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So how do we like Iggy so far?

BY AARON WHERRY


 

So how do we like Iggy so far?

He gave a so-so press conference. He talked to Duffy and Newman and Lloyd and Peter and Anna Maria. He’s consulting with Frank McKenna and Don Drummond and has now met with the Prime Minister. He said nice things about Alberta and Quebec. He has threatened and cajoled. He has endorsed the coalition without committing himself to it.

The word transformational is being thrown around. Potter restates his argument against academics in politics. Doug Bell points out that Ignatieff’s political abilities are perhaps not to be underestimated. Salutin, Riley, Hebert, Simpson, Weston, Martin, Martin, Walkom and Jonas have registered their opinions. The Globe, Post and Star have editorialized. There was a profile in the Guardian and a write-up in the Economist.

And, for the moment, Mr. Dion remains the primary object of ridicule on the Conservative party website.

So, first things first, it would appear that the new Liberal leader is being taken seriously. Of course, Stephane Dion was taken seriously too, for at least a few minutes. And Paul Martin went several months before making himself a complete laughingstock. So there is plenty of time yet for Mr. Ignatieff to turn his leadership into the stuff of farce.

Still, it’s a start.

Like Martin, he arrives after a period of open pining for him (this is both good and bad). Like Chretien, he is blessed of a historically disastrous predecessor (this is both bad and good). Unlike Dion, he may have a team ready to follow him (this is probably good, at least until they turn on him).

Mr. Ignatieff does not appear obviously intimidated by Stephen Harper. Mr. Dion might not have feared Mr. Harper, but he was noticeably perplexed and frustrated by him. And with Dion those emotions always made him seem diminished. (The exception being when Dion got good and angry, most obviously when the subject turned to national unity. Then Dion, for all his awkwardness, looked and sounded willing to deliver a punch.)

He is variously overrated and under-appreciated. I’m not sure either his detractors or supporters present him fairly. Although I’m not sure what the fair assessment of him would be.

That’s perhaps the strangest thing about Michael Ignatieff at this point. He has probably committed more words to paper than any new party leader in our history. At various points in his career(s) he has been a very public figure. He has been a prominent member of the Canadian political scene for two years, having won election twice in a suburban Toronto riding. He spent the better part of a year campaigning for the leadership of the most successful political party in the Western world. And, still, those who follow this stuff aren’t quite sure what to make of him. To the average Canadian voter, he must be just short of a complete mystery.

That’s maybe true of most national political leaders. But it seems rather remarkable in Mr. Ignatieff’s case. And maybe a bit unsettling. For the moment, he is a blank slate with a long resume.

At some point, probably soon, the young men who staff the Conservative party’s website are going to settle on a picture of the new Liberal leader that makes him look silly and they will set about portraying him as an effete intellectual, incapable of leadership and unable to protect both the country and your family. Then the onus will be on the young men of the Liberal party to find a better image and a more attractive idea to sell harder. Then the battle will be on.

Oddly enough, you could have written the same thing about Mr. Dion in December 2006.


 

So how do we like Iggy so far?

  1. Ric Salutin’s piece today is a must read.

  2. Ric Salutin’s really full of himself today, he really enjoys his own brand of wit. Not helpful though. It’s easy to slag everything when you don’t have to work with others and come up with solutions to problems. As you said Ric – whatever.

  3. As I look into my crystal ball, this will sum up Ignatieff,”coalition if necessary, but not necessarily a coalition.” To which most people say,”Ex-squeeze me? A-baking powder?”
    And after having to endure an Ignatieff lecture a hearty,”We’re not worthy!”.

    He will be a perfect Liberal that has no sense of what to do, where to go, and how to get there.

    I suspect the CPC will lay off Ignatieff until they get their budget passed.

  4. Many people got sick of Harper’s stupid attack ads long ago, and I doubt there are many people outside Harper’s core base that wants to see more stupid Harper attack ads. Meanwhile, Harper has been exposed to more people as a vindictive partisan who can’t pay attention to important issues. If Ignatieff turns out to be able to pay attention to what matters and leaves the spiteful games to Harper, he will do fine. Notice there is more attention paid to Ignatieff than to our Prime Minister these days, because most people can’t stand to think about Harper very much.

  5. One thing Salutin waxed eloquently about:

    “I’m really tired of people saying, ‘We didn’t vote for a coalition.’ That’s the definition of a coalition – something you didn’t vote for because what you did vote for didn’t work out on anyone’s side and you need a majority of votes to run a government.”

