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An awful, terrible man we were once quite eager to make prime minister


 

December 12The Liberals “have made a commitment to the coalition to get the economy on the right track for Canadian families,” NDP Leader Jack Layton said in a prepared statement. That commitment included Ignatieff’s signature on a piece of paper, Layton said. “Every Liberal and New Democrat member of Parliament has signed a letter to Her Excellency the Governor General stating that they collectively and individually lost confidence in the government and were committed to governing together.”

December 17Yesterday, Layton said he met Ignatieff and had a good discussion. “The coalition continues as a very significant presence in the debate that’s taking place now.” On a lighter note, asked whether he has a Christmas present for Ignatieff, Layton said he’ll probably frame the coalition agreement and give it to him.

TonightNDP National Director Brad Lavigne set the stage for an election war for the left with the Liberals by suggesting Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff was into torture, into Iraq and out of the country … “Mr. Layton has written a book about investing in Canadians and their communities. Mr. Ignatieff has written books defending torture,” said Lavigne. “Mr. Ignatieff has defended and supported the war in Iraq … If Mr. Ignatieff or Mr. Harper were prime minister in 2004, Canada would still be in Iraq today.”


 

An awful, terrible man we were once quite eager to make prime minister

  1. Anybody who takes the NDP seriously, SERIOUSLY needs to check their head. Their domestic platform is expensive and leads to a stagnant economy, while their international platform is a joke (I remember Layton saying 'we need to get out of Afghanistan" after two soldiers were killed). The NDP either realize this, and their partisan attacks are designed to make them viewed as a moral, ethical, grassroots party (i.e. never mind the past or evidence). Or they don't realize this, which still means that their attacks are meaningless and won't change the mind of the average Canadian voter, who has never elected a federal NDP government.

    If they keep going at the rate they are going, they will be viewed as they always have been: a fringe party with nothing to add to the conversation but childish attacks and meaningless statements. Their recent attacks on Ignatieff will only confirm NDP skeptics that they are a yell and scream party, not an honest, critical thinking one.

    Changing their name won't fix this either.

  2. Anybody who takes the NDP seriously, SERIOUSLY needs to check their head. Their domestic platform is expensive and leads to a stagnant economy, while their international platform is a joke (I remember Layton saying 'we need to get out of Afghanistan" after two soldiers were killed). The NDP either realize this, and their partisan attacks are designed to make them viewed as a grassroots 'everyday-man' party (i.e. never mind the past or evidence). Or they don't realize this, which still means that their attacks are meaningless and won't change the mind of the average Canadian voter, who has never elected a federal NDP government.

    If they keep going at the rate they are going, they will be viewed as they always have been: a fringe party with nothing to add to the conversation but childish attacks and meaningless statements. Their recent attacks on Ignatieff will only confirm NDP skeptics that they are a yell and scream party, not an honest, critical thinking one.

    Changing their name won't fix this either.

    • Funny thing is the Liberals were quite willing to give these ("nobody takes seriously") NDPer's 25% of the cabinet positions
      Including: Deputy Prime Minister Jack Layton,Environment Thomas Mulcair,Immigration Olivia Chow,Industry Joe Comartin,Health Libby Davies,Heritage Charlie Angus.
      Plus some parliamentary secretaries.
      What would Canada look like today? Basket case, maybe.

      • There were no specifics as to who would be named to the coalition cabinet from the NDP nor what portfolios they would receive. It was in fact specified that it would be up to the Liberal Prime Minister to name the cabinet so your speculation as to whom would have been named and what they would have received is pure conjecture.

    • I remember Layton saying 'we need to get out of Afghanistan" after two soldiers were killed) This should not be viewed as a negative. We should not be in Afghanistan period. It is an American strategic resource war that politicians without morals were able to sell to the simple minded.

      • I remember him selling that, and ending corporate tax cuts, down the river to get his hands on seats in Cabinet.

    • @MacCross:

      While I agree with your characterization of the NDP currently, they weren't always that way (as you suggest). In the 1970s and 80s, they were a party with deeply held convinctions who held governments' feet to the fire on issues from acid rain to nuclear proliferation to women's rights. The main knock against them was their connection to organized labour (if I recall properly – I was a kid), but they were neverthless viewed as the party of conscience. And Ed Broadbent was consistently regarded as the most popular and capable leader in the country.

      All of which makes their current state a bit sadder.

