A week and a half in the public life of Michael Ignatieff - Macleans.ca
 

A week and a half in the public life of Michael Ignatieff


 

Suggesting new constraints on a Prime Minister’s power to request prorogation? Pitching specific measures to deal with unemployment? Promising to restore funding to Status of Women Canada? Talking of a national strategy on brain disease? Proposing Senate reform? Committing himself to child care? Speaking sharply about the Karzai administration? And now preemptively opening discussion on potentially contentious questions of foreign policy?

What, precisely, has gotten into the leader of the Her Majesty’s loyal opposition?


 

A week and a half in the public life of Michael Ignatieff

  1. Finally…after over a year as leader, some policy starts to emerge.

    I can't say I like the policies very much, but at least its a start.

    • Did Iggy become leader in May 2009?

      • On Dec. 10., 2008 he was named leader by caucus. It was ratified in May at the convention, but he was the leader from December on.

        • Is policy development the purview of interim leaders? I don't remember Bill Graham or John Lynch-Staunton doing so but my memory could be faulty.

          • Interim leaders are simply holding the fort until a proper contest can be held. This was a unique case, in that there were no plans to open to the field to competition at the next convention.

            [Insert talking points about how this consitutes the most aggregious abscondment of democratic process in the entire history of our federation and how this means the Liberals can't question anything Harper does and…]

          • This is true. A confidence vote delayed by prorogation is not a good thing to come upon without a 'permanent' leader, one can understand this.

          • This is true. A confidence vote delayed by prorogation is not a good thing to come upon without a 'permanent' leader, one can understand this.

          • So you guys seem to excuse Iggy for not having any policies while he was interim leader but you are forgetting that he made a major policy announcement when he stepped up to a microphone and claimed he was ready to lead a 3 party group of misfits to replace a recently elected gov`t. That was his first Policy Announcement; he would lead a group of reckless opportunists to take over the gov`t when we were in the midst of the worst economic downturn in generations.

            I don`t think we should forget Iggy`s first experience in policy making. It will be helpful in judging his future efforts.

          • "he would lead a group of reckless opportunists to take over the gov`t when we were in the midst of the worst economic downturn in generations. "

            Actually, those reckless opportunists got together in the first place because our economy was fine, if we were going to have a recession we'd have had it by now, and all that we needed was to remove the right of women to take legal action when being discriminated against, and political parties to lose their per vote funding.

            But you know, rewrite history in order to get in some really juicy insults..

          • Oh for the love of pete just change your name to "conservative man" already. Your posts indicate that you are anything but what you pretend to be.

  2. "What, precisely, has gotten into the leader of the Her Majesty's loyal opposition?"

    I don't know but I like it. I have to say that I was hoping for more visionary policy-type of announcements but I'll settle for this. I guess he's saving the good stuff for the campaign trail.

    Nothing like a two-month break to get the juices flowing again, huh?

  3. Though I disagree with most of what Iggy/Liberals are proposing, I agree that it is nice change of pace from scandal du jour strategy they had last year. Now, hopefully, the Cons will join the fray and present some conservative ideas because there are votes out there to be won.

    • Don’t hold your breath. They can’t even be bothered to release a proper platform during elections, what makes you think some ideas from the opposition will suddenly cause this government to be more forthright about its plans?

      • "Don't hold your breath."

        That's funny because I wrote that at end of my post but I am in optimistic mood this morning so I decided to remove it.

        I agree that it is not entirely likely but I am hoping that when Cons are faced with real ideas/policies, they will respond in kind. The only way for conservatism to grow in Canada is for people to be exposed to it. Cons doing things behind the scenes is not helping to expand their base because no one knows what they are up to.

        There was interesting article about Kenney in Globe last weekend that looked at how hard he's working the immigrant communities. Cons need to do much more of that and let people know what they are thinking and doing. I also thought it was interesting article because it ties in with Wells idea on how Harper is slowly working to change the nature of Canadian politics and society.

        http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/jaso

    • A throne speech and budget just don't cut it as 'ideas' , eh.

