Your guy


Bruce Anderson contemplates Michael Ignatieff’s predicament.

More fundamentally, he hasn’t yet developed clusters of voters who see him as “their guy.” I’m talking about groups of voters with common interests: aligned by income or region or gender based concerns, or who hold a particular place on the political spectrum, or who care deeply about a single issue, and who know they can trust him to champion their causes … in the end, for the voter who worries about taxes, or health, or retirement, or fiscal management, or jobs, or the environment, or trade, or foreign policy, or who lives in Atlantic Canada, or economically stressed Ontario, or the lower mainland of British Columbia, there is a sense that he is sufficiently smart but insufficiently passionate about what keeps you awake at night.


Your guy

  1. Too little, too late for Igantieff. Canadians have watched him for five years as he tried to get them to know him and tried to convince them he is something he is not. The fact is nothing has worked. Canadians do not like what he is offering them and so aren't buying it.

    He tried the tough guy approach by announcing Harper, your time is up. Polls went south. He tried with the faux scandal meme which nobody bought other than the kool-aid drinking Libs and their friends in the media i.e. wafergate and then he tried his summer tour were he got little traction and basically talked to his fellow Libs. Of course during all of this he went to any school that would have him and talked to non voting kids. Thats where his comfort lies. Lecturing!

    So the Libs supporters and their media cohorts can give advice all they want but Canadians who are the ultimate arbiters of who runs the country have written off Ignatieff.

  2. I take Bruce Anderson's point, and it is a good one.

    But do we really want a political leader focused on one issue? Even if that issue is the one that keeps you up at night? Because if we did, what was wrong with Stephane Dion?

    I get the sense that those who like to say "what the Liberals should do" (sometimes, these people aren't Liberals) involves intercepting Wherry's aliens before our F35s destroy them, and getting directions to Superman's planet. Because no human being would ever fit the bill to be Liberal leader.

  3. Yeah, but in fairness, where would the Liberals find a terrific, warm guy like Harper? I mean, you have to get up pretty early in the day to find such a fair, sunny-tempered warm-heart who makes us all feel better just by smiling that broad, genuine smile of his. Don't even get me started on that twinkle in his eyes!

    Not only is he a bon-vivant, but he's so well-educated and worldly. How could a guy from Harvard ever hope to compete?

  4. But who on earth thinks Harper is "their guy"?

  5. 59 per cent of those who say they are inclined to vote Liberal think a new leader would be a good idea.

    Who would the new leader be, though? Bob Rae seems like the obvious choice, but the Liberals have mixed feelings about him as well.

    Dominic LeBlanc?

  6. Sufficient numbers to keep him Prime Minister. The issue isn't really whether people like a politician (that is an over-rated quality). As Will Ferguson astutely analyzed the issue, it comes down to whether the public think you are a bastard or a bonehead. They prefer to choose bastards to govern, as they don't trust the judgment of boneheads. I'm afraid that for all his erudition, Mr. Ignatieff comes across as a bit of a bonehead. Hence the lack of resonance with the public.

  7. hollinm

  8. I'm inclined to vote Liberal, and I think Iggy needs a chance at an election.

    And I adore Dominic LeBlanc. More than Bob Rae, who some are saying seems to be getting ready to leave…who knows?

    Who will lead the Cons when harper returns another minority or worse?

  9. I think a CPC leadership race right now would hand the next election to the Libs.

  10. The Liberals problem is not Michael Ignatieff. The Liberals lost Quebec when they campaigned against the Meech Lake Accord. Without regaining Quebec they will never form another majority government. The loss of Quebec is the legacy that Pierre Trudeau left Micheal Ignatieff.

  11. Yeah, Meech just handed Quebec to Mulroney and his Conservatives for a generation….

  12. Uh, I'm fairly content with Michael Ignatieff not being passionate about the stuff that keeps me up at night.

  13. Dream on Mikey!

  14. Loved B&B for a degree of simplistic reality. Even those deemed boneheads were intelligent folks for the most part. What distinguished a bastard-style leader was a ruthless determination and a fearless sense of political calculation that they were willing to act on. The right political instincts, coupled with the political will to make it happen. Chretien and Harper both appear to fit the bill.

    Tough, though, to predict if a particular person will have that capacity based on opposition performance. To really go the full bastard, you have to have all the levers AND power.

  15. Bob Rae even though he is a much better politician and leader, will do as poorly, he will never get enough votes in the west. I am a fan of Dominic LeBlanc and I am puting my money on him, he has a lot of advantages.

  16. Even if he returns with a minority, he will stay as long as he wants to be in politics, no one there is in a rush to replace him, "au contraire" .