  6. Here’s what the Conbot war-room will focus on:

    – He signed the coalition which was a pre-meditated “coup” attempt by the “separatist-socialist coalition” to reverse the results of the election where Canadians clearly chose a Conservative govt and PM with a stronger mandate than the previous election. He loves Gilles Duceppe.
    – He’s not really Canadian
    – He used the word “us” and “we” when writing in an American publication
    – They’ll focus on how Ignatieff was open to the idea of renegotiating the constitution to accommodate the already existing reality that Quebec is a “distinct society”, “nation within Canada”, etc.
    – He’s from a riding in downtown Toronto
    – He’s a professor
    – The mainstream media are in the tank for him but they’re just a bunch of Conservative-hating elitists and reg’lar folk can tell there’s something fishy about this guy.
    – They’ll dredge up a few stupid-sounding quotations about Israel etc from the 2006 LPC leadership race

  7. The Conservatives are counting on the following things

    – That Ignatieff, when push comes to shove, will not really form a coalition govt; and that if he does form it it will be wildly unpopular and will quickly fall apart triggering an election.
    – That they will maintain a huge fundraising edge over the other parties and will use it to pay for another nasty set of attack ads once the next election is upon us.
    – That Canadians are dumb and will respond to negative ads and caricatures of Ignatieff
    – That the centre-left will continue to split the anti-Harper vote 4 ways between them
    – That smart voters will realize this, give up in disgust at the whole spectacle, and just stay home instead of voting

    And the first thing they’ll do if they get re-elected?

    – Cut public financing of political parties (oh which I should have added to my list of attack points above i.e. I don’t want “my” tax dollars going to pay for the Bloc Québecois, those sponsorship scandal theievin’ NEP fiberals, etc, etc.)

  8. Many people got sick of Harper’s stupid attack ads long ago, and I doubt there are many people outside Harper’s core base that wants to see more stupid Harper attack ads.

    Maybe this time, the media will grow a spine and start examining them a little more closely and critically. If the Canadian public is going to be tortured with attack ads 24/7 outside of campaign periods, we might as well hope to learn something from them….like the meaning of the word demagoguery.

    Don’t get angry, media. I’m not asking you to judge something. That would be..*gasp*…biased. All I’m asking is that you explain things.

  9. Very good Jean Proulx, only a couple thing missing.
    One, more foot in mouth disease while Ignatieff is pontificating. I absolutly know that the professor has some more doozies to share with us. And the CPC will be happy to point them out.
    Two, Ignatieff gave birth to the Carbon Tax and put a hex on a weak, vulnerable Dion to adopt it. The CPC will point that out too. I’m sure there is some great quotes and video about this somewhere.

  10. Ti-Guy – I suspect the media will take great joy in running, and re-running, the most egregious addies – and for free – as part of their in-depth coverage. Or polls. There’s always polls.

  11. There you go Daryl. You’ve got the spirit!

  12. I think he should treat Harper like he used to treat his little brother!
    That should get Harper to blow like Peter Van Loan when he’s been asked the same question 20 times (because he is congenitally programmed to be unable to answer a question posed to him – it’s always the other guy’s fault).
    Just give us a hint Michael when you are going to pull it though – I would like to record it for posterity!

  13. And the CPC will be happy to point them out.

    Hopefully without lying or quoting people out of context this time.

    Heh. Who am I kidding?

  14. Ti-guy,

    Don’t get angry, media. I’m not asking you to judge something. That would be..*gasp*…biased. All I’m asking is that you explain things.

    Yea, media! Howma sposta undastand what these here politickitians be sayin’ in them TV ads if youse not gonna be around to splain to me whats they be after saying?

  15. Yea, media! Howma sposta undastand what these here politickitians be sayin’ in them TV ads if youse not gonna be around to splain to me whats they be after saying?

    See media? Even Olaf is pleading for better journalism in the public’s interest.

    Don’t let him down. After all, the children are our future.

  16. Archangel, that’s eloquent? I’d hate to read Salutin when he’s not eloquent.

  17. Did Paul Martin become a laughingstock before or after the Stronach press conference?

    Are you a laughing stock if they’re only laughing privately, or does it happen when they laugh at you in the press theatre?

