Reading between the lines of Michael Ignatieff’s latest speech -

Reading between the lines of Michael Ignatieff’s latest speech

They said it couldn’t be done, but we found a way to make politics 7% more boring.


Date: Monday, May 17, 2010.

Title: Speech to Toronto Leader’s Dinner

We are the big tent at the centre of Canadian politics. And we always will be.

The big tent – that’s where the clowns perform, right?

Our opponents call us names. They throw mud. They send hate mail and attack ads.

They give us wedgies. They steal our lunch money. They ridicule my ascot.

We didn’t end a 25-year consensus on a woman’s right to choose—they did.

We didn’t cut Toronto Pride, and attack the CBC—they did.

We didn’t divide rural and urban Canada over gun control—they did.

We didn’t tell women’s groups to “shut the f— up,” or lose their funding—they did.

We didn’t let the dogs out – they did.

We didn’t start the fire – they did.

We didn’t know the way to San Jose – they did.

We are better than this. We are better than this as a country.

Are we really? I mean, I guess I hope we are – but opposition leaders have been saying “We’re better than this as a country” for approximately 143 years now. Maybe this is as good as we’re going to get. Maybe we’re like David Caruso: We THOUGHT we had A-list potential but as it turns out, no, total TV actor. Maybe we’d be happier just to <removes sunglasses> accept that.

And let’s be clear about something else:

We didn’t drop you into a 54-billion-dollar hole—he did.

We kept our promises—he didn’t.

Wow. This Harper guy sounds like a total douche.

He promised smaller government. Then he increased spending by 25 percent.

Tres douchey.

He promised not to run a deficit. Then he put us in deficit before the recession.

That son of a—

He promised not to raise taxes. Then he taxed income trusts and raised payroll taxes.

To the pitchforks!

Stephen Harper flies around, boasting about our economy.

Wait, hold off on the pitchforks: They’d be no match for Harper’s apparent super powers.

There is only one party whose fiscal record stands up: ours, not his.

We’re also the only party that’s talking openly and honestly about the future.

Screw you, NDP, and your obsession with our Lost-like sideways-verse.

At the Montréal conference, we changed how politics is done in this country.

They said it couldn’t be done, but we found a way to make it 7% more boring.

We talked about the challenges that are coming our way.

‘Challenges’ is too polite; it’s a freight train coming down the track.

An ageing population. Rising household debt. Skilled labour shortages. Soaring healthcare costs and retirement costs.

Christ! We’re doomed! Throw some canned goods in a sack and run for the hills!

The message we heard in Montréal was: Wake up. Get ready.

Some of us chose to hear this message, take two Advil, roll over and go back to sleep.

The sovereign debt crisis is not happening on another planet. It’s coming our way.

So Krypton is in the clear, then? That’s a relief. NOTHING BAD MUST EVER HAPPEN TO KRYPTON!

Stephen Harper doesn’t want to talk about any of this. He lives in the paradise of an eternal present.

Dude, he lives in Ottawa. Let’s not oversell.

We will cut corporate taxes again, but not when recovery is fragile, not when we’re in a sovereign debt crisis, and not when we’re in a 54-billion-dollar deficit.

We will cut corporate taxes—when this country can afford it.

Dear Blue Chips: How’s Monday, the 12th of Never work for you?

The difference between us and them?

They trust tired right wing ideologies.

Ha ha. People who aren’t us are dumb.

We’ll do what Stephen Harper hasn’t done, for four years—we’ll invest in Canada’s people.

Hooray! I’m a Canada’s person. Invest in me – preferably with bionics!

We have chosen three core priorities for a future Liberal government: learning, care, and Canadian leadership in the world.

Three priorities. That’s it.

First: learning.

A few weeks ago, I was at a high school in Winnipeg. I did what I always do; sat on a stool and took questions, many of them from Aboriginal young people. And then something happened.

After answering questions, I went up to a young man, he must have been about 15. He was a little bit mussed up, he looked a little tired. I patted him on the arm and I said, ‘Hang in there. Finish high school.’

