Ignatieff on Ignatieff - Macleans.ca

Ignatieff on Ignatieff


The Liberal leader explains himself.

The Liberal Leader is still a novice, and his fumbles over trying to bring down the government, building the party in Quebec, and how he runs his office and manages his caucus have corroded his relationship with the Canadian public, leaving him about as unpopular as his predecessor, Stéphane Dion. Mr. Ignatieff’s response is to keep on trying to bring down a government whose leader is double-digits ahead of him in popularity, and to take up the cause of Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, whose own budget is about to be gutted.

Politically, this is madness. Mr. Ignatieff doesn’t care.

“All I can hold on to is: What is my job?” he said Tuesday in an interview with The Globe and Mail. “And my job is to stand up on behalf of Canadians and say: ‘What the heck are the facts, here? What are you doing with the public finances?’ That’s why the Parliamentary Budget Officer matters.”


Ignatieff on Ignatieff

  1. Mr. Ignatieff rejects complaints that he needs to shake up his office staff and bring in new advisers. “It always happens when you have an interesting patch of water that people say, ‘Let's throw some crew to the sharks, that'll make the boat go better.' “If my staff doesn't perform up to my expectations, I won't hesitate to make changes,” he added. “But –” Another long pause. “In my view, we're doing fine.”

    Steady as she goes, Michael! Stay the course!

  2. Iggy delves into the subject of … himself?

    Did the Sun also rise today?

  3. I normally support the liberal party but, lately I am starting to wonder why I should continue to do so. There seems to be a complete lack of direction or policy.

  4. Patient hard work? That's precisely what the Liberals haven't done.

    Since being thrown out of office in early 2006 the only thing they've been doing is talking about bringing the government down and conversely, doing nothing to rebuild and renew the Liberal Party.

    A case in point. In Michael Ignatieff's first public press conference as interim Liberal leader on December 10th 2008, Ignatieff didn't say I"m here to rebuild the Liberal Party to its former glory with patient hard work.

    No, he didn't say that, he said this: "I'm prepared to form a coalition government. And to lead that government."

    Ignatieff has painted his own narrative. The Liberals don't have policies, except for one, how to get the Liberal Party of Canada back in power.

  5. Q. What's your name?

    A. Biff

    Maclean's commenter: Narcissist!

  6. Michael is trying to wedge open a crack somewhere. He can press the transparency/accountability angle and gain a little traction. I think Canadians like Kevin Page and the whole idea of his office providing a non partisan look at the books.

    This would be perfectly reasonable if it was part of a cohesive plan to expose government shortcomings and offer alternative ideas. Instead if takes on the appearance of a shrill and charmless man thrashing about in desperation.
    SH is very cunning, but will likely grow smug with his upturn in popularity. This overconfidence will lead to a gaffe (he just can't help himself) that a clear, methodical leader with a good plan could exploit.
    Can MI deliver that kind of leadership?

  7. “All I can hold on to is: What is my job?”

    Offering a credible alternative to government. Any idea on when you might get to that, sir?

  8. The Liberals don't have policies

    Neither do the Conservatives. The current session of Parliament has no agenda.

  9. Exactly. The Liberals haven't been able to take five seconds to do any serious soul-searching, because they are obsessed with getting back into power immediately. They really do seem to believe it's inevitable.

    If the Grits had embarked on a proper restructuring exercise after the 2006 *or* the 2008 election, they wouldn't be in the mess they are today.

  10. Why did the NDP support them last week then?

  11. I largely agree with you. But I do think pressing the government for financial transparency fairly counts as good opposition. Particularly given Flaherty's dodgy projections.

  12. You aren't actually trying to say that, by answering a question put to him about him and his leadership, he's wrong to talk about himself, are you?

    Cause that would be kinda moronic.

  13. To save their own hide. They are financially bankrupt.

  14. […cont]

    Update and modernize their fundraising approach and techniques? Check. The Liberals outpaced the Conservatives in the Q2, and are likely to do so again this past quarter.

    Work on solid policies and an election platform? Check. Not all released to the public yet but that is an issue about tactics and strategy. Also on target for the policy "thinkers" conference in January.

    Unite the party? Double Check. When Ignatieff is reaching out to the likes of Cauchon over his own hardcore loyalist supporter, you know the party has moved on from the days when who you supported in the last election mattered more than anything.

    • I've said some hard thing about Ignatieff's leadership but it may pay us [ and the media ] to remember all opposition leaders have a steep learning curve – just ask Harper or Chretien. In fairness to Ignatiff [ and Dion ] when has any opposition leader ever had to deal with adds attacking their character, and trying to define them in childishly simplistic terms, from the very get go? Before cons respond with "guns in the street" [ disgusting] i did say almost before they had even turned the key in Stornaway and outside of the writ period [ added that bit] We're looking at the future of political discourse in this country folks, and it's ugly. Martin, in particular, kicked this off and Harper's run with it for all he's worth.

  15. Like what exactly?

    Update and reach out to old and new party members? Check – they have grown the membership by 5X.

    Reach out to new regions that they have been pretty much dead to for a long time? Check. Ignatieff has received regular kudos for his reaching out to the west and Quebec.

    Update and reorganize their internal administration and management? Check. 373 administrative heads cut down.

    Put together a strategy to ensure candidates are in place and ready to go BEFORE an election is called (rather than after it is called)? Check. Nearly every riding has a candidate right now.


  16. I'm going along with the sentiment that the PBO is a good thing for parliament, and that it should be strengthened not marginalized.