  17. It is a huge problem to don't have a good leader with focus, it's like running a business, if you don't know what are you doing you aren't going to profit and everything will fall apart and the business will go kaput.

  18. I think Michael Ignatieff is perfect for locking up the "ex-harvard prof issued of noble russian lineage and who was in favour of the iraq war and torture before changing your mind for political expediency" demographic.

  19. True, the distinction doesn't imply intelligence, but rather a capacity to govern. Very hard to judge in an opposition leader, who has none of the intruments of power available to a Prime Minister.
    People do need a sense, however, that at least they understand where a leader is coming from, in order to be able to sense they will be able to anticipate his decisions. I think Mr. Harper had a problem in that area in that he seemed so remote and closed that it was hard to tell what motivates him and, therefore, what his position may be on any subject, although by now many people have developed their own fixed ideas on this.
    Mr. Ignatieff's problem seems rather more on the other end of the spectrum in that it is not clear he is being authentic as a poltician. His tough-guy talk about elections didn't seem to be any more authentic than his habit (now abandoned) of trying to sound "like one of us" by dropping his "g"s. But that leaves the question – who is he – intellectual, entertainer, aspiring politician, patriot? What?

  20. Look, I believe that Harper is by far the best leader we could have for the times we live in, but you may have gone overboard with your sudden transformation.
    Please take a step back and reconsider your obsession—for the sake of his family and yours.

  21. Canadians would never elect a Prime Minister who abandoned his principles for political expediency.

    Oh, wait.

  22. I think Anderson is basically right – Harper and Ignatieff occupy the same more or less central pragmatic territory [ Harper has astutely stolen this traditional turf from the libs] and the public by and large finds Harper more compelling. However, there remains the question of the SoCon stuff that Harper is monkeying around the fringe with. If the public ever does get a clear picture of this side of him [ they are wary now, hence the polling numbers] he and his part will be gone.
    Roy Mac said it best about Ignatieff – his job is to deny Harper a majority – the liberal future belongs to someone else. Tough as it is Ignatieff has to recognize this, if only in his most private moments.

  23. Even if Dion had been a charismatic leader who inspired or commanded deep loyalty and passion amongst his own party ranks, there would still remain the problem of the particular "one issue" he championed. The environment in general, and global warming in particular, do not keep many Canadians awake at night.

  24. I hope you spoke up as passionately when MI had to endure those assine just in it for himself adds? The JV adds were maginally better, but only marginally – they did ask a pertinent question, albeit in a HS, frat house level of rhetoric sort of way.

  25. I am amazed that Harper has acted the way he has and people still think of him as a capable leader, while Iggy has no concrete flaws (the crticisms tend to be vague statements about being liked, or his eyebrows) and people seem to be assured that he would be a "bad leader".

    The objective reality is that Iggy would almost certainly be better than Harper, who has demeaned the office more than any leader in recent memory.

  26. "Maclean's is Canada's only national weekly current affairs magazine. Maclean's enlightens, engages, and entertains 2.4 million readers with strong investigative reporting and exclusive stories from leading journalists in the fields of international affairs, social issues, national politics, business and culture."

    I apologize for this off topic post, but given the set-up here (where you can't generate a topic, and can only comment on what is existant), I'm not really sure how else to bring this issue up. As such, I will post this in several threads, in the hopes that I will obtain some sort of a response regarding my concerns.

    Why is it that Maclean's (owned by Rogers Communications) DOES NOT report on issues pertaining to the politics of Canadian telecom? I'm trying not to buy into idle conspiracy theories, but I do find it odd that there is zero reporting of any sort, never mind any advocacy of an actual position. I find this extremely bothersome, as I believe this is an important debate, and I would like to hear the opinions of various people here on these issues.

    Yesterday, the Honourable Tony Clement, PC, MP, Minister of Industry presented his "Interim Report on the Digital Economy and Telecom Strategies".

    Various media outlets reported on this – why would Maclean's choose to ignore it? Why does this "current event" not make the cut? No offense – but I think it is horrible that this magazine places so much focus on the pageantry of Canadian politics, and then completely ignores political/legislation issues that have real consequences for Canadians.

    To be clear – I don't expect my opinions or views to be universal – I just find it bothersome that Maclean's has taken a stance to ignore discussion pertaining to Canadian telecom matters. The fact that Maclean's ownership has a direct stake in this makes things all the more suspicious. Is this a deliberate policy, or does the Maclean's editor simply not consider such political issues newsworthy? Inquiring minds would like to know.

