Ignatieff on Ignatieff


As mentioned, here is more of last Saturday’s conversation at Stornoway.

On that trip to the Shepherds of Good Hope. What was shocking was to see people who’d obviously never had to go to a line-up for food in their lives. I think what was a bit painful was the cameras were there and some of them were very, very unhappy about that. And so what was registering on my face was discomfort partly for them … What’s so puzzling about this recession, it’s the worst recession in 20 years, it’s that it’s largely invisible. But you go to a line like that and you suddenly see that it’s not just the usual street people, it’s a lot of other people, who don’t know how they got there, that are shocked that they’re there and I was shocked for them, I guess that that was my reaction.

One of the challenges politically is to make some of this visible to Canadians. I want recovery. Everybody thinks if you’re in opposition what you want is for everything to get worse, I actually want everything to get better. I don’t want … I want all the green shoots we can get.. but, you know, one of the things about the recession is the invisibilty of those who are paying the price. And so, you go there and you see it. I guess I was shocked. That’s, shocked is not quite the word, but just, it really hits you. In the same way that, in Thunder Bay it hits you. On Thursday morning we were in a lumber mill that’s been closed for two years and the superintendent comes down everyday just to make sure it hasn’t been broken in. You know, brand new machinery standing idle. And you see something on the guy’s face that really hits you. Poliitcs is just about people. And you see that and it kind of stays in your mind afterwards.

The great thing about politics is you get to see the country raw and unplugged. You get to see things that most other Canadians don’t see. You get to live your country’s life … and so, you know, I haven’t had the greatest autumn, but it’s an unforgettable experience and a positive one, in the sense that it deepens your sense of what your country is and what it’s going through. Because you’re in opposition, you actually get out and see it much more than the prime minister does.

On whether he’s enjoying himself. I’d be lying to you if I said I enjoyed it every day of the week. But it’s been, I think what I said before is true, the most challenging thing I’ve ever tried to do. When it’s going well, the most fun … It’s a team, you feel you’re part of a team and people believe in you and we’re pushing towards the same goal which is a good, you know compassionate, you know creative, you know centre of the road of the government that really does good things for Canada. When it doesn’t go well, you have to take responsibility. It’s about being responsible for it and keep on going.

On whether he feels like he’s being himself. Yes. But I think that I’m happiest when I’m more unplugged. That makes my guy’s a little anxious, but I’m happier when I’m unplugged … I think that you’ve got to learn the country. You’ve got to take it into your veins again … You’ve got know it in your heart. You’ve got to know, you’ve got to register what that supervisor of that saw mill is saying to you in his eyes as opposed to his words. You’ve got to take it into your heart what that very well dressed black man in the soup kitchen … he’s not even talking to you, but what he’s saying to you is help … In terms of going from 05 to 09, I think there’s a perception that I’ve got overly cautious. I hope what I’m doing is getting more precise. There’s quite a lot out there that, in a weird way, I’ve had to fight for the right to be heard … ‘He’s just visiting. He’s only it for himself.’ So I’ve had to fight to kind of say, ‘Wait a minute, I’m a Canadian, I’m here to stay and he’s what I’ve got to say.’

On vision and policy and ideas. In terms of policies and ideas, the vision at Vancouver of a learning society in which we get early learning and child care for every single Canadian family that wants it, we get every Aboriginal Canadian believing that an education is for them, we get every Canadian to understand that investing in universities and science and technology is not something for someone else, it’s the key to our whole future economy. There was real content there. I’ve said some important things about India and China, which are not just about promoting market share, they’re about changing the whole orientation of our society from north-south to out over the Pacific … it’s one of the biggest things that’s happening to our country that we’re not seeing. Suddenly, for the first time in a generation, the U.S. consumer’s not going to pull us out. We have to change the whole orientation of not just our trade performance, but our cultural, intellectual, we’ve just got to turn around. And I’ve said, and I said it before the Pittsburgh summit, I said we’ve got to stop clinging to the G8 and embrace the G20 and lead in the G20 with a secretariat. Say, ok, we’re a smaller player in a bigger club, but let’s use that as an opportunity. That’s an idea.

