Iron Jean: A Liberal party fantasy -

Iron Jean: A Liberal party fantasy

WELLS: A reverse oracle, Ignatieff mastered making things happen by insisting they wouldn’t


Fahad Shadeed / Reuters

Nobody who was there will ever forget the day Jean Chrétien came back to politics. It was a perfect sunny day at the edge of summer in Toronto. An eerie quiet reigned over the G20 media centre. The only action worth mentioning was a technical briefing on agriculture policy by the Japanese deputy chargé d’affaires. Suddenly an ominous burbling sound emanated from the fake lake. Without any more fuss, the 20th prime minister of Canada rose up out of the water, dressed in a navy two-piece as if for lunch at Hy’s.

A watching cameraman opened his mouth in a silent “O” of surprise, only to discover that a golf ball had somehow wedged itself between his teeth. Pierre Trudeau rowed past Chrétien in a canoe, wearing a buckskin jacket, and offered to lend a hand.

“Thanks,” Chrétien replied. “I got this one.” He leaned over, pulled a two iron from a boulder, and strode to shore on the necks of protesters.

Perhaps understandably, the predominant tone in coverage of the event was astonishment. The Globe banner read “Second coming? Or t’ird?” The New York Times was more sober. “Retired Canadian statesman essays comeback, water sortie.” On page six. The Toronto Sun might best have captured the nation’s mood with “Shawin-again?!”

But Chrétien’s return to active duty became inevitable from the moment Michael Ignatieff ruled it out. “I’ve seen a lot of strange things,” the Liberal leader had told a Canadian Press reporter only that morning. “This is a crazy business. But there’s only one thing I know for sure: Jean Chrétien’s not coming back. That’s just not on.” At that point, not even garlic and silver bullets could stop the old man’s rise from the political graveyard.

Ignatieff did not have a surfeit of political skills of broad renown, but he had mastered the art of making things happen by insisting they wouldn’t. The man was a reverse oracle. “Ignatieff rules out coalition,” one headline read. The next, a few weeks later: “Ignatieff open to coalition.” He was for a carbon tax before he was against one. He explained why there was no point firing political staffers, then fired some. He cancelled so many foreign trips—to the Middle East, to China—that he wound up owing Air Canada frequent-flyer points.

But now that Chrétien was back, the same columnists who’d been tormenting Ignatieff (precisely the same columnists who tormented Stéphane Dion, two years earlier, by wondering why the Liberals didn’t let Ignatieff run the show) decided it was safe to indulge some second thoughts. Too bad about Iggy, they said. Of course he was confused. There was so much to be confused about.

In May 2009 he avoided a snap election and we said he was weak. In September 2009 he tried to force a snap election and we said he was foolish. We complained he had no substance. When he capped the Montreal thinkers’ conference by delivering a speech that amounted to an election platform, we ignored it. Then we complained he had no substance. God, that guy was fun to cover.

The best part was that whenever we pushed him, he stepped back. It made him fun to push. Between the Conservatives and the press gallery, we got so good at forcing Ignatieff to change course that the RCMP changed his code name to “Skinner Rat.”

When Ignatieff finally embraced the notion of a coalition, it was another challenge for the press gallery. A union of Liberals and New Democrats, after all, would combine everything an Ottawa political journalist holds dear: it would be complex, hypothetical, untested, and cribbed in large measure from overseas. What’s not to like? Come to think of it, those are all the things we liked about Ignatieff too, at first. But now one complex hypothetical had come out in favour of another, and that’s supposed to be our job, dammit, so now of course we were against it. Against them both.

So when Chrétien rose glistening from the chlorinated waters we were ready for him. The craggy face of experience! Those eyes—lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eyes! First the once-and-again Liberal leader had to merge the two parties. Jack Layton had spent two years demanding a merger. Now that the Liberal was in favour, he was against it. No matter. Chrétien snapped him in two and tossed him aside like a rag doll, then bellowed in horrible triumph: “Playtime’s over. Get me Broadbent.” Within six days the two wily old operators had built a coalition. On the seventh day they rested, gnawing on the bones of vanquished foes.

