It took awhile, but we’ve finally come round to the most central question of this moment in Canadian politics.

“Just how tough is Michael Ignatieff?”

One of the greater frauds of this era is the idea that “toughness”—epitomized by a neanderthal standard of masculinity—is the ultimate quality of real leadership. Next to the general disregard for practical and intellectual honesty, it’s the most disheartening aspect of our politics.

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  1. One of the greater frauds of this era is the idea that “toughness”—epitomized by a neanderthal standard of masculinity—is the ultimate quality of real leadership.

    “A neanderthal standard of masculinity” is one way to define “toughness”. Another way to define it is as a synonym of the word “resilience”.

  2. One of the greater frauds of this era is the idea that “toughness”—epitomized by a neanderthal standard of masculinity…

    Careful. Someone’s going to accuse you of shrillness (on top of having man crushes).

    It’s not much neanderthal as adolescent..

    • Judging by your frequent pejorative references to adolescence and high school, you seem to have a fairly low opinion of teenagers.

      • Judging by your frequent pejorative references to adolescence and high school, you seem to have a fairly low opinion of teenagers

        That’s not it at all. The behaviour I’m criticising, while fine for adolescents, is not age-appropriate for people much past the age of 25 or so. Remember the puffin poop? That’s exactly the stuff I’m talking about. People selecting little dolls and puppets as their avatars images might could also be considered a manifestation of that.

        You should read Benjamin Barber (among others) who examines how consumer culture has prolonged adolescence.

        • People selecting little dolls and puppets as their avatars images might could also be considered a manifestation of that.

          I happen to enjoy prolonging my adolescence. I plan to keep doing so until sometime in my early thirties.

          • Good for you.

          • CR
            I see, going backwards are we?

          • Kc – nope. I’m older than Olaf and a bit younger than Jack. I was born during Ti-Guy’s administration as high school class president.

          • Oh like, whatev.

          • Oh like, whatev.

            You should keep up with the lingo, Ti-Guy. I’m sure high school has changed a lot since you experienced it in the late 1970’s. Perhaps Sophie can help bring you up to date on the slang.

          • You should keep up with the lingo, Ti-Guy.

            I think not.

        • or on a more serious note, refusing to apologize for accusing the guy who holds the office you and yours aspire to as a “pedophile”… way beyond the pale

    • I still technically qualify as an adolescent, and am therefore taking umbrage.
      We are far more civilized.

      • Youth crime rates are up.

        • Not for property crime.

          • And overall rates are down 21% from 1991, which I would guess was roughly near your adolescence.

          • Not even close.

          • Not for property crime.

            Right. For violent crime, the rate is up. It’s not that I’m hysterical about it, or that I think young people are awful (they’re not; most are very nice…just too…well…ADHD’ish), but violent crime is worse than property crime.

          • Look, a bird!

            In overall youth crime rates there has been a 21% drop since 1991- that’s a big number.

  3. Doesn’t intellectual honesty involve some form of analysis, followed by forming a position based on your analysis and intellect, finally resulting in a willingness to stick by your position regardless of public opinion? Does anyone really think Iggy has formed a position on anything that hasn’t 180’d in the last 2 years?

    • I presume you mean the American Empire? I think it takes a good deal of intellectual honesty, not to mention toughness, to admit a mistake, as Ignatieff did in the most public way.

    • Wow Greg, you couldn’t have mouthed those words and possibly be feigning support for Harper, could you? Because he double-dogs everyone in both these areas and all that you have poked Ignatieff for.

      “…general disregard for practical and intellectual honesty…”

      I’m afraid Wherry’s subtle zinger is meant to tag Iverson and the red-ink NaPo’s man-lust for Harper, a leader who pouts, steals from others and claims it his owns, says one thing and does exactly what he accused his opponents of doing, and then when called on a mistake ignores the question.
      That isn’t enabling adolescence, but promoting ‘terrible-two-ism’ in adults.

      But hey, after a few months of your so-called analysis with an open mind, I’m sure you’ll come out like Harper to say Bush wasn’t all he lived up to be either. Clay idols crack easiest.

  4. Oh ho ho, John Ivison, can’t fool us: the Neanderthals were wiped out.

  5. Ivison’s article was one of the bigger excuses for journalism I have read in a long while. He based that entire article on innuendo, speculation, and everyone’s favorite un-named sources. He must be auditioning to be Jane Taber’s holiday replacement when the Post bites the bullet any hour now.