On the economic front, just last week I was saying, listen… and you learn this in your own riding, I’ve seen the manufacturing sector in my own riding clobbered since 06, but when you talk to guys who cast aluminum for Chrysler and you talk to them about how they can keep their jobs, they know one thing, we’re shooting too much heat up the stack. We’ve got to get our energy costs down, number one. And we’ve got to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels, number two. Because fossil fuels are going straight up. So that’s what I said in Vancouver. We’ve got to bet the competitive store on energy efficiency and renewables. And we’ve got to understand that the paradox of Canadian strength is that our energy resources are simulatenously a vulnerablility. They make us lazy… energy efficiency is just going to be key to, it’s a little technical, but unit cost productivity. This government has spent four years doing nothing about Canadian productivity and nothing about this issue. And I’ve also said quite a lot about increasing interprovincial energy sharing, smart grids and interprovincial power grids. We’ve got north-south intergration of our energy supplies in ways that are weakening the east-west. Now, nobody thinks you can make water run uphill. Government can’t, you know, the north-south axis of our energy markets make sense, but we may be fragmenting the country as a result. It’s great news when Quebec starts to wield power into Ontario and Ontario starts to wield nuclear back into… if you want to get big coal fired plants offline in Ontario, you’ve got to increase interprovincial energy sharing. I’m the first person… people say, I’ve taken 10 minutes to say this, but I’ve taken 10 minutes because there’s actually quite a lot out there and there’ll be more. And one of the other things I would say is, the question Canadians will ask in ten years about this government is, what did we get for $56-billion? What did we get that made us more productive, more competitive and guaranteed the jobs of the future? And there isn’t a Canadian, I think, that actually believes that this deficit bought us our future. Canadians are prepared to say it got us through until tomorrow morning, but there isn’t a Canadian with any confidence, because it goes deeper than this issue of this ridiculous, hyper-partisan allocation of money, it’s what are we getting that’s going to make this country stronger.

On communicating all that. Well, I think it’s a matter of, I’ve had quite a few ideas out already, there’ll be more, I’ve got to get to a moment where they’re being heard. That’s a personal challenge which I accept. I’ve spent a lot of time being framed up in a certain way, which means that people aren’t listening. And that’s my challenge as a communicator. I’m not, don’t mishear that, I’m not blaming anybody, I take the responsibility. There’s stuff out there. I’m the same guy I was in 2005. I’ve got to get myself heard. And I think, in fact, Canadians are ready to listen, because they’re troubled, precisely by the question I raised, what are we getting for this? Where are we going? And the person who can say, we’ve got to have a plan that grows the economy, makes us more energy efficienct, bets the store on education, makes sure we’ve got a health care system in fifteen years that can take care of us and makes sure that people can retire in decency, is going to be the guy people follow. And the thing about Mr. Harper is that he can’t, he’s spent the money and he can’t guarantee that there’ll be pensions there, he can’t guarantee there’ll be health care there, he has nothing to tell you about producitivty and he has nothing to tell you about where the jobs of tomorrow are going to come from. And I have to fill that space.