It was all so exciting, at first. Just like old times. Chrétien still had all his old moves. Friday afternoons were for golf, Tuesdays for the ritual humiliation of intellectuals. Even Harper couldn’t lay a glove on him at first. The Conservatives ran ads saying Chrétien would raise taxes. The Liberals ran ads saying, “You’re damned right I will. I need the money.”

But by November the gallery had grown weary of this new-old Liberal leader. A few of us wrote columns wondering how Paul Martin could be coaxed back. Others demanded that the merged NDP and Liberals unmerge. One day Chrétien grew bored, flew to Toronto and sank back beneath the waves of the fake lake. Stephen Harper was still prime minister. That’s how these stories always end.


Iron Jean: A Liberal party fantasy

  1. "Strode ashore" …..come on. He walked across the water!

    • No, he just thought he did

  2. What a funny column Wells. It is exactly as things seem to be unfolding. The Press Gallery is getting desperate and now they are whining about the tight control over messaging from the government.

    The government is not going to unilaterally disarm itself by assisting the media to get ammunition to pillory them.

    Besides the press gallery isn't interested in policy and things affecting policy. They are looking for dirt.

    I hope the so called "Fox North" is licenced and brings forward balance in its news reporting with also Conservative commentary. There is a lack of a conservative perspective in this country and that needs to remedied.

    • Yes, if only we had some conservative perspective, if only we had some conservative national newspapers. One day – and I know this sounds ridiculous – a conservative could be Prime Minister. Not just any conservative mind you, but one from Alberta who was involved with the Reform Party. One who took advice from Tom Flanagan.

      I'm just pulling your leg. The Starbucks Eastern Liberal Media Elite would never let that happen.

      • Nor would they ever allow the nation's public broadcaster to have two and a half conservative pundits as its primary weekly commentary segment on what is "at issue" in Canada, followed by a conservative polemicist with 2 minutes to rank freely on the woes of the nation.

        • CBC and CTV could form a coalition or merge, to stop the evil right winged propaganda network!!!

          • With Global and CBC and CTV on the right, who needs a fourth rightwing broadcaster?

        • Only a progressive would consider Coyne and Gregg conservative. They aren't. Coyne and Gregg are harmless progressive puppets that mouth things a progressive thinks are conservative.

          • Only a rightwing extremist would consider Coyne and Gregg progressives. They arn't. Coyne and Gregg are harmless conservative independent thinkers that mouth things a conservative extremist thinks are sacrilege because they don't toady the script and aren't also social conservatives.

          • They are social liberals and reform liberals with shades of libertarianism.

            Does the shade of libertarian make them conservative? Depends what you mean by conservative.

    • I am all for a conservative minded news network. I am completely against a partisan propaganda machine. Once you cross the line between reporting happenings to pillorizing individuals, you are no longer a journalist in my opinion. We need to move past the hatred for past wrongs, and look to the future in how we can improve the system.

    • "SUN North" would be a welcome addition to counter CBC and CTV … both networks with a vested interest in the success of the Liberal party.

      I would hope SUN North would directly attack the goebbellian CBC-Liberal propaganda organ and it's outrageous support for the Liberals and anti-Conservative attacks. Curiously, the CBC ignores the NDP, or uses it to pan the Liberals.

    • Yes, we need a WingNut channel, because then we might also get a MoonBat channel as well! Oh, I can already think of all the fun times ahead.

  3. awesome.

  4. This was a t'riffic read! Really really t'riffic!

    Thanks, Paul Wells. I would love to see this produced in stop-action claymation.

    • "I would love to see this produced in stop-action claymation." Now that's an NFB production we could all get behind. In a big way.

  5. LOL. Gee Paul, your story has managed to make me laugh and feel depressed at the same time. Good job merging the themes of the weak (I mean week…).


  6. “I've seen a lot of strange things,” the Liberal leader had told a Canadian Press reporter only that morning. “This is a crazy business. But there's only one thing I know for sure: Jean Chrétien's not coming back. That's just not on.”

