Skip a debate? This guy walked out on the whole campaign


Here’s an excellent speech on stuff in general by John Manley. I sang its praises when Manley delivered it in the spring and I have recently talked about it to some friends, so now I’ll have a link I can send to them. There is something very mercenary about the way I run this blog on weekends.


Skip a debate? This guy walked out on the whole campaign

  1. Certainly one of the better prime ministers we’ll never have had. It’s oddly refreshing to hear a thoughtful, considered argument in favor of the statism that so many on the Canadian left take for granted. I think I remember people saying, the last time around, that a Harper-Manley debate would be a snooze-fest. Oh, for such a snooze-fest!

  2. Sure. But can you identify more than five Liberals in the country who were actually hoping the guy would run? He’d have finished behind Denis Coderre and Ruby Dhalla…

  3. “There is something very mercenary about the way I run this blog on weekends.”

    Perhaps. More significantly, there’s something quite mercenary about Mr. Manley’s approach to the affairs of the nation. He’s for deeper integration with the US on financial levels, pro-republican (in the sense that he’d like a separately elected executive), was easily co-opted into the Afghan issue by the Conservatives and came down with a “more of the same, but better” policy position … which hasn’t exactly worked out, and when faced with the prospect of fighting the Conservatives, he cashed out in the private sector.

    It’s not difficult to see why Mr. Manley is a problematic leader in waiting. He’s desired by everyone except his own party.

  4. Like Mr. Emerson, Mr. Manley chose the Liberal party rather than the Joe Clark-Tories or Reform where he really stands ideologically. They did this because there is a much better chance that he would be in power and has an opportunity to make a positive impact on Canada. Now that the Liberals, through no fault of Mr. Manley or Mr. Emerson seem to be a many years away from wielding power there is a very difficult argument why these talented individuals would give more of their very limited years of public service where they would have minimal impact/appreciation on the Canadian situation.

    The Conservatives were rebuilt after the Mulroney “power for powers sake” debacle by ideologues, Preston Manning, Deb Grey, Stockwell Day and to a lesser extent PM Harper. The ideal (ideal for Canada) is for the Liberals to find similar ideological leaders to rebuild the party. The problem with that is these people are already building the Bloc, NDP and Green Parties and the Liberals represent nothing (power for power’s sake) and will be away from the seat of power until they:
    1) Find a reason for being
    2) The Conservatives get used to power and become “Chretien “corrupt.
    3) Disappear from existence with their talented leader going to the Conservatives (for power) or the NDP or Green because they have ideas that they believe in.
    Right now Mr. Rae and Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Dosanjh belong in the NDP ; Mr. Ignatieff would be comfortable and make a larger contribution to Canada as a CPC cabinet minister. Mr. Dion belonged in the Green party.

  5. Ah, I really don’t think Ignatieff would be a good fit in a Harper cabinet. Really. For the most part he is to the left of Conservative ideology, if not governance. Beyond that, I’d have a hard time believing the two would work together well.

    I also don’t think Rae at present is a NDP. Kennedy, perhaps.

  6. Oh, and Dion isn’t particularly left. Nor does espousing something like the green shift make you a Green. Yes, it is a Green Party policy, but beyond that, it is a good idea. Thus, aside from his allegiances to the Alberta Tarpatch, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Harper propose it. Even the slowing effect on the oilsands would be a good idea. The torrid pace of development doesn’t make economic sense.

  7. I bet it drives Manley nuts when people tell him he should be a Conservative. I submit that you cannot listen to the speech Wells posted and then maintain, with a straight face, that the man is ideologically conservative. On the contrary, he is among a seemingly tiny number of actually ideologically liberal Canadians. As he indicates in his speech, his liberalism is a 1960s liberalism that sees government as the solution to problems both foreign and domestic. To Manley, “welfare state” is a mark of pride – but so is “international peacekeeping force.” He is a proud and thoughtful statist.