… But I think I’ve said already what I really believe, which is that what I’ve got to offer is what comes next, what’s the future here. Look, Mr. Harper, after nearly destroying his government in December 2008, basically moved into the Liberal house. But there’s no vision, absolutely no vision of where we’re going to be in five, 10 years. I’ve talked a lot about 2017 because it’s a way of focusing the mind on the question that actually bothers Canadians. The thing I pick up is relief that civilization as we know it didn’t end, right? And I think Harper gets a bounce from that. Everybody was told civilization as you know it is going to end by the spring of 2009. And then June came along and there was actually a little, tiny millimetre of green shoot. Now Canadians are thinking, ok, more shoots, pretty good… but the anxiety that remains for Canadians, what did we get for $56-billion, how are we going to dig ourselves out of it, and if the American market is going to be flat for three, four, five years, they’ve got a trillion dollar deficit, how do we make our living in this world? And I just think there’s no plan there whatever. And I’ve at least said, India and China, education and research, energy efficiency. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, I’m still learning. And there are three or four other pieces that have to be there before Canadians start to think, yeah, well he’s at least thinking about our future. He’s not up there at 50,000 feet, he’s trying to address the anxieties and anguish that I saw in that food line, that I see in he supervisor’s face in Thunder Bay. And you have to make that connection. And it’s also not enough to just have lots of ideas, lots of policies. People have got to feel, the guy, he’s in my corner. He’s a little funny, he’s got a funny name, he’s been outside the country, but he’s in my corner. I mean, that’s the connection you have to make. It’s very visceral. And I feel I make the connection constantly with people. I don’t think I’m dreaming.


Ignatieff on Ignatieff

  1. Iggy better be careful with his 'invisible' recession talk. It might be invisible to public servant types in Ottawa who are still giving themselves raises but it's not at all concealed to most of us outside Ottawa.

    I believe Iggy is more suited to be American President than Canadian PM (not being snarky). American Pres spends most of time on foreign affairs with occasional look-see at domestic policy and I think that would suit Iggy better. He does not come across as someone with burning passion on domestic issues. Obama and Iggy should switch jobs.

    • I will ask you to withdraw the suggestion that The One(tm) should become a Canadian political leader. He's doing enough damage where he is, thank you.

      • You seem to forget Obama's been left with an incredible mess to deal with, but how convenient it is to blame it all on the guy holding the mop. Funny how you can't seem to follow the same logistical path at home, looking at a guy left with a whole lotta something in the rainy day account and who turned it into confetti, with his own image on it to boot… And we've got one wild spend thrift, one who loves the US media more than Obama, screwing up our economy now, thank you.

        • Nope. I have not forgotten the inherited mess. What will never be forgotten, in addition, is the worse mess that is under construction.

          President Obama is welcome to visit, as long as he pays for his beaver tails. I have zero desire to see stirring-rhetoric-and-nothing-behind-the-curtain as a political leader here. If there's nothing behind the curtain, there may as well be little in front of it. Make up your own joke.

  2. This is a thing that politicians do that just drives me batty: but when you talk to guys who cast aluminum for Chrysler and you talk to them about how they can keep their jobs, they know one thing, we're shooting too much heat up the stack. That's pure drivel. Why do politicians insist on putting their own words and pet causes into the mouths of "average Canadians?" It's dishonest and it's disrespectful.

    There is no-one in the country, at least no-one without a political axe to grind who believes that "green jobs" are going to save the world. If you want to battle climate change on it's own merits then fine, battle away. But don't pretend that there is money in it… there ain't. Green technologies require huge subsidies and are a drag on the economy – full stop.

    • Germany's doing pretty well out of it. Yes it's subsidized, but please let's not pretend we hav'n't been subsidizing the oil sands in one form or another.

      'Why do politicians insist on putting their own words and pet causes into the mouths of "average Canadians?" It's dishonest and it's disrespectful"

      Maybe because it's one of the ways you raise the bar. Surely you don't expect politicians to do nothing but pander to or be always in agreement with what average Canadians say they want? Not if you believe what you have to say[Ignatieff] Although i agree it is a little optimistic to think this is going to be a top of the mind issue for joe average.

      • Actually, Germany's not doing well out of it.

        See page 4 of this report for a summary of it's findings:

        The oil sands add billions of dollars to provincial and federal treasuries every year. There's simply no comparison on the "subsidy" front.

        • PJ
          'The oil sands add billions of dollars to provincial and federal treasuries every year. There's simply no comparison on the "subsidy" front"

          Only because they don't have to foot the real costs to the environment of their operations. No doubt i the current tax environment and given high prices they are more profitable – but is that th only metric we should be using?

