15

Big meanie


 

The National Post ed board comes out in favour of civil and sensitive discourse today.

In Mr. Ignatieff’s defense, it doesn’t seem much of a sin to quite reasonably point out another’s inability to speak straightforwardly and truthfully.

There might be an interesting argument on Mr. Ignatieff’s introduction of race, but while we’re on the subject of factual accuracy, there is this: “And for those who like to keep track of such things (as Mr. Ignatieff evidently does), the Tory caucus has contained a higher percentage of visible minority MPs than the Liberal caucus for years.”

Those who like to keep track of these things have actually found otherwise. Here is the Public Policy Forum’s report on the 39th Parliament, released all of two months ago. By its count, visible minorities made up 13.5% of the last Liberal caucus, compared to 7.1% of Conservatives.


 

Big meanie

  1. In the National Post’s defence, Aaron, people who like to keep track of things have a Liberal bias.

  2. Granted they said “for years” but what about the current caucus make-up? And perhaps Baird and Van Loan are considered visible minorities under the category of Flintstonesesque cavemen.

  3. “There might be an interesting argument on Mr. Ignatieff’s introduction of race…”

    And that’s all Aaron has to say about Ignatieff basically calling the Conservatives a bunch of racists and bigots. That it’s an “interesting argument”. That’s…unsurprising I suppose, but still disappointing none the less.

  4. Facts are expensive you know. And with CanWest right now at 71…er….69 cents, this is no time to be profligate.

  5. speaking of racism (not that Ignatieff used that term) reminds me of Kenney’s powerpoint slides which labelled ethnic groups as accessible to the CPC (Jews, Asians) or not CPC accessible (blacks). That was about a year ago — maybe the CPC have changed since.

    Actually, I don’t think any party is on particularly high ground here (although Kenney seems pretty bad) but Ignatieff has a point. Political parties should stop targetting and catering to specific ethnic groups and just address the needs of people.

  6. John G. Your continued readership despite my obvious shortcomings and limitations is impressive and humbling.

    That said, I’m not sure Mr. Ignatieff ever suggested the Conservatives were racists. After a brief intro, Ignatieff outlined his general criticisms of the Conservative government, then his concerns with their approach to the economic situation. Then this.

    “We Liberals believe government can be part of the solution. Working with business to keep markets honest. Working with Canadians to pull down the barriers that keep them apart.

    “In this crisis, we will fight for Canadians. We don’t want a Canada where hope and opportunity have fled to the big cities or overseas.

    “We don’t want a Canada where the colour of your skin, the language you speak, the country you came from determines how well you survive the downturn.

    “In this crisis, Liberals will fight for a Canada where all Canadians, wherever they live, get the same shot at the dream.

    “Hope, opportunity, equality: these are the values I will fight for as Leader of the Party, and if people so decide, as your Prime Minister.”

    Does that imply the Conservatives are racist? If so, was he also implying the Conservatives love big cities and foreign countries?

    He certainly didn’t say so directly, so it’s a matter of interpretation I guess. When Barack Obama refers to the “color of your skin” affecting the standard of health care or education you receive, as he has done, is he implying that the health care and education systems and the governments that regulate them are explicitly racist? Or is he referring generally to inequality in society itself?

    It’s an interesting argument and you’re welcome to have it. (Oddly, for a brainwashed Liberal operative I allow all sorts of Conservative opinions to be expressed on this blog.) But I’m personally not so sure Ignatieff can be accused of anything more than ambiguity.

  7. That’s what Igatieff said?? And the National Post and others suggested he came close to calling the Conservatives racist?? A bit defensive or what?

  8. Aaron,

    Does that imply the Conservatives are racist? If so, was he also implying the Conservatives love big cities and foreign countries?

    No, although he may be implying that Conservatives would approve of or at least tolerate “a Canada where hope and opportunity have fled to the big cities or overseas” or “a Canada where the colour of your skin, the language you speak, the country you came from determines how well you survive the downturn”. Usually when you say “we want this…” in a speech distinguishing “us” from “them”, you’re implying that “they don’t want this…”.

    I can’t say for sure what Iggy meant to imply, but I can say for sure that think the “ambiguity” defence is a little weak.

  9. They’re defensive because the rest of us are insufficiently grateful for all the work the Conservatives have done to marginalise/muzzle their bigots and racists.

    We should give the party an award for that. A gold star, or something.

  10. But I’m personally not so sure Ignatieff can be accused of anything more than ambiguity.

    That may be true, but ambiguiety never seems to be an acceptable defense in the eyes of macleans.ca when it’s coming from the mouth of a Conservative. Instead the worst is always attributed to them and we hear about how the Conservatives are mean and nasty and dragging down the level of public discourse. But a Liberal is always given the benefit of the doubt.

