Michael Ignatieff Maverick Watch


The Newfoundland Four are free. For now. At least symbolically.

“Tonight they will have a one-time vote against the budget in order to send a clear signal to Newfoundland and Labrador and to the whole of Canada that this is not a way to run a federation.”


Michael Ignatieff Maverick Watch

  1. Now we get to see Iggy do his impression of a pretzel. He’s going to let a few NFLD members vote against budget to send a clear signal that this is not a way to run a federation while at the same time making sure all his other caucus members vote for the budget to send a clear signal that this is the way to run a federation.

    • And who says politicians aren’t flexible? Gd pt JWL.

  2. Oh dear Poor Iggy : 2 major decisions so far and each time he rolls over throwing his paws into the air and demands to have his belly rubbed. The CPC don’t have to take out any ads saying ‘ Not A Leader ‘ as every time he has to make a tough decision he only proves the point. Oh well this saves the CPC advertising budget oodles of money.

    • Yeah, even if both decisions were the right ones.

      • Letting the Premier of Newfoundland hold a gun to the head of a man who wants to be Prime Minister is arguably not the right decision for those of us who aren’t Newfoundlanders.

        I know why Newfoundland votes for Danny Williams: he enriches their province at the expense of the rest of us. I just don’t know why we keep giving him what he wants.

        • His gun continues to be pointed at Stephen Harper – whip the vote and then it gets pointed at Iggy.

          Canadians do not care about party discipline…outside Ottawa, this only makes Ignatieff look good and Harper look bad.

          • “His gun continues to be pointed at Stephen Harper – whip the vote and then it gets pointed at Iggy.”

            And Iggy should be afraid of Danny Williams … because?

        • It’s not even the right decision for those who are.

          The national media really needs to start lifting the dropsheets on Nfld politics.

          Something is rotten in the state of Dan-mark.

          • national media? what’s that?

          • “national” as in media which takes an interest in happenings all across the Canadian nation, instead of just the Newfoundland nation or the Quebec nation.

            Big prize-winning stories, no one’s touching them.

    • But he’s trying to define himself as a guy who CAN work with people, a la Obama. It may not be gd policy but Steve can’t complain now. As he wouldn’t know a good policy from…let’s say how to make a minority work!

  3. Iggy plied the Newfoundland Four with fine wine and charm at Stornoway last night. Before they left he made each of them solemnly swear that this was a “one time only” thing.

    • Because if there’s one thing we know, it’s that Danny Williams is a sane, reasonable man who will never, ever put “his” MPs in this position again.

      • Right on, because he never, ever did that before.

    • Did he also tell them that they’d have to row home if they try this again?

      • This is funny! that would be one heck of a row in a dory.

        • It would have the added benefit of taking a long, long time.

          • LOL.

  4. I think the mistake here is not so much letting them vote without repercussions, it’s that they had Michael Ignatieff make a statement about it. If I were the Liberals, I would have addressed all questions to the Whip and let him deal with it.

    • I think the bigger mistake is in giving in to Williams. We are talking about 4 MPS but what if Charest started doing the same thing to Quebec MPs?

      • Exactly Pol
        It will be interesting to see how many “one time things” Ignatieff has.
        Don’t like the war in Afghan?You can vote against it “one time”.
        But if you ever do that again, by God, I’ll show you.
        Don’t like the new seat allocation? You can vote against it “one time”.
        But if you………..
        Too funny.

        • So far Ignatieff’s explanations pass the reasonable test. I’m quite impressed. I thought he would have fallen on his ass by now. Go Iggy Go! Hand me that damn noise maker.[ lame, can’t think what they’re called aymore since i can’t afford to see a game ]

      • Actually, the PQ and the Bloc (not Charest) are trying to pull off this trick.

        They are making the argument that any Quebec MP who supports the budget is not putting Quebec’s interests first.

        • This is all too obvious consequence and only the beginning – poor Iggy!

          • Hmm…maybe there are consequences for betraying [ standing down ] the coalition? The revenge of the Bloq. Who knew?

    • I would have had all 4 MP’s make their statement and say for the record this is a one time thing.

      Make the MP’s justifty their position and sing the praises of a flexible leader.

      Iggy just knuckled under to Danny Williams, and it isnt for noble reasons…he wants the seats.

      Party discipline on matters of confidence actually does matter. If your negotiating with Iggy you need to know he can deliver on his promises. This is just one piece that goes on the other side of that scale. It doen’t tip it irrevocably one way or another, it is the next couple of decisions that will set that one.

      Iggy also made the budget about him not about the govenrnment, not a good thing either.

      Clearly the fun and games continue.

      I also couldnt care less that a province in surplus gets money from the rst of the country. But what do you expect from a guy who made his money from running a government granted monopoly.

      Come on Danny, come off the rock and run against Harper or Iggy for leader.

      • IgNoble reasons maybe?

  5. Provincial Premiers treating their MP’s as sock puppets, yes-men, and bound delegates.

    A federal caucus and leader roll over and take one (more) for the team from a thinly-disguised separatist of questionable ethics.