          As to Germany not doing well. I believe there are now several hundred thousand new jobs in this field. If you'd lived in Germany you'd quickly realise that they don't lke wasting money any more than we do. I suspect their investments will pay off eventually, if in fact they already aren't doing so now.

          • In other words, all you have is your own rather dubious opinion on how Germany is doing on this score, and an even more dubious notion about "real costs to the environment." But, heck, let's gamble on it as an economic strategy anyhow, right?

          • Are you intending to carry out your petty little vendetta all over Macleans? You sad petty little man.

          • There you go again. Making sweeping unjustified statements and engaging in knee-jerk name-calling. Tsk tsk.

          • Loony.

      • Depends. If it cost you (or, let's get real, this is Canada, the TAXPAYERS) billions to develop an efficiency measure that saves a few hundred thousand, or maybe a few million, per year, well then, no.

        If efficiency has truly improved, accounting for ALL the costs of achieving that efficiency, then it's a competitive advantage no matter what the cost of energy is. It's just a bigger advantage as the energy cost goes up.

        • Bigger advantages are good.

        • So you'd rather wait until technology pays for itself completely before spending any money on developing it, right?


          • It's like you can pick put the occasional word, but overall reading comprehension needs work. Let me help.

            What did paragraph one say?
            If the costs of a new efficiency are ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE HIGHER than the savings, it is NOT an advantage.

            What did paragraph two say?
            If the efficiency is worth the cost of the change, it is an advantage.

            If you need help with "orders of magnitude," paste it into the Google.

          • Uhm….direct "investment" (or as you would put, wasted taxpayers money), into a singular endeavor or industry may not directly yield benefits, but their spinoffs may and may do so far later than one would expect.

            Regardless of my laziness in reading your post, I get the impression that you lean more towards a belief that your first statement is probably more true than the latter…

            As far as your update, you're the nickel and dime guy, not me…go crazy….

          • As far as your update, you're the nickel and dime guy, not me…go crazy….

            When you're talking about spending money – particularly scads of public money – you should listen to the nickel and dime guy. Likewise, you should be polite, but firm, with the "it'll all turn out good in the end" guy.

          • I keep hearing from boosters of so-called green technology that the investment – basically from taxpayers – has to come first, then the profitability will come later. Are there examples in history that such boosters can point to where such an economic model worked? They might well exist, but they just don't pop to mind when thinking how capitalism and innovation tend to work. Would love to be set straight, if possible.

          • How about Ontario developing its hydroelectric power and electrifying rural Ontario?

          • Are you saying that the introduction of hydroelectric power into modern economies was achieved through financing by Ontario taxpayers? I think we got our wires crossed somewhere along the way.

          • Yeah, investment by Ontario Gov't through a monopoly. Lead to longer term economic payoffs, higher standard of living. Canadian engineering firms became world leaders in hydroelectric development (in combination with Quebec, BC).

          • I think what you're talking about is taking an already economically viable technology and having the government invest in it, which is what someone has already mentioned in relation to the oil sands. I don't think what you're tying to tell us is that Ontario taxpayers funded the invention of hydroelectricity technology.

          • Not economically viable for the private sector due to astronomical cost and risk. There's much more to massive hydroelectric generation than just the proven concept of generators and wires.

          • So, the world has hydroelectic power today because governments were willing to fund its invention and implementation? Or did they get in on the act after the fact? That's what I'm trying to get at.

            The argument here is that current green schemes are risky and unproven, and perhaps an unwise taxpayer investment as a result.

          • Well, in that context, what about China's Three Gorges Dam project? Never been done on that scale before. I seem to recall at the time some arguing that it would affect the rotation of the earth, or other risky outcomes. A lot fewere coal fired generating plants needed as a result.

            And it seems to me Canadian engineers were involved.

            I think you're being too narrow in your definition, but maybe that's just me. Within the context of this blog, I doubt Iggy is suggesting the green jobs are related to new technologies, per se, but having the economies of scale through demand of goods and services to drive down costs, improve manufacturing efficiencies.