      Iffy can announce all sorts of ideas from the 1993 Red Book,
      and if in government,
      they would end up in the same place as the 1993 Red Book…..in the 'didn't get it done' file

      • Actually the idea the Conservatives are most pumped about now … judging from the barrage of unwelcome commercials is "their" economic action plan which of course as all good conbots remind themselves before going to sleep was forced upon them by the opposition.

      • certainly not a SFT that simply re-introduces "ideas" that apparently weren't worth pursuing a month ago

  4. What, precisely, has gotten into the leader of the Her Majesty's loyal opposition?

    Eddie Goldenberg and Chaviva Hošek?

    Plus the 2-month news vacuum that Harper has graciously granted him.

  5. God approves of whatever is going on in the OLO these days!

  6. "What, precisely, has gotten into the leader of the Her Majesty's loyal opposition?"

    The idea that, like the Conservatives of late 2005-early 2006, if they start working out policy ideas, they might garner more public interest than constantly whining that the government isn't perfect.

  7. He's announcing big spending plans (brain disease strategy; Status of Women; national daycare) when there's a structural deficit. Is he going to gut military spending to pay for this? Run huge deficits and drive up interest payments? Or raise taxes? Don't pay attention to the man behind the curtain…

    • Plans don't necessarily become government policy the day after an election.

      • Like national daycare, promised in 1993 and repeatedly after that,
        with back to back majority govt and back to back surpluses,
        no Liberal national daycare……..

        • Like no taxing of income trusts, a "made-in-Canada" environmental policy, no tax increases, no deficit, no spending increases, an independent public appointments commission, 3000 day care spaces…. the problem for Conservatives criticizing Liberals about broken promises is that Harper has broken more promises in 4 years than the last 5 Prime Ministers put together.

    • Not that you're suggesting otherwise, but I would point out for the peanut gallery that:
      – gut military spending? Current govt just cancelled military spending on vehicles they'd previously announced.
      – run huge deficits? Current govt has that covered too, though recession argument can fight that.
      – Raise taxes? Current govt has raised some taxes too, just not very publicly.

      My point is that there must be something that's different between them, somewhere. Can't we spot it?

      • I think you've just spotted the Waldo of brokerage politics…

    • "when there's a structural deficit" created by whom, exactly? When the government that enabled that "structural deficit" through profligate spending refuses to reduce that vote buying, er um, spending itself? When the government whose spending ran up huge deficits and drove up debt and interest payments? Land of Oz indeed.

      • I don't why you assume that by criticizing Ignatieff that I'm pro Harper and pro the conservatives. My point is that I perceive these policy ideas as pie in the sky plans and that won't change unless there is a clear fiscal plan laid out that would support big spending initiatives.

        I'm not a member of either party and I won't be voting for either party so please don't get all "you forgot to mention what the conservatives".

        Your name is rude.

  8. The idea man decides to go with ideas. 'Bout time.

    • Finally Iggy is allowed to be Iggy.

  9. It's like he thinks he's leader of the New Democrats…

  10. What has gotten into Ignatieff? Donolo.

    • Yes, out come the boogeymen Chretien used so successfullly against a party that hasn't been around for a decade, Reform.
      Danny threw a wrench into painting Cons as medicare killers, Danny's six sit on the Liberal bench.
      But there is always the old stand by, attack Christians.

      Is this the honest debate the media has been saying we must have?

      • Where did he attack Christians Wilson?

        • He didn't; that's another smear Conservatives like to use.

      • But there is always the old stand by, attack Christians.

        What are you talking about? Who is attacking Christians?

  11. Yes Iffy is a genius.
    No clean drinking water,
    no childhood vaccinations,
    but top of the mind for Liberals is making sure women can get an abortion….good gawd

    • Wilson,

      You are really off the mark today…no conbot speaking points out yet?

      • That 15 point drop in the polls in the past month is probably very disconcerting for her.