    • You can’t top Jane: she’s determined to weigh Ignatieff’s importance by how many times his meeting with Obama has been plastered over billboards.

      Let me analyse this: the more one’s image pops up, the more one triumphs. Yeah, that would be close to leadership these days.

    • AMIM
      Yeah, this is a little out there for him. I wonder if he’s auditioning for some Tory blog or other?

      • why shoot the messenger? Is the message that painful to swallow?

        • Read my piece below Francien. There’s nothing wrong with being a partisan for yr candidate. It’s when people pretend some pseudo intellectual distance and deep concern for the well being of their opponent , when it’s clear to most other observers that they’re not, that irks me. In case yr not clear who i mean, it’s not Ivison.

          • kc, I read your piece below before responding the first time. And yes, I’ve read Ivison’s piece this morning. And it is not clear to me why you will not, in any form, respond to why Ignatieff is so divided between his theoritical writings and his pratice of politics.

            How does a bloodless coup stand up in relation to human rights?

          • “How does a bloodless coup stand up in relation to human rights?”

            This takes the cake for the most far-out statement I’ve yet read on these blogs.

          • JM
            Glad i’m not the only one fazed by that reference apropos of nothing.

          • Jack, you’ve obviously not read Human Rights, written by Ignatieff himself. According to that book, having your cake and eating it too, does not square so well with human rights.

          • appropos to nothing: exactly.

            Very few Liberals (and other Canadians) thought it even remotely strange that Ignatieff’s bloodless coup had occurred. All due to circumstances, right? Right. What could the man have done but sit back quietly and wait out the game. All for the better, right! As if nothing had happened, indeed! Oh, the duplicity of it all.

            Not too long ago, who stated somewhere on this blog that Harper changed his tune when Dion came onto the scene? I’m sure Ignatieff was ecstatic when Dion’s second wind came blowing in from …. from where???

          • Sorry Francien yr far too arch for me!

    • Ivison’s piece could not have been an excuse for journalism because the piece was announced with big lettering as being: COMMENT

      Not all newspapers are so willing to indicate the difference (which helps depending on…….)

      • I never said Ivison couldn’t be right, i said he was trying too hard to make a virtue cover too much territory. As to the comment it could easily have been writen by some unbiased Tory blogger!

        • then, kc, debate the territory. What exactly within the terrain did not match up?

      • I assume you are referring to The Lesser Evil
        which I have read, and I am of the opinion that people have deliberately misinterpreted Ignatieff’s opinions.
        Quite a bit of the book is spent weighing the benefits to society as a whole of government action during a crises (the War Measures Act is mentioned) and individual rights. Indeed, by no means did he seem to advocate the suspension of human and or civil rights even with judicious cause, in most cases.

        • Sophie, No, I am not referring to The Lesser Evil. I have read that one too. And both, Human Rights and The Lesser Evil are insightfull, but within the writingsIgnatieff does not have to take a definitve stand, and the outcome of the two books do not take a difinitive stand. Ultimately only practical politics can take a stand. And that’s why I question the divide between the theoretical and the practical aspect of it all.

          • Fair enough, Francien. as of yet the only two real examples we have seen that required practical politics of him he didn’t horribly bungle (excellent word) so I say we give him a chance to go up in flames prior to making a judgement.

          • But Sophie, that is my point:

            I think Ignatieff bungled horribly when he so ‘passively’ let the bloodless coup happen in his favour. Exactly because he was able to hide behind that passiveness. That is the danger cropping up within democracy I am trying to explain. Not many people regarded Ignatieff’s bloodless coup as an action. But an action it was, regardless of passiveness or activeness involved. I would go so far as to say that because the passiveness aspect was so large, Ignatieff must have understood he could get away with it. If everyone keeps insisting the man is so brilliant, and going by his writings, he must have understood the meaning of that passiveness aspect. No doubt about it in my mind at least.

          • Can we, all, collectively, either stop referring to it as a ‘coup’ or confess that we simply don’t like parliamentary democracy?

          • Sophie
            Francien isn’t about giving liberal leaders a chance. She’s a professional sophist, a constructor of straw men, at least as far as liberals go!

          • Francien
            You’re so full of it! A passive bloodless coup, tell that one to Rae, he could probably do with a good laugh. I know you’re cracking me up!