He looked at me for a long time, and then he said, ‘You have no idea.’

And he pointed to the gymnasium door at the back of the hall, and he said, ‘when I go out that door, it’s a jungle. And I don’t know whether I’m going to be able to come back. And I don’t know whether I’m going to be able to finish.’

As Liberals, we say to that young man—we say to all young Canadians who stand at the cross-roads between hope and despair—

We will stand by you ‘til you finish high school. We will stand by you ‘til you finish post-secondary. We will stand by you ‘til you have the solid ground of Canadian life under your feet.

Sorry, what? You see a teenager at school who looks a little tired and you automatically assume he’s poised to drop out? He looks a little “mussed up” so you have to get all “stay in school” on him? The kid could be on the fast track to valedictorian for all you know! FINISH HIGH SCHOOL, DUMMY. <Pats self on back for show of empathy> Nice.

Second: Is that actually your policy? You are going to “stand by” this particular child and EVERY Canadian until they finish their secondary and post-secondary education? You’re going to force Bob Rae to tutor them all in history? Make lunches for them every morning? But Daaaaad, my throat hurts. I DON’T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL.

We are all in this together. We stand or fall together. Every Canadian must have an equal chance to share the full promise of Canadian life.

Keeping that promise—and God only knows how far short we are—all starts with learning.

I checked with God. He says we’re pretty far short.

Affordable early learning and childcare spaces in every part of Canada, for every family that needs them.

EVERY family. In EVERY part of Canada. In EVERY timeline. Even that weird one where Riker was captain and Picard was dead.

A pledge to every Canadian middle-class family that worries how it will pay for the post-secondary education of their children: if they get the grades, they get to go.

Lower-class families? Boned.

A pledge to invest in skills training, language training, and adult literacy—so that every Canadian with a learning disability, every Canadian with literacy problems, every new Canadian who needs to learn English or French—every single person in this country gets a fair chance at the Canadian dream.

I will give EVERYONE a child care space. I will send EVERYONE to university. I WILL PERSONALLY HELP EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THIS COUNTRY. EVERY SINGLE ONE. I am setting up a little booth like Lucy had in the Peanuts cartoons. Bring a quarter, have a seat and I WILL FIX YOU.

Also… the Canadian dream? Really? I think the Americans have got firm dibs on that particular rhetorical flourish.

Conservatives want Canadians to believe they have to choose between equality and economic success, just as they want Canadians to believe you have to choose between environmental stewardship and economic progress.

We reject these false and tired choices.

We know from our party’s long history that you can successful ignore both.

Our second priority is care. We can’t have a productive and competitive society when families are out of the labour market, caring for loved ones at home.

Please say robot nurses, please say robot nurses…

We know that a country can be compassionate and competitive at the same time. In fact, you can’t be competitive, unless you are compassionate.

Not true, but both words start with ‘c’ and sound catchy together so…

A new Liberal government will do more to help families care for loved ones at home.

Mr. & Mrs. Canada: Meet your new caregiver, Denis Coderre.

Our third priority is Canadian leadership in the world. Our party has to stand for a passionate internationalism.

Feeling up the multilateral structures of 21st century diplomacy is not enough – we must get to second base with them.

Under Stephen Harper’s leadership, we’ve become a big country that acts small.

We must become a small country that acts big. Begin sawing off everything west of Manitoba!

At the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen last December, the message from the international community was, ‘Canada, please leave the room so we can get something done.’

It hurt at the time, but it made sense later when we returned to find they’d prepared a surprise party for us. You guys!

We can never let that happen again.

Lemon cake? Gross.

My opponents attack me for having worked outside the country. They say it makes me less of a Canadian. But I’ll tell you something—I think it makes me more of a Canadian.

Got that? Spending almost my entire adult life outside of Canada makes me MORE of a Canadian. By this logic, Barack Obama is the most Canadian person on Earth. You should elect him.

We understand the cultures of the world. This is an incredible asset for Canada—and I want more young people to go out and come back, out and back, out and back, testing themselves against the world, being enriched by the world, and coming home to make Canada stronger. That’s a goal worthy of our great country.