  27. We are in a period when the simplistic, small-minded and mean-spirited are preferred. Hence Harper's hold on power despite his lack of substantive national or foreign policies, his varied controversies, his weak cabinet, his major reversals and inconsistencies, etc. In nearly 5 years, he hasn't had a first ministers meeting. His government looks no further ahead than the next Parliamentary session (when Parliament is permitted to sit) and puts forward nothing of import (or nothing he isn't willing to kill with a quick election or suspension of the House).

    Harper's government has been one long holding action, dominated by a siege mentality. And we complain about it … but that's about all we do.

    The problem isn't Iggy (or Harper for that matter).

    It's us.

  28. You could accuse Chretien "the bully" of being simplistic, small minded and mean spirited. Harper is something far more vile.

  29. …..and as quickly as AH says the problem is with the Libs, you revert to the deny and accuse mode.

  30. I suspect AH's us was all us Canadians for putting up with Harper, or not demanding more. We do appear to be in a good managerial mode of politics. I'm more astounded how Harper has pulled that off – by a fair number of metrics he is not a good manager…but perhaps a lucky one.

  31. Times we live in? Get real, these times are not different than any other. Stop being so dramatic.

  32. Well, we certainly know that Iggy is Wherry's guy. That this doesn't jibe with how Canadians think is a matter I'll leave for others to ponder.

  33. I still think he might catch on in an election campaign. The usual attack ads might fall a bit flat when people are actually seeing the real guy every day.
    He's smart. He's been in live television debates all his life. He's good on his feet. he doesn't need notes. Take the small minded, spin doctor, political restraints off; Let Iggy be Iggy!! He has a good chance to clobber Harper in the debates.
    Liberals, stick with the guy, get behind him, stop sniping. He deserves one campaign.

  34. I actually said the problem wasn't the Libs or the Conservatives … it's the electorate (and in that I think some blame goes to those who cover politics, too). This isn't a new phenomenon. Many democracies go through cycles of just muddling through … it's just a particularly bad time for this to be happening in Canada. We have some pretty huge needs to address in terms of infrastructure, investment in human capital, developing new markets, replacing old industries with new ones, etc. Regardless of ones preferred solutions, thumb-twiddling isn't a good plan. And if thumb-twiddling were an Olympic event, Canada would own the podium.

  35. Response to Iggy's live events this summer (by those who attended) was on the whole quite positive. Whether that translates to riding wins is a different kettle of fish.

  36. Iggys says, "Et Tu Wherry?"

  37. Don't underestminate the value of just "muddling through". It is far safer to live with that style of government than one that tries to fix everything all at once (as in the Frechn Revolution, or the Great Leap Forward). A succession of governments that more or less have followed the path of just muddling through has also left Canada in the position where, according to a poll out today, some 92% of the population are satisfied with their lives. If the goal of government is to ensure human happiness (or at least contentment), our governments appear to have achieved that.

  38. While I admire Edmund Burke (the original Red Tory), you aren't exactly being fair to Canada's post-war governments. The UN, national health care, peacekeeping, just society legal reform, patriation of the Constitution, the Charter, NAFTA, the GST, the Clarity Act, and hundreds of billions in tax cuts were pretty significant moves by governments (Con and Lib). Also, Burke's warning was against overturning long-established traditions and institutions as the vacuum left is often filled by tyrants. Canada, by contrast, is a relatively new country built with massive waves of immigrants — the Constitution and Charter were products of the 1980s, for example — so we are still in an evolutionary state as opposed to a revolutionary one.

  39. Why are the left so very angry ?

  40. I'll accept the significance of many (not all) of the things you have identified and I agree, there are time when governments should take bold steps when necesary. NAFTA is a case in point. And there are cases where in crisis a bold new strategy may be required (Bennet's "New Deal" for example). But such occasions are rare – even by your list perhaps once every ten years or so is something significant required – and the significance is often not well understood until much later in any event.
    My point is not that governments should never do anything, but that the simply management of affairs without drama is often what the situation requires – and dull government is nothing to be sneezed at.

  41. Yes he does deserve one campaign. And he might surprise. Perhaps he's one of those bright guys who get caught up too easily in the game – if he can learn to focus on a few key items he might do surprisingly well – particularly in Quebec…he could be a dark horse there, particularly since Harper's a dead duck there.

  42. I agree with you. Boring and efficient would be fine. But Harper isn't engaging in dull government. He's behaving like an absentee landlord, racking up bills he can't pay and letting the property fall into disrepair. The CPC's approach to Canada as a whole is not that different than their handling of AECL.

  43. Isn't this what his boosters said the last three times he's undergone a political reset? How many times are we supposed to see the "real" Iggy? It might not occur to some, but maybe that's exactly what we've been seeing all along, and why it's still not working out. Just saying.