    That is truly no way to run a federation.

    • Separatism,blackmail, buggery, zomby MP s and dictitorial premiers! I had no idea we were THAT interesting!

      • buggery?

        • “… take on more for the team..” There are other interpretations i concede!

          • would that be = for the team or egads from the team?

      • In the case of LPC MP’s from Quebec who as I type are furiously emailing the whip – mutant zombie MP’s the very worst type of zombie.

  6. Good for him. Nice to know that, on occasion, our MPs actually get to represent us

    • Hear, hear!

  7. We have seen this so often from Mr. Dion before. Someone should replace that weak leader.

  8. Not smart Iggy…Dion looked weak by abstaining, but at least he had his party behind his decisions (publiclly). This will only embolden the divided caucus as more difficult votes arise. You also have given a regional voice undue influence on your party.

  9. Oh well. This is just another example of Ignatieff’s incredibly dumb political judgement. Rather than channeling Obama, Ignatieff is channeling Kerry. To throw away a golden opportunity to send the message that he runs a national party that will not break under pressure from the provinces is perhaps even stupider than signing that coaliton letter. And what did he gain? Avoiding a conflict with four no-name MPs and a reprieve from Danny Williams. All of whom are fair-weather friends to the Liberal Party of Canada. What did he lose? The moral authority to tell other Premiers to back off in the future and to whip his MPs into line when he believes the national interest supercedes their provincial interests.

  10. And so the choice for NL minister in an Ignatieff gov’t is down to two: Gerry Byrne & Todd Russell.

    It was quite magnanimous of the other four to step aside like that.

    • The choice for NL minister in an Ignatieff government is up to Danny Williams.

      Why you would want that job, when the job of regional minister is to get chewed up, spit out, and p1ssed on by Danny Williams, without putting up even a semblance of a fight, is anyone’s guess.

  11. Chretien of course, and even Dion, would have slapped down these MPs. Especialy so early in his leadership gig. But then Dion would have just gotten a mandate from LPC delegates in a fair, open leadership race. Iggy’s mandate comes from … who ? A bunch of back room operatives, is my best guess. Iggy needs permission to act tough.

    • Excellent point I had not thought of the repurcussions since he is not actually the leader as of yet. Hmmm this whole thing gets tougher and tougher on the poor guy.

      • oops .. I almost forgot. The next confidence motion will let one and all know where Iggy is coming from. Here is a scenario after the budget comes the first report card which is already a confidence motion according to the Igster so what if …. what if some MP’s from let’s say Quebec decide that not enough money is going there (like that would surprise anyone) and let’s say some Quebec MP’s say to dear leader since the precedent has now been made obviously we can vote anyway we want. Then the Igster who might (see who will) want to give the Tories a ‘ C ‘ barely a passing grade (goes without saying) … my, my and OH! dear the law of unintended consequences run rampant and torpedo the Igster’s hard work. Can anyone possibly imagine public opinion either way this is a classic lose lose!

        • Wayne
          I think yr wishfull thinking slips’s showing. No one thinks that far ahead unless it’s Stevie boy, and look what that’s got him?

  12. And then the thought occurred to me that four people actually read the relevant documents and agreed with Danny. But that couldn’t be. Because we are continually told that only five people in the country understand the equalization formula.

    I’m happy to see that all of them are commenters on these blogs.

    • As a constantly changing piece of mush, I will probably never undersatnd the equalization formula. I am quite glad not to be one of those five people. But I do believe I get the concept of equalization. Taxpayers from all provinces pay taxes to the federal government, which in turn doles out extra $ to the poorer provinces, to allow a comparable level of provincial government services. De facto, taxpayers in richer provinces see less of their taxes come back to their own province. Never have I seen some description of what minimum standard defines an acceptable level of provincial government services (perhaps one of the bleesed five could enlighten us in 1,000 words or less).

      And I, along with I hope most Canadians, get that Newfoundland is bellyaching because its Newfoundwealth might actually count in the whole equalization process. “I don’t care how rich I get, keep me as a have-not province!” And I get that this stinks. It stinks that there was some kind of commitment to exempt certain forms of provincial revenue from the formula. Backing away from that commitment is unfortunate only if you believe we must adhere to dumb commitments. Danny’s whining looks petty and stupid and greedy. The Newf4 “standing up for The Rock” (a.k.a. shared poo-less of the real boss in St. John’s) looks likewise.

      No way to run a federation, indeed. Certainly no way to run a federal party.

      • MYL:

        (1) Are you sure NL is still a “have province” now that the price of oil is where it is?

        (2) The Feds just doled out $40B and in the process appear to have taken away $1.5B from Newfoundland. Doesn’t feel right to me.

        (3) $1.5B is serious coin in Newfoundland — per capita, that is equivalent to about $30B in Ontario. If the Feds slashed $30B in transfers to Ontario while increasing overall spending, the Liberals likely all would’ve voted against the budget.