    You might even have said, "His time is up".

  7. Are you trying to tell us that this is what happens when we let the media elect our leaders?

    Good column, but kinda sad. It actually made me pine for the good old "fuddle duddle days" when men were men and politicians were lawyers.

    • I think so and it rather confirms my suspicious nature of media reporting and politics from the days of Preston Manning – they crucified him and look what we got for the exchange! Scares the hell out of me.
      I'd rather have 'fact' reporting – than speculation and personality likes and dislikes by our press.

  8. I like your passage on the same columnists who'd been tormenting Ignatieff being precisely the same columnists who tormented Stéphane Dion, two years earlier, by wondering why the Liberals didn't let Ignatieff run the show… How true.

    You know, at his "hanging" Chrétien did speak about Gladstone…

    • Chrétien stolethe Gladstone line from Trudeau.

      • Stole? It was an homage.

  9. I like my political commentary with a healthy dose of humour. This was awesome. Perhaps next we can have Coyne vs. Wells as a standup act.

    I hear Hu Jintao is in town
    No, who's in town?

  10. Didn't Chretien also emerge in 2008 to put together that failed coalition attempt? I seem to remember it being reported that he was brokering the whole thing by phone while on vacation.

    Didn't turn out so well, as I recall.

    • Well, Chretien showed he still was a mover and shaker — he cobbled together the deal, and then the dumb current leaders messed it up.

      He comes out of it smelling like roses, and is still revered as the last PM who won a majority.

      Turned out just fine for him.

      • Revered?

        I would say time has certainly been kind to the little guy, esp. considering the people who came after. But revered?

        • You haven't been reading Liberal blogs lately, have you?

          But me, I'm more with Steyn's line:

          "Him again! Who'd have thought we'd miss him? You can thank Paul Martin for that. It took Mister Competent, the genius budget-balancer, the supposed real brains of the operation, smoothly urbanely fluent in at least two more official languages than his predecessor, to reveal da liddle guy as a towering colossus."

          I admire the SOB. I could see him walking to shore on protesters' necks, batting the PM around for awhile, and then going back to the watery depths (leaving Harper still in office).

          • I always tell my dad that M Chretien is my all-time favourite pirate. I love the guy. Somehow even after scraggling protesters, he seems more likeable and sweet than harper on his nicest day.

          • I think it was more a combination of Harper, Dion and Ignatieff that has made Canadians miss Chretien.

          • Canadians miss Chretien? You're projecting on the entire country, Liberals often do that, think they speak for everyone on the planet.

            I don't miss him, all he ever did to stay in power was broker other parties ideas. That's why the LPC are broke, financially and policy wise.

          • There are a lot of Canadians who don't miss Chretien. In fact there are some of us who would willingly have our left arm chopped off to see him publicly exiled for life.

          • I remember — back from when I was still a Liberal — sitting next to a Westerner, watching the 2000 election returns (we were watching with the Canadian club at college Stateside). I was happy, though not at all surprised by the results.

            He was devastated.

            Just one of those things — you win some, you lose some.

            Me, I like leaders with a vindictive streak, so I like Chretien. If he came back for the 2011-12 election, I'd enjoy seeing him and Harper duke it out, and I think Harper could take him. Harper's got the killer instinct, too. (Unless Chretien ran against him from the fiscal right — pledging to cut spending again, 1990s-style. That'd be tough to beat.)

  11. I am not especially impressed by the job Ignatieff has done, but the job description for "effective Liberal leader" is something of a tall order. He or she would need to be able to:

    – Attract voters from other parties with the force of his personality, much like iron filings are attracted by a strong magnet;

    – Have the smarts and connections to come up with an effective centrist political platform that both appeals to what is left of the Liberal base and attracts swing voters who might otherwise vote Conservative, NDP or Green;

    – Have the ability to raise enough money to counter the all-out attack ad blitz that the Conservatives would mount against said platform;

    – Have an exemplary enough background to withstand any Conservative ads that target his or her personal history or character;

    – Be quick enough on his or her feet to avoid making any gaffes that can be pounced on by the news gallery that constantly surrounds him.

