Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pot to Kettle - About That Swing to the Right

According to the Toronto Star, the interim leader of the Liberal Party decries prime minister Harper's efforts to drag Canada to the far right.

"And when you shift the centre of Canadian politics to the right, then everything changes.

"The federal government is weakened, the country becomes more regionalized. It becomes a more unjust and more unequal society bit by bit. This is (the Conservatives') long-term strategic plan," he said.

Iggy's scathing criticisms are pretty hilarious coming from a guy who's taken a riding crop to the Liberal Party, driving it to the right in hot pursuit of Harper.

From embracing the Tar Sands to his unqualified support of Israel in the Gaza war to abandoning carbon taxes in favour of hapless cap & trade "pretend" measures on carbon emissions, Ignatieff has dragged the LPC hard right. That he can do this and pretend to be progressive is farcical.


Steve V said...


Carbon tax- we just got killed, and don't forget Iggy was the Liberal that first floated it (remember Stephane argued against). Ignatieff genuinely supports the idea, but under the circumstances, the past election, is it really a move to the "right" to distance oneself from a failed policy. One of my great laments, that Dion's inability to sell the carbon tax, allowing opponents to carve it relentlessly, is that a good policy is now bad, bad politics. On that score, Ignatieff's position is indicative of no move anywhere.

Gaza- completely agree, our position here pisses me off to no end. However, let's not forget what Ignatieff said during the Lebanon war, his candor cost him dearly. Our policy here, was simply an attempt to stay away from anything controversial. It was cowardly, but it came about, based on past problems, so I'm not sure it's necessarily indicative of any permanent move. That said, I still say Ignatieff took some bad advice on this one, a very narrow perspective.

Tar sands- I would be nice if leaders didn't pit region against region. I want to see what Ignatieff has in mind on the environmental front, how he balances regional needs with climate change. I read his recent rhetoric as an attempt to show Albertans that Liberals aren't the enemy, we are not at war with the backbone of their economy, but we want to find solutions which don't throw the province under the bus. Reading some recent editorials, in surprising publications, Ignatieff's recent comments have given him an ample dose of good faith, moreso than any leader in recent Liberal history. I see the comments as part of an overarching theme of "all in this together", a unity question, and that does resonate on one level.

I appreciate some of the anger, but generally I scoff at this right notion, Ignatieff's simply moving to the center, if you look at what he's saying overall. I've already reconciled myself to Ignatieff not mirroring my personal positions, but that doesn't distract me from seeing him as light years better than Harper. There's no real comparision actually, despite attempts to make one in my mind. Is Ignatieff the left's hero? Nope, but he ain't satan either, far from it.

Anyways, I appreciate other perspectives, it just seems to me like many are forgetting the real enemy.

Beijing York said...

Ignatieff is moving the LPC to the centre if you define Dion as some kind of socialist, which he is not. One thing you could never accuse Dion of was hypocrisy. I doubt that will be the case with Iggy.

Steve V said...

Nobody disputes that Dion moved the party to the left, that doesn't mean you have to be a socialist. As far as hypocrisy goes, if you want to play that game, just compare Dion during 2006 and 2008 on the carbon tax, and for that matter cap and trade.

Ignatieff is moving to the center, people are free to move him further, if it helps with the angst, but it doesn't make it true.

The Mound of Sound said...

Steve, I'm not willing to apply the "my enemy's enemy" logic to the leader of my own party. Sure Harper's worse, sure we all want rid of him, but I also want a Liberal leader who is a clear liberal.

If you don't think Iggy is rightwing for a liberal, please tell me what you think a rightwing Liberal Party leader would look like. I see in Iggy much more of a Democrat than a Liberal and that's not good enough.

I realize Iggy endorsed carbon taxes at the outset but that doesn't let him off the hook to resile from it today.

I just don't see any leadership that I can identify as Liberal coming from Iggy. He claims to be progressive but he's shown no sign of that, none.

I think he takes any given situation, measures it up for votes and let's that define his position on it.

When that's how you run for office, you'll either have to govern that way or appear a fraud to the voting public when you drop the false flag afterward. That's the Harper way - if he ever gets a majority. I don't want a Liberal leader playing that same, sordid game.

Greg said...

Iggy is moving the Liberals to the centre only if you let Harper define what that means.

Steve V said...

"I see in Iggy much more of a Democrat than a Liberal and that's not good enough."

I would probably agree with that. Ignatieff is pretty much the same as Obama, spectrum wise. Whether that's good enough for some, it's not really that different from the past Liberal regime.

Just on this theme, I find it amazing to hear all this praise heaped on Obama, from the same people who shoot scorn on Ignatieff, because really it's a bit of a contradiction, or more rightly, depends on your bias going in. Obama is a center-left American politician, which equates to a centrist in Canada. Not saying you, but man it's makes no sense to see the dual opinions, if actually philosophical agreement is your real motivation.

Anyways, all I'm saying, Canada will be much better off with Ignatieff over Harper, and that's something to keep in mind, when we're upset about certain positions. That's my overarching position, but that doesn't preclude me from criticizing were warranted.

Ted Betts said...

I think he takes any given situation, measures it up for votes and let's that define his position on it.