  12. Prorogation is turning into a huge disaster for Harper. Not only does it mean his own MPs are out there putting their feet into their mouths every day and he can't walk down the hall, kick them in the a** and scream at them to shut the f*** up…. but he's given the Liberals the chance to get away from QP attacks and focus on building a policy platform and shaping themselves more clearly as a government in waiting. Still a long way to go, but it is a good start.

    Now the interesting prorogation problem that Harper has created for himself is that he said he needed 83 days off to "re-calibrate", to set a "fresh" agenda. No one believed him then but it is going to look even more of an empty excuse in contrast to the Liberals if he doesn't show some real, big "re-calibration" and new policy agenda.

    He actually has to show up with something or else the contrast – we know what the Liberals did on their Harper Holiday, but what did you do? – will be even worse for him.

      • Bingo!

      • But the notion that he prorogued parliament to shelve this issue is still there. Why all the 10 percenters? What is he trying to hide?

    • There is a general perception that SH prorogued to derail the Afghan inquiry and that such action was irresponsible and, given his pledge of accountability, two faced. I really think that negative attack ads will build on the notion that Harper is underhanded, and will backfire in a big, big way.
      The ground is shifting under Mr Harper's feet. He has been PM since 06 and will be facing a barrage of accountability issues. Will attack ads effectively soothe the minds of voters, or will it make them angry?

      • Ten percenters. same old same old.

        Harper is starting to remind me of when Ceaucescu, during the 1989 uprising, went out onto a balcony and waved his hands for the crowd to be quiet, which worked every time until then. When it didn’t work that time the look of total befuddlement on his face was priceless. Maybe its possible that Harper is undergoing a similar experience.

  13. Prorogation is turning into a huge disaster for Harper. Not only does it mean his own MPs are out there putting their feet into their mouths every day and he can't walk down the hall, kick them in the a** and scream at them to shut the f*** up…. but he's given the Liberals the chance to get away from QP attacks and focus on building a policy platform and shaping themselves more clearly as a government in waiting. Still a long way to go, but it is a good start.

    Now the interesting prorogation problem that Harper has created for himself is that he said he needed 83 days off to "re-calibrate", to set a "fresh" agenda. No one believed him then but it is going to look even more of an empty excuse in contrast to the Liberals if he doesn't show some real, big "re-calibration" and new policy agenda.

    He actually has to show up with something or else the contrast – we know what the Liberals did on their Harper Holiday, but what did you do? – will be even worse for him.

    • Reminds me of that leaders debate in the last election when the media asked for an extra half hour to discuss the economy. All the leaders agreed to it. Dion showed up with an idea on the economy, and Harper's jaw literally dropped. He spent the entire half hour saying how everything was fine. But he agreed in advance to an extra half hour to discuss a subject in which everything was fine?

    • That "can't walk down the hall" line has become a favourite of yours, hasn't it? I think I've seen it ten times so far. ;-)

  14. Iffy, his wife is too old to have an abortion,he don't understand that guity feelings of peoples talking about that.

    • Now that you mention it, I would be perfectly happy with our abortion policies being set by women of childbearing years only.

  15. What's gotten into Michael Ignatieff? Peter Donolo. (That doesn't sound right.)

  16. If anyone is wondering what might have sparked the comment from Ignatieff about making sure Harper doesn't adopt a Bush-like anti-abortion ideological screening test to international aid, you may be interested to know that, last week, Harper – as per usual with such things, quite quietly away from the public eye – cut 99% of the funding to Planned Parenthood Canada (now the Canadian Federation of Sexual Health, to the delight of some of his supporters.

    • That`s the last time I ever click on a link of yours ted. All I read there was a profanity-laced rant from some ti-guy about stuff I don`t want to know or care about.
      If there are cutbacks to Planned parenthood groups, the only people that will notice are those employed there. Sexual Health info is available at every local Health Unit, Libraries, Doctor`s offices, Internet, Television, and here`s a novel info source–Parents.

      I know you`re trying to link present gov`t policies to Bush or Genghis Khan or whoever but the public won`t buy it. And why is Iggy trying to score points by promoting abortion availibility in poor countries ?