    That's a lot of qualities for one person to have.

    Another way to think of it is this: Ignatieff is seen as a failure because he is not Prime Minister yet. The concept of an effective Leader Of The Opposition is, basically, an oxymoron.

    Chretien's advantage in all of this is that he is not vulnerable to Conservative attack ads, as he is well respected by many of the swing voters that the Conservatives are trying to woo.

    • Following up on my own comment:

      One of the most frustrating things (for a non-Conservative supporter at least) about how the Conservatives are treated by the media and others is that the Liberals appear to be being held to a higher standard than the Conservatives.

      The Liberals are rightly criticized for not coming up with a policy platform, but no one seems to notice that the Conservatives don't have a platform of their own (unless spurious "tough on crime" policies that don't effectively fight crime count). And Harper and the Conservatives haven't had to withstand the relentless attack blitz that Ignatieff and Dion have had to endure (though this is mostly because the Liberals don't have enough money to launch one).

      And Harper doesn't worry about committing gaffes because he and his party never, ever, ever, say anything that isn't totally scripted and rehearsed.

      I assume that Harper has an easier time of it because he is the incumbent: some people may assume that he has already passed the tests that Ignatieff is being asked to pass, seeing as how he is Prime Minister and all.

      As a voter, I want both parties to be asked searching questions and to provide concrete reasons why we should vote for them. I don't want the Conservatives to be given a majority without first telling us what they would do with one if they got it.

      • ''Liberals appear to be being held to a higher standard than the Conservatives. ''

        LOL, and if 2 Conservative MPs were in a rental scheme like these 2 Liberal MPs, the Ethics committee would be called for emergency debate, and every person living within a 6 block radius would have a reporter on their doorstep asking about the charactor of their MPs, Facebook petition links would be publicized by the CBC, Opposiiton parties would be calling for the MPs resignations as they are unfit to be MPs…..

  12. I liked the "Shawin-again?!" line, but with all the violence I had thought you may have gone with more "Shawinigan Handshakes" being dispensed.

  13. Now the Liberals have a born-again Canadian leader who in a past life as a "we Americans" advocated "torture, assassination, denial of rights, preemptive war" all in support of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld regime. If a Conservative, any conservative, had made such statements, our diligent and distinguished Canadian media would have declare him the second coming of Hitler or Stalin, and drummed him out of Canadian politics if not out of Canada. But not a peep out of the Eastern journalists, just silence … wonder why..?!

    • Because Ignatieff has not actually advocated these things, perhaps?

      (Also, some of the "Eastern journalists" you refer to include the National Post and the Toronto Sun, which are not exactly left-leaning publications. In fact, if you accused the people who write the Sun's front page headlines of being leftists, you'd probably get punched in the nose.)

      • Oh, but Ignatieff did muse about these things as "lesser evils"… but if that doesn't bother you, how about Ignatieff advocating the starvation of North Koreans to stop them from their nuke-rattling against the USA, and in his own words too:

        Ignatieff's sscary mentality shines through in his writing and speech, and you give him a pass just because he is now in Liberal drag? Why do you trust this man just because he is a member of the Liberal party?

    • snore

      • I would agree wholeheartedly, but Observant put me to sleep with that one, too.

        • Iggnatieff: "I chose my Russian side." ….. Putin or Rasputin ..???

      • So you prefer to sleep through "torture, assassination, denial of rights, preemptive war" .. even genocidal starvation …??!!!

    • Have a problem with reading comprehension, or did you just decide to spout nonsense and not bother to read the book?

      • Ignatieff carefully enunciated these "lesser evils" to support the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld regime and their adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan … and that's so obvious..!!!

        If you bothered to read the American media's take on Ignatieff, you would have learned that they too considered Ignatieff's words to be advocating "torture, assassination, denial of rights, preemptive war" … but NOT in Canada … because now he's a Liberal and that whitewashes his past and his Canadian history only starts in 2005 when he escaped to Canada.