And if any of you wind up in Britain, maybe you could bring back my cat?

So this is the choice that we will offer Canadians.

On one hand, a Conservative government that wants more corporate tax cuts with borrowed money.


On the other hand, a Liberal alternative that freezes corporate taxes, fights the deficit, and makes targeted investments in our future—learning, care, and leadership in the world.


In our proudest moments, our party has summoned our fellow citizens to build the country we love.

We are the party of Medicare, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, fiscal responsibility, and national unity.

Empty promises, ethical malaise, Alfonso Gagliano and opposition to free trade.

And what these achievements have in common is that we have them in common—a visionary optimism about what we can do together—as one great people, sharing one great country.

Except for that tired, mussed up kid from Winnipeg. We gotta ditch that loser.

Filed under:

Reading between the lines of Michael Ignatieff’s latest speech

  1. Robot Nurses? You are actually suggesting we give the robots access and supervision of our vulnerable elderly?

    Don't you know that's all the robots need to create warrior-cyborgs with WWII and Korean War combat experience?

    • You make it sound like it's something that could happen but needs to be avoided.

      It's already here.

  2. Michael Ignatieff is a Conservative Party of Canada operative, a plant. Has to be. No man could possibly suck this badly at politics.

    • it takes a gifted man, to sound boorish – continually!

  3. "But I'll tell you something—I think it makes me more of a Canadian."

    Did Iggy really say this? He is more Canadian for living abroad most his life? hahahahahahaha.

    "We are better than this. We are better than this as a country."

    Slagging off Canadians/electorate. 'What's the matter with you Canadians, we are better than this!' Not sure this is good message but not entirely unexpected: Liberals always see themselves as the smartest, prettiest, person at the party and express bafflement when others don't see it same way.

    Otherwise, the speech is a mess which is not a surprise because Iggy and his brain trust don't seem to know what they are doing from one week to the next.

    Iggy complains about Con spending too much and taking us into deficit, than claims Cons are not spending enough and then says what Libs would do, which is focus on things that Provinces are responsible, while adding to the debt he was complaining about earlier in his speech.

    • Once a Canadian, always a Canadian. No one can take that away from him, not even you who believes the Tory spin people.

      • I dont buy Tory spin, I can think for myself.I agree withbergkamp

  4. Thank goodness Ignatieff reinvented his team, this new strategy of bashing the Conservative's secret agenda, promising daycare spaces and vaguely claiming that Canada can punch above its weight internationally is sure to revolutionize Canadian politics.

  5. I thought Michael Ignatieff died like two years ago? Huh, that's WEIRD. In that context, I guess it was a pretty good speech then. Although you could see the rigor mortis setting in around the platitudes, non sequiturs and patriotic reacharounds. You know, I've never had a reacharound from a dead guy before. Can't say I really liked it. I guess the Grits are hoping we are sufficiently desperate for some lovin', since our current boyfriend is captain of the abstinence club (incidentally, I think that's where he met Rona and Helena).

  6. Oh, Feshuk, fanning the flames for the Tory supporters here. They are all in a giggle cause they can continue to attack Iggy with venum.

    Now, are you going to do the same type of analysis for Harper and Layton – just to be unbiased and fair?

    • Good point. I'm always so easy on Harper.

      • We need a refresher – and of course, about Layton?

    • Look to 'Mr Bubble', or 'Five and a half things … ' if you want snark from Feschuk about Cons. It is not difficult and surprisingly enough I do not see a complaint from you about balance when he cracks wise about Cons in those posts.

      And I am not, and have never been, a Tory supporter.

      • Neither are you a Tory critic.. however you most certainly are an opposition critic.

        So yeah.. you don't support the Harperites directly.. you just only attack their opposition. It's completely different. No really.

    • Yes, to be an unbiased and fair journalist, you must criticize every leader (no matter of stature or power) exactly equally in exactly the same way exactly the same number of times, with exactly the same number of words. In fact, Feschuks should have simultaneously posted corresponding criticisms of Harper, Layton, Duceppe, May and whoever leads the Christian Heritage party. Its only fair.

