Mind you, Mr. Ignatieff doesn’t give his number to just anyone

by Aaron Wherry

So the Justice Minister convenes a press conference Monday morning to discuss the government’s crime agenda. And, at least judging from the transcript, he appears to have been suffering from a rather serious bout of displeasure.

“Once again, the opposition parties, the Liberals, NDP and the Bloc are playing politics at the expense of the safety and security of Canadians.”

“So what do these stalling tactics and lack of action mean to Canadians over this summer?  It means that they would still find themselves victims of identity thanks to the opposition.”

“I’m here today to call on Michael Ignatieff and his Liberals to ensure that this happens.  I’m calling on the Liberals to pass C-15 into law before the Senate rises this summer. For once, we need the Liberals to stand up against these gangs, the people who exploit Canada’s most vulnerable citizens, particularly our youth.”

And so on. Reporters press Mr. Nicholson on various matters and then the pesky Tonda MacCharles, a writer employed by a paper the Prime Minister reads and respects, asks an entirely unreasonable question.

Question: Mr. Nicholson, I may have missed something here, but you being the reasonable quiet patient man you are with all the compromise…

The Hon. Rob Nicholson: Thank you, thank you, this is good.

Question: …why, have you called Mr. Ignatieff and tried to have a discussion with him about moving this bill through?  You’ve heard from Marjorie LeBreton and if you haven’t, did your Prime Minister raise it in the discussions with Ignatieff last week?  Have you had any discussions behind closed doors with them?

The Hon. Rob Nicholson: Well, the, the process is similar to when I was the Government House Leader.  We take these matters up on a regular basis with our colleagues and the other parties in both places and this is why I specifically quoted  Marjorie LeBreton and what is happening to our drug bill in the Senate, and believe me, I’m, I work very closely with Jay Hill who is the Government Leader in the House of Commons, with respect to

Question: Yeah, (inaudible) the Liberals in the Senate. So have you talked to Mr. Ignatieff?

The Hon. Rob Nicholson: No.  Exactly.  I’m saying on both counts.  I mean I, as you can see, we’re stalled on our legislation right across the board here, whether it’s the House of Commons or the Senate and I’m specifically concerned about this drug bill and again, I work through the Government Leader in the Senate.

Later week on The National, Peter Mansbridge busted Michael Ignatieff on essentially the same question of bipartisan communication. Ignatieff, if memory serves, was lamenting that he and the Prime Minister hadn’t spoken since January. Mansbridge pointed out, in much nicer terms, that modern phones allow one to both receive and send calls.

In fairness, politics would be far less fun if politicians were actually expected to discuss their differences directly.




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Mind you, Mr. Ignatieff doesn’t give his number to just anyone

  1. Don Newman on his farewell tour – pls comeback Don! – made the point (I believe on The Hour) that structural changes to the foyers of the House and changes in working hours have led to a decrease in the direct convos between members, both with respect to their difference and general convo (and I think he said the odd libation) that facilitated greater respect between, and treatment of, political opponents.

    • It is fascinating that something so trivial as the design as the foyer could contribute to our dysfunctional Parliament, but Newman probably has a point. Let's redesign the House to force MPs from different parties to interact with one another more often. Also, we need more "Beer and Chocolate" opportunities for MPs to rub shoulders. It's hard to holler across the floor at the same guy who clinked glasses with you the night before.

      • CR, judging by Mitchell's work with the camera, there is no shortage of influence-peddling "social mixers" for the Ottawa hoi polloi, brought to you by some lobbying interest group or other…

        • But where's the excessive boozing? We need some serious old-school drunken comradery amongst MPs to heal the gaping wounds in Parliamentary civility.

          • I have heard cheaper flights (relative to 30+ years ago) as a major culprit in the senate. Senators jet back to their home state when they have free time, rather than participating in the Ottawa scene. I definitely agree on the need for drunken hobnobbing. Where is our Lyndon Johnson?

          • Our senators live in states?

          • States of confusion, agitation , ambivalence, somnolence, and , occasionally , psychosis.

          • LOL. All true, but you left out the state of denial.

          • and for some at least the state of ineptitude.

          • The morning after a bender the time to discuss politics civilly? Surely you jest.

          • absolutely, try yelling when your head is pounding

        • I think Newman's point was this was less formal sitting around chatting. It is not overly hard to believe you have an easier time of discussing an issue, sans Mithcell's camera and the inquisitive ear of other scribes often in those pictures, than with them. Not to mention the interest group reps putting on the event in the first place.

        • MYL, I think Newman's point was this was less formal sitting around chatting. It is not overly hard to believe you have an easier time of discussing an issue, sans Mithcell's camera and the inquisitive ear of other scribes often in those pictures, than with them. Not to mention the interest group reps putting on the event in the first place.

      • "It's hard to holler across the floor at the same guy who clinked glasses with you the night before."

        That was pretty much the Newman point.

  2. Too much to be gained by saying the other guy didnt call you.

    He/She isnt interested in speaking to me. Proof again that national politics is high school for older people

  3. "Boo hoo! He won't do what I say!"
    "Did you try talking to him?"
    "No."

  4. "Boo hoo! He won't do what I say!"
    "Did you try talking to him?"
    "No way! I'm too smart for that!"

  5. Feel free to disabuse me of this perception, but isn't it the proper role for the governing party to seek out the pariticipation of the other parties? After all, they know what they plan to do with regard to policy, legislation, budget, etc. The opposition does not. Seems a bit of stretch to suggest that those outside the PMO should have a psychic sense of when they should check in to offer input.

  6. The Count is far too arrogant to place a phone call to someone who considers beneath him even though he is the prime minister of the country. Iggy was all telling when he suggested that he (Harper) knows that he (Iggy ) is one floor up (or down). Iggy thinks he is the PM already. Iggy issues a statement on Iran. Who is in charge of foreign policy for this country? Is it the elected government or the official opposition? We should speak with one voice and that is the government.
    It is not the job of Rob Nicholson to be phoning the leader of the opposition to discuss government policy.

  7. The Count is far too arrogant to place a phone call to someone who he considers beneath him even though he is the prime minister of the country. Iggy was all telling when he suggested that he (Harper) knows that he (Iggy ) is one floor up (or down). Iggy thinks he is the PM already. Iggy issues a statement on Iran. Who is in charge of foreign policy for this country? Is it the elected government or the official opposition? We should speak with one voice and that is the government.
    It is not the job of Rob Nicholson to be phoning the leader of the opposition to discuss government policy.

  8. Harper, Nicholson, et al DON'T want participation and discussion – they need a partisan strategy and it would absolutely disrupt their partisan plan.

    hollinm……it's not unusual for opposition leaders to put out statements like these – did the rules change when President Harper took over?

    Speak with one voice? Are you kidding? That sounds like a dictatorship to me.

  9. So it sounds like politics and hence running a country is a game. So if running the government and the country is a game, what is to be expected of ordindary citizens. Sorry no time to vote we are out playing games. Just imagine (as John Lennon said) just imagine a world where politicians showed respect for one another, for the rule of law and for the goals they are purport to be striving to achieve. I guess the world would have to come to an end, with what could we follow such an act?

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