Liberal land seems much like Frank Baum’s Land of Oz, the land of the Tin Man, the Timid Lion and the Straw Man. For the brainless and heartless Straw Man, we have the former Liberal leader Stéphane Dion who, if not exactly brainless, so totally lacked political judgment, he might as well have been so. Dion, as did Baum’s Tin Man, had neither heart nor brain, but seemed to care nothing for the loss of his brain and sought hard for a heart so that he could shower us with his touchy-feely, tax-and-spend socialist agenda.
The Timid Lion, of course, lacked a quite different kind of heart, the sort that gives one courage to act on one’s principles—not unlike current Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. The timid lion, Ignatieff, likes to roar and bluff and threaten, but when shove comes to push, he lacks the courage of his convictions and backs Conservative initiatives to avoid an election.
As to the Straw Man, that’s the make-believe Conservative leader Stephen Harper that Ignatieff and Dion conjured up from their underactive imaginations. Men like Ignatieff need straw men so they can huff and puff and appear courageous by creating the illusion of defeating a proposition by substituting a superficially similar proposition, without ever having actually refuted the original position.
Let’s consider the recent Conservative “attack” ads, which point out that Michael Ignatieff spent 34 of his adult years outside Canada.
“We have one kind of citizen,” roars Ignatieff as he begins to build his straw man. “They’ve been attacking me recently for being out of the country,” he said. “It doesn’t matter about me, I can take anything they throw at me, anything at all,” he blusters.
Now here is the straw man fully grown: “I’m standing up not for myself, but everybody who understands one thing about this country—we have one kind of citizen, only one kind, and Stephen Harper doesn’t get to decide who’s a good citizen and who isn’t.”
Right on! The PM doesn’t get to decide that—who has said he should? Conservatives have said nothing about there being anything wrong with citizens living abroad. Neither have Conservatives suggested that citizens born or living abroad are “any less Canadian” because of it. But the timid lion, builds up his straw man by deliberately misconstruing the Conservative ads, only to savagely tear it apart.
Those who watch the ads thoughtfully, however, understand the point they are making: should Canadians choose as their next prime minister a man who has lived abroad for almost his entire adult life? How can such a man fully understand the needs, desires and aspirations of average Canadians? From where would he have learned them? From books and newspapers?
It is bad enough for Ignatieff to deliberately misconstrue the meaning of the ads—after all, that’s deception—but the chief Grit goes even further. He criticizes Stephen Harper for what he called the “politics of personal attack,” and the “politics of take no prisoners, leave ’em for dead on the side of the road. We don’t do that kind of politics in the Liberal party.” Now that is an outright lie.
Can any fair-minded person deny that the politics former Liberal PMs Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin practiced against each other, never mind against Mr. Harper, was anything other than the “politics of take no prisoners, leave ’em for dead on the side of the road? Or how about politics as practiced by Liberal Party war room hero, Warren Kinsella?
At least the Conservative ads tell the truth.