Several Liberal MPs spoke on the record and quite candidly about how they view their current conundrum. Rob Oliphant, the Liberal MP for Don Valley West, a United Church minister and a friend to Mr. Ignatieff, had several observations, a couple of which made it into the piece. This one did not.
He’s not a natural opposition leader, mind you very few people are … To me, in opposition you have to be angry, all the time. Michael is not an angry person. That’s not his personality. He doesn’t enjoy that. That’s very hard for him. It’s not a natural thing.
This is an interesting argument for probably a few reasons, but consider one way of looking at this: You could make the argument that Mr. Ignatieff is the only of the four current major party leaders who is not currently defined, or was not once primarily motivated, by a sense of anger or indignation. Messrs Harper, Layton and Duceppe all have that in their stories. The closest Mr. Ignatieff comes to that is the notion that “we can do better.”
A bit more from Mr. Oliphant, some of which appears slightly abridged in the print edition.
We’re having a hard time. There’s no doubt, we’re having a hard time. We’re not able to somehow convey the Michael that I know to the public. The biggest part seems to be that the Conservatives are brillaint at framing him in a way that is negative … We have not been able to get out the fact that he’s not in this for himself, he’s in this for public service. This is not an easy life. My god, he’s working 12 hours a day, seven days a week … But that’s our fault.
Michael, his whole life has depended on his intelligence. He is amazingly intelligent. He’s also curious … he’s more of a broadcast journalist than a professor… when you’re with him, he actually interviews you at times. So he’s depended on his intelligence and his curiosity. I think he has decided that intelligence isn’t really working for him, so he’s decided he has to be clever. And the people around him, I think, are trying to be clever. So they have this sort of chess game going on and they expect these certain moves and when the other side doesn’t make those moves, they’re kind of flummoxed. They just don’t know what to do … The other side’s not intelligent, but they are clever. What my perscription is be smart. And smart is different than clever or intelligence. Smart is what Chretien was. Smart is you don’t make decisions until you need to. Smart is you remember the people all of the time … We just have to be smart. Quit trying to out-clever the other guy, because the other guy is Machivellan, the other guy… there’s a moral bankruptcy there. He’ll do anything.
Frankly, he went through a leadership battle where he talked about some things and pretty much paid a price on them. So I think you get a little gun shy … The pendulum’s got to swing back down into the middle where he can be his authentic self. Which is an idea guy. That is my hope. My hope is that he can find his authentic voice. When I listen to him at times, it’s not the Michael I’ve heard before … He is who he is. But who he is right now isn’t coming through.