  17. I think the most important quality that has changed about Iggy is that he has become proficient (at least better) at "sound bite" politics. To say that he has not spoken on policy issues before is simply incorrect. He stated early on that eliminating the deficit rapidly following this recession had to be a priority. [Harper for the record has stated he is willing to run a deficit indefinitely.] Being Iggy, he could not stop there and went on to muse about spending restraints and 'horror' tax increases. He did seem to go quiet for a while after that, but now his comments are much more focused and guarded. I suspect he got some good coaching and he listened to it.

    • Attacking the Planned Parenthood cuts via Harper's recent foreign policy blathering is pretty frigging smart, I have to say.

  18. More 10 percenters coming out. Why is Harper attacking the troops?

  19. It had a lot to do with money (or the lack therof), a political crisis with no historical precedent, and a profoundly derailed party.

    I expect the wisdom of their decision (not so much Iggy, as the acclaimation) will be judged by their showing in the next election.

    • I am surprised by your last point. I would more likely consider the next election to be more about Iggy, while the value of the cost-saving leadership selection process is evident in the financial state of the party. Whether that value was worth "most aggregious abscondment of democratic process in the entire history of our federation" can of course be debated in perpetuity. (and purgatory after that.)

      • The election itself will be, to be sure. I was (in far too obtuse a manner) suggesting that another lost election for the Libs would likely see the acclaimation decision judged as a bad move (hindsight being what it is). If Iggy ends up being seen as "the problem", then it's not a long walk to guess that making him leader without a contest will be judged as a bad idea.

        I'm probably making this even more convoluted by trying to explain, but I have no personal judgment on the matter, just to be clear.

        • It would be difficult to place the blame largely on the acclaimation decision, since the previous election had been lost, badly, with a leader chosen by conventional (in both senses of the word) means.

          That's not to say it won't be tried, but there is an obvious comeback.

  20. Good point.

    On that note, when are the CPC bound by their constitution to conduct a review of the council and leader? Every 4 years?

  21. Probably. But that would never be the means of Harper's exit.

  22. don't forget wait times guarantees

  23. I love the way wilson keeps rolling out the random old saws while he marks time awaiting the next batch of talking points from the PMO.
    Like ChrisKW – I am favourably impressed.
    Someone in the OLO has got it right. they have sent out Bob Rae on the road to do the smooching…while Mr. Ignatieff does what he SHOULD have done since May – if not before – start to put flesh on the bones of where he would like to take the Liberal Party and Canada.
    What I find particlarly fascinating (as do other observers like Chantal Hebert) is that the course seems to be significantly more left leaning than heretofore – maybe indicating that having got rid of his original handlers and being forced to listen more to other senior members of the party – like Rae and others – he has been jerked into a direction that – among other things – will ensure he is clearly differentiated from Harper and his government's policies. Yay!

  24. What's changed is the poll numbers and Ignatieff no longer attempting to implement his policy ideas. Last spring, Ignatieff announced three policy ideas for the Conservatives to implement to keep Liberal support (one of them was EI reform). When the Liberals were down in the polls, the policy ideas looked desperate and partisan. Now they're up in the polls, the ideas look substantive. Even the idiotic pretense that the Liberals are valiant defenders of access to abortion…

  25. He seems to have woken up and realized the only way he's going to get to be Prime Minister is if he acts like a Prime Minister, so that's what he's doing. And his ideas are, more or less, good.

    Except for the last issue. He's very obviously playing politics with a very serious question there – the point of it is to make Harper look like a social conservative (despite the fact that he's done nothing socially conservative since he got into office). I would think things like access to contraception, and safe and sanitary hospital facilities for delivery, would be far more important on the whole for third-world maternal health than funding abortion. There's certainly absolutely no proof I've seen that the Conservatives are at all opposed to contraception.

    Over a third of the world doesn't have safe drinking water. The greatest global causes of death are respiratory disease, AIDS, TB, and malaria. Kids work on sugar plantations because their parents won't have enough money to survive if they send the kids to school instead. And Michael Ignatieff's main interest in foreign aid is for it to increase the number of abortions. This obsession, this refusal to recognize that abortion is a controversial issue that involves multiple living human beings and that people can, at minimum, honestly disagree on, is where I part ways with liberals.

