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Sunday, March 7, 2010

The political game’s over when your friends start to laugh at you

I have frequently suggested in this space that the greatest impediment to a majority Liberal Government in the short term is chief Grit, Michael Ignatieff. His obvious challenge to becoming the next prime minister is his lack of “Canadian-ness.” Canadian-ness is something that we acquire over time, and something that cannot be acquired long-distance.

Mr. Ignatieff is, no doubt, a Canadian in any legal sense, but not in the de facto sense. One cannot spend almost all of one’s adult life living and working abroad and re-acquire a true Canadian identity of any significant depth in five years—it just cannot be done, at least, not to the degree required to understand Canadians sufficiently to become their prime minister.

And Canadians seem to understand this viscerally, though Liberal insiders apparently do not. Either that or they arrogantly believe they can sell anything they choose to Canadian voters.

In the year or so after Mr. Ignatieff was appointed leader of the Grits, however, I have realized that there are clear indications that he just does not have the right stuff to be a political leader, never mind not having a sufficient understanding of Canadians. Yes, he has acquired some political maturity and poise—he showed that during interviews about the recent throne speech. But his internship has taken so long, he has allowed himself to become an object of derision.

Politics hates a vacuum. It is well known that an aspiring political leader must quickly and convincingly define himself in terms that voters will find attractive and worthy of their confidence. If one fails to do so, others will fill the vacuum and define one in negative terms. And once that image sticks, it’s awfully hard to dispel. Like Stéphane Dion before him, Mr. Ignatieff has allowed the conservatives and the media at large to define him in uncomplimentary terms that resulted in his nickname, Iffy.

All politicians take flack from supporters of the parties they oppose—that’s just part of the political game. But when a politician takes friendly fire, its probably time to quit the game.

And friendly fire is just what Mr. Ignatieff is taking these days. Reports persist that several members of his caucus have lost confidence in their leader. Even one of the Liberal Party of Canada’s most avid media supporters is taking pot-shots, and very mean ones they are at that. The latest example can be seen here.

Mr. Ignatieff need not ask for whom the bell tolls.

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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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3 comments — This is a moderated blog and comments will appear when approved. Please don’t resubmit if your comment doesn’t appear immediately, and please do not post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable.

  1. Find I am agreeing totally with you on your post. Although Mr. Ignatieff certainly has academic credentials, he is lacking in street cred with Canadians for the reasons which I think you identify very well, along with how he got the LPC leadership.

    He may be intelligent, but is certainly no match for the deviousness of the Harper camp. (Trouble with academics is they are short on street smarts.) It is odd that the LPC can't figure out how to deal with the Harper Conservatives when the Conservative strategy for gaining and maintaining power has been published by Tom Flanagan.

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  2. I agree completely with your line about Iffy’s lack of Canadian-ness.
    Then theirs his wife and his adult kids, which is another example of a lack of Canadian-ness.
    Then theirs the unknown about how many countries he’s a citizen of.
    Wouldn’t you expect that someone who spent 30 years in Britain and had a British wife and his kids were born and raised there, would have chosen to become a citizen of Britain?
    Their was a justified controversy about Dion’s French citizenship, why not with Iffy? Especially when you consider that Dion’s French citizenship was only because of his mother being a French citizen, whereas Iffy’s foreign citizenship would have been chosen by him.
    Then theirs the infamous “We Americans” speech that Iffy gave. Is it possible that he wasn’t lying about being an American?
    Lastly, who but a Torontonian, from the right caste and the right neighborhood, who be given a free pass from the Toronto media about this lack of Canadian-ness.

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  3. We did not define iffy. Iffy defined himself in the way that Taliban Jack has so successfully defined himself as the media whore we all knew him to be with that lastest incident yanking that hockey fan's arm down...

    It was obvious from the get-go when Iffy insisted on shoving out a women of colour, when he could have easily parachuted in a score of the Toronto seats being vacated by some of the grumpy old white men that dominate the Toronto party.

    It was his first, real test and iffy failed.

    There will be an election soon because the rest of the grit party have recognized their mistake in appointing an elitest US wan-na-be who couldn't give a rat's ass for the majority of Canadians.

    And it really shows!

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