          • Actually, I think you're using too narrow a definition. You're citing examples of where governments stepped into to invest in already proven technologies. And my guess is that there have been quite a few very big dams in the world that have been built primarily by the private sector. In other words, I don't think dam building needed government subsidies to flourish. Whereas, some of these new and untested green technologies do, which might cast some doubt on their ultimate viability. Just saying.

          • Well, it was your question, your game, so I guess I'll try the next category. "Prejudged responses for $200, Alex".

          • Prejudged responses? How about answering my specific question, which was about examples where governments subsidized new and unproven technologies, which is what we're talking about with respect to green tech, right?

          • How about answering my specific question, which was about examples where governments subsidized new and unproven technologies

            Sorry, I missed that part, or my browser is unable to display it. For your credibilty's sake, kindly direct me to that specific quote.

          • Why would it have to be a specific quote? It's certainly the premise of lgarvin's arguments in this sub-thread, one which I wanted further clarification of with examples, and that I certainly outlined as we proceeded. It's not my fault your example didn't end up meeting my criteria.

          • I'm sure you're a legend in your own mind.

          • Thanks for showing up. lol.

          • Still preening in the mirror?

          • "Are there examples in history that such boosters can point to where such an economic model worked?"

            The only program I can think of is NASA. There are a few products developed by NASA that went on to have commercial success. But that's exception, not rule. While NASA has invented a few useful things, it does not compare to private industry inventions.

          • Ahhhh. Tang. Yummy.

    • Green technologies require huge subsidies and are a drag on the economy

      Just because there is an initial capital investment involved, doesn't mean that there is no long term benefit.

      By that token, my guess is that you find no economic benefit in changing single paned windows to double paned windows, right?

      • You should not guess. It's a relatively simple cost/benefit analysis. The benefit of higher efficiency windows is greater than the cost. Therefore it makes sense to install better windows.

        If you can point to a cost/benefit analysis for any of the 'green' technologies, I'd be interested to read it.

        Arguing that we'll find some further benefit down the road somewhere is just wishful thinking.

        • You remind me of a guy who got banned from Garth Turner's blog about the same time I did.

          Coincidently, a discussion I recently had with the "Green Party of Canada's critic on fiscal reform" regarding his new solar panel installation on his house ( a recent Dalton McGuinty policy) on many of tyhe same issues. It gets silly at times – but recently concluded (after he cut me off permanently- of course he had the last word). I post with the moniker used in letters to the Economist .

          I'm sure he'd enjoy the extra traffic.(NOT) Just shining a little light…


  3. "Surely you don't expect politicians to do nothing but pander to or be always in agreement with what average Canadians say they want?

    I'd be thrilled if a politician presented their own ideas honestly and made a sincere and straightforward argument for those ideas. That would be "raising the bar" and I would cheer it loudly. Unfortunately that's not what Ignatieff is doing. Instead he's pretending on a couple of levels; 1) he's pretending that "green" policies will grow the economy in the aggregate which is pure bunk and 2) he's ascribing that dubious view to some anonymous working stiff so that he doesn't have to support it himself.

    That's hardly raising the bar. I'm not pointing the finger only at Ignatieff, BTW, all politicians do the same thing to a greater or lesser extent. This just struck me as one of the more egregious recent examples.

    • "I'd be thrilled if a politician presented their own ideas honestly…"

      I doubt you'd even notice, seeing as how you're obsessing over some trivial bit of poltico-speak in a rather lengthy exposition of one politician's ideas.

      I just want politicians who won't screw up. too badly (like one who lowers taxes and increases spending just before an economic meltdown and uses massive public spending as his own political war chest, for example). That's it.

      • Two comments constitute an obsession now?

        Ain't what she used to be.