  44. Davie has a point, although i don't know if it's as simple as keeping the focus on conservative economic incompetence [ which they must ] and not offering different spending options. If they had kept their HC plan a secret until the election they would be criticised for having no alternative policies [ which they are ].When they showcase their wares the're accused of being tax and spenders – in a sense you can't win. I agree about staying on message and being focused though. The list of govt incompetence grows daily longer. The loss of camp mirage, LF census, real cost of gun control – these things should be hammered relentlessly – slowly the teflon is wearing off Harper.

  45. Well, we certainly know that Harpy is F's guy. That this doesn't jibe with how Canadians think is a matter I'll leave for others to ponder.

  46. You're right. The Ever Victorious Army will continue to hold the PMO until the Sun expends its hydrogen and engulfs the Earth. Just don't ask them to win a majority.

  47. Wow. I've attracted a knee-jerk anonymous troll type who doesn't seem capable of anything more than a "nyah nyah" post. Interesting.

  48. I'll note that nearly as many people support the Liberals as the CPC. The vast gulf in public opinion doesn't really seem to exist.

  49. And I'll note that Mr. Wherry's original post was entirely about the fact that a poll says Canadians don't think Iggy is "their guy." I'll also note that this has been the theme of the Tory attack ads that so many first derided. Yet, as with the Dion ads, they appear to have been on the mark, and then some.

    My personal advice,which will probably go unheeded, is for people — including the Ottawa chattering types — to focus less on the short-term nonsense, and more on the underlying issues that affect actual voter sentiment. If voters aren't comfortable with Iggy, they won't vote for him. I know, I know, they've never been comfortable with Harper, only a third vote for him, blah blah blah….

  50. Dennis, I generally like Iggy. I reserve judgement until I see more of his platform, but for that we need an election. We're basically in a holding pattern until then. I don't understand why Iggy is supposed to have proven himself at this juncture. Harper was similarly unpopular at the same point in his tenure as CPC leader.

    Proving Iggy to an electorate that is swayed by television ads saying 'he's just in it for himself' seems pretty futile. Let's just have an election and see how things go. Iggy isn't going anywhere without an election occurring first anyway.

  51. It's called climate change, and I'd say those peaceful sleeps are fewer and fewer these days… Just look out the window…

  52. Couldn't we have 'just muddled through' with a reasonable, competent manager like Paul Martin? The echo chamber successfully labelled him Mr Dithers (there are plenty of nicknames being shouted at harper but the editorial boards across canada don't seem too interested in picking them up) — not to deny Martin's nature for wanting to be too much of everything spread so thinly didn't deserve some criticism. Who needs a guy who had the guts to set a direction and stick to it, help pilot us through deep in the red waters, and attempt to build some programs that addressed those less fortunate… Harper's aim is to spend you out of house and home, then sell you the lumber to burn in your bonfire…

  53. The attack ads came first. Any potential claim that you discovered oil living next door to a Texaco doesn't make you rich…

  54. I don't understand why some Conservatives seem so concerned about Iggy's standing with Liberals. In the dead of night, do they worry about him cleaning Harper's clock?

  55. Look, I'm willing to give any leader — whether it be Stockwell Day and Stephane Dion, or Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff — every chance they need to prove themselves as leader. I generally think the media fall down hard on all these leaders way too soon.

    Having said that, however, one should look for underlying qualities in a politician to see if they can take the next step. Although I do think Iggy has improved since his last reset, it's not an easy job, especially when you're up against a tough opponent.

    Regarding the Tory attack ads, I think any Liberal is foolish to dismiss them as irrelevant. The Conservatives have come up with a truly remarkable counter to the rise of liberal leaders. Before the media infatuation gets out of control, the Tories assess their opponents primary weakness, and go for the throat. With respect to both Dion and Iggy, it worked beautifully. Both leaders were defined before they could barely get off the ground. And I suspect that they both would admit as much, as would their people.

    In fact, I suspect that John McCain could have benefited from the tactic, too. Instead, it took Chris Matthews years to get over the tingle he felt in his leg over the anointed one, Obama.

  56. Don't quite get the analogy, or the chronology for that matter.

  57. I don't understand why some Liberals are terrified at the thought of others countering their rather lofty views of Iggy. And here I thought this was a political discussion site, and that others were allowed to offer the other side of the story. Apparently I was wrong in that assessment. Very sorry.

  58. You missed the point by quite a bit that time.

  59. No, I think I hit the nail on the head. Of course, you're more than welcome to point out any specific "point" that you claim I may have "missed" by "quite a bit." Should be easy, no?