The search for simple answers -

The search for simple answers


Having taken a full four days to think it over, various Liberals have settled on two explanations for their party’s losses: their leader and their leader’s answer to one criticism levelled during the English language leader’s debate.

Veteran Toronto MP Jim Karygiannis groaned along with Liberals across the country. Apparently, Ignatieff didn’t understand the pivot. Karygiannis (Scarborough-Agincourt), who easily spends more time in his riding than in Parliament, was practically screaming answers at the TV screen: “Look, you’re a professional pol, Jack. You stay in Ottawa. I’m out working hard and talking to real Canadians, listening to them and working with them. That’s … what I’m doing.”

Extensive Star interviews with campaign insiders and politicians show a large slice of the loss must be attributed to the arrogance of the Liberal leader. In the end, a central Conservative criticism against Ignatieff — that he was arrogant — turned out to be true. It wasn’t the demeanour of a man deliberately trying to be haughty. Rather, as a Liberal communications expert noted: “Any political party is like a Masonic Lodge. You’ve got to know the secret handshake — and he didn’t know what he didn’t know.”


The search for simple answers

  1. Well to be fair, this isn't what the Liberal party has decided…these are a few comments thrown up by individuals in the immediate aftermath.

    • And I quote from not to very far above: "Extensive Star interviews with campaign insiders and politicians…"

      Oh what's the point.

      • LOL define 'extensive'

  2. It seems like there have been a lot of stories about the Liberal collapse, especially compared to stories about the Conservative majority or the NDP as official opposition. The Liberals story is certainly interesting, but I wonder if all of the attention is deserved at this point?

    I'm quite curious to see how the media handles the re-arrangement of Parliament in their coverage; I'll be quite amused if the Liberals continue to receive as much coverage as they have.

    • The Conservatives and NDP will receive more attention when the House resumes. The media always loves stories of Liberals tearing themselves apparent, and senior-Liberal-officials are always willing to oblige with the details.

  3. Gilles must be relieved that the Liberals down fall over shadowed his face plant. I honestly pity the next Liberal leader.

  4. …but isn't that what they always say ? That it's somehow the leader, and that all they need to do is change the leader and all will be well ? I think there is a feeling of entitlement in the party that is much more deeply rooted, resulting in trying to shortcut their way into power.

    • Precisely. These unnamed party insiders are protecting their own jobs by blaming the leader (he's already gone so might as well take all the heat). If I didn't want whomever they are fired before this, I do now.

      On the other hand, I am in agreement with Karygiannis.

      • I agree with him also, but I think it is quite wrongheaded to imagine that the party's losses can be attributed to that one mis-answer, as if doing a better job of replying to that one criticism would have turned everything around. The truth is, is Iggy's answer to that criticism – something along the lines of, "I don't need lessons in democracy from you Jack!" – was completely consistent with the inherent problems in an Ignatieff leadership to begin with. And yes, the most appropriate word is "arrogance".

        • Oh, point taken, and I don't. I suppose it could have been arrogance, personally I think he simply didn't know what to say and thought bluffing it out was the way to go. Which is pretty much never the way to go in my books. Which, I guess, is arrogance of a kind.

      • I voted Liberal on Monday, but in no way am I to be confused with a partisan Liberal sympathizer. But even I cringed at that moment of the debate and instantly knew the proper retort: I was out there working my ass off, meeting Canadians of all stripes and developing the right priorities for the next several years, blah, blah. The "I take no lessons from you" theme sure as hell was NOT the proper retort…

  5. Agreed @Iccyh. A wise man tweeted this: Thought for everyone: The Conservatives got 5 times as many seats as the Liberals. Maybe plan the next years of your attention accordingly.
    And this: Thought for everyone: The NDP has three times as many seats as the Liberals. Perhaps plan the next few years of your attention accordingly.
    Will see if there is follow through on that.
    Also, I wonder how political panels and the MSM will treat the next four years. Election night on the CBC for example was David Herle for Liberals and Jaime Watt for Conservatives. Same goes for a number of panels that only included the two major parties. I suspect the Liberals will be treated much different as a third party rump than the NDP was. Perhaps a function of the many inroads the Media has made with the many majority liberal governments. A transition will be hard for the PPG.

    • I dunno if attention ought necessarily be proportional to seats in the House. The Liberal party in this next parliament is much more interesting than the NDP have been in the past. The NDP has never held government, and the Liberals have most of the time. It sounds like you're suggesting that after 1993 the PPG should have ignored the PCs and Reform because the BQ was the official opposition.