  18. Does Iggy have thin skin?

  19. This week went about as well as possible for him. It started out with polls late last week indicating that he is within as few as 5 points of the Cons, without most in the public really knowing very much about him. Instead of having to go through a divisive leadership campaign that would last until the summer, he leads the party with the enthusiastic support of the entire caucus. The only people who think the selection process is a big deal are people who would never vote Liberal anyway. From what other Liberals are telling me, the wallets are opening within the party, as many who used to give did not under Dion.

    His performance at the press conference and in the one-on-ones have been better than any party leader in years. Harper has been playing defence, and somehow found an opportunity to break yet another promise. “Swayable” voters are tired of him. Ignatieff has had to say nothing about the Senate hypocrisy, as all media have been doing the job for him.

    The majority of the public are approaching him with an open mind, and it is now his job to convince them that he is worthy of their support.

  20. Wonder how it would all stack up if someone were to make a side-by-side kind of comparison between what Ignatieff has said and done, and what Harper has said and done.

  21. Raging Ranter,

    One definition of eloquently:

    vividly or movingly expressive or revealing

    I thought it was vividly revealing. Or more correctly, blindingly obvious. As I understand our system of government, he is quite correct.

    Now the rest of the piece? Meh.

  22. “For the moment, he [Ignatieff] is a blank slate with a long resume”

    NO, he is not a blank slate: he has agreed to be an un elected leader of a political party pushing hard to become an unelected PM of Canada. That’s a short resume far too long for my democratic tastes.

    The minds of Canada seem to have a short memory. All of the above was clearly identified by Ignatieff himself just days ago, and has been forgotten already. Perhaps Canadian suffer from collective selective amnesia.

  23. Or perhaps Canadians suffer from a ‘pick-and-choose-attitude”- don’t pick what what you don’t like about Iggy’s attitude and be sure to talk up his intelligence. What does the word intelligence mean these days?

  24. We’re all being played for fools, and Iggy is gonna ride it all the way to 24 Sussex drive. The pundits are pushing (or pulling) his coach…………giddy up!

  25. Francien – NO, he is not a blank slate: he has agreed to be an un elected leader of a political party pushing hard to become an unelected PM of Canada. That’s a short resume far too long for my democratic tastes.
    ————

    Are you being deliberately obtuse Francien? At this point I am forced to consider that you are choosing to repeat a lie in the hopes that if enough people do so the truth will not matter,

    This will have to be the last time I educate you on this basic FACT about Canadian civics: we do NOT elect PMs. Stephen Harper was not elected as PM. Jean Chrétien was not elected as PM. John friggin’ A MacDonald was not elected PM. If Michael Ignatieff becomes PM it will be because a majority of democratically elected MPs in the House of Commons (yes! ding ding ding, those ARE the guys we elect) agree that he should serve as PM.

    As for being an unelected leader of his party: well….

    (1) I admire your touching concern for an internal LPC matter

    (2) to be sure the manner under which Ignatieff became LPC leader was very unusual but so were the circumstances facing the party. furthermore while it may have beeen unusual it did conform with the LPC constitution. finally ordinary LPC members will have a chance to express their view on leadership in May in Vancouver (as had been planned originally)

  26. Poor, poor Jean,

    you are now one of the many who no longer understand

    – proper reasoning

    – democracy

    – the fact that Ignatieff WILL become PM when the signed-coaltion forms government without going into an election

    – we will then have an unelected party leader acting as an unelected PM of this country.

    Find reason back and then try again. You may find democracy while you’re at it.

  27. Oh, and Jean, please educate me further; I cannot wait to be pulled over the line into lala land…..

  28. “1) I admire your touching concern for an internal LPC matter”

    ————————————

    that is not an argument; that is pure sentiment

    Arguments are based on proper reasoning.

    And you haven’t got it!

  29. Ok, I give up. You either just don’t get it or you are cynically counting on others not getting it.

  30. “2) to be sure the manner under which Ignatieff became LPC leader was very unusual but so were the circumstances facing the party”

    ———————————

    the circumstances were ENTIRELY created by the Liberal party itself:

    – The Conservative Party did not select Dion as leader of the LPC

    – The Conservative Party did not have to teach the LPC how to get its financial house in order

    – The Conservative Party did not, and never did sign a coalition agreement with the BQ

  31. ” furthermore while it may have beeen unusual it did conform with the LPC constitution”

    ———————————-

    – yes, I do not doubt that the selection process was all done according to the LPC constitution rules and regulations. If your party membership is satisfied with that limited process, that is none of my concern. However, the Liberal party leader has not been elected by its membership.

