Friday, May 22, 2009

It’s time to define Ignatieff

The Blue Like You blog has and interesting take on Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff—it’s well worth reading. And the site has a link to an equally interesting column in the Toronto Sun by Peter Worthington, in which he wonders about “…the Tories’ sudden obsession with Ignatieff.”

I don’t see the Tories “obsession with Ignatieff” to be at all “sudden.” For one thing, it is quite usual for one political party to be obsessed with its main political rival’s leader. For another, in the months following Michael Ignatieff’s appointment as Stéphane Dion’s replacement, the political climate in Canada was anything but conducive to so called “attack ads—what Worthington calls truth ads.”

Tory political power was threatened by an unholy alliance of the three opposition parties. And, although many believed Mr. Ignatieff would, in time, distance himself from the alliance, he had to be given space in which to do so with some grace. Besides, the Tories desperately needed his support for a crucial budget vote—hardly a time to launch a partisan attack.

Once political storm clouds had passed over and skies were again Tory-blue, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was able to give the go ahead to begin defining Mr. Ignatieff for the Canadian public. And he didn’t have far to look for material to show his opponent in a negative light. Good grief, just look at what he had available without any digging at all:

  • Ignatieff was out of the country for some 34 of his 42 or so adult years.
  • Ignatieff has spent more time in the United States than he has in Canadian politics.
  • Early on, Ignatieff supported the war in Iraq.
  • And then there were his statements in Britain that the only thing he misses about Canada is Algonquin Park.

And all this without sticking a spade in the ground.

Joanne at Blue Like You writes, “Nature hates a vacuum, and so far Michael Ignatieff has proven to be just that—a vacuous political windsock.”

I like her analogy about filling a vacuum. As with Stéphane Dion, if the Grits do not have their leader out there selling himself to Canadians with solid, effective policies and hard, specific alternatives to government plans and actions, they can count on the Tories to fill the vacuum and cast Mr. Ignatieff in the mold of their choosing. I’d be disappointed if they didn’t.

Mr. Ignatieff has a record, both good and bad. The good parts helped him obtain the leadership of his party; the bad parts will impede his efforts to become Canada’s first Prime Minister to have spent far more of his adult years in two other countries than he has in Canada. These 34 years abroad were not spent in the service of Canada, but as a full-time resident participating fully in those societies. Remember: the only thing he missed about Canada was Algonquin Park.

For goodness sake, the man has paid far more in taxes to foreign governments than he has to Canada.

Surely Canadians cannot be blamed for being troubled by several aspects of the Ignatieff record. And surely the Conservative Party of Canada can not be blamed for pointing them out.

© 2009 Russell G. Campbell


  1. Until a few weeks ago Ignatieff was only "interim" Liberal leader.

    Sort of like Bill Graham was for a time.

    The Conservatives had to wait the long wait for the coronation of the parachuted shoe-in ex-pat to be the "Official" leader of the Liberal party before they could tell Canadians some well glossed over truths about him.

    If you recall - during the 2006 Liberal leadership race Liberals themselves expressed the exact same distaste and misgivings about Ignatieff and Dion won because of this.

    All one would have to do is read Liberal blogs from those times and the same truth ads would emerge...written by the more astute Liberals.

  2. Makes sense, a good read.

  3. Great post.

    And thanks for correcting my spelling error re: vacuum when you quoted me.


  4. What political planet do the Liberals live on? It makes perfect sense to define Ignatieff - is he not the Leader of the Oppositon? If the Conservatives don't, then the MSM will provide all the information and ammunition in this coming election. I see nothing wrong with the current ads sponsored by the Conservatives. The facts are the facts and the conclusion is up to the viewer. Cheers Fern StAlbert

  5. Well it's about time something was done to flush him out.

    While I am sure the honeymooners would love to stay in bed and watch reruns of the recession all day, all we really know is there was a shotgun wedding and the family wasn't invited.

    We have questions.