      • I'm not suggesting anyone should be ignored. I am suggesting that the NDPConservatives deserve the attention of the nation more than the Liberals and it's internal crisis. I don't believe the media will be up to the challenge.

        • Well, the NDP has been getting attention: Mulcair's foot-in-mouth, Quebec candidate controversy, and they've been asked questions about how they intend to budge conservative policy at all, given that they are just observers. They sound painfully earnest, so it should be more interesting once the House resumes.

          The Liberals are the ones providing most of the juicy gossip which is all there really is to cover at the moment. Things will die down in a few months, especially after they pick their interim leader. The G20 report and Afghan detainee documents ought to provide some fodder.

          • I agree with that. The Liberals are getting the coverage now because nothing else is really going on, and its always fun to speculate on where we screwed up and what we'll do now. Once Parliament resumes sitting, we'll probably not get any coverage at all, except for the interim leader pick–or if someone does something either remarkably unexpected or remarkably stupid.

    • I saw those tweets last night and indeed, they were the motivation for my reply.

      I have to say, though, I'm not entirely sold on the wisdom of the guy who tweeted them:
      While I obviously agree with his observation and am glad he said something, if he'd said the same thing on his blog instead of on twitter (or even better, if he'd done both), he might have been able to stem some of the baseless criticism that is frequently aimed at him there. I also thought it was funny that he went ahead and linked a story about Liberals the very next day, considering.

  6. I find it incredible how Iggy felt he didn't need specific prep for the debates. And it showed. Not only did he not have an answer for Layton's knockout punch, but his mannerisms were completely off the whole time. He put his hand on his hip, was shifting his weight all the time, and gesturing inappropriately.

    Everybody said Iggy made many improvements as leader, pointing to his stump speech and party organization. But it seems pretty clear now that this is someone who was out of touch, and didn't have anyone around him who could put him in touch when necessary. Which explains that awful concession speech, the "rise up" incident, the "go to hell" remarks in the last week, and on and on it goes.

    He had a decent first two weeks of the campaign. Then the debates happened. Then everything started falling apart – especially with a leader obviously unequipped for the task.

    • Wells said they brought the provincial lib Dwight ? to sharpen Ignatieff's debating skills. Apparently he gave up in frustration after continally exposing MI's weak points. I don't think it's entirely fair to blame his handlers if the guy wont listen. I agree with JK above. Easy to say now. But it's clear now he wouldn't or couldn't adjust. That or he really had no idea what he was in the game for. Given his real strenghs[ not a lib insider and his international experience and HRs stuff.] you have to wonder just what he and the party poohbahs were thinking? Hopefully from my perspective they will learn if they get a chance. Just be the best and the bravest liberals you can be. Not everyone by any means will vote for you. But at least the public and the party will know who you are.

    • "Then the debates happened."

      Everything about your posts suggests it was anything but a debate. Forgive an academic to hope he could bring a little authenticity to the format.

      In fact, taken to its logical conclusion, the only way Ignatieff could have won the debate is if he'd become something we all despise, especially you.

      • What is it about my post again that suggests the leaders' debate was anything but a debate?

        What kind of political leader would view these political debates as academic in nature? Not a very good one.

        In fact, taken to its logical conclusion, the only way Ignatieff could have won the debate is if he'd become something we all despise, especially you.

        I have no idea what you're trying to say there.

        • No matter what adjective or adverb you tie it to, a debate is still a debate with varying and unwritten rules of format, conduct, procedure and conclusion. Not of which includes:

          "specific prep"



          Sounds more like an infomercial to me – and maybe that's what the leader's debate always been, a place for leaders to advertise their platform instead of addressing real issues. Still doesn't make it an actual debate, which is why I said to forgive an Academic to think the narrative has to change to something a bit more substantial, especially since we all love to call 'good politicians' liars.

          • I don't think there's any excuse for someone who wants to be our prime minister to mistake a political debate for an academic one.

            You're playing semantics in asking that a political debate be an academic one. There are all kinds of debates. In a campaign, it's much like a job interview. It's not only about what you say, but how you say it. I don't think there's anything sinister about that.

            I also get a little tired of Iggy and his apologists complaining after the fact about how politics is. Tis always been thus. For him to lose at it, then have himself and his supporters whine and complain about it, I think is somewhat unbecoming.

            He was more than willing to throw the mud when it suited him. That he wasn't up to the requirement of the job is nobody else's fault but his.