          • Come on, Sophie and kc! Parliamentary democracy? What does that have to do with electing party leaders??

            kc, you kill me: you won’t or can’t counter my argument successfully and suddenly I’m a sophist? Constructing a straw man?

            Rae, yeah, let’s talk about Rae. Why did he stand in for the charade? What motivated him to abandon the Liberal leadership contest so instantly, so readily? Circumstances too, I bet. Or do principles only run so deep?

            Well, let me remind you that a lot, if not most, of the so-called circumstances were delivered by Liberals themselves, well before and after the coalition debacle. But you don’t have to take my point of view; give me your own as to how you think the events unfolded. They fell out of thin air, somehow? If so, tell me about that.

          • Oh, you mean the leadership coup, Francien. There are so many accusations of “coup” coming from the right in this country that it’s hard to keep them straight, much less keep a straight face.

            Well, he’s the interim leader because the Liberals wanted an interim leader. He’s going to be judged by the Vancouver convention. If Rae had cared to fight it out tooth and nail, Round 2, he would have been free to do so. He chose not to, and it’s his choice to make. So what?

            Need I remind you that today’s Conservative party is the result of a backroom leadership withdrawal by David Orchard? Not that that was Orchard’s intention, but as it turns out Peter MacKay seized power through background deals only to sell his party out to the Canadian Alliance! So I would not go pointing fingers if I were you.

          • Francien
            Not too long ago you were all over this blog proclaiming yr leaders undying love for the liberals and the need for them to be strong again. Well you were partially right i;ll give you that, only Harper couldn’t care less. And yet here you are, not happy but railing against those corrupt libs yet again. As i said then and say now, stop pretending you care. You are no friend of the liberal party!

          • I truly love this, Jack: the Liberal party wanted an interim leader, and at the convention they will do what? Crown Ignatieff officially. Really, I love the backwards argumentation. And I will love and watch when the time comes to see him crowned. (and why did they want an interim leader? Dion was to be the leader untill May, but all that changed in a hurry after (or during) the coalition debacle. May I remind you that Ignatieff did sign the coalition agreement also, and that therefore the circumstances were not outside of his own doing. He could have chosen not to sign on. He could have told the party that the coaltion agreement was not such a hot idea afterall. Then party leadership elections could have proceeded as planned, and the Liberal party would have come out much ahead in a democratic sense).

            No, I am not against the Liberals. I am for democracy. Ignatieff has shown a great disregard for democracy by having stood passively by when party events unfolded in his favour. Yes, Rae had made his choice also, that’s my point: democracy is indeed all about making choices. No one made him do it but himself, and so I cannot take that away from Rae, and believe me, I won’t.

            The Orchard affair is somewhat different. Yes, it had to do with internal party politics (actually, in that case it had to do with internal politics between two to be merged parties) but Harper was not involved with the Orchard affair because he did not belong to that party. That would be the same as implicating Ignatieff with anything that goes on inside the NDP (thinking of the coalition fall-out). You’re comparing apples to oranges. I won’t to that because it ain’t the right thing to do.

          • At the convention, the Liberals will pass judgment on their leader. People are free to condemn him as they see fit, free to run against him, free free free. It just so happens that Ignatieff is the most popular leader they’ve had since Chrétien, however, and the Liberals have had their fill of internal bloodletting, so they will probably vote to keep Ignatieff as the non-interim leader. That’s undemocratic? If so, is it undemocratic that nobody has challenged Harper’s leadership thusfar? A sign that the Conservatives are anti-democracy? Hardly.

            I’m afraid the rest of your post is so muddled that I can’t understand it in order to refute it.

          • Well, Jack, the most popular (Liberal) leader since Chretien! What would I say?

            Hey, why not, it may be due to my posts being so muddled and all that refuting becomes impossible. I thought the going inside the sandbox was getting rather good. It felt as if the cookie shapes were coming nicely out of their molds – smart cookies, tough cookies………..