        Care to comment on Iggy's advocacy to starve the N Korean people to get to their leaders and their nuke-rattling against the US and US interests? No, I didn't think you would want to broach that revealing aspect of Iggy's Russian mentality.

        • So . . . did you read the book? Yes or No?

          Because your comprehension of the book leads me to assume (this is the kinder thing to think) that you read someone else's partisan review of the book, or some talking-point soundbyte of the book, or anything but the book. If in fact you did read the book, you need a few more lessons in sentence structure and word definitions and that sort of thing.

          You are right; I didn't bother to read the American media's take on Ignatieff. I read the damn book. I pretty much don't bother to read the American media's take on anybody, as a general rule. Only with the American media does the Canadian media look like it's doing a fine job.

          • Why don't you just defend your Ignatieff instead asking about 'the book' and trying to attack the messenger's 'comprehension', in your pathetic attempt to fend off the truth about your Iggy?

            Ignatieff was the recognized preeminent academic neocon supporter of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld regime .. and his 'book' backed them up to the hilt … according to all the eminent US journalists … who defined "we Americans" patriot Iggy … your Iggy.

          • So . . . did you read the book? Yes or No?

            If you are going to speak authoritatively on what someone says in their book, it is helpful to read said book.

          • Ignatieff made those statements unequivocally, and he stands by them … except for the "preemptive war" in the case of the Iraq invasion … which he somewhat retracted in his NYTimes "mea culpa" admission made in 2006 when he was running for Liberal leader. Ignatieff wouldn't even apologize to Canadians for his outrageous thinking when he was a "we Americans" patriot … and the quizzical Canadian MSM won't hold him to account for his past position, which certainly do not represent Canadian values.

            Regardless, Ignatieff is political dead meat now and will soon depart from the Canadian political scene .. and the distinguished Canadian MSM won't have to broach his heinous political record when he was a Harvard history professor of human rights or wrongs..!!!

  14. Remember this article when Harper eliminates all the press except for Kory Teneyucky's Pravda TV. The media take the Liberals for granted – thinking that it's going to be business as usual when Harper has a majority.

    Think again. Who's most likely to want an open media 5 years from now?

    • So on obtaining a majority, Harper is going to take all non-right-wing journalists, frog-march them on to trains, and send them to extermination camps.

      Got it.

  15. Not a terrific read at all. Petty, and small-minded – looking for a 'hit'. The media is at least 60% to blame for the downfall of democracy in Canada.

    • I was aiming for 65.

      • Do try to enjoy the weekend despite this obvious personal failure…


    • "The media is at least 60% to blame for the downfall of democracy in Canada. "

      Um, isn't that kinda sorta part of the point of the column?

  16. Chretien the shark!
    Is that Paul Martin in the role of Quint?

    The big line

    ff to the 30 second mark – and wait for it

    bum bum bum bum bum bum bah dum…………

    • Danby wins the steak knives! Good steak knives this time.

  17. The headline parts were very apropos.

  18. I enjoyed your writing for this column almost as much as I did the unfinished column Notes for a column never written. Thanks for the Friday laugh.

  19. Oh! Do Harper next!

  20. Thanks for posting that — I sure enjoyed reading it. No more wit and grudging respect in our HoC any more. Pity, but perhaps we will get back there one day. I don't see that happening with harper as leader either way.

    • It's my favourite opening exchange from recent Canadian politics.

      I think it has somewhat more to do with the quality of our opposition leaders — as you can see from the above, Harper and Chretien managed to spar pretty well. Mutual respect, etc.

      Mind you, once the Liberals do have that sort of person in their leadership — whether it's through Ignatieff improving his game, or one of his successors just having more political talent — it won't be too long before they're back in government.

      Harper's already been in for a while — five budgets passed! — so even if he caught all the breaks and managed a majority next time out (2011 or 2012), he'd have a decade in office, give or take a few months.

