Tag Archives: Micheal Ignatieff

Where did Michael Ignatieff go wrong?

Licia Corbella of the Calgary Herald looks at why Michael Ignatieff failed to connect with Canadian voters.

To his baffled Harvard colleagues who can’t understand how a Harvard man can’t beat a University of Calgary man, ask yourselves this: Would any of Ignatieff’s books have won awards if the positions he took waffled as much as his comments to Canadians? Would he have been a popular lecturer? Of course not.

Those of us who had read his work knew he didn’t really believe that Israel was guilty of war crimes, but that he made a calculated decision to throw Israel under the bus to quell a political storm in Quebec while speaking French.

Bob Rae, who was also fighting for the Liberal leadership at the time (which went to Stephane Dion) called Ignatieff "the guy who’s changed his mind three times in a week," with regard to the Lebanese-Israeli war.

Then in 2009, when Ignatieff was Liberal leader, he put forward policies that he clearly didn’t give more than a passing thought to.

Ignatieff wanted Canadians to be eligible to take a year off drawing employment insurance benefits after working just nine weeks.

The very people that was supposed to entice -autoworkers losing their jobs -were outraged. Why should some student whose summer job comes to an end get to draw EI benefits for the same amount of time as that autoworker who has paid into the system for decades?

For years, Ignatieff waxed poetic about how valuable the oilsands were to all of Canada, and then during the campaign, instead of supporting his very valid views, he spoke of how he would place a moratorium on development of our "dirty oil" and bring in a cap-and-trade system.

Ignatieff didn’t resonate with voters because he was a sycophant. He said what he thought people wanted to hear and thought Canadian voters are too stupid to know good policy from bad.

I am not really sure if that was it.  Early on the in the election, Canadians tuned into Ignatieff and seemed to like him and his platform.  Even out west, people seemed to like the Liberal platform, yet didn’t vote for them.  Part of me wonders the impact the horrible state of the Liberal Party’s grassroots in parts of Canada played a part, the other part of me wonders if his attempt to bring down the government last year had an impact.  While in Ottawa it may have played well, the rest of us in Canada were really tired to it.  So Harper brings out a budget that isn’t that bad and before it comes out, Ignatieff is saying his is going to bring down the government.  Meanwhile the rest of us are thinking, “Aren’t government’s supposed to fall on really big issues and mistakes, not on the Opposition Leader’s rhetoric?”. 

I don’t watch a lot of Canadian television and the Conservatives don’t advertise on History Channel so I don’t know if I saw the “just visiting” ads and I don’t think I was influenced by them but after Ignatieff said he be was bringing down the government in 2010, he sounded like a political opportunist, meanwhile Layton who occasionally propped up Harper (and “Made Parliament work”) seemed more and more like the government in waiting.  As that happened, I found myself ignoring Ignatieff more and more.

So what’s your reason for not supporting the Liberal Party?

The Toronto Star’s Wishlist for 2010

I agree with a lot of it.

  • STEPHEN HARPER (Prime Minister): Stop trying to score political points at the expense of the opposition and start addressing the very real challenges facing the country, both at home and abroad.
  • MICHAEL IGNATIEFF (Leader of the Opposition): Draft a platform that positions the opposition Liberals as a viable alternative to the governing Conservatives.
  • JACK LAYTON (NDP leader): Cease pretending to be a prime minister in waiting and focus on the NDP’s historical role as a progressive voice in Parliament.
  • JIM FLAHERTY (Federal finance minister): Resist the siren calls to balance the budget by slashing public services at the expense of Canada’s most vulnerable.
  • JIM PRENTICE (Federal environment minister): Instead of emitting more hot air, produce an actual plan for reaching Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions target by 2020.
  • ROB NICHOLSON (Federal justice minister): Stop playing politics with our criminal code. This wedge-issue tactic won’t make us safer, but it will leave us with costly prisons packed with non-violent offenders.
  • BARACK OBAMA (U.S. president): Stop trying to make nice with your political enemies and start using the presidential bully pulpit to advance your own agenda.
  • HAMID KARZAI (President of Afghanistan): Drive out corruption in your government so that NATO forces no longer have to hold their noses while they prop you up.
  • BENJAMIN NETANYAHU AND MAHMOUD ABBAS (Respectively, prime minister of Israel and Palestinian leader): Find a way to break through old barriers and make peace.
  • DALTON MCGUINTY (Ontario premier): Leave the small stuff (mixed martial arts) or the details (electronic health records) to your ministers and focus on the big picture, including the economy.
  • ED STELMACH (Alberta premier): Restrain your paranoia about eastern Canadians lusting after your province’s wealth and make a deal on greenhouse gas emissions.

The Cold Shoulder?

Liberal Leader Michael IgnatieffThere is a good article in the Walrus on why Canadians have not warmed up to Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff.

Despite his earlier run for the prize, Ignatieff remained an unknown quantity, a stranger in our midst. He was our first deconstructionist politician: he kept repeating that political leadership was about storytelling without ever telling us a story; he said that Canadian unity needed a narrative but didn’t articulate one. Like a critic dragged up onstage to play the lead on opening night, he couldn’t help analyzing his own performance instead of being in the role. Too often, when audiences were looking to him for bold direction, he tormented himself over the details as though still in a seminar at Harvard. He rambled. He mused. He tiptoed ever so cautiously through the minefields. He walked into rooms without any apparent idea of the message he wanted to deliver or who was who. He excused himself on the grounds that he was new, not just to the role but also to acting, which only sowed more seeds of doubt about whether he was genuine and his own man.

I tend to agree with the analysis.  I follow Ignatieff closely and after several months as Liberal leader, I don’t know what he stands for other than a couple of cliches he repeats in television ads.  Peter Donolo is correct, Liberals need to be more than just opposing the government, they need to be about showing Canadians they are ready to be our next government.  That starts with the Leader of the Official Opposition. 

The good news for Liberals is that Ignatieff’s problems can be fixed.  A narrative can be developed and told and I think he will grow into the role.  The question is will his narrative be compelling to Canadians and will his playing of the role be one that we want as Prime Minister? 

I guess that’s why elections matter.

(You may also be interested in this ridiculous article about a Liberal caucus revolt, whose members also want to can Ralph Goodale because he hasn’t “delivered” Saskatchewan, kind of like how these four MPs locked up Ontario).