    This puts him in contrast to the reactionary, isolationist, nationalist socialism that defines NDP and BQ policy today. But it also puts him in contrast to post-2003 Conservatism in Canada which, under Harper, has eschewed big-government Red Toryism.

  8. “I bet it drives Manley nuts when people tell him he should be a Conservative. I submit that you cannot listen to the speech Wells posted and then maintain, with a straight face, that the man is ideologically conservative.”

    boudica <– with a straight face: Manley is a rightwinger.

  9. On the Green Shift / environmentalism being a good idea. And pointing out why the Liberals need their OWN policies.

    Is it a good enough to be one of the 3-4 pillars of a party’s philosophy? Is it good enough that you would drop out of a party if the party does no longer support this as a key point? Do you sit on it for 4 years doing nothing after committing in public to supporting it? (Kyotyo). I suggest that members of the Green party would quit en masse if environmentalism were dropped from the parties top priority.

    People would leave the CPC if Family values/ law and order/ smaller government were dropped from the philosophy.

    If Harper proposes a Green shift it will not be the total reason that the CPC exists. It will be a part of Family values and be incorporporated with as small government interference as possible. (I hope)

    Will people be quitting the Liberals in large numbers now that the Green Shift is moved from priority 1 pre-election to a nice to have during the election to never to be mentioned again in the leadership contest.

    Mr. Dion, as he was an lone voice in his own party on the environment, would have been morally consistent to have joined the Green party…. and probably would / should have except for the lust for power.

    As an aside …. who came up with the Green shift? Did any rank and file Liberals input or a vote on this plan? It is a bit rich the negative press the CPC secretive policy convention (where party members get to vote on policy direction) gets compared to the alternative policy by divine right that the green Shift apparentally was.

  10. Alright boudica, I was asking to be baited – or I was baiting – so let’s have at it. Maybe we can start by defining terms: what is it that, in your mind, defines the right wing? And specifically, what is it about Manley – or what policies and/or ideas does Manley subscribe to – that would classify him as right wing?

  11. BC: Dion was hardly alone on the carbon tax. Indeed, Ignatieff support(ed/s) a carbon tax. Does that mean Iggy is too liberal for the Liberals, too?

    I don’t think the Greens have a monopoly on pro-environment policies. If that were the case, our environment is in trouble as the Greens won’t soon form government.

  12. Andrew: Do you really believe that Mr. Ignatieff is whole-heartedly behind a carbon tax or equivalent quantum shift any more than Prentice/Harper? I can see Dion and/or May making the Green argument that the Green tax is the way out of the economic crisis. After the Dion leadership stint, I truly believe that he feels the same as May on this. Mr. Dion probably was saying this at the last leadership convention but as we are so used to Chretien and to a lesser extent Martin no one really believed that Dion was doing anything more than grandstanding for votes as he apparently had done with the Kyoto sessions.
    I believe that the Green’s do have a monopoly on Green philosophy. The reason they exist is Green philosophy.

    The NDP exist to promote large government and abdication of personal responsibility.
    The CPC – Family values, Law and order, smaller government.
    Liberals… Soft power? Ideas temporarily borrowed from the NDP/Green/Reform/CPC? Power for power’s sake?

    My basic argument is that the true core beliefs of Manley / Dion / Rae / Ignatieff/ Emerson / Martin are all ready represented by other potical parties movements.

    Why is anyone a Liberal?

    “Please put us in power as we will implement ideas we haven’t thought about and don’t really care about, but we will do it better than the ideologues that came up with them because we are better people than them”?????

  13. Dave M On Manley being right wing

    Points of pride for Manley (A significant portion of good things Liberals have done in the past 20 years is right wing)

    For Manley specifically:
    Clarity act – Originally conceptualized and drafted by Harpers’ Reform crew
    Slaying deficits… demanded by Preston Manning for years before being done by Martin. ( right wing concept)

    Add to that his belief that “Soft power” is a croc and his lack of support for the universal daycare and pride in the child bonus.