  6. Who wrote that piece, Ivison or Taylor; it could easily have been the later? Actually i like Ivison and it’s a legitimate question: can Ignatieff lead. I guess it’s a question of ho you define leadership – taking unpopular stands generally being the benchmark.
    But it’s also illuminating how you can look for a pattern of behaviour that supports whatever particular aspect of someones behaviour you may not admire. I think that’s what Ivison’s done here, tried to make the facts fit his theory. It’s a little early to be doing that with Iggy, but it could prove true, i’m not an uncritical admirer myself. However you can easily turn around some of Ivison’s arguements and see things a little differently. The Newfoundland issue can easily be seen as taking a brave stand when just about everyone else is screaming no exceptions allowed. Simiarly his assault on fortress AB could be seen as brave and smart politically, somewhat like SHs decision to court Quebec against conventional wisdom, hopefully Iggy wont find it necessary to fix the fiscal imbalance there. Even supporting the budget and rejecting the advances of messrs Layton & Duccepe – popular and untirely unoppossed within the Liberal party? – unlikely. Ivison’s best pt is on Afganistan. This should be above petty maneuvering for position, which Iggy’s clearly doing.
    No Mr Ivison, there may be more ways to lead then you think. Untill i see indisputable signs of Ignatieff not only taking the easy way out but overriding just about every principle and stated position he has ever espoused like say…Mr Harper, i’ll give Ignatieff the benefit of my considerable doubt for now!

    • To clarify, I did not intend this to be an attack on John. The problem is more generally with the bizarre understanding of “toughness” that seems to have become part of how everyone currently assesses leadership here. (As wonderfully mocked by Lord Bob just below.)

      • Aaron
        I wish i was so concise and witty as LB, but alas! I hope i made it plain that i was not attacking Mr ivison’s right to those views, or indeed any journalist. I was a little surprised to see him put together so generalized an arguement. Although i did concede he could well be right, i just didn’t think so, not yet anyway. No offence was intended or bias implied. I’ve enjoyed many off his pieces lambasting Mr H. Let’s hope he gets right back to it. [ just kidding John, you’d hate it over at SDA anyway! ]

      • I did not intend this to be an attack on John.

        Too bad. We need that kind of “toughness,” right now; the overbearing collegiality among journalists is one of the reasons people are gravitating towards non-mainstream media, which is having mostly negative unintended consequences.

        I suppose it’s a result of people believing critique is the same as attack, because critique is all too often an attack.

        • That’s an interesting pov. By collegiallity do you mean blandness? Wouldn’t that then validate Ivison’s article or am i misunderstanding. I can understand people wanting to be told what they really want to hear, and surely this is an arguement for objectivity in media. I want diversity myself. Much as i dislike Steyn i want to hear what he has to say – you know that bit about knowing what yr enemy thinks, and occasionally learning something.

          • I think I’m being sarcastic when I say “collegiality. It suggests greater scholarly rigorousness than the profession deserves.

            I’m completely at ease with reading things I don’t actually like; I just want to know there’s some sort of evidence to substantiate whatever theses are being proposed/advanced. I don’t even care if it’s evidence that may eventually be discredited….just that there’s something else to examine other than the thoughts that pour out of people’s beautiful minds.

            The issue I have with most pundits is that they don’t really know a lot about what it is they’re commenting on. They read one book about something new and all of sudden, they’re experts. And that’s when they’re not out-and-out fabricating, as some of the biggest names in opinion journalism do, so very often. In those instances, they’re not expressing opinion, they’re creating/shaping it.

            And their “colleagues” rarely call them on it.

          • Wow! I had no idea about Will, but then i don’t follow US news. What a scumbag, and what colleagues! We ordinary folks would be pretty shocked to know just how much of this sort of thing goes on – Duffy being an example here. I would give my left nut to see the sort of journalism here that called Will out.
            Yes, it would be ideal if only those who were qualified to comment did so – but where would that leave me? It’s an occupational hazard i’m afraid in todays egalitarian world. On the bright side we just survived Bush2, could it get any worse. Oh wait, i see Sarah’s coming back…nix that thought!

    • Untill i see indisputable signs of Ignatieff not only taking the easy way out but overriding just about every principle and stated position he has ever espoused like say…Mr Harper

      indeed like having and maintaining even the appearance of some measure of “integrity”…

      • OK. First the drive by smear, now care to back up yr assertion!

        • I’ll second kc. People should really learn to be less vague when they trash someone’s character.

          • Oh dear, have i been guilty of that too?

          • kc

            No, I wasn’t being sarcastic – I was just agreeing with you! :)

        • Leenie J
          Sorry if i did you an injustice :)
          The frog made me do it.

          • It’s amphibian, dammit! The f___ word is apparently offensive.