  32. ” finally ordinary LPC members will have a chance to express their view on leadership in May in Vancouver (as had been planned originally)”

    ——————————

    That particular one takes the cake of backward reasoning:

    first the executive few select the party leader and then the ordinary party members may get their chance for seconding such decision making, in practical terms making the selection by a few even more of a solid choice.

  33. Francien – yet another reason the coalition is not worth worrying about. It’s dead. There is no way the GG would accept that the aristocratic professor is worthy to be Prime Minister.

    Given that fact, let’s move on.

  34. “Ok, I give up. You either just don’t get it or you are cynically counting on others not getting it.”

    ————————————

    Quite the reverse, young man, quite the reverse. That is the problem. Everything within this country is done by reverse.

  35. Steve Wart,

    Sorry, but it’s not quite the simple. Everything that has transpired over the past ten days or so is now in play. Everything. It is one huge dynamic.

    All is inclusive and all is part of the dynamic ongoing. Weaknesses within the coaltion forming should have been caught and should have been expressed much earlier on. I think the media has a lot to answer for.

  36. I think the media has a lot to answer for.

    Yes, for example why is Francien’s 3:34 comment stuck at the bottom of the list?

  37. Steve Wart – yet another reason the coalition is not worth worrying about. It’s dead. There is no way the GG would accept that the aristocratic professor is worthy to be Prime Minister.

    ———

    Well if she’s willing to let Harper be PM she clearly has low standards.

  38. Hmm, it’s 19:58 here, 22:58 in Ottawa, but for some reason Francien is posting from Afghanistan!

    Paul, your secret identity has been revealed!

  39. Well if she’s willing to let Harper be PM she clearly has low standards.

    Your riding office must be having a difficult holiday season if that’s the best sound bite they could give you

  40. Yeah Francien is in some kind of alternate temporal dimension.

  41. Dude, I’m a Liberal. We can’t afford Riding Association offices. I’m totally improvising here.

  42. It’s rather remarkable how Iggy’s signature on a deal that sought to bring the seperatists into government is glossed over.

    For any politician this would be a near deathknell. But we’re talking here about the party who’s major portion of its brand equity was defending federalism, and fighting seperatists.

    Decades of publicly battling the seperatists, and the noble reasons given to us for doing so, cast aside to facilititate a naked power grab.

    What we are witnessing is the inverse of the “cartoon bird” serial over-hyping – but for the same reasons. Catastrophic mistakes are glossed over for the liberal media’s darlings, while every possible glitch, error or misstep is treated as a cataclysmic blunder if committed by a conservative.

    Fascinating to watch, mind you.

  43. I am for most of my life a Liberal but as of late will vote for the man I think will do the job. I think everyone should really study this issue because we vote without really knowing anything at all. The PR and the spin is just incredible and most of it isn’t even true. We watched the coalition change by the hour, twisting and turning sometimes 360 and the spin turned with it. We need more reporters that will actually do some investigation. We let these people take over the airways and bla bla bla. This time much more offensive than usual.

    The day the coalition came out of the backroom I was disgusted, offended and a little nervous. There is far more to this story than you could ever imagine. I listened to days of TV and newspaper coverage with one of the coalition shouting all kinds of things about PM Harper. It was the biggest attack add and dirty campaign that ever existed and it didn’t cost them a cent except their reputations. The whole thing showed disrespect for the office of PM, GG, and most important the canadian voter. I do think the reason that the attack adds were brought up as an issue right away is because there might very well be something to hide. This man goes on TV for almost 3 days straight, looks into the camera and shouts that he is bringing down the government and lots of other things. He went on national TV and suggested that PM Harper was “cooking the books”. You don’t call this an attack?? This man from what I have read is use to getting exactly what he wants and not through the front door. He had a lot more to do with what happened than Mr. Dion. Unfortunately, Mr. Dion was used, abused and thrashed.

  44. Kody – Keep pitching the line that the coalition was a “catastrophic mistake”, etc. etc. You efforts – and those of Andrew Coyne and others – at manipulating public opinion are too blatant not to be seen through.

  45. Gee I’m just a poor Canuck and can’t seem to get a hand on the comments made in the above opinions.
    To think I wasted 10 minutes reading them to the end, hoping to find some sense in it all.
    I am sure of one thing. The above comments are not from intellectuals. Must be grass roots small thinkers.
    oh well, better entertainment than the funnies, by 1%.