    • 'The current session of Parliament has no agenda.'
      Old business from the current session……

      Ignoring that the government has been presenting a new bill every week or so.

  17. I don't see what this particular criticsm of Ignatieff is about. An independent budget office is what the Conservatives promised, and a suborned, underfunded arm of the Library is what we got. Hardly Canada's version of the GAO.

    It's exactly the job of the Opposition Leader to call the Conservative Government to account for its failure to act effectively on a measure that was to be the centrepiece of its accountability promises, one of five "priorities" the first Harper government outlined.

    It goes beyond just the issue of the PBO because if the government can't deliver on its own expressed priorities, what hope do we have that it will manage the myriad of other responsibilities appropriately?

    • The government did deliver, the PBO is accountable to the Speaker (Library) and Page wants to go outside of his mandate, and work for MPs instead………for that he needs an increase in his budget and the Speaker said NO,
      The Governement did not refuse Page, the Speaker (Page's Boss) said no, and Liberal MP Marlene Jennings agreed with the Speaker.

  18. Unfortuantely like a lot of Parliamentary reform the PBO is and was not well thought out.

    I have sympathy for it but it certainly wasnt working the way it was supposed to, or there certainly wasnt agreement. How much of that has to do with the occupant I am not certain.

    For all the benefits Page was coming across as a player rather than a civil servant.

    You have the bureacracy, which on its own is supposed to produce proper stuff (thats finance) you have Treasury which is supposed to track its spending, you have audito general who matches books to plans. And now we want to layer another one on without thinking how they are all supposd to fit together?

    • 'For all the benefits Page was coming across as a player rather than a civil servant'

      And just like MI isn't familiar with the LPC constitution,
      he must not be aware that Marlene Jennings, in committee is AGAINST Page working outside the Office of the Parliamentary Library.

  19. Agreed. These are tough times for Ignatieff, but that's when we get to see what he's made of.

  20. Guns in the Streets!…oh wait, you said that doesn't count right?

  21. Ignatieff's Dion impersonation is getting better everyday. I can hardly tell the two of them apart anymore.

  22. Right…i should have written it in crayon just for you Dakota.

    • How about the disintegrating Canadian flag ad implying Harper would destroy Canada,, healthcare, take away women's rights, with rightwinged religious ideology……Chretien started his campaign against Harper 3 months after PMSH united the right, and then called an election.

  23. First, it was an explicit promise by Harper in the 2006 election to appoint a Budget Chief and one that was independent and reported to Parliament, like the Auditor General.

    Second, Page's role is much different than the Auditor General, there is no overlap. She compares what was said and done, compliance, etc. in order to report on incompetence, corruption, waste. Page on the other hand is reporting on the state of our finances in order to avoid these being politicized so that we as voters, but also the markets and lenders/investors to the government have real information. The US has a similar position and it is relatively free of political influence.

    Third, Page was coming across not as a player when it came to his job. There is nothing I can see that demonstrates his reporting was making him a player. Where he has called out to the public to protect him from Harper's cuts, perhaps, but then would the Auditor General be considered a "player" if she complained she was not being allowed to do her job or to do it independently?

  24. Au contraire! Since this is politics, and the public likes the idea of the PBO Ignatieff should run with it for all he's worth.

  25. Welcome to Canada.

  26. Page's projections also changed, and in an interview, he said the experience was humbling…..

  27. Your point?

  28. Martin was always off as well, which is where the idea started. At the end of the day this was about trying to Bell The Finance department Cat.

    It is a difficult problem, and I am not sure the current structure or the proposed structure of the PBO is correct. Once again, you need to seperate out Kevin Page from the process itself. He has ticked off many many people with his crusade, rightly or wrongly, for a job he wasnt hired for.

    A PBO…..in the US it is seen and accepted as a non partisan coster of programs. But there programs get propsed by the executive and by congress.

    I think gettign ideas costed outside the bureacracy, when they dont have the time, is fine and worthy. But this is a large organizational change, and before you give this office, and in Page's case, tilter at windmills, a bigger budget I think all parties need to figure out what the appropriate role of the PBO is WITHIN the structure of the public service. There IS tons of overlap and challenge. And right now, all it is leading to is confusion. Sadly, it is politicized now as the oppsosition would like it to be their research department.

  29. It seems to me that trying to reach conclusions based on hypotheticals will prove nothing. The only way we'll ever find out what kind of PM Ignatieff would be is if his party ever wins an election. period.

  30. As I wrote on my blog, what jumped out at me from Ibbitson's article were the last two lines:

    And where will the Liberal Leader be a year from now?

    “That's up to the Canadian people.”

    In other words, Iggy himself says he's just visiting?

    • It's not up to the Canadian people. It's not even up to Canadian Liberals. The selection of the Liberal leader is up to a small minority of members of the Liberal Party.

      So, what do people think the odds are of Iggy heading back to the States within 5-10 years if he gets kicked out of being leader?

      • 5 -10 years!!! I'd say more likely as soon as the next semester starts. But then again, he'll be 65 soon and will qualify for his C.P.P. since he's been contributing to that for a least a couple years that he's actually worked in Canada.

  31. Hey, I actually respect him a little for that. You shouldn't ditch your staff as a response to your own mistakes. The Liberals aren't having a good time of it, but it's hard to see why Ignatieff's office staff should be blamed for that.

  32. Yer talkin' about Finance Minister of the Year there, bud.

  33. What's up with this forum eating posts up anyhow? I get responses in my inbox, then they disappear when looking for them on these boards. That's no good.