      • Actually, back in the days of the CCF, Woodworth (I believe) was quite the parliamentarian. They've usually had good leadership, but lately it seems they've soiled the sheets pretty badly.

    • This article is such a joke considering the quotes are around 9 months apart. Why don't you show the Tories daily flip-flops on the state of the economy (separated by hours sometimes) or the Liberals dismal record of threatening to bring down the government and then meekly slinking away? Please.

      • Yeah! Really Aaron. Show some Conservative hypocricy for once!

    • Talk about "meaningless statements" and "childish attacks". Jack Layton did not base his opposition to the war on the basis of the tragic death of two soldiers. If you can't base your comments on the truth then they have no value. The advice about honesty you offer is good. Please take your own advice.

      • No, he didn't base his opposition to the war on the death of two soldiers (I never said that), but used the death of two soldiers as partisan ammunition. The war in Afghanistan hasn't been fought properly, but it needs to be fought. Layton's opposition to the war disqualifies him as a federal leader; what if WE were attacked on 9/11? Would Layton punish the guilty or turn the other cheek? The whole point of being part of NATO is if one of the member states is attacked, then it is an attack on ALL member states.

        This is the hypocrisy and immorality of the left; do what we can to make life comfortable and peaceful in OUR country. But when it comes to punishing fundamentalists, introducing democracy in a totalitarian state, and helping out those who don't have the basic services that you and I take for granted, the NDP doesn't care and doesn't want to help. I thought the whole point of the left is helping out the less fortunate, no?

      • No, he didn't base his opposition to the war on the death of two soldiers (I never said that), but used the death of two soldiers as partisan ammunition. The war in Afghanistan hasn't been fought properly, but it needs to be fought. Layton's opposition to the war disqualifies him as a federal leader; what if WE were attacked on 9/11? Would Layton punish the guilty or turn the other cheek? The whole point of being part of NATO is that when one of the member states is attacked, then it is considered an attack on ALL member states.

        This is the hypocrisy and immorality of the left; do what we can to make life comfortable and peaceful in OUR country. But when it comes to punishing fundamentalists, introducing democracy in a totalitarian state, and helping out those who don't have the basic services that you and I take for granted, the NDP doesn't care and doesn't want to help. I thought the whole point of the left is helping out the less fortunate, no?

  3. What an uncomortable piece of history–especially for the Libs. I didn't realize Iggy and Layton got so chummy during that time.

    Anyway, it will all be packaged for maximum effect, and showing up in a Coalition attack ad when appropriate.

    • Shame Harper proposed the exact same thing not so long ago. Fortunately for you most of the bought-msm will forget that (along with Harper and team's eviseration of Arar's rights, Harper's pimping of Howard's speech, Harper's knowledge of a bribe to a dying man, etc)…

  4. "Lavigne also scoffed at Ignatieff's proposed changes to reform the Employment Insurance system, saying the Liberal leader was “out of the country” when the system Canada has today was crafted."
    -London Free Press

    • Jack Layton talks a lot about gender equality in Parliament. But was he even born when women got the right to vote? Jack Layton, just visiting.

  5. This juxtaposition of quotes be relevance if it weren't for the stunningly obvious fact that–no matter what problems Michael Ignatieff may have–a government with the NDP in cabinet would undoubtly have been more progressive than any government run by Stephen Harper.

    Remember the choice that we were presented with back in December–not NDP Utopia versus Iggy the PM, but Harper vs. the coalition.

    It's not as if the NDP passed up the chance to form government with a progressive party in order to empower a prime minister they decry. No, it was Ignatieff and the Liberals who did that.

    • So? They'll have to live with that. Sad thing is the NdP doesn't ever have to live with its consequences, due mostly because the Canadian public doesn't trust them with their homework, nevermind their bank books.

      • Sad thing is the NdP doesn't ever have to live with its consequences

        On behalf of the country, I declare that to be not sad at all. May the federal NDP forever play in the sandbox in the corner, and speak only when spoken to…

    • "… no matter what problems Michael Ignatieff may have–a government with the NDP in cabinet would undoubtly have been more progressive than any government run by Stephen Harper. "

      You seem to think this was a selling point, as opposed to the fatal flaw it actually was.

  6. Great post Wherry.

    Nothing like some keen incongruity to start the day,

  7. Great post Wherry.

    I love the smell of incongruity in the morning.

    • Synesthesia!

  8. Shhhhhh,

    I'm pretty sure Iggy doesn't really want to highlight his deal with the NDP and Bloc, going into a possible election mode.