    Tell me how this would keep him from being comfortable as a Cabinet minister in the Harper Government.

  14. BC,

    Your specifics move us closer to a workable definition of the right/left divide for purposes of this discussion, but I don’t think we’re there yet. Again, I don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth, but it sounds from your other comments that you’d place more or less the entire Liberal Party on the “right wing,” suggesting that you define the ‘center’ or tipping-point somewhere on the right fringe of the New Democratic Party.

    I think that’s a valid position in the abstract – the New Democrats certainly stand for the sort of “progressivism” that seems to dominate political leftism in North America at present, while the Tories are increasingly seen as a model for conservatism post-Obama.

    But I think that Manley, in his speech, evokes a more traditional modern liberalism that may not be absolutely socialist in the manner of the new leftism, but is nevertheless more leftist than rightist.

    Instead of determining leftism or rightism based on one’s dedication to – and I base these factors on your suggested specfics – nationalism, deficit-spending, non-interventionist diplomacy, and further nationalization of social services, I’d suggest that the center or tipping point turns on one’s conception of the role of government.

    The “left,” broadly defined, believes in the power of the state to affect positive social change, and either mistrusts the operation of the free market or believes that the free market is flawed in a way that requires government correction, at least in some instances. Within this broad tent you get both progressive/socialist NDP (and BQ) types who favor nationalization, nationalism, a progressive tax structure and (apparently) deficit spending – and traditional modern liberals who favor the bolstering of core government programs within the government’s means, but oppose or caution against the creation of new government programs or deficit spending to fund the same; and who believe that the government can be a force for good not only domestically but internationally, and who therefore support intervention rather than disengagement.

    This tent swallows up an awful lot of Canadians; it leaves those who support a more circumscribed role for government. Generally rightists either fundamentally mistrust government or believe that it ought to be restricted to certain absolutely essential services, most particularly national defense. They oppose government interference in the marketplace; they oppose governmental social engineering; and they generally oppose not only the expansion but the perpetuation of government welfare programs.

    And that’s why I say Manley is no rightist – not in the current, Canadian sense. He believes in big government – again, the key refrain from his speech is his repeated exhortation that “it is the government” that can solve the nation’s problems. That places him squarely on the left – both because he shares his conviction regarding the role of government with both traditional modern liberals and progressive socialists, and because his conviction is anathema to a contemporary conservatism that is founded on the Reaganite principle that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

  15. BC:

    I think you’re mistaking centrism and pragmatism with a lack of ideas. Besides, I think you could level your attacks at any government. In particular, the CPC has abandoned all but the pretense of ideology. Their little loyalty-builders like life-sentences for 14 year olds are referred to internally as ‘red-meat for the base’. In other words, positions held for strictly electoral reasons, not based on ideology. So, I guess you could say that at this point, Conservative beliefs are now mythological and only have a nominal connection with how they govern.

  16. I should add that notwithstanding the ideological differences I’d be happy to see Manley in the Harper cabinet in certain specific portfolios – for instance I think he’d be a great foreign minister, and lord knows it’s been long enough since we’ve had one of those (in fact, excepting Emerson, who was hardly there at all, I think Manley is the only really solid foreign minister we’ve had since the name-change in ’93). But I wouldn’t want him making domestic policy, and I suspect neither would Harper.

    Nor is Manley the only one who could ably perform some limited roles in a Harper cabinet despite being ideologically leftist – I think you could make an argument for Ignatieff, certainly. And as the Conservative Party moves away from the social conservatism of the Reform years, I think there are even some Liberals who might become increasingly ideologically sympathetic – Keith Martin being the main one, Scott Brison being another.

    But – with the possible exception of Martin and Brison – these would be ideological leftists place-holding in an ideologically conservative government. That’s my claim about Manley.

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