  7. God, I remember the days of real politicians, when guys like Turner went ten rounds with George Chuvalo at Madison Square Garden. Today’s politicians are just sissies.

  8. Liberal Leader changes position = Sign of Weakness
    Conservative Leader changes position = Tactical Brilliance

    • Change of position should be considered objectively, meaning a common standard should be applied to all party leaders.

      Funny, eh, how the Iraq label was so firmly attached to Harper forehead (more like a permanent tatoo, really) but such label was so easily removed from Ignatieff’s delicate skin. One can hardly tell it had been attached at all……..

      • Possibly because he recanted. When did Harper recant, Francien?

        • Never, that’s when. All he’s done is lie some more about it.

        • “but such label was so easily removed from Ignatieff’s delicate skin.”

          It hasn’t. Nice try.

        • Did he actually recant? I really couldn’t be bothered with that 1 billion word essay. I mostly just read the blogs that mocked him for being one of the “Very Serious People”

          • Not reading his opinions must free up a lot of time for judging his opinions I guess.

        • Recant? Did he disavow? No, why should he? He stood by it then and would the exact same circumstances present themselves, he would do the same (imho). One must not forget, ever, that commenting upon the facts is not the same as commenting before the facts. Yes, Harper has admitted, in HINDSIGHT, that not going into Iraq was the right decision considering taking into account what has transpired. But I stress, as so did Harper, that hindsight is key to such admission. Such should never be confused with the meaning of recanting.

          And btw, had ALL so-called democratic nations offered a common front in action against Sadam, the war might have played out a lot differently. But that we will never know, because those facts were never unleashed.

          Let’s be clear: No one knew what was in store before the Iraq invasion has been set in motion. No one.

          Have Harper and Ignatieff commented on their positions regarding Iraq recently (or within the last year or so) and have both men altered their opinions concerning Iraq after the invasion as fact? Yes

          My point with the labeling, however, is this: would Harper’s Iraq label have been able to come off if Ignatieff would not have had attached an Iraq label of his own to begin with? That in my mind is a very interesting question. Of course, we will never know the answer to that one either because the facts did not come about that way.

          • It was perfectly clear to every neutral observer — by which I mean those who weren’t running around like the sky had fallen after 9/11 — that Bush was using the Iraq war for his own purposes. So it is not a question of hindsight but of foresight, or maybe of just having a clue, or of realising that even a “good” war is suspicious if advocated by people like Dick Cheney. Iggy just couldn’t resist the allure of a war justified by human rights abuses and looked the other way when General Rumsfeld and General Cheney came marching past on parade with the Royal Halliburton Grenadiers. Harper, meanwhile, appears to have endorsed the Iraq war out of nothing more than an admiration for the Republicans and his general pro-America sentiment.

            DR, I agree that Iggy didn’t recant as fully as he might have, but at least he gave it a shot. Harper is quite incapable of apologising for anything, much less engaging in self-critique. He is far too psychologically brittle for that.

          • “My point with the labeling, however, is this: would Harper’s Iraq label have been able to come off . . .”


            Because Harper has yet to recant. The only comments that he has made thus far – that I can find links to at a quick glance – remain duplicitous.



            The following:

            “. . . if Ignatieff would not have had attached an Iraq label of his own to begin with?””

            . . . has no bearing on the former. Mr. Ignatieff must deal with his own demons.

          • Oh, Jack, if only the world was really like that; a world in which only the likes of Cheney and Bush could hold onto ulterior motives tightly. Never the French, never the Germans, or the Chinese, or the Russians, or……

            And what do human rights amount to if not coming to the aid of a nation in which segments of its population gets gassed, for the hell of it………let’s just say. Or a leader of a nation is into playing funny games with WMD and the rest of the world. Or why exactly was Iraq being discussed at UN ‘head’ quarters at the time? My, how fast our memories fade…….. But if you can live like that, why should I worry about it. I live in a country free from being gassed……and so forth. Human rights are easy to establish when nothing concretely has to be done. I get it. Don’t worry.

          • Francien: Wha . . .?

            Of course other powers had ulterior motives! Why wouldn’t they? It was only your ilk who was claiming that Bush and Cheney, uniquely, were pure as the driven snow, protecting us from big bad Saddam, etc.

