It seems to me that one Canadian conservative government is enough. Iggiphiles may see the transformation of the Liberal Party of Canada into a mild copy of the CPC as no great problem but what matters aren't Ignatieff backers but Canadian voters. As The Globe's Jeffrey Simpson points out, to many voters Iggy is just the "same old, same old" they've been getting from Harper:
...rhetoric aside, a convergence between the two parties is noticeable, as the Conservatives become big-spending middle-of-the-roaders and learn more about foreign policy, and the Liberals seem incapable or unwilling to present anything terribly arresting.
Both parties agree, for example, on how to eliminate the federal deficit – slowly and largely by counting on economic growth to spare them from making too many hard decisions. They are obviously content to let debt pile up because they fear being honest with voters that without tax increases and spending cuts, the debt burden will be passed on to their children. Both have ruled out increasing taxes on individuals, businesses and spending. Both insist they will protect Ottawa's massive transfers to provinces. Neither dares touch big federal transfers to individuals, such as pensions. Neither has mentioned slowing down the increase in defence spending.
What do these exemptions leave? It's simple mathematics: cuts to other government programs.
But which ones? Neither party will say, fearing political controversy. All the Liberals argue is that if they must cut, their cuts will be more compassionate.
...As for the... ...Liberals' foreign-policy critique, it is astonishingly thin for a party led by a man who lived so long abroad and visited so many other countries, including failed and failing states. Framing a foreign policy based on that experience ought to have been an Ignatieff high card; instead, his speech last week revealed something much lower down the deck.
A secretariat for the G20. A peace institute. These sound good, but are really quite silly. The return of Team Canada missions? Harmless. A new approach to India and China? See above. Complaints that Mr. Harper's government hasn't worked hard enough against U.S. protectionism are simply wrong. On Afghanistan and the Arctic, the Liberal policy is essentially the government's policy.
The one area of true disagreement comes in the Liberal promise to go to bat for Canadians facing death sentences abroad, or languishing without charge in foreign jails. That's a fair point for debate, but it hardly constitutes a different foreign policy, writ large.
The rhetoric infecting these speeches suggests wide differences and new ideas. Strip the rhetoric away, and the differences narrow and the search for interesting new ideas shrivels.
For those of you who think the mere name Liberal is a more than compelling reason to vote in support of the party, Simpson's comments will seem irrelevant or wrong-headed. But for those who believe that Liberal actually means liberal, there's a great depth of meaning in Simpson's observations.
I think Iggles would have been more comfortable running the CPC than the LPC. In fact I think Canada would have been much better off with a Conservative government led by Ignatieff than with a Liberal opposition led by that same man.