      Your guys will be back soon enough — probably sooner than I'd like.

  21. ….'I was four years old when the Prime Minister first took his seat in the House of Commons.'


    • As Her Majesty said — "You again!"

  22. Yes, do Harper next!
    The media goes ballistic over $57k spent on a fake lake for the world to see,
    then goes ballistic on $150k not spent on fake lights (fireworks) for Quebec city resistence to see!!

    Do yah think the problem isn't the politicians, it's the media!

    • I think, wilson, that the war against drugs starts at home. Your home.

  23. Iggnatieff is just a dead man walking .. a political zombie that Canadians have totally rejected. Iggy's leadership is so rejected by Canadians that he even polls behind Lizzie May for PM of Canada!

    Now Donolo wants to drag Iggy around Canada on a ludicrous 'summer tour' in an attempt to resurrect the cadaver … shades of Dionzo's summer tour promoting his (and Iggy's) Green Shift Carbon Tax.

    What in heaven's name could Iggnatieff possibly say to Canadians in his 'summer tour' that would change their opinion of him … vote for me because I'm a Liberal ..???

    Iggy is NOT a 'Liberal' .. he's just an interloping opportunist and 'just visiting' .. so obvious.

  24. It's strange how no one in the media noticed the barb Chretien shot at Iggy, at the hanging ceremony of his portrait in Parliament.

    Harper joked with Chretien and Chretien joked back in his speech; and then he got serious and mentioned his 40 yrs of service. Chretien, looking directly at Harper then Duceppe then Layton, said the 3 leaders had served an apprenticeship working as backbenchers before moving on to lead their parties. Then looking at Iggy he mockingly said others come in directly from academia!!!

    Chretien told Harper jokingly he had won 3 elections and for Harper to be careful as he may make a comeback. All the media talked about was the comeback and not the barb at Iggy. Wonder why?!

    Chretien is angry at Iggy and the Toronto backroom boys for stabbing Dion in the back over the Coalition Accord.. and now look at what's happening.. Iggy is saying he will consider a coalition if necessary!!

  25. What we are witnessing is the political demise of Michael Iggnatieff .. the man who would be PM of Canada.

    • Bob, is that you ?

  26. The thing about the coalitioin is that the Liberals and NDP just have one shot to make the coalition work and defeat Harper. If Harper wins the election. Any permanent coalition of progressives or merger is dead. Harper's grand plan to make the Conservative the natural governing party triumphs.

    So the coalition has one shot. If you have one shot, you have to pick a winner to lead it. It has to be someone with experience. It has to be Chretien. Harper may win anyway. But the best last chance of the progressives to stop Harper is a pre-election coaliition led by Chretien, formal merger after the election, leadership convention to replace a retiring Chretien in three years. Chretien has the economic credibiity to hold the blue Liberals, maybe. The blue liberals go Conservative with any other leader of the coalition.

    The next election is for all the marbles. It will be a transformative election. The Liberals haven't got their act together, so they have to go to the drag out the retired hurler from the bullpen.

    This is the big one. The sitting rooms of Rosedale and Forest Hill are filled with people who are in deep denial. Chretien and Desmarais have obviously decided that there is no more time to mess around.

    • I think two shots are necessary … One shot to rid the Liberal party of Ignatieff and his cohorts .. and the second shot is the election with a new leader, leading the Liberals into oblivion.

      I suspect Harper is planning an election for this September immediately after the Summer Recess. He will not even reconvene Parliament after the Summer Recess; just jump into an election whether the Liberals have a leader or not.

      It's obvious that the Liberals are in panic over that probability, and if they don't get rid of Iggy really fast, they will be stuck with him … and the Liberal rank and file grassroots party members and workers will just not follow Iggy into a suicidal election. Liberals are now attempting to lever Iggy out of the leadership so they can install either Bob Rae, Dominic LeBlanc or as a last resort .. Chretien.

      Curious that we don't hear for Paul Martin as Liberals twist in anguish … nothing, nada, zilch … wonder why ..???!!!!