    The CPC, on the other hand…

  9. This string of quotes is not particularly surprising. Shortly after gaining leadership, Ignatieff made his nuanced approach to the collation rather clear in a CBC radio interview. In short, he was not going to tear it up since that would give Harper carte blanche to go back to his head-in-the-sand fiscal policy (and screw the other parties finances reforms), however he was also not going to rush to pull any triggers to cause either a coalition government or a new election. He pretty much stuck to this formula, against virtually all "advice" from media pundits.
    Within this context, the early comments from Layton simply amount to pleading. The coalition was his big political gamble (and to be fair he almost pulled it off). Now it is likely back to the same old approach, attack the Liberals rather than the Conservatives since that is where the potential NDP voters are.
    Final point, the comments on Iraq while speculative are fair game. Both Ignatieff (out of politics) and Harper (as opposition leader) demonstrated bad judgement. However, the statement about torture is simply a lie. (Yes, Ignatieff did discuss both the cases for and against torture in his book but he clearly came down against it for the correct reasons)
    I realize that in Brad Lavigne's position it is possible to take political pot-shots with no real political consequence, however it not only demonstrates a lack of class it also weakens his legitimate points by mixing them in with trash.

    • Nik Nanos figured the 'just visiting' ads were primarily directed at the voters on the 'red-orange divide' (as Kady calls them). I take Brad's trash talk as reinforcing the 'just visiting' message, and piling on with the Iraq and torture stuff.

      Meanwhile, sitting in the on-deck circle, ready to do some more Iggy bashing, is Duceppe. I wonder if there are any special interest groups that Duceppe/Layton can convince to join in the fray ? Can Iggy handle such a gang-up, if it indeed occurs ?

      • The polls came out, 63% of Ontarians were against the coalition, MI backed down….it's not all that complicated.
        GeenShift/coalition/EI election…polls say 'backdown MI', and he does.

        IMO, Dippers want MI to be upfront about a LibDipper coalition, going into the election. ' Coalition if necessary but not necessarily a coalition' won't cut it this time. Won't cut it with the GG nor Canadians.

        This time, we need to know what/who we are voting for.

  10. Is it just me, or does Brad Lavigne look a lot like Dimitri Soudas?

    • Dipper – Tory… same old story.

  11. What this tells me is the Liberals are stuck at 33% with little to no chance of growth without poaching NDP voters. The NDP, quite unsurprisingly, does not want its voters poached, so it is throwing bombs. Welcome to our dysfunctional, winner-takes-all, first past the post electoral system.

  12. LOL, although it seems he tints his hair a little darker when he is in the Dimitri role.

  13. I have no doubt that when the history of Ignatieff's brief political gambit is written, his refusing to become PM in January 2009 will be seen as the biggest error of his political career. In fact, this error is of such a colossal nature it should probably be listed as one of the biggest political errors ever committed by a Canadian political leader.

    Had Ignatieff accepted the coalition deal, he would not now be gripped by the sudden fear that he will likely never be PM, certainly not a PM with majority support in the House. Instead, he would now be PM, firmly ensconced in the Langevin building, with another guaranteed year and half support in the House for his government from the NDP and Bloq.

    What a dufus. A leader with such poor political judgement cannot be trusted as — and does not deserve to be — PM.

    • If the LPC really wanted to become part of a coalition government Bob Rae would be the appointed leader now, not MI.

      There is no way out of a formal coalition, once entered.
      None of the participating parties would be seen a a stand alone party, for many years.
      It would be Conservatives vs the coalition for many elections, diminishing the LPC to a partner on the left.

      • A coalition can end, as Borden's Union government did at the end of WWI. Arranging a graceful exit so that one could end the coalition and then attack one's former partners wouldn't have been easy for Ignatieff or Rae, but there was no constitutional obstacle to them doing so. If Mr. Ignatieff had governed as PM in a coalition for a year or so, I'm sure he could have constructed some fundamental point of principle on which he would have had to seek a mandate from the people independently from his coalition colleagues.

        Being in power is much, much better than being out of power, even if in a minority or a coalition. Ask any Conservative. Turning down a chance to hold office was a strange and potentially politcally fatal decision fro Mr. Ignatieff.

    • I can't believe that you actually think this.

      First-off Ignatieff wouldn't be PM in January 2009 – that would have to wait till the leadership race in the Spring (which he
      might have lost, because it was a decision of the members).