            Your arguments are so old I’ve forgotten the answers, but here goes. The Iraq war was not sold as a human rights war. It was sold as a war to prevent a) Iraq from getting nuclear weapons and b) Iraq from giving Al Qaeda WMD, especially nukes. (Rumsfeld had, after all, given him the chemical weapons he later used on the Kurds.) Saddam was playing “funny games” with the world because he had no army and his neighbour was Iran, with whom he’d fought an 8-year total war not 15 years earlier; he didn’t have an army because we’d destroyed it in the Gulf War and not allowed him to rebuild. Thus he was in the impossible situation of not being able to drop the WMD bluff (vis-à-vis Iran) but needing to show the West he’d come clean. If the UN inspectors had been able to do their job — which Bush, for no reason at all except that he’d already positioned 100 000 troops in the Saudi desert, deliberately prevented them from doing — we would have found out that Saddam had, in fact, dismantled everything years earlier.

            As to fighting a war in which at least 100 000 people have died in the name of “human rights,” I’ll leave you to your conscience, if you have one, to choose what the right thing to do was. It’s true that Saddam massacred the Kurds — with Rumsfeld’s chemical weapons — when they tried to separate from Iraq, to the tune of tens of thousands; but as of 2003 he was not doing that any more, Kurdistan was de facto independent and protected by the No Fly Zone, and big bad Saddam was tyrannising over the South only. And why was he tyrannising over the south? Because, as Bush & Co. soon found out, Iraq was and is a jungle of lethal sectarian blood feuds, fanaticism, and amorality: the people Saddam oppressed most, the Sadrists and Dawa, are respectively millennial cultists and backed to the hilt by the Iranians!

            But I know I’ve lost you by now.

          • Gd lord! The last of the hold outs Francien is still defending messrs Bush/Cheney on the basis that the world is bad. I’ve got news for you Francien many of us who opposed that war were well aware of that fact, we just didn’t trust uncle George and the Dickster to put humpty back together again; particularly as they had had something to do with pushing humpty off the wall.
            Harper was well aware of this, he could have taken a stand. But as Jack says it suited his political purposes not too. Acually i have no problem with his stated position then, i have a lot more problem with him lying to conceal that he did support the war.
            Ignatieff came by his views honestly at least. His view of the war was coloured by the time he spent with the Kurds. Understandable given the context of their treatment at the hands of S.Hussein.

          • NO, what I am saying is that not only Bush and Cheney could have been wrong. Many leaders, and many countries and many ordinary people have been wrong. Wrongs have been assessed on all sides.

            Somehow, everything that has been happening in and around Iraq, before, during and most likely, after the war, will be one sidedly blamed. I don’t see history like that. Never have and never will. I am a realist and know full well that the US is not innocent in its dealing with worldly affairs (no Jack, you won’t loose me that quickly; for every action you mention, there are plenty of others actions to haul out of a sack of worldly confusion) , but I can guarantee anyone of you that all other nations have a role to play, and always have played a role.

            Staring at the US incessantly is exactly what some other nations would like you to do (self explanatory, I hope). Try to get a more rounded view of what is really going on in the world. That’s all I’m asking for. Direct your eyes, every now and then, to the bobbing of heads at the UN headquarters and tell me how to sort that sort of spiel out. The UN is nothing but politics. Not supposed to be like that but hey, we get what can be expected. Not much, that’s all I can say.

            (Oh, and in case the country of Iraq turns out to be ok within a few years, make sure to give praise where praise is due: the NGO’s coming from France, Germany, China, Russia, ………..need I go on? No I think I don’t want to…..)

          • kc,

            “Harper was well aware of this, he could have taken a stand. But as Jack says it suited his political purposes not too. Acually i have no problem with his stated position then, i have a lot more problem with him lying to conceal that he did support the war.”

            Harper has not lied about it. You are lying about it right now. Never has Harper lied about his initial stand on the war.

          • Francien
            I guess when it gets o the pt of yelling liar, it’s time for bed. Obviously i can’t prove Harpy lied, but it’s understandable that you missed the entire incident as you probably had yr head in the sand. Look it up! I’m not up on the latest, but believe me he was accused of lying. But then again when you tell as many as him, how’s a PM to keep track.