  27. Shades of Richard Needham Paul…..thanks

  28. Brilliant stuff, well done.

  29. I think it's unprecedented how a former Prime Minister has so clearly intermeddled into the current affairs of their political party. Chretien shouldn't be doing what he's doing – he resigned as PM in 2003.

    The problem is that Ignatieff seems impotent to stop Chretien. The best example of this, as Chantal Hebert has pointed out, is when Chretien got Ignatieff to overrule Iggy's Quebec Lieutenant Denis Coderre, on the choice of the Liberal candidate in Outremont. After that happened, it was clear that Iggy had not backed up his troops. Coderre, a loyal lieutenant, was left to hang out to dry. Since then Iggy has been on the defensive with the Chretienites who make up the left-wing of the party and also a good chunck of the party establishment. I won't even get into the issue, and they are inumerable, where the Liberal caucus has not followed Iggy. The latest example being on the refugee reform legislation.

    Does Iggy have any cojones? It's not apparent to this observer. A Liberal leader without cojones won't be Liberal leader for long.

    • Curious that we don't hear from Paul Martin, who seems to be quietly sitting on the sidelines as his man Iggy twists and turns in the wind … hanging on to the Liberal leadership by only a desperate thread.

      Perhaps Martin is laying back and keeping his political powder dry … waiting, waiting, for the Chretienites to shoot their bolt … and then come in like a saviour .. to the rescue of the Liberal party that he subverted himself …!!!!

    • "It's not apparent to this observer."

      Well, at least you didn't cover yourself in ridicule by claiming to be a neutral observer.

      • I'm giving a pretty descriptive account of things here. But if you want an account of a neutral observer, I suggest you go read Chantal Hébert's column in today's Toronto Star.

        She's saying much the same thing. Don't shoot the messenger my friend. Don't shoot the messenger.

        • And now you're claiming that Chantal is neutral ? That's quite funny.

          • For the most party, I consider Chantal Hébert is a neutral observer, yes. She's not free of starting assumptions, nobody is, but her analysis invariably proceeds from best available facts from a wide array of well-placed sources and a much better than average understanding of federal politcs than your average journalist. She almost invariably comes to a quicker and more accurate analysis of what's really going on in politics than just about anybody else. She's not 100% perfect and when she's not it's usually because her starting assumptions cloud her judgment on a particular issue which then skews her analysis.

            Without wanting to come off as a panderer, I'd say Wells comes in pretty close to the top himself in this department and could probably give Chantal a run for her money if he wouldn't hedge as much as he does. Coyne's not bad either but not quite as good as Chantal or Paul.

          • Oops,…For the most PART, not party.

          • I should add that Angelo Persichilli of the Toronto Star is starting to look pretty good with his prediction last year that Michael Ignatieff might not survive to year end. Of course Iggy has done that but it's starting to look like he may not be the leader come election time. If this turns out to be the case, Persichilli should get credit to be the first one to see that it was going to happen. HIs prediction being a little off timing wise but correct on the substance. Many scoffed at Persichilli at the time – no one's scoffing now!

          • Angelo Persichilli is about the stupidest commentator of politics Canada has. He's like a bag of hammers stupid. He makes Jane Taber look like a rocket freakin' scientist. Everybody is scoffing at Persichilli now, except for Conservative trolls like you. You only praise those who seem to agree with you at any particular moment, Jarhead the Troll. Give it up.

          • Sorry, but I would beg to differ. Wells has given us years of proof of how a journalist's ideology can skew their reporting. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that Wells is on the payroll of the Liberal Party of Canada.

      • No one is a neutral observer.

        (This is one part of why journalists who cover politics are so damaging. They all have an agenda, but try hard to insist that it doesn't affect their reporting.)

  30. Clearly, Liberals are preparing for a September snap election, when Harper forces the Liberals into an election coming out of the Summer Recess, without even reconvening the HoCs. They know they will be destroyed if Ignatieff is leading the party, because the Liberal party is splitting internally over Iggy's leadership or lack thereof, and Liberal party members will just not follow Iggy into any next election.