      Secondly, it is doubtful that the coalition would have survived. I know its supporters like to paint those that didn't like it as rubes who didn't understand a parliamentary democracy, but that misses the big picture. Many Canadians accepted that a coalition might be legitimate, but didn't WANT that outcome. How many? We are talking about 2-1 opposition to Prime Minister Dion and similar numbers in opposition to the role of the Bloc. A government cannot survive with that kind of approval (Harper may register those kinds of numbers in terms of vote intention, but his approval ratings have typically been in the 40's or 50's, and, his support is galvanized into a single party). Such a government might be legal, but would face immense challenges due to its unpopularity. Imagine you were a liberal elected by just a few votes – you would be very frightened and much harder to whip.

      Thirdly, it assumes that the Bloc and NDP would have stuck to their agreements (even then producing a mere 2 years or so of an Ignatieff government – and not exactly fun years either).

      Ignatieff made a wise choice. He chose to have about a 60-40 shot at being PM, over a 90-10 shot at being Canada's worst prime minister.

      • As the Marquis of Montrose said" He either fears his fate too much, or his rewards are small, who dares not put it to the touch to win or lose it all."

        Nothing is certain in politics, but turning down the chance to be PM today, in hopes of a better chance coming along later, is a mistake. Being in office is better than being out of office, and being re-elected PM is more likely than winning the job as opposition leader. I can understand Ignatieff's caution – taking on the coalition would have been a huge gamble. But that's what he should have done. (just as he should have forced a June election this year).

  14. "The NDP, quite unsurprisingly, does not want its voters poached"

    The NDP have a fairly recognizeable platform and seems to have clearly staked out their ideological vision.

    The Liberals…not so much.

    Combine that, with the fact that the once fractured right appears unified for some time to come, we are left with two fairly clear ideological options and one party left twisting in the wind.

    It's the Liberals that should be concerned about losing votes to the NDP, not the other way around.

    • 'The NDP have a fairly recognizeable platform and seems to have clearly staked out their ideological vision.'
      That's true, unless/until they are prepared to form a coalition with the Liberals, then both parties scrap their 'clear' platforms in exchange to seize power.
      A coalition government is like that $5 grab bag, a bunch of junk packaged up for cheap, you don't know what yah paid for and are looking for a surprise.

  15. Or more to the point – the NDP ads will be offensive in nature not defensive.

    They're directly going after the left wing of the Liberal party.

  16. NDP and Jack are history.
    When Ed was leader it made a bit of sense.
    Too bad he was not with the Liberals.
    I think Jack's on crack.

    • I've read this comment three times now, and all I can think is, "BE MORE RHYME-Y!" I am clearly not a serious journalist *at all*.

      • Glad you recognize that Kady.

        • You're welcome! And you just feel free to tuck that away and bring it up if I ever start to develop airs above my station.

      • Ya, part of me expects that if you press 'enter' when you don't need to, it should be in verse.

  17. I keep wondering, though, what could Ignatieff possibly have done differently then or do differently now?

    Back in December he couldn't really criticize Dion even as Dion headed the bus for the cliff because of the outsider, not-really-sure-he-is-one-of-us, image he'd been so effectively painted as by his opponents within the party. Today, he's holding a really weak hand. So is everyone else but he is the only one who really needs to change the game.

    I keep trying to imagine how a someone else plugged into his position could do better and I just don't see it. The Liberals are in a tough position. They might win a minority election but it's going to take years of hard work, assuming it's even possible, to recover what they have lost.

  18. Layton bugs me. He's just a little too eager. I really wish I didn't have to hear so much about Iggy's career pre-politics (academia is not the real world, so his academic opinions are not necessarily his political opinions).

    What would be actually useful would be to hear why he'd be a such a terrible leader or what's wrong with his policy decisions (and 'he doesn't like Canada because he didn't live here' is not a reason).

    • "he doesn't like Canada because he didn't live here' is not a reason"

      I have to respectfully disagree.

      Microsoft could certainly program a software-leader for us. A computer program that would always make accurate political decisions based on input data and functions derived to reflect the electoral weighting of liberalism, socialism and conservatism. The program could be uncorruptable, non-partisan, work 24/7, be totally transparent, infallible, and provide decisions and policies perfectly in both official languages.

      However, that's not what a leader is. A person, a leader, is the grand-sum of their decisions through life, and a person's character is not separate from their judgment and ability to make decisions. Ignatieff choosing to leave Canada, then returning when promised the PM bis is in my view absolutely relevant because, to the best of my knowledge, he is not a cyborg programmed in Redmond WA.