  46. I’m from the West and I used to be a Conservative, but that was before that coward Harper ran to the GG to save himself from a democratic vote in the House of Commons and tried dividing different parts of the country against each other just to hang on to power. Why can’t he just concentrate on the job of governing? Why is he so obsessed with partisanship and stupid efforts at “destroying” his political opponents? If he could rein the partisanship just a little he would have gotten his way a long time ago. There’s a reason Candaisn consistently express mistrust in him and suspect he has a secret agenda should he ever get his majority.

    The coalition is not my cup of tea either…but at least it succeeded in making Harper a little more humble and civilized, and now that Ignateiff is there instead of Dion I am taking another look at it. If Harper leaves the opposition no other choice than to form a coalition then I hope they go for it. They won’t have anything to lose and at least it’ll be an interesting change in Ottawa. And Harper can go back to full-time scheming when he is opposition leader again and not have to worry about actually governing.

  47. Hey !!!!!
    My comment was made at 8:22 not 4:22. No wonder the comments on this page are so out of whack. They don’t even live in the right time zone. Lol

  48. I am not sure why some people can’t see it…this coalition was planned before the election even…it has a strong agenda. It wouldn’t have mattered what the government had or hadn’t done, this was the plan. Dion was to be PM till May, then Ignatieff without a single fair vote, Layton was going to be Minister of Industry, Green was promised one of the senate seats and the Bloc whatever was good for Quebec.
    Do you honestly think that the best interest of our country was the point? Had the GG turned the government over to this group I would have said – that;s it and started praying. Can you see the diaster in this? This is scary.

    Mr. Ignatieff who chose to live outside of Canada for 30 years wants desperately to be PM. He was behind of a of it, not Dion. Dion was allowed to be kept on so he would do the coalition, if it didn’t fly he would take the blame, the next Mr. Ignatieff could step in as if he nothing to do with it. Have you any idea how much this stuff is planned and discussed. This was no accident. The hours, days weeks and yes even months they put into this should have be spent governing. That is not what was on their minds.

    If you don’t like the budget then there are ways in place to handle that. One Liberal budget needed 183 changes and nothing like this happened. There was no real reason for this at all. It seems the Liberals collected EI funds illegally and then put the 57 million in the budget, so says the Supreme Court of Canada. The Senate is filled with 58 Liberal appointments, costing a fortune.

    Can anyone see what this was really about?? Read do your homework. Just a sideline – I can’t stand it when Mr. Ignatieff say…”the Canadian people MUST” – I think he is treating the canadian people like turnips.

  49. “suggested that PM Harper was “cooking the books”…”

    Is this in dispute? Is there anyone who thinks we are heading for a surplus? It is pretty clear that Harper and Flaherty have been lying about the financial situation and have often contradicted themselves.

  50. Well the Liberals under Paul Martin and Cretien were and the supreme court said so…and the Conservative knew it the minute they took over the government…..was it said on Nationat TV?

  51. Well Jack Layton’s election promises on a quick glance were worth 51 billion. If I was the government, either party, I wouldn’t be listening to him just like most of the population. He would have this country bankrupt in no time and he almost got a chance to do serious damage.

    Gilles Duceppe is having a field day with this, he is going across Que. stirring up all the old hatred and telling everyone this is the reason you have to vote Bloc. So even though the stupid and dangerous coalition is “toast” it did a lot of harm.

    The question now: what happens when Ignatieff goes again his word and doesn’t vote down the government. Layton will be promised something big to keep quiet…but what?

  52. While the writer may be on a nickname basis with the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, most of the rest of us are not. The use of “Iggy” to refer to the man smacks of schoolyard taunting, and is disrespectful and makes the writer appear to be astonishingly ill-bred for a contributor to Canada’s flagship news magazine.

  53. Dennis The use of “Iggy” to refer to the man smacks of schoolyard taunting, and is disrespectful

    You are absolutely right. I am always careful to refer to him as Count Ignatieff. If you meet him in person the proper way to address him is Your Excellency.

    On a formal invitation it would be something a lot more complicated.

    On the other hand, to refer to him that way might cause people to think the Liberals were elitists and out of touch. “Iggy” seems so friendly. Like what one of my kids would call a pet slug.

  54. I wonder what Bert and Francien are doing in Afghanistan with Paul.

  55. Except for the fact that he is elected by his party in the manner it’s chosen, and would be elected as the PM by the majority of the House of Commons.

  56. You know what this all proves – our lame MSM are afraid to delve into Harper’s antics – they look for EASY writing.

    The last couple of weeks have been a total whirlwind – Ignatieff’s been pretty busy. He has to pick a shadow cabinet, deal with policy, Xmas coming, deal with Harper.