      • i see the new kinder gentler character assassination attempt has already begun by conservative types on Ignatieff then? you really want to make Ignatieff a sympathetic figure don’t you for ppl like myself who are independent and not impressed by your Major Epic Fail Stephen H. keep it up. you conservative types will say and do anything won’t you? with Obama on the scene we have an example of a true leader attempting to actually do something for his country not simply the global economy.

        i’ll relay a paraphrased comment told to me from a caller on a call-in show today: the man said if the conservatives got done at all during their time in office what President Obama has accomplished in the last 30 we’d be lucky in Canada. Stephen H has massive credibility probs; and your attempts to sympathize or equalize him with Ignatieff or any other political leader in this country are absolutely pathetic.

  9. Mr. Iveson failed to mention all the other times that Mr. Harper ‘has made tough decisions, faced up to his critics and argued them down’, like the way he faced down his critics on the Cadman affair by hauling them off to court, and the tough way he avoided a confidence vote in the house with a proroguation, and the tough decision he made to don a fuzzy blue sweater on tv to reassure Canadians that he’s not the menace he’s made out to be. It’s a comfort to know that should another issue arises, like imposing taxation on income trusts after saying he would not, Mr. Harper will once again prove himself worthy of being called ‘tough’. He is certainly far more ‘tough’ than is Mr. Ignatieff.

    • it was not a matter of facing his critics; it had to do with slander. And actions of slander can be brought before the courts, not? If you were faced with slander, would you not want to have access to such right as to bring it before the courts?

      Harper may be taken to court by he writer of Cadman’s story (I forget his name).That’ s his right too. We would not consider taken away that right of the writer, would we?

      Harper did not avoid a confidence vote in the house with a prorogation. He took up the same opportunity as had been taken up by the opposition parties, namely to take up the rights at his disposal. If the forming of a coalition is to be a right under our parliamentary democracy (it needs to be granted by the GG), so is the request of prorogation a right under the very same structure (needs to be granted by the GG). You may not like that both such rights and grants exist, but exist they do nonetheless.

      The blue sweater is such a overplayed tune it should be settled by now, no? Tell us what you would like Harper to wear and he might just go for it (if it would finally settle the matter).

      The income trust issue is indeed a reversal of stand. Was the reversal in the end better for the country as a whole? I believe it was. Many companies were going into a direction of misrepresenting the trust fund’s initial intent. But then, loopholes can be found most anywhere, and to say whether the reversal was just or not I cannot judge entirely. My background in economics is not that extensive. Yes, many investors were short changed, but the trust fund reversal stand was more than about investors only. It offered itself as a larger picture to be looked at.

      • I’m neither saying it wasn’t a case of slander (since all the facts have not yet been released), nor that someone doesn’t have the right to sue. What I am saying is that it was not the kind of behaviour one expects from a PM, especially since he later found it convenient to settle out of court. If Harper was not involved in the offer to Mr. Cadman, then a reasonable person would expect him to be anxious to clear his name in court, especially given that he is the one who brought the libel suit. I certainly hope that Mr. Zytaruk does take him to court, but chances are that he doesn’t have access to the kind of money for a prolonged court case that Harper has, so a reputable journalist will have to bear the burden of having been accused of tampering with evidence. It’s not a matter of liking or not liking the process; it’s a matter of why Harper felt it necessary to shut down Parliament at a time when the failing economy demanded that it be in session to deal with that crisis. The blue sweater is relevant to what a ‘tough’ person does when faced with criticism about his demeanor. Your opinion about the income trust is just that – your opinion; it’s not supported by many of those whose retirement savings disappeared because they believed Harper when he said that he would not do what he did.

        • so knick, a PM can sue for slander if the public opinion to sue is in his favour? In other words, the opinion to sue for slander cannot rest with the one who has supposedly been slandered? That’s interesting. Now, suppose you found yourself being slandered. Would you go and ask for public opinion first before you would take it up in the courts? I might ask a lawyer but I would have no need for public opinion being in favour.

          Yes, money and access to the courts is an issue, and an issue of great concern, but that issue has nothing to do with Harper particularly; it stands as an issue generally. Are you trying to tell me that because some cannot afford to go to court that therefore Harper, or anyone else with access to money, has no right to take things up in the courts? If you hold onto such beliefs, I can tell you that I will not share them. I hope, however, that if Zytaruk has a valid claim, he will find the money necessary somehow.

          knick, the blue sweater thing drives me bezerk. I do not care what Ignatieff wears; I do not care what Layton wears and I don’t even care what Duceppe and May wear. And I don’t care what Harper wears either. I’m so lucky I can look past all of that nonsense. If the media finds such trivial things newsworthy, or finds it of great importance, that tells me more about the mindset of our media than it does about Harper’s handler’s mindset. Although, why did Harper’s handlers feel the need to be lulled into this nonesense? Why do the voters require this kind of crap?