    Why do I keep reading? Because the level of discussion here (not just at your blog but all of the macleans blogs), and the commenters (although a small community and in most cases leaning left), are the best in Canada.

    I would like to see you or Kady or Potter actually rip the Liberals a new one once in a while for something when they deserve it, instead of finding excuses for it (and making me post snarky comments to you and Kady like the one above). Or at least have Macleans bring in some more bloggers who are willing to do so. Coyne almost never blogs anymore, so Wells is currently the only macleans blogger doing national politics that takes time out from Conservative-bashing to lob a shot or two at the Liberals.

  11. Olaf: “I don’t know what he meant, but you can’t accuse him of ambiguity.” Funniest thing I’ve read all week.

    John: Here’s the thing. The governing party will always receive more scrutiny. Because they’re, you know, governing. They are doing things (or not doing things) that actually result in something. What they say is directly linked to what happens in this country. They have consequence. Opposition parties will (and, I would argue, should) receive less attention. (How come no one ever complains about the lack of scrutiny of the NDP?) And if you’re particularly keen on hearing about what various anonymous members of the opposition party have to say about each other, there are plenty of other sources to consult.

    You can reduce this to teams if you like—classifying people as pro-Liberal or anti-Conservative or vice versa. But it’s not that simple. Or, rather, it’s simple in a completely different way.

    I’ll state this once, for the record: Generally speaking, I’m anti-bullshit. I’m not particularly fond of lying or intellectual dishonesty. I generally believe the federal government should be open and accountable and forward-thinking and interested in having adult discussions with the public.

    That’s it.

  12. John: Here’s the thing. The governing party will always receive more scrutiny.

    And on most issues Aaron I have no problem with that and agree with you that that’s how it should be.

    But when the topic specifically turns to the level of public discourse and acrimonious and unparliamentary behaviour among parliamentarians, that doesn’t fly. All MPs and all parties need to be scrutinized and held to an equal standard, and when they act like asses then they should be publically called for it, regardless of stripe. That doesn’t happen here. Or pretty much anywhere else in our media.

    And it needs to; or else how will the level of decorum ever improve? If I were a partisan Liberal MP like, just for the sake of example, Mark Holland, what incentive do I have to clean up my act, knowing that I can say pretty much any vitriolic thing I want and goad the Conservatives into a partisan response, knowing that the press has got my back, and will probably in fact criticize the Conservatives in the inevitable story about the sagging decorum level in Parliament? In fact, with that kind of dynamic it’s to the benefit of the Liberals to keep the decorum level in the gutter for as long as possible.

    Similarly, I may come across sometimes as a nasty Conservative hack, lowering the level of debate here when I constantly attack you and Kady for bias; and I don’t like when I resort to that. No one wants you to be Ezra Levant, but if one could reasonably expect that if a Liberal acts like a jerk then someone here will call him/her on it, then I for one would happily do away with the gutter snipes about bias (at least about bias at Macleans.ca), and get on with disagreeing with you in a less disagreeable way.

  13. Aaron,

    Olaf: “I don’t know what he meant, but you can’t accuse him of ambiguity.” Funniest thing I’ve read all week.

    But… but… aaahhhh dammit.

  14. Well the Post has tipped Ignatieff to the way to win. I hope he does set an example for those Liberals and counsel them on how to ‘do’ the debate with Harper’s policies. It can’t be a slag-fest, as the Post article noted, because Canadians don’t like that and it detracts from what is important. Besides, we all know the Liberals are as guilty as the Conservatives of secreting legislative process. If Ignatieff is invested in narrative he will find the way to shape the language of political discourse in Canada. It’s at such a low that many of the new MP’s and even the old are seeking a new way of communicating. Loudmouths like Garth Turner have been defeated out of the Liberal party and Ignatieff would be wise to play the backroom and stage at this time. The word should go out that the members who will win with him in the next election are there because they represent the discourse and respect that is the form of his platform. He should like that sort of challenge cause he has been very critical in the past of Canada’s discourse. Well here is his chance to moderate. I think the Liberal ads of the last campaign, especially the clapping seals one, were pretty bad. Ignatieff would be well advised to shape the advertising and the selection of new liberal MP’s as much as possible starting now. He’s proven he is a resilient learner and so if he takes on alot more this go around he’ll be a great leader and Prime Minister.

  15. I pray for the day when “conservatives” stop worrying about bias and start focusing on argument and evidence.

    This has gone on for 8 years now it’s really, really played out. I don’t even accuse The National Post or FoxNews of bias (and they are…horribly biased). I just accuse them of lousy journalism.

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