        • You’re right SAB. $1.5 billion is serious coin in NL (even if it is over three years). In fact its so serious it might be the same amount that NL runs as a deficit for FY 2009/2010, given the way Danny & Co. have been spending since the money started gushing in. Last year they negotiated a contract with the NL public service that raised wages by 21% over three years.

          The other kicker was that in last year’s budget NL Finance projected that oil prices would average $87/bbl going forward, and based its revenue projections on that figure. That probably sounded pretty savvy in April, when Brent crude was over $100/bbl, but looks a bit foolish now that prices have fallen back into the low forties. (Remember the much ballyhooed “super-royalties” Danny extracted from the oil companies? They don’t happen when oil drops below $60/bbl, so that money’s missing too). In short it looks like Danny & friends are looking at a serious drop-off in revenues (through no faut of the feds, BTW) and are concerned that the might have to explain how they spent the cupboard bare in good times. The solution, pick a fight with the feds. It’s straight out of Newfoundland Poltics for Dummies (I believe its on page 1) and has been the stock in trade of every NL premier since Joey.

          • The super-royalties also only “happen” on Hebron, a project which only exists in the imaginations of engineers. They don’t “happen” on the existing, already-producing projects.

            And herringchoker, there is only one page in that book. Danny hasn’t finished colouring it yet.

  13. The problem isn’t so much that those 4 same MP’s will do the same, the problem is when Dalton McGuinty or Jean Charest make the same kind of push in the future. This kind of appeasement staves off present conflict, but courts greater conflict in the future. Moreover, surely the failure of Harper’s experiments with asymmetrical federalism (not to mention Mulroney’s) demonstrate that regional grievances will persist, regardless of how much money is thrown at them.

    What is ironic, is that this is precisely the kind of problem that has historically plagued the Conservative Party. Because it was a relatively incoherent alliance of squabbling regional interests with no cohesive philosophy, the Tories tended to be divided and chaotic. Just look at how Bay street abandoned Diefenbaker, how Clark failed to balance Ontario and Alberta’s divergent energy policy needs, or how the Mulroney coalition fell apart.

    Somebody drew a diagram of the distance between the supporters of each of the three major parties in Quebec, and those supporters outside of Quebec on their support for “a strong Quebec”. What was critical for the Liberals was that their coalition was the most internally coherent – English Liberals were pretty pro-Quebec, while Quebec liberals were moderately for a strong Quebec. For the NDP and Tories, their support was at the extreme opposite inside and outside Quebec. That is one of the core advantages of the Liberals party in country of divisions – it has a core that can actually agree on things (namely, on a relatively strong Ottawa, tempered by protections of French AND English minority rights).

    Shocks like Ignatieff’s nod to Newfoundland make me wonder something else, as well – under Iggy, is the federalist-decentralist divide between the Tories and Liberals reversing? That is, are the Conservatives becoming the party of a strong federal government, against a Liberal party of parochial interests? Gerry Nichols recalled in his discussions with Harper, that Harper often mused about such an occurrence. Moreover, we have seen Harper enthusiastically wrap himself in the flag over the recent constitutional crisis.

    • It will be interesting to see how Ignatieff defines himself in Quebec. If somehow he were to lose the support of the anglo/ Montreal vote things could look bad for him. But i don’t see how since both he and SH supported that idiotic Nation motion and given the bridges SH has already burned there. There’s also the matter of Iggy’s assalt on fortress AB. A long term project maybe. But people are tired of 40yrs of no alternative and as they say, politics is a strange game. I have’nt decided yet if Iggy is smart or just lucky so far?

      • Iggy’s biggest problem in AB is attracting sufficiently strong candidates. Even against the supposed weakest link in Calgary, Rob Anders, the Libs could only get an ex School Trustee, Jennifer Pollock.
        Paul Martin, in 2004, tried to get an ex mayor and ex Police Chief to run, but they both turned him down.
        So Iggy’s got a lot of work to do in that department. Speaking for myself, I’m not tired of the LIbs being shut out for 40 yrs, in fact am quite proud of the sound judgement of my fellow Calgarians.

      • “But people are tired of 40yrs of no alternative”
        No alternative?? I had lots of choices on my ballot. Didn’t you?

        But point taken, if Liberals want support from Alberta somethings gotta give. In this country it is next to impossible now a days to please every province. Especailly Albertans and Quebecors….fire and ice.
        Add in Nfld and holy smokes batman. How does this country keep together?And how does any leader hold it together?

        • It’s not the fault of the Conservatives [ prov] but the fact remains that no-one has even had a looksee in Alberta in a very long time. Ironic when you consider how much grousing they do about liberals in Ottawa, don’t ya think?

        • “How does this country keep together…” Believe it or not, PR! Seriously. imagine con seats in downtown Toronto and montreal. Of course you’ll have to put up with libs in Calgary. The really gd news is we might see the end of the bloq and much less regional bickering. Or we can carry on in the same old tired way we do now.

        • For someone like Danny Williams, holding it together is not his problem, or his goal.

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