    • As Ted points out, this announcement comes straight on the heels of news that the Tories have been defunding the Canadian Federation of Sexual Health (aka Planned Parenthood Canada) to the great joy of Canadian SoCons. So this is most apros pos.

      • So this is most apros pos.

        Apropos.

    • Ignatieff challenged Harper to include access to both contraception and safe abortion. As to Harper not doing anything socially conservative, his cuts to the Status of Women and Planned Parenthood, are certainly lauded by social conservatives in Canada and might lead one to believe that his foreign aid could have a similar slant.

      And Michael Ignatieff's main interest in foreign aid is for it to increase the number of abortions.

      What complete nonsense. Read Ignatieff's statements. Ignatieff clearly said that foreign aid meant to address women's health and childbirth in developing countries has to include the full spectrum of care, which includes access to contraception and safe abortions.

      Now, tell me exactly what Harper's position is on money going to Planned Parenthood and similar organizations which promote contraception in developing countries? Will his position be the same as he has employed in Canada or will it differ? Ignatieff is trying to get answers to these questions.

  26. You`re right, the coalition was in the works secretlly for some time prior to the Iggy`s first Policy Announcement. But by the time he made that proclamation of his willingness to be leader, the Global economy was collapsing and he was willing to toss us into constitutional turmoil just so he could be Jack and Gilles puppet. We shouldn`t forget that.

  27. Oh, do you mean during the time Harper prorogued the first time? So, that's when you guys noticed the economy was collapsing, was it? Evidence that Conservatives really can't walk and chew gum at the same time. Thanks, I hadn't known that before.

    Also thanks for explaining how it is that Harper thought there were no Canadian flags at the press release announcing the coalition, since it was so secret. I know you guys don't like the media, but sometimes it can turn secret things into wide-open public things, just by turning on a TV or picking up a newspaper.

    • Actually I was referring to the secret negotiations that Iggy`s future coalition partners ( Jack and Gilles ) were having weeks before the vote-funding crisis that caused the formation of the coalition.

      • They're probably up to the exact same thing right now. Notice how Jack and Iggy are playing nice now? Does anybody think that this is a coincidence? Harper will be campaigning against a coalition during the next election, even though the Libs/Dips will deny it to high heaven. The moment Harper wins another minority though, they'll be teaming up again.

  28. Surely it hasn't been more than 9 times so far. That and "Harper Holiday".

    If it takes, it takes. If it doesn't, well I'm on to try to manufacture some other new phrase for posterity.

  29. When Harper said he wanted to focus on women's health, I immediately wondered if Harper would adopt the same agenda regarding birth control and foreign aid as George W Bush did. Will agencies be required to be against contraception and/or abortion to receive funding? Who knows? Perhaps Ignatieff's stand will get Harper to clarify his own position on this.

    Too often, Canadians just don't know what our current government's agenda is. Harper seems to operate under the assumption the less we know the better.

    • In that assumption, he's correct.. at least to his own personal situation.

    • I think you may be on to something there, catherine. Now that Iggy's articulated his position – albeit in that slightly restricted regard to foreign aid – on abortion, Harper may be asked to do the same. In which case, his choice is to alienate a social conservative base…or garner stink-eye from a whole bunch of social moderates whose votes are up for grabs.

  30. (If I may rip off Neil Diamond)

    Joe was mine, til the time that I found him
    Raising tax, getting attacked
    Then Bri came along, led us strong for a while
    The land he screwed, and that died too

    Don't know if I will, but until I can find me
    A tory man who can lead less insanely
    I'll stay what I am
    Conservative Man

    Had to here, sticking up for the crazies
    Bulding jails, Senate fails
    Stockwell free, I could post with my real name
    A winning plan, hot as Rand

    Don't know if I will, but until I can find me
    A big blue tent, with agendas aired plainly
    I'll stay what I am
    Conservative Man