  7. Uh, you guys know this is a humour post. lighten up.

    • I agree. I wish he'd do it more often with all of them.

  8. "Feeling up the multilateral structures of 21st century diplomacy is not enough – we must get to second base with them."

    Huh? I thought feeling up WAS second base? You mean since I rounded the bases in a previous decade that shall not be named as the seventies, even they've changed?

    It's a slutty slutty world.

    • First base is now intercourse.

      • Correct me if I'm wrong because I'm old enough to remember the Rockford Files, but I think first base now requires an unlimited texting plan, while second base requires an iPhone and a low self-esteem. I think that's how it works now. There might also be a Jonas Brother involved…

      • So getting to "home" would actually be illegal in several southern American states, and also Saskatchewan?

        • Getting to home now involves sex robots. And aliens…

          • Are the sex robots also nurse robots?

          • Considering they are robots, I have no doubt as to their ability to multi-task, and perhaps perform simultaneous functions…

          • That's just a lawsuit waiting to happen…

  9. Is this moron actually classified as a journalist?

    • From Wikipedia: "Scott Feschuk is a Canadian speechwriter, humorist and former newspaper journalist."

      I think you'll find that this piece is humour. You may not find it funny but that hardly seems enough reason to call someone a moron.

      • Margaret, if you didn't like this, its a good thing you didn't see what he wrote to achieve 'former' newspaper journo status……

  10. Hey, what's this? Iggy's bringing God into this….

    I thought Liberals were a bunch of secularists. Somebody forgot to tell Iggy.

  11. By the way, I don't mind if you saw off Canada west of Montreal and give us western Canadians our own country. But I still want to keep Anne of Green Gables. is that OK?

    • Sorry, she belongs to the hellhole PEI

  12. even the Toronto snobs i went to Queen's with laugh at this guy, and they're your typical private school old-money Liberal types.

    that's a very bad sign.

  13. This guy is running out of feet to place in his mouth – I can't even read one of his speeches without getting bored let alone listen to him longer than 5 minutes – personally it is obvious (painfully so) why he is so low in popular opinion = just listen to him . no rocket science needed.

  14. "We are the party of Medicare?" When did Tommy Douglas join the Grits?

    • This follows a long Grit tradition of claiming ownership of things that they did not invent. You'll note, for example, that Grit supporters now claim an almost proprietary right in the GST. They now go on and on about how fabulous the GST is. Go back in a time machine to 1992-1993 and, umm, the Grits weren't exactly doing that . . .

      • Te be fair, I think people are allowed to change their minds about something if it turns out to be a good thing. Especially 20 years after the fact.

    • I guess technically Iggy was referring to Mike Pearson's gov't in '66 taking Tommy's Saskatchewan achievement and making it national. Though I completely agree with you that this is poor form and an example of taking credit where credit is not due.

  15. Not bad, Scott. An occasionally funny, and sometimes parochial and small-minded, take on the speech. Overall, a lot of verbiage without saying much. You could have a future as a Conservative MP, but I hear their boss is a real SOB.

    • You heard wrong.

  16. Leaving aside the fact that the solutions fail to match up even rudimentarily with the problems…

    We are better than this. We are better than this as a country.

    Lines like that make Iggy look smug, pompous, condescending and judgemental. He should speak for himself, not assume he can make judgements about what the rest of us should be thinking and doing.

    This speech exemplifies why nobody likes Iggy's leadership.

    • Meh. Harper says "Canadians don't want _______" every time a scandal comes up, regardless of whether or not it's true. Most politicians use that kind of overly-inclusive language when describing their positions or opinions.

  17. As long as the Fiberals have Boob Rae, the party can't be trusted.

  18. hilarious !! , best laugh I have had lately

    too bad the rest of the posters can't laugh also

    way too serious people

  19. I think all politicians' speeches should be adjusted (like this one) to support Stephen Colbert's The Word. It makes them far more interesting.

  20. This liberal's hodge-podge is about get back to power. Sorry gentlemen we have already had a salad, let us try a main dish…