  19. Important in this, I think, is to recall that – after he put his name to a letter imploring Her Majesty the GG to oust Harper – the very first decision Ignatieff made as leader was to trust that Harper would change. To trust that he would put partisanship away and start governing for the good of the country. So, how has that worked out, Liberals?

    It says almost as much about the man's judgement as his boffo call to trust Bush on the invasion of Iraq.

    • His judgement had everything to do with the polls at the time, and nothing to do with 'thinking' Harper would change.
      Canadians were strongly (63%) against the coalition seizing power from PMSH.

      In 10 days, the entire Liberal caucus went from all in, to all out of the coalition. Dion wore the shame, took one for the team.

    • Well Iggy is on record, at least in ENGLISH, as being on both sides of the Coalition option.

      I could be wrong, but I don't think he has yet told Quebecers, in FRENCH, that he is now against the Coaltion option.
      Duceppe could certainly make hay out of such an admission by Iggy.

      • Recent poll says, second choice for Bloc supporters is the NDP,
        so any hint of the LibDipper coalition makes a vote for Jack 'safe' in a coalition government if Dippers are guaranteed seats in cabinet.

        Libs can not slip in a coalition govt AFTER the election, this time.

  20. Way to go NDP – you tell em .. LOL … I love canadian politics indeed especially when former dance partners fight in public. The best part is using the CPC ad themes for themselves. I have thought for quite some time now that the all against Harper gambit is not smart and has been over played – what the NDP and BLOC should do is start to focus on the Lib's – this was patently obvious when even Lizzie joined the pack against Harper at the debates and at no time did any of them stop to think that none of them are probably going to get very switch votes from the CPC base instead expend a little energy going to where the potential voter is .. hey who knows maybe we will start to see a lot more re-arrangement this fall could get very interesting!

    • "… hey who knows maybe we will start to see a lot more re-arrangement this fall could get very interesting! "

      Yes indeed. My take is that the three pros see rookie Iggy as the weakest player in the four-handed game. As such, they will try to play him (not necessarily gang up on him) for maximum advantage.

      The three each have their lines down pat, and not likely to change, as the drama plays out, leading up to Sep 28th. Iggy is being pulled in two directions, by the doves and hawks in his caucus, and so his public narrative bounces back and forth. I agree with Wilson, that his final decision, like so many others, will depend largely on the polls.

      Meanwhile, Harper likes to surprise his opponents, so could spring something dramatic just before Sep 28th. Iggy would have to think fast on his own, or (more likely) consult his caucus/advisors, which will make him look like a weak leader. Lots of achilles heels on Iggy, that can be exploited.

  21. these does reek a little of desperation on the part of the NDP, is there some reason they are trying to change the channel going into their convention weekend? Does Layton have a Leadership Review vote this weekend?

  22. OFF-TOPIC: I see Lizzie just decided to run for a seat in Saanich-Gulf Islands (that's out west here just off of vancouver isalnd) this is going to get very interesting – bada bing Iggy ball's in your court now as the Lib cnadidate will not be re-running and she came very close!

    • The Liberal candidate didn't come all that close, and that was in a race in which she was the former Green "star' candidate, and the NDP in effect had no one running in the riding (due to some rather embarassing stories having come out about their candidate in mid-campaign). Even with a united non-Tory vote Gary Lunn won fairly handily (by a couple of thousand votes). If Ms Green runs there she'll be up against both an NDP and a Liberal candidate – as well as Mr. Lunn. I can't see Mr. Ignatieff being as "generous" as M. Dion was to Ms May.

  23. This article is such a joke considering the quotes are around 9 months apart. Why don't you show the Tories daily flip-flops on the state of the economy (separated by hours sometimes) or the Liberals dismal record of threatening to bring down the government and then meekly slinking away (again, days apart at the most)? Please.

  24. Aaron, where was this type of thinking from you when the Liberals forced Dion out only days after proclaiming him as the greatest thing since sliced bread? The same thing no?

    • Excellent point. I would have loved to see those contradictions exposed. I was surprised how quickly the knives came out for Dion.

  25. I can't watch Brad Lavigne – he gives me the willies. He's so hyper, jumping all over the place, constantly interrupts with this stupid smug look on his face – someone please give Lavigne some prozac or something.

    Layton writing about economics gives one a real chill down their spine.

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