The Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is trying mightily to find issues that will add extra traction in the polls to that already gained from PM Stephen Harper’s prorogation of parliament. The professor finally has caught up to the Conservatives in the polls and is desperate to stay there. But he knows that, in the past, his every effort to sell himself to Canadian voters has been a miserable failure.
Remember his “If you mess with me, I will mess with you until I’m done” tough guy image he tried to sell last spring? And the election bravado later in the year when Ignatieff puffed out his chest and threatened to force another election? Well, that didn’t work for him, did it? Neither did shifting his party to the right when he killed the left-wing coalition, defended the tar sands and supported the Conservatives’ law and order legislation.
In fact, until he brought in Peter Donolo to be his coach, nothing Ignatieff tried resonated with voters. Ignatieff clearly showed that he lacks keen political instincts and is not a decisive leader. In blogs, he is routinely referred to as “Iffy.”
Once installed with his hand-picked team, however, Peter Donolo began to turn things around. He’s dipping back into the Liberals’ past when their “Rainmaker,” Keith Davey, formulated a “tack left” strategy, and the Grits won one campaign after another under Pearson and Trudeau—pretty well the same strategy that saw Jean Chrétien’s left-wing populism propel him to three consecutive majorities.
Before Donolo, Ignatieff would, on occasion, talk the talk of his party’s left-wing, but he never walked it. Now he advocates boldly for universal child care, regardless of the state of the economy or the size of the deficit. And not satisfied that Liberals gave Canada the most extreme left-wing policy on abortion-as-birth-control one can imagine, he wants Stephen Harper to export it by imposing that laissez-faire attitude on the poor nations of the world.
Those, dear readers, are the true bona fides of a leftist.
There is also the Liberal Party’s reproachmont with the New Democrats. The parties now speak as with one mouth. And, of course, senior Grits like Ujjal Dosanjh and Bob Rae already have deep roots in the socialist movement. One gets the distinct impression that coalition is on the table once more—i.e., coalition is necessary.
There is even a noticeable shift in the tactics of Liberal Party shills who show up regularly on political TV shows like Power Play.
We are used to seeing anti-Conservative graphics brought on the show by a Liberal Party war room warrior, but now, in the best Paul Martin campaign tradition, Liberal pundits pose questions like, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” and insist on a yes or no answer, shouting down any explanation as to why the question is slanderous. It’s a nasty aged-old tactic, but one that still works—especially when Tom Clark, the TV show’s host, sits like a bump on a log and let’s the likes of Warren Kinsella use it at will.
Yes, Donolo tells Ignatieff to tack left, and Ignatieff does as he’s told. We’ll have to wait and see how Canadians react to all this.
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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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