    • I see what you mean with Ignatieff. Layton is another one who can't resist the urge to self identify with the average guy [ don't get me started on the utterly phoney Harper as THs man ] I know i'm grasping at straws but it is possible Ignatieff did have this this conversation. It's not a stretch these days for a steel worker to have a degree or two in whatever. I tend to think that while this is annoying it is nit picking, just a bit.
      On green policies.
      What evidence to you have that he's "pretending"? Why wouldn't he believe it? It's worked in Germany and other european countries to some extent – why is it pure bunk?

      • Steel workers have degrees now, do they? If Ignatieff were to say that alien life forms could add to Canada's workforce diversity, would you defend that, too? For crying out loud.

        • Yeah obviously there isn’t even on steel worker in the country with a degree, there all just morons like you. You’re sick, get help.

          • This is what you do. You make incredible claims in defence of partisan arguments, then lash out at those who dare point it out. Now it's only one worker who has to have a degree to justify your argument, is it? Well, at least you seem to be acknowledging that it's not a trend, which of course begs the question: Why make the absurd claim in the first place? Yeah, yeah, I know, I'm a "moron". Next.

          • " It's not a stretch these days for a steel worker to have a degree or two in whatever."

            Yeah that's an incredible claim all right. All steel workers have degrees. Pathetic! You're utterly dishonest. You don't like what i have to say. I get it. You're a bore. Now piss off.

          • While working in the coal mines in the mid-80s about a third of my shift had some form of post-secondary education. One was a former school teacher and two had science degrees. One of the truck drivers had studied at Stanford. Nice to see you're not even good at stereotyping, DF.

          • I've worked in plenty of factories and construction sites, and the student labourers were generally the only ones even close to having a university degree. I'd love to see these coal mines and sweat shops of higher education that you two are describing, as would the rest of the world.

          • Exaggeration, distortion and mis-represention is your m.o. isn't it? Not everyone here started life out in the industrial revolution.

          • Well, you're the one who made the incredible claim that our labour force is filled with university educated workers. Care to back up that claim with documentation? Didn't think so. Next.

          • Distortion. Thanks for making my point, Troll.

            " It's not a stretch these days for a steel worker to have a degree or two in whatever"

            Some incredible claim. You don't have a shred of credibility. Troll.

  4. I tend to think that while this is annoying it is nit picking, just a bit.

    Without a doubt, it is.

    On green policies… why is it pure bunk.

    That's just my opinion based on what I've seen so far. As near as I can tell, the only person profitting from the "green" revolution is Al Gore. Sure there are some other companies making money out of the transition. But the money they're making is still only a small fraction of the money that governments are pumping into that nascent economy.

    That's why I say "make your argument honestly." If you believe that climate change requires a wholesale change in our economy then make that case from scientific or moral principles, and be honest about the economic costs. But quite trying to tell us that the green economy is going to be win/win. That's pandering.

    • 'That's why I say "make your argument honestly." If you believe that climate change requires a wholesale change in our economy then make that case from scientific or moral principles, and be honest about the economic costs. But quite trying to tell us that the green economy is going to be win/win. That's pandering"

      Now you're being a little naive. A couple of years ago i'd have agreed with you wholeheartedly. But if you're Ignatieff and you saw first hand what the Harper machine did to Dion, maybe you'd be a bit cautious too! I know Dion was the worst possible salesman for the greenshift but Ignatieff now knows he's not in some sort of academic debate – like poor old Dion. It's more like a poker game.

      • you saw first hand what the Harper machine did to Dion

        Ahem, please allow for the possibility that the Canadian people might have rejected Dion's platform with or without Harper's campaigning.

        • You're probably right given how poor a job of selling it the libs did. Still, " it's cracy, a tax on everything" may have helped.

          • Also, "cheering for a recession", "not a leader", and "a gamble".

  5. Never did. Stop sulking.

    • Thanks for that – saved me and others much wasted time in debating further with you in the future. It normally takes me a few sessions to figure someone out. To your credit, you've proven to be very efficient.

      Btw, you forgot to add my -1 score to my last post.

  6. First you can't answer the question at hand, then you pretend to speak on behalf of others. And you have the gall to suggest that I need to get over myself? lol.