    And yet, our very lazy press want all the answers NOW?

    Hey, what’s the NDP, Green, CPC been up to?

    Get of your lazy butts and do some real reporting. No wonder newspapers are suffering financially.

  57. Hey Sandi, if you look at the main page of the Globe website you’ll see stories on 70 topics. I’m not picking the number out of thin air; I counted. Ignatieff is mentioned in precisely one of those 70 stories.

    Maclean’s has reporters working on dozens of stories right now; Ignatieff is the responsibility of maybe three of us. I literally haven’t written more than four paragraphs about the man since 2006. Of my last dozen print columns, probably five have been about “Harper’s antics.” I’m fresh back from Afghanistan, where I caught up with colleagues who’ve been there a lot longer and more often than I have; they wouldn’t take kindly to your calling them “lazy” just because your precious Michael is coming under a tiny amount of heat, now that he leads the principal opposition party during a period of political crisis with few precedents.

    You ask “what’s the NDP, Green, CPC been up to?” Maclean’s has run articles answering precisely those questions, systematically, party by party, in the weeks since the election. Having done it once, we’re already back at each of those parties, but because you wish we examined every single party except the Liberals, I’m afraid we’re going to disappoint you by examining them all.

    You decided in 2006 you wanted Michael Ignatieff to lead the Liberals, Sandi. Now he does. He purports to support a coalition deal whose goal is to make him the prime minister of Canada before the next election. Well then, in among all the other work we do on all those other stories, we’re also going to kick the tires on Michael Ignatieff. Suck it up.

  58. Of all people, actually Conrad Black has an article on both Harper and Ignatieff.

    Certain articles aren’t getting much notice of play – isotopes problems again. Fed. Food & Drug agency cutting back of inspectors and staff, after all that tainted meat scandal.

    Ah, not to worry folks, it’s not important.

    Mr. Wells, you really have a thing about me supporting Ignatieff. I’ve never denied supporting him and I don’t apologize for supporting him.

    And, I find your articles fair – and interesting, because we never know what you’re going to say. You don’t just rely on the trashy, bashy thing. I’m sure Ignatieff will get his scolding from you, but at least you scold both.

  59. Summary: we’re in that strange territory where the herd-mentality media hasn’t yet settled into a handful of narratives available on a particular subject.

  60. Biffin – Summary: we’re in that strange territory where the herd-mentality media hasn’t yet settled into a handful of narratives available on a particular subject.
    ————

    *lol* I agree with your analysis Biffin. It must be a fun time to be a pundit but also deeply deeply confusing.

    To be fair to the media they are hardly the only people to follow a herd instinct. Truly independent thinkers are few and far between wherever you look.

  61. Truly independent thinkers are few and far between wherever you look.

    heh.

  62. Paul’s stats,

    and Sandi’s complaint,

    speaks volumes.

    So used to having the media carry your water, the moment they set the water jug down, the left cries blue murder.

    Here’s some perspective for you, Sandi:

    there was exponentially more media coverage and scrutiny regarding a single bad joke told behind closed doors,

    than there has been regarding the new leader of the party (which was the historical defenders of federalism against seperatism) signing an formal agreement of coalition with Seperatists.

    It boggles the mind how pampered and entitled the left has become.

  63. When Mr. Ignatieff steps aside, when Mr. Rae becomes the Liberal leader, when Parliament is recalled, when Mr. Harper is defeated in the House, and when the Coalition forms a government, then we will be back on the road to democracy in Canada.

  64. Mr. Wells:

    I’m going to have to agree with Sandi here. Most of the coverage over the last couple weeks, not just at MacLean’s but in the media in general, has centered on the coalition and the inner workings of the Liberal Party. The tone of that coverage has, more often than not, been negative. Much of it was as dishonest as the Conservative spin machine itself.

    I look at the Liberal Party the same way I look at an antique steam tractor…fun to watch, but I wouldn’t want to own one. I appreciate the coverage.

    What I haven’t seen much of at all is anything on what’s going on inside the Conservative Party. Was there no internal strife over Harper almost losing government? I find that hard to believe. Were none of the rank and file upset when Harper responded to the policies they passed at their convention by saying that those decisions weren’t binding?

    It seems that every rumour and grumble from within the Liberal Party gets 10 pages of ink, but that articles about the Conservative Party have to pass approval of the Conservative war room.

