families, our governments are running ruinous deficits, we're facing a huge demographic problem with aging boomers and the Liberals need a Big Thinkers Conference to find issues. This is our political elite? We're doomed.

    • The problems are well-known, the solutions are the question.

      • If Iggy and the Liberals have no solutions why on God's green earth are they even in Parliament? This conference is akin to management of a large corporation hiring management consultants (which tells you management is incompetent / unqualified to manage).

        And don't assume that these problems even register on the Liberal Party radar. With their family wealth, fancy academic degrees, gold plated government pensions do you really think that grubby worries like plant closings or making mortgage payments ever really concern them?

        • Yes, because more input into policy development is a bad thing.

          Before you start down the elitist path, I'd submit that MPs on any side of the house often come from privilege. Does that preclude them from adequately serving the public? Everyone loves a rags to riches story but there are advantages and disadvantages to either side. Neither holds a monopoly on compassion.

          Continuing the corporate analogy, does anyone lose any sleep over whether the upper management gives a damn about the workers on the floor? Of course not but corporate interests != public interests. It's amusing that those who decry the elitists are perfectly content with making those elitists richer through corporate tax cuts and other big-wig friendly policy while the chasm between them and the elitists grows ever larger. The same goes for the elimination of the per-vote subsidy. Did you know that the majority of CPC high-rollers live in the Rosedale area of Toronto? Who is setting the agenda?

          • Who is setting the agenda? Who do politicians rub shoulders with? I'll tell you, and this is nothing new, political leaders won't pick up the phone if Joe Sixpack calls but I guarantee you people like Paul Desmarais, Bill Gates or US Senators or state governors will get a hearing.

            My home town was destroyed economically by plant closures and I know in my bones that there is not one thing, NOTHING, more important than keeping a roof over your head, putting meals on the table and giving your kids a reasonable chance at life.

            To someone born to privilege and never had to worry about money it's easy to write off such stuff as the workings of "the market" and the inevitable dislocations and adjustments inherent in our economic system. But, believe me, when your father is laid off because of a plant closure (as mine was, twice) economics is of more than academic interest.

          • Further to this last post, I am in my early 50s, retired, formerly employed by large multinationals in finance and tax. I know the corporate mindset, I've seen up close and personal the behaviour of these collectives we call corporations. So I lived on both sides, the economically distressed and the opposite.

            There's nothing wrong with elites leading or running government or corporations. It's a necessity. But elites have to be consider the interests of those they are leading. After all followers greatly outnumber leaders and if history has taught us anything it is that there is no creature on this Earth more dangerous than an unemployed, angry, hungry young man.

  30. Perhaps your 'duh' should be directed to Cats/Cash.

  31. Rich thank you for the history lesson about leaders whom have been given time to "grow into their jobs".

    Of all these leaders how many of them have had motions defeated becasue of actions by their own party?

    You have given me a list of leaders who stayed on in the job despite loses. I'm sure if I had the time and the inclination I could put together a list of leaders who either quit for the good of the party or were forced out of their job by the party they were representing.

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