    The Liberals know that without a viable leader and only a small amount of money to run a campaign, they are headed into absolute oblivion, should Harper pull the plug quickly. Nobody is going to contribute money to a defunct Liberal party with a loser for leader. Liberals are in panic mode now, and their first objective is to get rid of Ignatieff, pronto … and then replace him with a new leader like Rae, LeBlanc or even Chretien.. slim pickins' but better than dead duck Iggy.

  31. I agree with Observant's last post. Iggy's days are numbered. So does Canada's most astute political observer, Chantal Hebert. Here's what she says in her column today:

    "At the time of that collision, Chrétien signalled that he believed the Liberals should still fight the next campaign under Ignatieff and, presumably, as a stand-alone party. It should come as no surprise that the message that he has now come to a different conclusion on both scores is resonating loudly within Liberal ranks."

    Dead. Man. Walking.

    • Hey Jarhead, where is Stevie's majority ?

  32. jarrid … so why don't Liberals posting on all the political forums refuse to discuss Ignatieff's coming demise? All they do is demonize and fearmonger as if they have no ability to see reality. In the HoCs, rabid Liberal MP Mark Holland is intent on destroying Canada's reputation for the upcoming G8-20 conferences in a final desperate attempt to resuscitate the defunct Liberal party. Liberals are getting very ugly now that they see their coming demise.

  33. This clown Chretien was a disgrace to the country. He was involved in so many scandals, money laundering, contracts on napkins, money in brown paper envelopes in Quebec restaurants, corruption, scum, sleaze…an absolute disgrace to Canada. To top it off, after 30 years of sucking ripping off the taxpayers he couldn't learn how to speak English fluently, he was just a bumbling idiot who took the country for an expensive ride for over 30 years, just like the disgraceful Trudeau did. Rot in hell or Quebec Chretien, oh and some ESL dummy, ESL.

    • While I agree that Chretien was bad for Canada on the whole, and that the amount of scandals under his leadership does lead one to believe that he had a hand in the cookie jar, I don't think that we should be resorting to name calling.

  34. i appreciate the tone of the article, but i don't think that this is such a crazy idea. i'm not sure if it's the best idea, but i have to admit that i'd vote for him above just about anybody else that's currently available to vote for and is currently musing about making himself or herself available to vote for. i know it sounds crazy, and to a certain extent it is, but you all have to remember that, one day, somebody is going to be asked to summarize jean chretien in a quick, witty one liner and they may very well say something like this:

    "you know, aline, she askt mee a kwestyon wonce. she sed to mee: 'jean. why did da chicken cross da road?' and i sed to her 'it was to get to dee udder side!'"

    you put the man in a suit behind a podium and he's an intriguing canadian idiosyncrasy, perhaps even an eccentric of questionable sanity. you put him in a robe and a pair of sandals and he's a sage.

  35. This is getting better and better .. chalk me down for one of those that would love to see Chretien come back and duke it out with my boy Stevie – it would be like Ali and Spinks all over again!

    • I agree, but I would have to say that it would be great for the Conservative party.
      Basically, it would show that the Liberal party is dead. It has no new leaders, because it stands for nothing. It cannot attract people who have passion, because for too long it has been the party to join if you want to be elected. It is now empty of talent, ideas, and people with ideals; bringing Chrétien back would make that fact clearly evident.
      If the Liberals cannot find a person in their party (who has lived in Canada for the last 10 years (ha ha)) who has the ability to lead them, they will spend a long time in the opposition wilderness. I admit to believing that the Liberals stand for nothing more than 'being in government'. Unless they can change that, and at the same time give the Canadian people a platform that they can support, they will wither and die.

      • Would it be far fetched to predict that the NDP spend the next 10-20 years as the Loyal Opposition? I personally don't support them, but I believe that they have opinions, ideals, and that they will stand up for what they believe in. I feel this will start to be very attractive for the people on the left. (As opposed to ‘what can we say that will get the people to vote for us, because we want to be in power.')