Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Why make the governor general’s appointment a political football, Mr. Ignatieff?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper asks—through the Queen’s Canadian secretary—opposition leaders for input on his choice of our next governor general, and the leader of the official opposition, Michael Ignatieff, blabs to the media that he wants Michaëlle Jean’s appointment extended by a year or two, even though it has been made clear that the decision not to extend her term had already been made.

Ignatieff just can’t help putting his political foot in his mouth, can he? He is given the chance to show he can be non-partisan about this symbolically important appointment and he has to be mischievous.

Instead of allowing her to finish her term with the dignity she so well deserves, thanks to Michael Ignatieff Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean will hear her name used by the media as a political football and her term will end in political controversy—she deserves better, much better.

For the year he has been leader of the LPC, Ignatieff has demonstrated time and again that he lacks the stuff of which statesmen are made.

All but Ignatieff’s most ardent supporters and, presumably, himself seem to agree his advice to the prime minister on this sensitive subject should be considered confidential and that it was a gaffe to blab it to the media.

Ignatieff issued a news release and called a news conference during which he referenced the GG’s race and gender, and crassly demanded her appointment be extended. And, in so doing, he has compromised the GG by making her a subject of partisan politics.

According to the Globe and Mail1, University of Toronto’s political scientist and constitutional scholar Peter Russell described Michael Ignatieff’s decision to make political hay over the appointment of a new governor general as inappropriate, very unhelpful and unwise.

The Globe and Mail is not known as being pro-Conservative, in fact, it has a decidedly pro-Liberal editorial slant. Yet even this newspaper cannot understand what Ignatieff hopes to gain here. Here’s a quote from the Globe:

“There is also an implication that somehow Mr. Harper is behaving improperly, that following the prorogation debate, there is another sinister Conservative plot afoot to defy constitutional norms. In fact, there is no wrong, no indignity, being directed at Ms. Jean. She has been a charismatic and somewhat successful viceroy, but the expected term of office for the Queen’s representative is five years. Sometimes, that term is extended, sometimes it is not. It is notable that four of the last six governors-general have served five years or less. What precisely is to be gained by politicizing Ms. Jean in this way, all in order to drag her departure out for another year or so?”

Ignatieff’s indiscretion does beg the question: can the man be trusted with any confidential information the prime minister may which to share in the future? I suggest he can’t.


1See here for more of the Globe’s article.


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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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  1. perhaps Mr. Z can be forgiven for showing this idiocy in such matters - after all when they enticed him from Hawvahd, they did not tell him how would be booting an etnic success-story sitting MP from Tranna, and they did not tell him he would be shivving in the back a noted Quebec leader, nor his war room top dog would be a Carvel inspired butt-kicker with murky entitlements, to be succeeded by a lackey Chretien yes man etc., all claiming majority-giving connections.
    We should cut him some slack, as his muck-raking, mud-slinging abilities have not had a chance to mature, and show his elevated "thinking" to be the best

  2. The test is going to be when the Government shares sensitive military documents with the opposition. Speaker Peter has said that if the documents are shared and one of the opps leak it to the media, they risk legal prosecution.

    If one of the opps finds something that they think can smear the Tories, will they be able to resist releasing what they aren't allowed to? That will be test, and if they fail then it justifies the hardline the government has played on priviledge from the beginning.

  3. Uh, that's a trick question, isn't it Russ ? Iggy's an idiot.

  4. I venture to say that Ignatieff's absence from Canada (during his formative years), resulted in this lack of awareness. He really, truly and honestly does not know of other Canadians who might be worthy candidates for the GG position. Ignorance is bliss. He should have consulted with the CBC for a replacement name. Cheers. FernStAlbert

  5. Russ read this, a posting on the Toronto Star website on one of their columns, I read this and the poster seems fairly neutral politically speaking. Note how they perceive news coverage and then you or anybody here at BT discount the power of the media to shape public opinion even on issues that appear clear to 'thinking people.'

    "... the Liberals were removed from power for Adscam. Four years and two elections have passed and suddenly the LPC anointed a leader who hadn't lived in Canada for thirty years. A quick fix to power they thought. Turns out their saviour bluffs and flip-flops. The Conservatives who gained power on their promise to be transparent and open are more secretive than the Liberals but haven't been caught stealing from us yet. I don't view the NDP as a credible party whatsoever because I don't believe in Socialism. So where do we go from here? Until the Liberals democratically elect a more convincing leader I can't really consider the LPC an option right now. The Conservatives have seen us through the worst recession since the Great Depression and deserve kudos for doing so but that nasty little Afghan detainee issue just won't go away even after prorogation. I only wish all parties were open, honest and upstanding. Lord knows we pay them enough..."

    See! The Afghan issue does MATTER! And the liberals know what they are doing here. When are conservatives going to wake up??? (real conservative)

  6. I have a wide range of friends of differing political persuasion than myself I am conservative
    Liberals and NDP they don't care about detainees they do care about our soldiers
    they are undecided voters over the detainee issue