    Have there been exceptions? Yes, but they’ve been few and far between and nobody seems to digging around for disgruntled Conservatives and doing stories on it. Does Harper have that much control over his party? I kind of doubt it.

  65. WHAT WOULD PIERRE ELLIOTT TRUDEAU SAY TO MICHAEL IGNATIEFF ?

    I suspect he would say: “Michael, you do not appear to be speaking up for Canada and Canadian democracy. “Who speaks for Canada ?”

    “You appear to be willing to do business with a prime minister who is destroying Parliamentary democracy in this country. He has shown that with the prorogue.

    “Mr. Rae is right. He must be defeated in the House of Commons and replaced by the Coalition immediately.

    “I think you should say this to Stephen, Michael :

    “Mr. Harper, you want to take democracy away from our children and grandchildren?

    “NO ! That’s our answer !”

  66. Since leaving the shaded groves of Harvard a few years ago, seeking as his second career the running of a country, Michael Ignatieff has been a prominent politician in Canada . He didn’t just pack his bags and come home – he grew up in Canada – he had the encouragement of some Liberal Party officials as a possible future leader.

    While it’s true that the Liberals needed to do something to revive their fortunes – Ignatieff is their third leader in a few years – they have acted desperately both in selecting him and in their manner of selecting him.

    Canada’s progressive vote is divided among four parties, and the largest of these, the Liberals, was hurt by a scandal in Quebec a few years back. The bright, relentless, frequently less-than-civil Stephen Harper has kept his new Conservative Party in power as a minority for two and a half years, making every measure before Parliament one of confidence, rarely consulting the opposition, and daring them to make his government fall.

    Two weeks ago, shortly after an election no one really wanted and a loss of Liberal seats, tempers snapped with Harper’s provocative introduction of three anti-democratic measures described as economic ones – they involved government funding of parties, equity for women, and the right to strike – while holding off any genuine economic measures. Three opposition parties then formed a coalition to topple Harper, something for which there is little precedent in Canada.

    Harper started backing off his insulting measures almost immediately, but all trust was broken. In a poor precedent, the Governor General accepted Harper’s request to prorogue Parliament until near the end of January. So on January 26, Parliament will return, Harper will likely introduce some genuine economic measures, and the Liberal Party will have a new leader to face a delicate situation.

    The Liberal party executive sees Ignatieff as tough, the kind of attack-dog needed against Harper, and so, behind the scenes, his leadership opponents were pressured to withdraw – including the remarkably talented and highly experienced Bob Rae – leaving only Ignatieff and a party membership feeling it has been ignored.

    Ignatieff spent years speaking for America ‘s global empire, allying himself with the Neo-cons in his enthusiasm for invading Iraq . He joined the ranks of ethical cowards by suggesting some modest role for torture. He since has blubbered something about changing his views, but it’s what he did when it mattered that counts. Had he been in office when Bush invaded, Canadians would be killing and being killed in Iraq . Ignatieff has nothing in common with Canada ’s great Liberal tradition, which saw Pearson saying no to Lyndon Johnson over Vietnam and Jean Chretien doing the same to George Bush over Iraq .

    Ignatieff’s way to the leadership is consistent with his past. After leaving Harvard, he got his nomination to run for parliament by being parachuted into a riding where he used some questionable tactics. Here is one Toronto newspaper columnist’s description of Ignatieff’s efforts about three years ago:

    “And snookering one potential opponent, name of Shwec, on the grounds that he wasn’t a party member, although he’d paid his dues, and another, name of Chyczij, who also happens to be the association president, on the grounds that he hadn’t resigned the presidency when he filed. Not to mention locking the office door ahead of the deadline so they couldn’t file in time.”

    It sounds a great deal like politics in Richard J Daley’s Chicago or President Mubarak’s Egypt .

    He told his constituents he would live in the riding, a suburb of modest homes, but instead lives far away in an upper-class condo district, claiming to be “a subway ride away,” less than true and certainly not the same thing as living among those he represents.

    Arrogance comes with the territory of national leadership, but there is a limit as to what is palatable, and Ignatieff exceeds that limit. He spent most of his adult life in other countries, serving interests often inimical to those of Canada . He has three years of political experience, no organizational experience, no policy experience, in foreign or domestic affairs. But he has a name, and some of our political insiders have tripped over themselves to thrust him forward.

    But he is aggressive, arrogant, and has demonstrated Machiavellian skills. I see him as a divisive and anti-democratic figure, much as Stephen Harper.