You mean like that right-wing neo-con wingnut Jean Chretien? And to call cap and trade or rejection of a carbon tax an indication of moving the party to the right shows you are blinded by your hatred for the Liberal Party. Many on the extreme left, like Layton, have taken that very position. Dion was opposed to carbon tax before he was against it. And Gordon Campbell is in favour of carbon tax. The left-right issue is whether you believe in climate change, not the best means to get there.

Your unbridled anger and hatred toward Iggy is rather sad, especially on a day like today when hope reigns and a time like these times when conservatives are being chased from office all over North America.

The Liberal Wing of the Liberal Party is back and it is driving the Ralph Nader wing of the Liberal Party absolutely nuts.

It's your choice, of course, to prefer to have Harper's Conservatives in government. But if Liberal membership numbers, polling and fundraising are any indication, you are in an increasingly small group.

The Mound of Sound said...

Ted, get back on your meds.

Steve V said...

"The Liberal Wing of the Liberal Party is back and it is driving the Ralph Nader wing of the Liberal Party absolutely nuts. "

That's not very big tent Ted, as a matter of fact it comes off as decidedly smug. The Liberal Party must speak to it's entire base, everyone can accept a compromise here, a different position there, but if the view is too simply ignore part of your own party, then it's a recipe for disaster. I'm prepared to compromise some of my personal wants for the greater goal of turfing Harper, a move to the center is electorally attractive. That said, if the view is simply alienate a sizable part of the base and ignore their wants, that's not a party that speaks to me. All you do with this talk is divide people, I'd much rather try and keep everyone together, rather than saying you're wing is out, deal with it. What a loser strategy.

Ted Betts said...

I think you misunderstand the reference, Steve.

I certainly think the Liberal Party is big enough for the likes of me, you and Mound. The Liberal big tent is big enough for Paul Martin, Ignatieff, Dion, Rae, Volpe, Coderre, Cauchon, Herle, Kinsella, etc. for all of them. Rae would certainly not be my choice for leader for example but, even though he thinks Trudeau was "too conservative" for him and called Chretien a neo-conservative who destroyed Canada, I would have followed just like I did for Chretien and Martin and Dion.

By contrast, it is Mound who won't allow the big tent and attacks the Liberal Party incessentaly only a month after Iggy became leader, making stuff up about right and left that don't jive with reality.

But the Ralph Nader wing of the party reference is to the wing of the far left in the party who prefer conservatives in power to someone they can't control or who doesn't agree with them 100%. The Conservatives have their version as well but they have surprisingly shown more party loyalty than our version.

Steve V said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve V said...

I think it's much better to respond why someone might be wrong about a particular perspective, rather than making a factional struggle argument. Iggy has some work to do, to instill confidence on our left flank, dismissive attitudes or "official" lines only cause chasms.

I think there is a way for progressives to get behind Ignatieff, without selling your ideals in the process. Maybe not a soul mate, but a friend none the less.

Ted Betts said...

I agree almost entirely, Steve.

I say almost because I think that progressives are already behind Ignatieff as the polls and rising Liberal membership numbers indicate. Some progressives are not and, while I hope they will someday see that "progressivism" is not a purist ideology but a spectrum, they have rejected Ignatieff before he's even had a chance to really do anything other than issue a few statements.

That to me is sad for progressivism and liberalism in Canada. When progressives in the US can embrace, rally around and be inspired by a leader who opposes equal marriage, wants to limit abortions, wants to increase troops in Afghanistan, is called "Uncle Tom" by Ralph Nader, refers to "God" and prayer even more than Bush, appoints Republicans to the cabinet, and created his very movement by speaking about reaching across the aisle and focusing on our similarities instead of our differences on particular issues... when progressives can see that kind of a man as the vanguard and leader of a new kind of progressivism for the 21st Century, it seems so very sad that some - yes, a tiny few but they are there - progressives in Canada think it is better to help Harper and the Conservatives stay in government than to give the Liberals a chance because their leader doesn't fit into nice and easy pre-defined old-style left-right boxes.

I often find that Canada is about 5 to 10 years behind any transformative change that takes place in the US. King's New Deal followed Roosevelt by about 5 years. Reagan's brand of conservativism arrived here with Mulroney's smiling Irish eyes in 1984. The Clinton move to the centre and balancing budgets arrived here a few years afterward with Chretien's surpluses and tax cuts in 1998-99. The 1994 triumphs of Newt Gingrich and the Republicans and the rise of hardcore conservativism ascended to government in Canada only with Harper.

Maybe it will take a few years for these few progressives here to realize that the ground beneath them has shifted and see the world through the new paradigm, instead of holding on to the anger that politics sometimes creates when it doesn't fit tightly into your old and dated world view of left-right politics.

For the sake of Canada and for progressivism and liberalism in Canada, I hope it is much sooner than that.

Ted Betts said...

You are kidding me, right Mound?

I disagree with your extremism but I did think you knew how to read. But this is what you guys do: when you hate someone so bad, you need to deliberately misread what they write.

In case it was not clear: the line was clearly sarcastic. I do not think Chretien is a right-wing neo-con. Just the opposite in fact. You claim Iggy is a right wing neo con because he looks at a given situation and does not take the easy ideological route but assesses it and then makes a decision.

That is the hallmark of Chretien and he is so clearly NOT a neo-con I thought the point would have been obvious. Obviously, you are so bent out of shape by where progressivism in North America is going that you can't see past your own anger. Sad. Very very sad.