          • More self-serving bs from Francien. SH brought that suit and stretched it out in order to take the matter out of the public arena at the election. Yes Dion and company were unwise to repeat the accusations outside of the HOC. But, who egged them on to do so – Harper, Baird…need go on? But you say he had no other option. “You had an option sir’! Remember those words Francien? There are committees to deal with such things – unfortunately Mr H shut them all down. Now he drops the case, his name still besmirched and an honest Journalist’s reputation in ruins too! Nice days work for a Democrat i’d say!

          • At what point did I say that Harper’s suit for slander should depend upon public opinion?

            Money and access to the courts has everything to do with Harper particularly; without it he would not have taken the Liberals to court in the first place, and he would not risk being sued by Zytaruk for accusing him of tampering with the tape (aside from the moral imperative to do neither). Your interpretation of what I said is baffling. Anyone with access to money has the right to sue, but those without access to money do not have the opportunity to sue. Hoping that Zytaruk somehow finds the money to sue is of little comfort to Zytaruk or to those of us who find it deplorable that his reputation as a journalist is now under threat from a completely false claim against him. The question isn’t why voters require this kind of crap (blue sweaters); the question is, why did Harper feed it was required.

          • Francien, it’s not about what Harper wore. It’s about his being a poseur.

            It’s not about money and access to courts. It’s about suppression of information through distraction and delay.

            It’s not about public opinion, it’s about the public’s right to know the truth.

        • not only that, but last i understood, one can not be allowed to benefit financially from a self-inflicted -induced action (like talking on a tape) or situation where your own actions make you look bad, no?

          as for Zytaruk doctoring or tampering his own tape; Stephen H’s own experts say the information recorded was not tampered with by the journalist. c’mon, the effect of Stephen H’s action was really against us through the two Liberals he presented with that lawsuit; to keep us in the dark about the situation which looks really bad for those involved; imagine the public outrage that the spectre of trying to bribe a dying man looks like to the average Canadian and the effect it might have on someone’s political career? it is low no matter which way you try to explain it and the perpetrators would lose a great deal wouldn’t they?

          as for proroguation?
          Canada’s been drifting since October 2008 now right? this minority govt is acting as though it is hoping someone somewhere will come up with the economic solution that they can “adopt” like they did Australian PM Howard’s speech; they certainly can’t “adopt” Dion’s ideas as the US is doing (check out CNN and you’ll see what i mean) since they campaigned so heavily against. they’d have to call another election then wouldn’t they?

    • what a personality eh? going madly off in all directions

  10. oops…that should have been

    the question is, why did Harper feel it was required.

  11. “Since becoming Liberal leader, he has displayed a worrying tendency to tell people exactly what they want to hear.”

    — Ivison

    The man worries about the interim Liberal leader. I worry about the current Prime Minister.

    And I agree with Aaron Wherry. Why toughness? Why not integrity and honesty?

    John Ivison, like other NP columnists, is guilty of media distraction, which I consider dishonest.

  12. You’re missing the whole point, Aaron. No one–literally no one–has in anyway suggested that Ignateff should aspire to the “neanderthal standard of masculinity” model of toughness.

    But, as the examples Ivison cites show, Ignatieff is all talk. For all his talk–and for all personal achievements–he no record of accomplishment in improving real people’s lives. And his short record as leader of Liberal Party suggests we’re in for more of the same.

    In the real world governing is about making tough choices and getting things done. Ignatieff seems to think he can obfuscate all that by saying what people want hear while doing a whole lot of nothing.

    • OK, I’ll bite. What exactly is it that you feel Ignatieff should be doing right now? Please be specific.

  13. wow, this Ivison must be on a really short leash to the conservatives; income trusts were cynically footballed around with the then Fin Min Goodale’s reputation by the RCMP and this govt as you recall in the last election; there is no nobility in what was done with income trusts; just political expediency.

    my take is that the conservatives have no idea how to attack Ignatieff; in essence, they’re scared; he’s keeping his cards very close to his chest; i thinks that’s wise.

    • “this govt” = the conservatives who now form the govt.

      “i thinks” = me thinks

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