          • You're reading way too much into what I'm saying. All I'm saying is that to insinuate that a political debate is functionally different than an academic one is to say that a political debate isn't an actual debate. Considering every Canadian has one complaint or another about politicians' truthfulness, why criticize an academic to try to bring authenticity to a debate.

          • You're playing semantic games here. Yes, it's called a debate, but it's more than that. If Iggy didn't know that, then he deserves losing. Furthermore, he's not the academic martyr you make him out to be. He was more than willing to lie when it suited him. He thought he was up to the task. He routinely thumped his chest in Harper's direction. He lost and was humbled. It's that simple.

  7. Ouch!! I'll stand by my opinion that Iggy is looking more and more like a pompous a$$.

    "Instead of sticking with the Liberal platform of the “family pack” of social issues, Ignatieff ad-libbed. Snapped a disgusted Liberal: “He thought he was Phil Donahue.”

    "Inoculations come in debate prep. That's a sore point for some Grits. But a disgruntled Liberal veteran said of Ignatieff: “He didn't want to do the debate prep. He said he'd been a championship debater at university and had spent his life as a TV journalist.”

    • His debate performance was, indeed, pretty bad. Uneven speech, awkward gazes at the camera, being caught flat-footed. I was a little surprised that this same person had hosted television programs for years.

      His stump was pretty good for the most part.

    • Unfortunately, nobody explained to him that a television 'debate' is much different from an academic debate.

      While the latter relies on powers of logic and command of the facts, the former relies upon the emotional state you're trying to trigger in your audience.

  8. If that's the best the "Blame Iggy" crowd can come up with, then I think it's safe to say that Iggy didn't really do anything all that wrong.

  9. A lot of asses hanging out there … a lot of covering them going on ….

  10. Aaron, do you think that you yourself might have contributed to the defeat of the federal Liberals, since several analysts (including Liberals) have suggested that one of the Liberals' problems was that they assumed the electorate had as much contempt for Harper as they did – in light of that, do you believe that the 24/7 Harper-hater echo chamber that you ran for the past several years contributed any of the bricks to the wall of that echo chamber?

    • Oh do stop with this nonsense.

      Go join the Blogging Tories or something.

      • Yes, you wouldn't want anyone shining the light of the outside world into your echo chamber, would you?

        • LOL hon, look around….that's an echo chamber you're standing in.

          • Your comment is inane.

          • A defence that Cons often use when they don't understand English.

          • (A) It's not a defence, it's an assertion (B) Where is there any evidence that anyone, let alone Conservatives "often" say any such thing (C) No sophisticated grasp of English is required to perceive your inanity – Stephane Dion's English would suffice, for instance

          • It happens on every chat site in the country.

            When you can't cope with plain English you revert to insults and hope that covers it.

          • And you are the master of such tatics aren't you?

          • No, I always have an answer. Cons just don't like them.

  11. Next up to bat…

    Justin T.

    Swing and a miss!

    Three up, three down.

  12. If they're listening to Jim Karygiannis, then the party IS doomed.

    • I absolutely agree. Karygiannis is the prototypical "entitlement" pol. It's true that he works fairly hard in his constituency and therefore gets reelected, but over the last couple of years he's made some really inane statements. Consider also that despite being an MP for 14 years, he's rarely acheived anything in Cabinet: oooo, he was Minister for Democratic Renewal…that went well, didn't it? Oh, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport.

  13. The answer is that the majority of Canadians are totally non-engaged with politics. They get all their information from annoying attack-ads that interrupt their hockey game and favourite reality show. Its been proven that if you spend enough money, you can win any election – and that's just what Harper did for 2 years – character assassination. Not that I particularly like Ignatieff and I also agree he comes across as arrogant. But that's only if you actually listen to politicians. Advertising works. Money = power. And its Oil money from Canadian subsidiaries managed by American parent companies that now run Canada.

    • Corporations can not donate to federal parties. The law that makes it so was passed by the torries under harper in their first term as a minority goverment. and the reason the grits don't have the same money to throw around now? All of their previous war chests were filled by corporations, while the torries then and now relly on small donations from Canadians. if you want to get angry at Harper and co. you should do so for things they've actually done not what previously well funded Chretien and martin Liberal smear campaings have convinced you off.

  14. Absolutely right. If we were engaged., this would not be happening, especially on Mother's day !


  15. Seems like sensible analysis – if the Liberals get a flawless leader, everything will be fine. Just to be doubly sure, they should get a unicorn as well.

  16. That moment in the debates probably can't be flagged as the single turning point, but he did handle it badly. It was also something he should have been well prepared for, so it represents a broader failure than just a flub on the part of the leader.

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