    What a poor choice is left to the people of Canada for the next election. I’ll be throwing my vote to the Greens.

  67. The scorn Harper recieves from the left is based on one, and only one thing:

    He is a conservative daring to advance conservative ideals.

    It is not “devisive” any more than Dion trying to advance his Green agenda was “devisive”. While it’s understandable that liberals don’t agree with Harper,

    it is remarkable how childlike they become in damning him for his not holding their ideals.

    Friendly reminder to my left leaning friends: there are many in this country who do not necessarily agree with your world view. They are not evil. They are not mean spririted. They just see things differently. There are enough of them out there to have put into power someone who they believe is best to represent them, and that is Harper.

    Recognizing this, may be the Liberals only hope in getting out the far left fever swamp they appeared mired in.

  68. kody: The scorn Harper recieves from the left is based on one, and only one thing. He is a conservative daring to advance conservative ideals.

    ———-

    Actually kody I think you will find that most of the scorn has to do with the fact that harper tries to hide his conservative agenda in a kind of stealth operation to get his majority.

    I also think you’ll find that opponents of Harper would have no objection in losing elections to him in a fair manner, but when he tries to use the instruments of the state in order to permanently destroy any serious opposition that might challenge his agenda than he has crossed the line and open warfare is the appropriate response. Clearly harper is aiming for the Alberta model of a one-party system (in fact if not in form).

    Finallyi would say that the scorn many feel for Harper (and his minions) is only appropriate since he obviously has nothing but scorn for those Canadians who do not share his neo-conserbative agenda or values. I actually would enjoy a healthy and intelligent debate with Neocons, it’s just really hard to find ones willing to go beyond their talking points and rhetoric and actually engage in such a debate.

  69. “I suspect the CPC will lay off Ignatieff until they get their budget passed.”

    Why would they do that? The CPC has two needs:
    1. To survive this budget vote.
    2. To frame early perceptions of Ignatieff

    Attack ads now do both of those (they should wait till after Christmas, of course). By weakening Iggy’s standing in the polls, they reduce Ignatieff’s desire for an election now, and increase his willingness to cooperate on the next budget. If Ignatieff’s poll numbers are strong, he has a strong incentive to vote against Harper’s budget. Doing so would either mean an election (which he could win, or at least improve his standing), or a coalition government with him as PM (probably the more likely outcome). So if Iggy’s poll numbers are good, voting against Harper is win-win. Moreover, the more negatively people view Ignatieff, the more likely they are to blame him for “not cooperating” instead of Harper.

    Of course the media doesn’t understand that and will decry any attack ads as bad sportsmanship, but their reach is limited. Additionally, Harper needs some issues for the next election because, frankly, he doesn’t have the goodwill to run a leader-centred campaign like last time. We need Harper ’06 again.

    “Many people got sick of Harper’s stupid attack ads long ago, and I doubt there are many people outside Harper’s core base that wants to see more stupid Harper attack ads.”

    Puh-leeze. For all your complaining attack ads worked. Not only did they work on Dion, but they worked on Harper in 2004, and on Day in 2000 – when it was the Liberals running them. Attack ads are perfectly legitimate political discourse – why shouldn’t I vote for negative reasons as opposed to positive ones?

    How should the Tories attack Ignatieff? I think the key line of attack should be “Ignatieff is an indecisive waffler”
    why?

    -it is probably true (coalition if necessary but not necessarily coalition), and there are some good sound bites on it and he looks like John Kerry.
    -it forces Iggy to make ultimately dumb decisions to look decisive or reinforce the attack ads (for instance when he can either abstain on a Tory budget or vote it down)
    -Ignatieff’s core convictions about humanitarian intervention and torture are political nonstarters, so it is hard for him to defend against this attack while still disowning his less popular decisions.

  70. “I actually would enjoy a healthy and intelligent debate with Neocons, it’s just really hard to find ones willing”

    Jean P

    Maybe you find it hard to find Cons to debate because you clearly think you are intellectually and morally superior to to everyone who doesn’t agree with you. It’s not much fun debating someone who thinks they are prettiest, and smartest, person at the party.

  71. jwl – i’m sorry if you find my posting style off-putting. i sometimes get caught up in the moment. it’s true that many conservatives, even some neoconservatives, have valid points worthy of consideration.

    i make no apologies for being pretty however ;)

  72. Would that be the royal ‘we’ or does the writer have worms???

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