Sunday, February 15, 2009

Iggy's Strange Courtship of "The West"

It's sort of like he's inviting the fat girl to the prom because her folks have a pool. He'd rather not but he just can't wait to go swimming.

Maybe Michael Ignatieff doesn't know that we Westerners read papers and that we also read between the lines but it sure sounds like he didn't get that memo.

“Sometimes we've fallen prey to the temptation to run against the West, you know, to run against Alberta, to run against the Saskatchewan energy sector. This is not the way to go.”

“The Western economy is the beating heart of Canadian progress in the future. This is where the action is. And, if this is where the action is economically, then we have to be there, too.”

So, in Iggy-speak, opposing the environmental disaster of the Athabasca Tar Sands is, " run against the West." I guess that twisted logic explains why Tar Sands Mike has become far less critical of the devastation than even Stephen Harper or, for that matter, Ed Stelmach.

Then, in an ass-backward way, he assures Ontario with a wink and a nod that he'd rather not pander to these damned Westerners but, "...if this is where the action is economically," he'll do whatever it takes to win votes.

Iggy seems to be a man of unconditional love. He showered unconditional love on Israel when it smashed its way through the Gaza Palestinians and now he's lavishing the same thing on the Tar Sands.

Will it work? Probably. I suspect Iggy's going to get invited to the pool but I think he's going to be restricted to the shallow end and Tuesday mornings only... and he's going to have to keep dating that girl.

Unless he stumbles badly I think Iggy can probably defeat Harper in an election but I think that's as much due to Harper's inherent weakness as Iggy's strength. Ignatieff would probably discover that he's painting himself into a "minority" corner.

And then there's Obama. I think Canadians are less troubled that Harper is to the right of the American president. He's from Calgary, he worshiped at the altar of Bush/Cheney - we get that. Iggy's the one who'll really come off looking bad. He's a Liberal and Liberal leaders aren't supposed to stand to the right of American presidents, even Democrats. That's something we notice.

Ignatieff's comments come off as simply patronizing. If we have to... well then okay. And there's one other thing he needs to understand. There's a hell of a lot more to "the West" than the Tar Sands and a lot of us think he's dead wrong on Athabasca.


Steve V said...

"Ignatieff's comments come off as simply patronizing"

Mound, if that were actually true, than why has he said the same thing, verbatum in Quebec of all places? What is the point of pushing the "west" to an audience which gives him no electoral advantage, if anything maybe a negative? That doesn't jive with "wink and nod".

Militant Dipper said...

When he say's it in Quebec its with a "wink and a nod."

Anonymous said...

Michael (lets call him, Michael before the other catches on) can sing, dance, fart and spit nickles but if he wants Alberta, he's gotta find something more than, "OIL". Oil we got.

susansmith said...

Iggy is a right-wing liberal - it's that simple, and as obvious as "the tar sands are an environmental disaster".

The Mound of Sound said...

I think he's making a huge mistake tying Liberal fortunes in the West to the Tar Sands. If he wants to show a genuine interest in the West, he'll need a far more expansive initiative than simply promising complacency.

tdwebste said...

I guess under Michael's direction the Liberals won't have any funding problems. Did Iggy sell is sole, much like Harper did when he solved the funding problems for the Conservatives.

The Mound of Sound said...

There's no doubt Iggy has been a real shot in the arm for LPC fundraising. Dion, for all his good intentions, really held the party back.

As for Iggy selling his soul, I'd have to see it before I would assume he had it to sell.

Ted Betts said...

"It's sort of like he's inviting the fat girl to the prom because her folks have a pool. He'd rather not but he just can't wait to go swimming."

No. It's sort of like a Liberal leader trying, with first baby steps, to indicate that he is actually interested in all regions of the country and not just his safe seats. That he's interested in earning the trust of and governing for all Canadians and not just those who vote for him.

Has it been so long since a PM or a PM candidate trying to be a pan-Canadian instead of playing regions off each other, that we don't even recognize it?

As for this not being enough... of course it isn't. This is not the only priority he has - fundraising, membership, administrative organization, Quebec, policy platforms, etc. etc. - but it is clear that he is reaching out. That is the first step. We have to face a reality that even reaching out to different regions of the country that do not traditionally support Liberals is something no Liberal leader has done in a very long time.

Funny thing is, they said Obama was stupid and wasting his time when he did it too.

Ted Betts said...

And you really do have to drop this invention of Ignatieff being "to the right" of Obama.

For one, it is far too simplistic.

For two, there are far too many examples of where Obama is far to the right even of Harper to make the claim make any sense.

Obama does not believe in equal marriage and supported Proposition 8. He does not support public, universal, comprehensive, accessible health care; his plan is very corporate based. He refers to god way more than Bush and Cheney combined. He favours Bush's faith-based initiatives. He opposes any kind of carbon tax (which according to a prior post of yours means you are right wing). He wants a troop surge in Afghanistan like the one in Iraq.

What I like about Obama which many of his own supporters don't recognize, is that he really doesn't fit the old school left-right dividing lines that have become so entrenched.

Likewise Ignatieff. He can't be pigeon-holed into simplistic right-left boxes and that is disturbing for a lot of people.

But whenever the Conservatives are calling you a leftwing tax and spend socialist, and the far left are calling him a Conservative in liberal clothing, you know as a Liberal you are exactly where you want to be. 'Cause that's where Canadians are. Moderate and in the middle.

Ted Betts said...

Not to post too many times, but I just read this post from Runesmith about Naomi Klein and Obama. Sheo is saying the exact same thing I am about Obama, just not applying the same analysis to Ignatieff in this post.

I found it interesting that one of the first comments on this piece (9:57 AM) challenges the characterization of Klein as a "Star Left-Winger" and indeed the entire notion of left-vs-right as overly simplistic and dismissive in today's complex political and economic reality. Indeed, Klein's own concerns about Obama and her dismay at how Americans seem to have forgotten Bill Clinton's own pro-corporate policies seem to defy traditional notions of 'left' and 'right'.

I am finding more and more that words like these serve as an excellent excuse to stop listening to one another. We are so keen to label writers, pundits, ideas, and even whole media outlets as left or right, socialist or capitalist, conservative or liberal, that we end up separating into ideological camps made up of people who already agree with us and simply shutting the rest out.

Ironically, one of Klein's chief complaints against Obama is his choice of former Clinton advisor Larry Summers to his economic team - a man with whom she strenuously disagrees. And yet, Obama has said from day one that he wants to surround himself with people he disagrees with so they can challenge his ideas and assumptions to see how well they hold up.

It's an approach I'm learning to appreciate.

So am I.

Jennifer Smith said...

Thanks, Ted! Yeah, maybe I'm getting old or something, but I'm coming to realize that there will never be a single party or leader that I agree with 100% (hell, I don't even agree with myself 100% of the time!). And maybe it's just because I'm in the middle of reading 'A Fair Country', but I'm coming to regard this acceptance of ongoing differences without requiring an ultimate resolution as a fundamentally Canadian trait.

One correction to your earlier comment though: Obama may be against gay marriage, but he was also against Prop 8.